Breaking Down the Guillotine Choke: Techniques and Variations

February 14, 2023
From: Spartacus
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Are you ready to learn one of the most lethal submission holds in the MMA world? We’re talking about the guillotine choke, baby! This move is like a trap from which your opponent cannot escape. Once you’ve got them in this hold, they’re as good as done.

The guillotine choke can be executed from various positions, including the top, bottom, against the cage, or even in transition. It’s a versatile technique that can be used both in grappling and striking situations.

But don’t think you can just wing it and get it right on the first try. No way, José! You need to learn the proper techniques and variations to become a master of the guillotine choke. This article will break down everything you need to know, from the key points to remember to the common mistakes to avoid. Whether you’re an aspiring fighter or an MMA enthusiast, understanding the intricacies of the guillotine choke is fundamental. This versatile move is a frequent sight in Spartacus Fight Events, demonstrated by our skilled fighters during our live events. Here, we break down this essential technique and its variations.

Basic Guillotine Choke Technique

Ah, the basic guillotine choke – a classic move in mixed martial arts that can make your opponent tap out faster than you can say “submission”! If you want to master this technique and add it to your arsenal, then keep on reading!

First things first, let’s break down the steps to executing the basic guillotine choke. You can set it up whether you’re standing up or kneeling down. To start, position yourself behind your opponent and wrap your arm around their neck. Make sure to have your bicep on one side of their neck, and your forearm on the other. Then, grip your bicep with your hand to create a tight seal around their neck.

Next, use your other arm to grip the back of your opponent’s head. Pull their head down towards your chest to increase pressure on their neck. Tighten your grip around their neck while using your chest and back muscles to apply pressure on the sides and front of their neck. And there you have it – the basic guillotine choke!


But wait, there’s more! Here are some key points to remember when executing this move:

  • Keep your elbows tight to your body to create a tight seal around your opponent’s neck.
  • Use your chest and back muscles to apply pressure to your opponent’s neck, not just your arms.
  • Keep your opponent’s head pulled down towards your chest to maximize pressure on their neck.

Now, let’s talk about some common mistakes to avoid when performing the basic guillotine choke:

  • Failing to create a tight seal around your opponent’s neck with your arm, which can allow them to escape the choke.
  • Not pulling your opponent’s head down towards your chest, which reduces the pressure on their neck and makes it easier for them to escape.
  • Focusing too much on squeezing with your arms, which can tire out your muscles quickly and make the choke less effective.

Remember, practice makes perfect! Keep working on your guillotine choke and soon enough you’ll have a submission technique that’s versatile and effective. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make your opponent tap out in your next MMA fight using this move!

Arm-In Guillotine Choke Technique

If you’re looking to take your guillotine choke game to the next level, it’s time to learn the arm-in guillotine choke! This variation is perfect for catching opponents who think they’re safe from your basic guillotine choke.

To get started, wrap your arm around your opponent’s neck like you would for a basic guillotine choke. But this time, instead of grabbing your own bicep, slide your arm through the space between your opponent’s neck and their trapped arm. Your forearm should be across their throat and your bicep should be under their arm. Got it? Great! Now, use your other arm to grip your choking arm at the wrist and pull up to apply pressure to your opponent’s neck.

But wait, there’s more! To really make your opponent feel the pressure, use your other arm to lift their trapped arm up and over your head. This creates even more pressure on their neck, making it harder for them to escape. And just like with the basic guillotine choke, remember to use your chest and back muscles to apply maximum pressure.

Now, some key points to keep in mind

  • Use your forearm to apply pressure across your opponent’s throat, not just their windpipe. That way, you’ll avoid any potential dangers. 
  • Make sure to lift your opponent’s trapped arm up and over your head to maximize pressure. 
  • And of course, don’t forget to pull up on your choking arm using your other arm.

As you master the arm-in guillotine choke, you’ll have an even more powerful submission technique at your disposal. Your opponents won’t know what hit them when you surprise them with this variation. Just be sure to avoid common mistakes, like not sliding your arm through the right space or applying pressure with just your arms.

So get out there and start practicing the arm-in guillotine choke! Your opponents won’t know what hit them.

Standing Guillotine Choke Technique

The standing guillotine choke takes the intensity to new heights, especially when faced with opponents who are determined to take you down or corner you against the cage. This extraordinary variation involves wrapping your arm around their neck while standing, and utilizing your other arm to pull their head down, amplifying the pressure on their vulnerable neck.

To embark on this heart-pounding journey of the standing guillotine choke, follow these exhilarating steps:

  • Picture the battlefield as your opponent charges towards you, attempting to execute a takedown or corner you against the unforgiving cage. Swiftly, wrap one arm around their neck, ensuring your bicep snugly presses against one side, while your forearm firmly rests against the other. The stage is set, and the crowd holds its breath in anticipation.
  • Channel your inner warrior as your free arm takes hold of the back of their head, seizing control of the battlefield. With a determined pull, bring their head down towards your chest, intensifying the pressure on their vulnerable neck. Feel the adrenaline coursing through your veins as you unleash the full force of your might.
  • Unyielding and resolute, utilize your body weight and tap into your core strength. Allow the energy to surge through you as you apply unrelenting pressure to your opponent’s neck, tightening your grip and squeezing with the unbridled power of your chest and back muscles. The crowd roars with excitement, recognizing the mastery of your technique.


But wait, there’s more to discover! Let’s delve into some captivating insights that will elevate your understanding of the standing guillotine choke:

  • Remember, it’s not solely about exerting pressure with your arms; harness the might of your entire body and core strength to dominate the battle. It’s the fusion of power and finesse that propels you towards victory.
  • Keep your elbows firmly tucked to your body, creating an impenetrable seal around your opponent’s neck. This ensures a tight grip and amplifies the effectiveness of your choke, leaving them breathless with awe.
  • Maintain control over your opponent’s destiny by pulling their head down towards your chest. This strategic maneuver maximizes the pressure on their neck, leaving them gasping for survival.

Now, let’s explore the enthralling world of defending against the guillotine choke, an essential skill for any MMA fighter

  • Tuck your chin: When facing the basic guillotine choke, swiftly tuck your chin down towards your chest. This defensive move hinders your opponent from securing a tight grip on your neck, making it arduous for them to apply substantial pressure and finish the choke. A resolute defense can turn the tide in your favor.
  • Grab your opponent’s wrist: In the face of the arm-in guillotine choke, seize the opportunity to grab your opponent’s wrist with your trapped arm. Pull their wrist down towards your stomach, alleviating some of the pressure on your neck and disrupting their choke attempt. This tactical move buys you precious moments to reclaim control of the situation.
  • Posture up: When confronted with the standing guillotine choke, summon your inner strength and straighten your back while extending your legs. By doing so, you create vital space between your neck and your opponent’s encroaching arms, making it significantly more challenging for them to apply the choke. Embrace this defensive stance and stand your ground!
  • Circle away: If your opponent manages to trap your head and neck in the guillotine choke, seize the opportunity to circle away from their choking arm. This evasive maneuver creates an angle that throws them off balance and diminishes their ability to apply relentless pressure. Embrace the art of strategic movement to turn the tables in your favor.
  • Utilize the fence: When cornered against the cage, the environment becomes your ally. Exploit the power of the cage to your advantage. Push off from its sturdy structure, creating precious space between your neck and your opponent’s encroaching arms. Alternatively, leverage the cage to execute a nimble spin, freeing yourself from the clutches of the choke and gaining control over the fight.

By mastering the techniques for executing and defending against the guillotine choke, you unlock a realm of endless possibilities. Equip yourself with these extraordinary skills to defend against takedowns, seize dominant positions, and emerge triumphant in the ultimate battle of wills. 


In the mesmerizing world of MMA, the guillotine choke stands as a testament to the artistry and versatility of submission techniques. Throughout this journey, we have explored the depths of its intricacies, delving into various techniques and thrilling variations that ignite the imagination of fighters worldwide.

From the classic guillotine choke to its dynamic variations such as the arm-in guillotine and standing guillotine, we have witnessed the power and finesse that lie within each move. We have unveiled the secrets of execution, emphasized the importance of body mechanics, and celebrated the strategic nuances that can catch opponents off guard.

But beyond the technical aspects, we have embarked on an adventure of excitement and passion. The world of the guillotine choke is a vibrant tapestry, woven with determination, skill, and the pursuit of victory. It is a testament to the human spirit and the relentless pursuit of greatness.

So, whether you find yourself in the heat of combat, executing a flawless guillotine choke to secure a submission victory, or defending against its clutches with sheer tenacity and resilience, remember that this journey is about more than just techniques. It’s about the indomitable spirit that fuels every warrior stepping into the arena.

Ready to dive deeper into the world of MMA? Download the Spartacus app and enjoy access to live events, exclusive interviews, technique breakdowns, and more.


What is the basic technique for executing a Guillotine Choke in MMA?

Place yourself behind your opponent. Wrap one arm around their neck—bicep on one side, forearm on the other. Grab your own bicep to seal the deal. With your free arm, grip the back of their head and pull down. Finally, apply pressure using your chest and back muscles. And boom, you’re in guillotine city!

What key points should be remembered while performing a Guillotine Choke?

Three words: tightness, positioning, and pressure. Keep your elbows snug to your body for a tight seal. Use not just your arms but your chest and back muscles to apply pressure. Keep their head pulled down toward your chest to max out that pressure.

What are the common mistakes to avoid when executing a Guillotine Choke?

Don’t let the excitement get to you—avoid these pitfalls! Firstly, a loose seal around the neck is a no-go. Secondly, relying solely on arm strength can tire you out. And lastly, not pulling the opponent’s head down equals less pressure and easier escape routes.

How does the Arm-In Guillotine Choke technique differ from the basic Guillotine Choke?

Think of it as Guillotine 2.0. Instead of gripping your bicep, slide your arm between your opponent’s neck and trapped arm. Then, grip your choking arm at the wrist and pull up. It’s the ace up your sleeve when they think they’re safe.

What are the key points to remember while executing the Arm-In Guillotine Choke?

Remember to apply pressure across the throat with your forearm, not just the windpipe. Lift your opponent’s trapped arm over your head to max out the pressure. And for the love of MMA, use your other arm to pull up on your choking arm.

What is the Standing Guillotine Choke technique and how is it different?

This move is for the warriors who thrive on intensity. Same initial grip around the neck, but this time, you’re both standing. Amplify the pressure by pulling their head down while using your bodyweight and core strength.

How can you defend against a basic Guillotine Choke?

Defence is your ticket to survival. Tuck that chin towards your chest to make it harder for your opponent to lock in that grip. A strong defence can shift the balance.

What techniques can be used to counter an Arm-In Guillotine Choke?

Grab your opponent’s wrist with your trapped arm and pull it towards your stomach. This reduces neck pressure and can mess up their choke game.

How do you defend against a Standing Guillotine Choke?

Straighten your back and extend your legs to create space, making it a real task for them to lock in that choke.

What are the strategic benefits of mastering various Guillotine Choke techniques?

Having an arsenal of guillotine variations makes you unpredictable, versatile, and more dangerous. Whether you’re defending a takedown or catching an opponent off guard, these techniques keep ’em guessing and give you multiple pathways to victory.

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