How to Do the Arm Triangle Choke

How to Do the Arm Triangle Choke

The Arm Triangle Choke is a very powerful submission hold that tightens both sides of the opponent’s neck by applying pressure by trapping their head and arm. It is also known as the Kata Gatame in its original Judo nomenclature, or in MMA or wrestling, it’s simply called the Head and Arm Choke.

It’s one of the more famous submissions out there. You’ve likely seen it many times if you watched MMA or submission grappling matches. It’s one of the most effective submissions that fighters use along with arm bars, rear naked chokes, and triangle chokes.

The choke itself is a blood choke that is performed by trapping the opponent’s head arm with your own arms. In a way it’s very much similar to the your traditional triangle choke. The only difference is that you trap the head and the arm with your arms instead of your legs. By trapping your opponent’s head and arm and applying pressure with your arms, you cut off blood circulation to the brain!


In this article, we review one of the most effective and popular chokes in the sport. Whether you are in BJJ, Wrestling, MMA, or any other grappling related sport, this one is for the books. Let’s take a look at how to do the Arm Triangle Choke.

How to Perform the Arm Triangle 

The arm triangle choke is traditionally performed off starting out at the mount position. Ideally you have to dismount to get better leverage to finish the choke off the side of the opponent. However, just like other techniques in Jiu Jitsu, there are a few other variations to the choke.

You can perform the choke starting off at mount, side control, or even from the closed guard. The end goal is the same – trapping the opponent’s head and arm and squeezing off their air supply.

The arm triangle choke is traditionally performed off starting out at the mount position. Ideally you have to dismount to get better leverage to finish the choke off the side of the opponent. However, just like other techniques in Jiu Jitsu, there are a few other variations to the choke.

You can perform the choke starting off at mount, side control, or even from the closed guard. The end goal is the same – trapping the opponent’s head and arm and squeezing off their air supply.

Arm Triangle From Full Mount

Starting off from the full mount position, the first step is to secure the opponent’s head. With your palm down, slide your hand behind their neck. Your arm should be cradling their neck, with your bicep against one side of their arteries and the forearm directly underneath the back of the neck.

From this position you can easily get the Ezekiel Choke. Your opponent will see this as a threat and will likely try to defend you with the other arm to prevent you from getting the choke.

Your next goal is to pin the opponent’s defending arm down with your free hand. Start grabbing for an under hook by swimming your hand underneath the opponent’s elbow. Once there, start walking it upwards until their arm is across their own neck. To secure the position, simply pin their arm down by pressing the side of your head against their shoulder to prevent them from pulling their arm back out.

For the grips, there are actually a couple variations out there you could try. It’s a matter of preference. Some like the gable grip variation and some like the figure-4 lock (similar to the triangle lock with your legs except with your arms).

For the gable grip variation, place your free hand and clasp it together with the other hand so that its palm to palm. For the figure-4 lock variation, the hand underneath the opponent’s head meets your free arm’s bicep. You can put your hand on the back of your head if you choose to get a tighter choke.

Once you’ve secured which ever grip you choose, windshield-wiper dismount off your opponent. Sprawl out, drive forward from your toes, and squeeze! It won’t take long until you get the tap!

Arm Triangle From Side Control

Another great way to setup the Arm Triangle Choke is from side control. When you are in the side control position, your opponent’s reaction is to usually to put some space between you. The more space there is, the higher the likelihood of escape.

Start off by controlling the opponent’s head by swimming your forearm underneath their neck. The ideal scenario is that your opponent will be trying to fight you off with their free arm. They will be using their forearm and elbow area across your face to pry you off to get that space.

This can be a bit uncomfortable but that’s ok, you can use this to your advantage. Continue driving your weight down. As the opponent pushes on your face, move your face off to the side and push their elbow up with your free hand. Place your head back down to pin their shoulder down with their own arm stuck across their neck.

Now that you have their arm trapped, grab for the gable grip by clasping both palms together. This puts you at the triangle position. Last thing you need now is to make it over to the other side to finish off the choke. You can do this in one of two ways – either windshield wiper to the other side or simply just jump over.

A more experienced opponent will see you trying to go for the mount or windshield wiper across, so it might be better off to just jump over. You can do this by leaning forward so that your weight is on your forearms. Next, kick one leg at a time to hop over to the other side.

This puts you at the traditional arm triangle choke position. Squeeze in your grips to get the tap!

Arm Triangle Choke From Closed Guard

The Arm Triangle Choke can be setup from the closed guard position. It’s a bit of a trickier and more unorthodox variation, but it can be done. Since it isn’t used often, it might be useful to learn to use on an unsuspecting opponent!

To set up the choke, start off by having your opponent inside you closed guard. Just like any attack from the closed guard, the first step is to break your opponent’s posture. Kick your knees to your chest to break your opponent’s down to force them to post their hands on the mat.

Next step is to trap one arm off to one side. If you plan on trapping their right arm, hug the back of the head with your right arm. Use your head to push their arm across their face as you would from the traditional arm triangle.

Interlock your arms together either by clasping your palms together for a gable grip or the figure-4 variation if you choose.

Keep in mind that this probably isn’t as tight as the traditional head and arm choke from the top position. You aren’t driving with your toes to tighten up the choke. However, if you lock in the choke just right, you should be able to get the tap. If not, readjust yourself by hip escaping towards the arm that’s trapped. You might even have to readjust to the half guard if necessary. Readjusting your angle might be what it takes to tighten up the arm triangle choke from the bottom.

Some Key Details to Consider

The arm triangle choke can be very deadly choke when applied correctly. There are several ways you can apply the choke from various positions. However, the end goal is the same.

The goal is to apply pressure on both sides of the opponent’s neck. The bicep pushes on one end and their own arm pushes against the other end. But to properly apply the technique there are a few things you should consider when applying the choke.

  • 1
    Fully cradle the back of your opponent’s neck as you control their head. Keep your arm all the way in on the back of the neck. Your bicep should be right up against the side of the neck and your forearm should be right underneath the nape of the neck. The closer you get to the side of the neck, the tighter the squeeze when you go for the choke.
  • 2
    Get your opponent’s arm to go across their neck instead of their face. This is one common mistake for the arm triangle. You might still be able to finish the choke even if the trapped arm is across the face but it doesn’t get as tight. This minor detail of having the arm across the neck does get the choke that much tighter!
  • 3
    When finishing the arm triangle choke, try to get your body perpendicular to your opponent’s torso. Once you’ve locked in your grips from the top position and are on the side of the opponent, you can really tighten the choke by being perpendicular to the opponent. Rotate your body by walking side to side. Once you are roughly 90 degrees to your opponent, drive forward with your toes and push forward towards them to tighten up the choke.

How To Defend An Arm Triangle Choke

  • Stay on your side: Once an opponent gets you flat on your back, they can begin isolating your head/arm for the choke. Doing the proper side control defense will help you defend arm triangles and other submission attempts. Stay on your side, while making space and it’ll be harder for opponents to attempt arm triangle chokes.
  • Arms in tight: Always keep your arms in tight when stuck in side control. If you extend an arm, the opponent can hook your head and arm for an arm triangle.  


The Arm Triangle Choke is one of the most famous chokes in grappling. There’s a reason it is heavily utilized in BJJ, Wrestling and MMA. It’s plain, it’s simple, and it works!

The arm triangle is very easy to use once you get the fundamentals down. Once you have the choke locked, the position is fairly easy to hold on to. It’s probably one of the earlier chokes you might learn in the beginner levels. But it might be one of those chokes that you start mastering in the intermediate level.

Once you’ve got it down, you’ll easily see why this one is a favorite! It’s quick and easy! Be careful though, this choke tightens up fast. It quickly cuts off the oxygen to the brain as you tighten your grips. If you aren’t paying attention your partner might already be asleep!