The Anaconda choke is one of those chokes that can really catch you off guard if you aren’t expecting it. It’s a powerful blood choke submission hold that strangles your opponent by trapping a head and arm with your own arms. It is one of those classic grappling submissions holds that you might see in a high level BJJ match or in MMA.
The Anaconda Choke’s origins are unknown, but it can be classified as a part of the head and arm choke family. It can be traced to the original Kata Gatame Arm Triangle Choke from Judo. The difference is that the choke is performed on the opposite side of the opponent. It's similar to the position to where you would do a Guillotine Submission hold but with one arm in.
Not to be confused with the Darce Choke, the Anaconda Choke is a slightly different variation. Both chokes have very similar mechanics, trapping a head and an arm from the front head lock position to cut off blood circulation. The main difference between the two mainly deals with how you thread your arms through the neck and arms. The setup and the angle of the Anaconda is also slightly different and little more challenging.
In this guide, we look at how to do the Anaconda Choke, how to set it up from different positions, and some key details to consider when locking in the choke.
How to Perform the Anaconda Choke
The Anaconda Choke, also known as the Gator Roll Choke, is typically performed in the front head lock position. When your opponent tries to take you down with a single or double leg, you can sprawl your legs out to prevent the take down. This puts you at the front head lock position. There are a few options here. You can either go for a Guillotine Choke submission hold, a Darce Choke, or the Anaconda Choke. You’ve got options! Landing in the front head lock position is the perfect position for you to fish for the Anaconda Choke hold!
Anaconda Choke from the Turtle Position
As you sprawl out to defend the opponent’s takedown, their ideal reaction would be to ball up to the turtle guard to try to defend the choke. Drop your weight down by placing your chest on top of the opponent’s head and start grabbing for the neck. Your goal from the top is to first secure their head.
Swim your choking arm under the neck and thread it across to exit out their armpit. As your hand exits their armpit, catch that hand with your other hand and clasp them together with a gable grip. Use this grip to pull the arm closer to the head to close in any gaps between the neck and the arm.
As you close in that space, release your gable grip and grab the bicep of your free arm. Form a figure-4 with your arms to secure the submission hold.
Place your head on the side where you have your bicep and roll over in that direction. After your roll, you will likely be in a position where both you and your opponent are on your back. Their head will be somewhere between your chest and your stomach.
To finish the choke, turn sideways and start walking your feet towards your opponent’s legs while maintaining your grips. The goal is to try to hook the opponent far leg with your own almost as if you were going for a mount. The pressure from your grips and their neck pressing against your stomach will be very painful as you start walking. They’ll have no choice but to tap!
Anaconda Choke from Top Half Guard
Another common situation where you can setup the Anaconda Choke is from the Top Half Guard position.
From the top half guard, as you are smashing your opponent down, their ideal reaction is to prevent you from flattening them out. The common reaction for the bottom person in half guard is to start going for an under hook to go for a sweep. If your opponent is successful in getting the under hook, that’s a great opportunity to start going for your Anaconda grips!
Once your opponent gets the under hook to look for the sweep, immediately go for the front head lock. One arm will be trapping the opponent’s under hook arm and the other will be grabbing underneath the neck.
After establishing your grips, drop your forehead to the mat and start looking to escape your hips and legs away from the opponent’s guard. At this point you will be ending up in almost in a north-south position except both you and your opponent will have your backs on the mat.
As you get to the position, there might be some space between the opponent’s neck and shoulder. You can close this gap by either using your legs to squeeze the arm toward the head or use your arms to squeeze it closer. At this point you will be in the traditional Anaconda Choke setup.
Simply fold your arms in the figure-4 choke hold, start walking towards your opponent’s legs, squeeze, and get the tap!
The D'Arce Choke vs. The Anaconda Choke
The Anaconda Choke can sometimes be confused for the Darce Choke. In fact, the Darce Choke can be traced back to Luta Livre competitor Björn Dag Lagerström back in the 90’s. He discovered it by accident as he was trying to learn the Anaconda!
The Darce Choke, named after Renzo Gracie blackbelt Joe D’Arce, is a blood choke that strangles the opponent by trapping the head and arm similar to that of the Anaconda. The main difference is the way you thread your arm through the neck and the arm. For the Anaconda, you thread your arm through the neck first and exit out the armpit, but for the Darce Choke, it’s the exact opposite! The Darce requires you to thread your choking arm through the arm first and exiting the front of the opponent’s neck.
Both are similar in nature. They are both considered a reverse arm triangle choke. The difference is mainly the setup and the angle for the finish. It’s important to know the key differences and how to properly execute both chokes. Watch the demo below to see the difference in setups and how to finish!
Some Key Details to Consider
The Anaconda Choke is very powerful if you execute it properly. It can be very tricky in the beginning but once you get the positioning and the angle just right, you have yourself a pretty deadly submission hold. Here are some key details you should consider when locking in the Gator Roll:
- 1Make sure that your opponent’s shoulder is completely pinned against their neck. When you go for the front head lock, grab for the gable grip first. Once you have the grips, use your forearm to push the opponent’s arm closer to their neck. This closes in the gap. This is extremely important! The lesser the space your opponent has between the arm and the neck, the tighter your choke!
- 2Place your head towards the side you will be rolling. Once you establish your figure-4 choke hold grips, one key detail is to place your head towards the side you will be rolling to. Your head should be on the side where you have the opponent’s arm trapped. You will be rolling on this side since they won’t be able to base with the trapped arm. Make sure you have your head pinned against the side and not right on top of them! Your opponent will land right on top of your head if you don’t!
- 3Make sure that your opponent’s head is laying on top of your stomach when you go for the finish. One common mistake when finishing the choke is getting the proper head placement. It’s important to have your opponent’s head right in between your chest and your stomach. This way when you start walking to finish the choke, the opponent’s neck is forced forward, driving their neck deeper into the choke.
How To Defend Anaconda Choke
The Anaconda Choke is painful! If you ever got caught in it, you know exactly what we’re talking about! You typically won’t see this in a beginner level of grappling as it can be a bit tricky to get. Locking in the choke requires the proper arm placement and proper positioning is very important.
However, once you do get it down, you’ll be adding a very powerful blood choke to your grappling tools and tricks. You’ll have a great variety of attacks to choose from next time you get to the front head lock turtle position. You can choke them out with the traditional front head lock guillotine, the Darce Choke, and now the Anaconda Choke!