Arm Triangle Chokehold: A Versatile Submission Technique in MMA

March 10, 2023
From: Spartacus
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One of the most badass moves in MMA is the Arm-Triangle choke hold. This submission technique is like a secret weapon for fighters who want to take down their opponents with style. It works by compressing the carotid arteries and jugular veins in the neck, causing the unlucky victim to either lose consciousness or tap out in submission.

The Arm-Triangle choke hold goes by many names, like the Side Choke, the Kata Gatame, or the Head and Arm Choke. And let me tell you, this move is no joke! To pull it off, you have to trap one of your opponent’s arms against their neck and then use your other arm to apply pressure to their carotid arteries. If they don’t tap out or pass out, you’ll be forced to release the hold.

In this article, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about this savage submission technique! So, are you ready to become an Arm-Triangle choke hold expert? Let’s get started!

History of the Arm-Triangle Choke Hold

The legend goes that the fearsome Arm-Triangle choke hold was born in the lush Brazilian jungle. Some believe it was an adaptation of the traditional triangle choke hold found in ancient grappling styles, while others claim it was a brand-new invention from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu experts known for their deadly submissions.

Although its roots run deep in ancient martial arts, the Arm-Triangle choke hold reached new heights of glory under the watchful eyes of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. BJJ, with its focus on grappling and submissions, refined the choke hold into a highly effective technique to overpower foes with ease.

Initially, the Arm-Triangle choke hold was a submission move from the top position in the guard used in BJJ. It was only later that it was adopted by Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, where it became a crowd favorite for its spectacular ability to end fights.

Throughout the ages, MMA legends like Randy Couture, Georges St-Pierre, and Fabricio Werdum have wielded the Arm-Triangle choke hold with devastating precision, leaving their opponents gasping for air.

Today, the Arm-Triangle choke hold reigns supreme as one of the most versatile and potent submissions in MMA. It can be executed from various positions such as the mount, side control, and half guard, making it a valuable asset to any MMA warrior.

The Arm-Triangle choke hold is like fine wine that gets better with age! In the 90s, BJJ practitioners brought a new level of grappling and submissions to MMA, and the Arm-Triangle choke hold became a fan favorite. As fighters continued to experiment and develop their own styles, variations of the technique emerged.

From setting it up from the top or attacking from the bottom, to adding a neck crank for extra pressure, the Arm-Triangle choke hold is a staple in any fighter’s arsenal. Fans appreciate the technical precision and excitement it brings to the fight.

And with the sport of MMA continually evolving, the future holds endless possibilities for new variations of the Arm-Triangle choke hold. One thing is for sure – it’s a technique that’s here to stay.

Importance of Arm-Triangle Choke Hold for MMA Fighters and Fans

Whether you’re an MMA fighter or a passionate fan, understanding this incredible submission technique is a must for several thrilling reasons.


The Arm-Triangle choke hold is an insanely effective submission technique that can bring a match to a swift end. For fighters, mastering this move can increase their chances of victory.


Knowing how to defend against the Arm-Triangle choke hold is equally important for fighters. If you can identify when your opponent is trying to pull off the move and defend against it, you can turn the tables and come out on top.

Fan Appreciation

As a fan of MMA, understanding the technicalities of the Arm-Triangle choke hold and other submission techniques can elevate your appreciation of the sport. Watching fighters attempt and successfully execute these moves is a thrilling experience that can make the viewing experience more exciting.


MMA fighters who apply techniques like the Arm-Triangle choke hold correctly and safely reduce the risk of injury to their opponents. And as fans, understanding the risks and the role of referees in ensuring safe fights promotes fighter safety and healthy competition.

Mechanism of the Arm Traiangle Choke Hold

The Arm-Triangle choke hold is a powerful submission technique that can be used in various grappling martial arts, including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts. Spartacus MMA has created a step-by-step guide on how to execute the Arm-Triangle choke hold:

Set Up

The Arm-Triangle choke hold can be executed from a variety of positions, but it’s commonly set up from side control or mount. To set up the technique, control your opponent’s head and arm with one arm while your other arm goes under their armpit and across their neck.


Once you have your arm in place across your opponent’s neck, transition your body to the opposite side, so your torso is facing their feet. This will apply pressure to their neck and create a choke hold.

Secure position

Once you’ve transitioned to the opposite side, it’s essential to secure your position. Use your free hand to hold onto your opponent’s hip or shoulder and press your chest into their back. This will ensure that they cannot escape or counter the choke hold.

Apply pressure

To apply pressure to the choke hold, push your opponent’s arm across their neck using your shoulder and squeeze your bicep against their neck. This will create pressure on their carotid artery and force them to tap out.

Finish the hold

Keep applying pressure until your opponent taps out or goes unconscious. It’s crucial to release the choke hold immediately after your opponent taps out to avoid causing injury.


Different Variations of the Arm-Triangle Choke Hold

There are several variations of the Arm-Triangle Choke hold that are commonly used in grappling competitions and self-defence situations:

Standard Arm-Triangle

The Standard Arm-Triangle is one of the most fundamental variations of the Arm-Triangle choke hold. It is a highly effective technique that can be executed from various positions. Below are Spartacus MMA’s steps to perform the Standard Arm-Triangle:

  • Start by establishing side control position on your opponent. This means that you are lying perpendicular to them, with your chest and hips in contact with their body.
  • Next, use your left hand to control your opponent’s right arm by reaching under their arm and grabbing their shoulder or bicep. Your right arm should be positioned around their neck, with your forearm pressing against their throat.
  • From here, move your right arm to the other side of your opponent’s head, so that your bicep is pressing against their neck. Your left hand should still be controlling their right arm.
  • Lock your hands together, forming a figure-four grip. This will trap your opponent’s head and arm between your arms.
  • Squeeze your arms together, putting pressure on your opponent’s neck and cutting off their blood supply. Your opponent will start to feel the effects of the choke and may tap out.
  • If your opponent does not tap out, continue to apply pressure and wait for them to lose consciousness or for the referee to stop the fight.

Reverse Arm-Triangle

The Reverse Arm-Triangle is a variation of the Arm-Triangle Choke hold, where the choke is applied from the opposite side of the traditional Arm-Triangle. It can be an effective submission technique, especially when the opponent is attempting to defend against the standard Arm-Triangle. Below are Spartacus MMA’s steps to perform the Reverse Arm-Triangle:

  • Begin by establishing side control on your opponent. Your left arm should be under your opponent’s head, while your right arm should be over their left arm.
  • Reach your right arm across your opponent’s chest, and grab your own left bicep with your right hand. This should form a figure-four grip with your arms.
  • Place your left hand on the back of your opponent’s head and push it down towards your chest. This will help to isolate their head and make it more difficult for them to defend.
  • To apply the choke, walk your legs towards your opponent’s head, so that your right leg is pressing against the right side of their neck. This will create pressure on their neck, forcing them to tap out or lose consciousness if the hold is not released.
  • Maintain the pressure and wait for your opponent to submit. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, as the Reverse Arm-Triangle can be a very tight choke and can cause injury if applied too forcefully.


Side Arm-Triangle

The Side Arm-Triangle, also known as the Side Choke or Kata Gatame, is a variation of the Arm-Triangle choke hold that is executed from the side control position. Below are Spartacus MMA’s steps on how to perform the Side Arm-Triangle:

  • Start in the side control position: Begin in the side control position, with your opponent lying on their back and you perpendicular to them, with your chest pressing against their shoulder.
  • Secure the head and arm: Reach your arm under your opponent’s neck and grab their far shoulder. Your other arm should be under their near arm, with your hand gripping their far bicep.
  • Adjust your position: Shift your weight slightly forward and move your hips closer to your opponent’s head. Your opponent’s head should be trapped between your shoulder and the mat.
  • Drive your opponent onto their side: Use your weight and leverage to drive your opponent onto their side. This will make it easier to tighten the choke and prevent your opponent from escaping.
  • Secure the choke: With your arm still under your opponent’s neck, reach your other hand over their head and grip your bicep. Your bicep and forearm should be pressing against your opponent’s neck, creating the choke.
  • Squeeze and finish the choke: Use your chest and arm strength to squeeze and apply pressure to your opponent’s neck. This will cut off their blood supply and force them to tap out.
  • Release the choke: As soon as your opponent taps or goes unconscious, release the choke and disengage.


Mounted Arm-Triangle

The Mounted Arm-Triangle is a variation of the Arm-Triangle Choke that is performed when the attacker is in a mounted position on top of their opponent. This submission can be a very effective way to finish a fight as it allows the attacker to control their opponent while applying pressure to their neck. Below are Spartacus MMA’s steps to perform the Mounted Arm-Triangle:

  • Begin in a dominant position: Start by securing a mounted position on your opponent. This can be done by transitioning from side control or taking your opponent down and passing their guard. Make sure to maintain a solid base and control your opponent’s hips.
  • Secure the head and arm: Reach down and grab your opponent’s near-side arm, pulling it up towards their head. This will expose their neck and allow you to place your other arm underneath it. Slide your other arm under your opponent’s neck and grab your bicep with your hand.
  • Drive your weight forward: Push your weight forward onto your opponent’s chest, causing them to turn onto their side. This will create space for you to thread your free hand through the gap between your opponent’s head and their arm. Your hand should now be resting on the back of your other hand.
  • Squeeze and finish: Once you have threaded your free arm through, secure your hands together and squeeze your elbows towards your opponent’s neck. This will apply pressure to their carotid artery and cause them to submit or go unconscious.
  • Adjust your angle: If your opponent is still resisting, adjust your angle slightly by moving your body towards their legs. This will tighten the choke and make it even more difficult for them to escape.
  • Release the choke: Once your opponent has submitted, release the choke and dismount from the mounted position. Be sure to check on your opponent’s condition and make sure they are okay before continuing.


Anaconda Choke

The Anaconda Choke is a powerful submission hold that is commonly used in grappling and mixed martial arts (MMA). It is a variation of the Arm-Triangle choke hold and is used to strangle an opponent by applying pressure to the neck and one of their arms. Listed below Spartacus MMA’s guide to executing the Anaconda Choke:

  • Start in a clinch position: Begin by getting close to your opponent and securing a clinch position, with your arms around their neck and one arm under their armpit. Your chest should be pressed against their back, with your head on the opposite side of the arm that is under their armpit.
  • Secure the grip: With your arm that is under their armpit, reach across their neck and grab your own bicep. Your other hand should be placed on the back of their head, to control their posture and prevent them from escaping.
  • Create a tight grip: To increase the pressure on your opponent’s neck, grab the back of their head with your free hand and pull it towards your chest. This will create a tighter grip and make it harder for them to breathe.
  • Shift your weight: As you pull their head towards your chest, shift your weight to the side of the arm that is under their armpit. This will create a space for you to slide your other arm behind their neck and over their shoulder, to complete the choke hold.
  • Lock in the choke: Once your arm is in position, grab your own wrist and squeeze your arms together, using your chest and bodyweight to apply pressure to your opponent’s neck and arm. Hold the choke for several seconds until your opponent taps out, or until the referee intervenes to stop the fight.


D’arce Choke

D’arce choke is a grappling move that involves wrapping your arms around your opponent’s neck and squeezing until they tap out. Sounds easy, right? Well, not exactly. To execute a proper D’arce choke, you’ll need to follow Spartacus MMA’s steps:

  • Start in a position where your opponent’s head and arm are exposed. This could be from the side control position, or you could set it up from a failed guillotine attempt.
  • Thread your arm under your opponent’s neck and through their armpit. Your bicep should be pressing against the side of their neck.
  • With your other arm, reach over your opponent’s back and grab your own bicep. Your arms should now be locked in a figure-four grip.
  • Squeeze your arms together, driving your opponent’s chin down towards their chest. This will cut off their blood flow and air supply, making it difficult for them to breathe.
  • Hold the choke until your opponent taps out or goes unconscious. Remember to release the choke as soon as your opponent taps to avoid causing serious harm.


The Biomechanics Behind the Arm-Triangle Choke Hold

The Arm-Triangle Choke hold is the perfect combination of leverage, pressure, and finesse. This submission technique is all about using your opponent’s own body against them to apply force to their neck and cause them to tap out. But how does it work, you ask?

Well, it’s all about creating that perfect triangle shape. The attacker’s arm goes under the opponent’s neck, while the other arm goes over their shoulder. This creates a triangle that allows the attacker to apply force in a specific direction, and boy, do they apply it with gusto!

As the attacker squeezes their arms together, the pressure on the opponent’s neck and arteries increases. And if that’s not enough, the attacker can also use their body weight to really crank up the pressure. By leaning forward and driving their weight into the opponent, they make it nearly impossible to escape.

Just remember, it’s all about leverage, pressure, and that sweet, sweet feeling of victory.

Defence Against the Arm-Triangle Choke Hold

Defending against the Arm-Triangle Choke Hold can be tricky, but there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of escaping. Just follow Spartacus MMA’s step-by-step guide:

  • Recognize the threat: The first step in defending against the Arm-Triangle Choke Hold is to recognize that your opponent is attempting to apply it. Look for the tell-tale signs such as your arm being trapped and your opponent’s other arm applying pressure to your neck.
  • Keep your chin down: To make it harder for your opponent to apply the choke, tuck your chin down towards your chest. This will make it more difficult for your opponent to apply pressure to your neck and compress your arteries.
  • Posture up: Use your free hand to grab your opponent’s head and posture up. This will create space between your neck and your opponent’s arm, making it more difficult for them to apply the choke.
  • Rotate towards the trapped arm: Rotate your body towards the arm that is trapped. This will make it harder for your opponent to apply pressure and give you a chance to escape.
  • Push off with your feet: Use your feet to push off the ground and create space between you and your opponent. This will make it harder for your opponent to apply the choke and give you an opportunity to escape.
  • Escape the position: Once you have created some space, you can try to escape the position. You can do this by turning towards your opponent, pushing them away, or rolling out of the position.



In the wild world of MMA, the Arm-Triangle Choke hold reigns supreme as a submission move that’s as thrilling as a roller coaster ride. From its mysterious origins to its evolution in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and its adoption by fearless fighters, this technique has left us all in awe.

Whether you’re an aspiring MMA warrior or a fan cheering from the sidelines, understanding the Arm-Triangle Choke hold adds an extra dose of excitement to the mix. It’s like having a secret decoder ring that unlocks the hidden language of the octagon!

But always remember to practice with caution, respect your opponents, and above all, have fun. Because at the end of the day, it’s not just about the technique—it’s about the passion, the camaraderie, and the pure adrenaline rush that keeps us all hooked on this wild and wonderful world of mixed martial arts. 


What are the different variations of the Arm-Triangle Choke Hold in MMA?

In MMA, the Arm-Triangle Choke Hold comes in several flavours, each with its own tactical advantage. They are- Standard Arm-Triangle, Reverse Arm-Triangle, Side Arm-Triangle (or Kata Gatame), Mounted Arm-Triangle, Anaconda Choke, D’arce Choke.

How do you execute the Standard Arm-Triangle Choke Hold step-by-step?

To execute the Standard Arm-Triangle, start in side control. Control your opponent’s right arm with your left hand, while your right arm goes around their neck. Shift your right arm to the other side of their head and lock your hands in a figure-four grip. Apply pressure by squeezing your arms together until the opponent taps out or goes unconscious.

What is the Reverse Arm-Triangle, and how is it different from the Standard Arm-Triangle?

The Reverse Arm-Triangle applies pressure from the opposite side compared to the Standard. You’ll establish a figure-four grip with your arms while in side control but on the reversed side of your opponent’s body. The choke is effective especially when the opponent is defending against the Standard Arm-Triangle.

How do you perform the Side Arm-Triangle Choke Hold?

For the Side Arm-Triangle, start in side control, secure your opponent’s head and arm, then adjust your position forward. Drive your opponent onto their side and lock in the choke by gripping your bicep and applying pressure with your chest and arms.

What is the Mounted Arm-Triangle, and how do you execute it?

The Mounted Arm-Triangle is performed when you’re mounted on top of your opponent. Secure their head and near-side arm, drive your weight forward, and then thread your free arm through the gap. Squeeze your arms towards their neck to apply pressure and force a submission.

What is the Anaconda Choke, and how does it differ from other Arm-Triangle variations?

The Anaconda Choke starts from a clinch position and targets both the opponent’s neck and one of their arms. It differs in its initiation point and the specific grip changes to exert pressure. Your arms wrap around from behind, unlike the front-oriented approaches of other Arm-Triangles.

How do you perform a D’arce Choke, and how does it relate to the Arm-Triangle?

The D’arce Choke also targets the opponent’s neck and arm but is often set up from side control or a failed guillotine. Lock your arms in a figure-four grip and squeeze until submission. It’s related to the Arm-Triangle family due to the similar choking mechanics and grip styles.

What are the biomechanics involved in performing the Arm-Triangle Choke Hold?

The Arm-Triangle is a blend of leverage, pressure, and finesse. It’s about creating a triangular shape with your arms and using body weight to amplify the choke. The angle and pressure cut off the opponent’s blood supply, leading to a quick submission if done correctly.

How can you defend against an Arm-Triangle Choke Hold?

Defence involves early recognition, keeping your chin down, and posturing up. Rotate towards the trapped arm and use your free hand and feet to create space. Your aim is to reduce the pressure and escape the position.

What are some common mistakes to avoid with the Arm-Triangle Choke Hold?

Common mistakes include not properly securing the grip, applying pressure at the wrong angle, or failing to adjust your body position for maximum effectiveness. When defending, late recognition of the choke, failing to tuck the chin, or not creating space can lead to quick submissions.

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The Rear Naked Choke: The Most Effective Submission Hold in MMA

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The D’arce Choke: A Highly Effective Submission Technique in MMA

Unleashing the Power of the Anaconda Choke – A Deadly BJJ Submission Move

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