Do you remember that time when literally everyone in martial arts circles wanted to know what this mysterious Brazilian jiu-jitsu (sic) was all about?
If I remember correctly, these ‘guys’ named Gracie (from Brazil) became notorious practically overnight for beating up everyone who wanted to take them on.
You did wrestling? Or boxing? No problem. They would beat you, easily.
Karate? You were defeated the minute you entered the ring.
Taekwondo? Give me a break!
These Brazilians, the Gracies, who through their clever strategies and ground breaking cross training principles later laid the foundation of what we today know as MMA (and the UFC), were practically everywhere!
And they had all right to be.
Because they had basically proved to everyone that limiting oneself to the practise and study of a single aspect of fighting (like wrestlers, boxers etc. had always done) didn’t cut it anymore.
It was the beginning of a new era.
And I remember watching some videos from these ‘fights’, thinking how cool – yet simple – it all seemed.
I mean, they practically slayed Karate people up and down!
Well, the basic strategy was this:
- Dodge the punches /kicks coming from the Karate guy.
- When an opening presents itself, dive in and take him down!
- Get on top of him and start slapping him in the face…
- …which triggers a response in the Karate guy to cover his face and roll over…
- … which gives the Gracie the perfect position to finish the fight with a ‘rear naked choke’.
- Result: Karate guy went to sleep… or managed to tap out.
Yet brutally effective.
If you had the opportunity to challenge a Gracie you might as well just grab a pillow and blanket because you’re were going to sleep.
I even managed to find some pictures from those fights:
Just like I remember it…
Anyway, thinking about these crazy times gave me an idea.
How many of you actually know how to defend against a ‘rear naked choke’?
With practically everyone, including their aunt, practising MMA nowadays it’s not hard to realize that you might easily one day be caught in this exact hold (the RNC). I even sometimes see high school kids doing it on each other!
And believe me, the first time somebody gets you good with this choke you are going to wet your gi.
But not from excitement.
And this is not an overstatement. Oh no. The feeling of helplessness you get when somebody has you in a deep choke is unsurpassed.
Knowing that you only have seconds before you pass out is a very special feeling.
So please, let me spare you that feeling.
By teaching you how to escape this gruesome hold.
With me today I have two of our MMA instructors, Oliver and Sabri, who are going to show you the whole procedure, so that your honorful samurai pride will never be lost if you end up in this position!
Here we go: (click a picture to zoom)
First, let’s look at the basic situation we’re dealing with:
Our opponent has us in a position known as the ‘back guard’, complete with the leg hooks and everything. As you can see, Oliver is fighting for his life (and his black belt Karate pride)!
The first step is perhaps the most important one.
Tuck your chin in.
Secondly, try to pull the closest arm down.
Wooh, fresh air!
Now, this is what happens in a dream. In reality you will probably not get this big of a gap between the opponents arm and your chin, but it doesn’t matter.
This is for educational purpose anyway…
Okay, after these basic moves (that everyone probably instinctively figures out anyway) comes the next step:
Using your opposite arm, push the opponents arm to your side and slip your other arm inside.
An important detail is to work mainly with you shoulder, and your chin still firmly tucked in.
Avoid spaces! Narrow movements is the key.
So, now that we have gotten rid of the immediate problem, we are still in a vulnerable position. Therefore, secure your opponents choking arm under your armpit, with your elbow.
Oh, and remember, your opponent has had his other arm free the whole time. Expect to have been punched in the face a few times by now.
Everything has a price…
So we need to do something about that other arm.
Bring it over.
Preferably with the other arm still locked in your armpit. Or under your elbow.
Now here is where your opponent is starting to really lose control.
And though it might not look that way, the control is soon almost entirely in the hands of Oliver.
But only in the upper body.
Sabri still has major control of the situation, through his legs.
We need to change that, quickly.
Yeah, that’s right.
You see Oliver pointing (and doing that evil smile) there?
That’s our next target.
By forcefully kicking down and for some reason simultaneously pushing with his right hand (please don’t do this, always control the arms), Oliver has freed himself from the hooks.
At this stage it is very important to shift your bodyweight (by moving your hips) so that your body sinks down and out of the leg hold.
It’s kind of hard to see in the photo, but try to compare the curve of Olivers body (upper body vs. lower body) in this photo with the previous step and you’ll hopefully see.
Okay, next step:
Using your legs and arms, begin pushing yourself out to the side.
A twisting motion is now beginning to take form, as you can see by Olivers left elbow which has been squeezed between his and Sabri’s body.
Make sure you plant your feet firmly on the ground for maximum power.
Using your whole body in one motion, plant your left previously squeezed elbow on the ground beneath you as you twist around.
Lift your left leg too, using your right foot and left arm as base.
Your hips should not touch the floor.
Okay, now things are starting to happen!
Twist around 180° from the previous photo to get in this position, known as the ‘guard’.
And finally, the roles are reversed.
Which means payback time!
Okay, got it?
That was 12 steps in total.
Remember to always tuck your chin in, keep everything tight, work with your core muscles and most importantly keep your head cool.
Of course there are other methods and techniques too, but this is the one we generally use.
Now all you need is a crazy Brazilian surfer dude who wants nothing more than to choke you sleepy.
Let me know how it went!