Rear Naked Choke

Jiu Jitsu black belts in traditional BJJ gis demonstrating the Rear Naked Choke submission

This is one of the most iconic and recognizable submissions in Jiu-Jitsu. Being choked with an RNC is an experience you’re not likely to forget anytime soon. Once the attacker gets into the Back Mount position, they proceed to trap and squeeze the neck in the bend of their arm. This blocks both of the carotid arteries. They will often use the other arm to push behind the head and lock the choke in place. Along with the anaconda-type squeeze pressure of the arms, the attacker is also elongating their body to add additional force to the choke and make escape more difficult. This is accomplished by pressing their legs into the hips of the defender. This pulling energy makes the choke much more uncomfortable and defeats the opponents core muscles, preventing them from being able to turn their body and defend the choke. Getting submitted with this choke is a strange combination of being stretched and squeezed at the same time.

Key Rear Naked Choke Details

Important details for the attacker (person in blue gi)
  1. Keep your hooks in tight. In order to keep the defender from being able to turn around, it is important that the attacker hook their feet around the defender’s body and control the defenders hips and legs. As you can see in the image above, the feet should not be pointed straight (no ballerina toes!), but instead should be flexed and shaped like a fishing hook in order to catch the defender’s legs as they thrash about.
  2. Never cross your ankles! If your ankles are crossed in this position, the defender can use their legs to squeeze your ankles together, causing you to submit to them in your moment of glory. It’s incredibly embarrassing. Once you are very comfortable with this position, there are ways to cross your ankles safely, but in the beginning it is best to just avoid the practice so you can focus on the basics of the choke.
  3. Don’t get tunnel vision! If the defender is keeping their chin down and not letting your front arm get to their exposed neck, consider grabbing their lapel and transitioning to the Bow and Arrow Choke, which tends to be a higher percentage choke than the RNC for most people.
Important details for the defender (person in white gi)
  1. All or nothing! Use your whole body to defend and escape. This is a difficult position to escape since you are being attacked from both high and low, so you need to get to work. You’ve got to prevent the choke at the exact same time you are trying to remove one of their hooks from from your hips. If you aren’t addressing both attacks, you’ll eventually lose the battle nine times out of ten.
  2. Prevention is key! The moment you realize the opponent is going to get the Back Mount position on you, you need to take preventative action while you can. First, tuck your chin to your chest. While you are doing that, make an “X” with your arms.  Stick your left thumb in your right lapel at the top of your shoulder and keep the back of your hand against your neck. Mirror this move with your right hand. These two moves create barriers that protect your neck from being exposed to the attacker’s choke attempts and can you can buy yourself precious seconds to remove their hooks from your hips.
  3. Control their arm! Try to grab the attacker’s arm at the wrist so that you can pull on it to straighten it out. If you can lift their arm and move it to the other side of your head so that both of the attackers arms are on one side of your body, it will be much easier to turn towards them to improve your position to defending Full Guard instead of back mount.

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