How to Do the Darce Choke

How to Do the Darce Choke

The Darce Choke is an extremely strong grappling submission hold that strangulates the opponent from both sides of the neck. The mechanics of the choke is that the head and arm of the opponent is trapped between your own arms. As you squeeze your arms together, it pushes the opponents arm against their own neck and your other arm applies pressure on the other side of their neck. The pressure on both sides of the neck strangles your opponent, cutting off blood circulation.  

The earliest form of the choke can be attributed to the original judo variation, Kata Gatame, or the Arm Triangle Choke as we know it in BJJ. In Portuguese, the Darce Choke is often referred to as triângulo de braço invertido, which literally translates to “reverse arm triangle.” And that’s exactly what it is! It’s simply the Kata Gatame performed on the opposite side of the opponent.  

As grappling continues to evolve, more and more moves are discovered and added to the game. The earliest form of the Darce Choke can be first attributed to Milton Viera’s Brabo Choke. When we’re talking Gi vs No Gi, the Brabo Choke is the Gi variation 

The Darce, or the "No-Gi Brabo," can be traced to have been discovered by a Luta Livre competitor Björn Dag Lagerström in the mid-90’s. He actually discovered it by mistake, by trying to learn the Anaconda Choke! The name itself was named after Renzo Gracie black belt Joe D’Arce. He’s successfully caught so many people with it, they started calling it the Darce! 

There’s a reason the Darce is one of the most heavily utilized chokes in the game. It’s simple, powerful, and very effective. Let’s take a look at how to do the Darce Choke.  

darce choke

How to Perform the Darce

The great thing about the Darce Choke is that it is extremely versatile. You can set it up from multiple positions in a grappling match. It’s also very useful for keeping control of your opponent’s movement. So even if you are unable to finish the choke itself, it allows you to easily control your opponent and setup your next attack. 

Darce Choke from Top Half Guard 

Probably the most common position you will be able to setup the Darce Choke is from the top half guard position. As you try to flatten your opponent out and pass their guard, their likely reaction is to try to stay on their side to fish for an under hook. This under hook is key for the bottom player as they try to attempt to sweep you over. You can use this to your advantage! As your opponent grabs for the under hook, you can start grabbing for the Darce grip.  

To set it up, use the arm on the same side of the opponent’s under hook. Swim your hand through your opponent’s armpit, threading it starting from the back of the shoulder and exiting the front. 

With your palm facing upwards, continue threading your arm through until you are able to grab behind your opponent’s neck. This position will establish control on your opponent’s movement.  

Next, with your opposite arm, place your elbow right next to your other hand. Replace your hand from the neck of your opponent to grab your own bicep. Squeeze your arms together in a figure-4 position similar to what you would have in a Rear Naked Choke or Arm Triangle Choke submission hold.  

If you’ve set it up just right, you can simply squeeze your arms together to get the tap! 

Darce Choke from Turtle Guard Position

Another common position for the Darce Choke is performed from the turtle or front headlock position. Your opponent will be in a turtle position while you are directly in front of them putting downward pressure on them as you set up the choke.  

You usually end up in this position after your opponent attempts a takedown. As a counter measure, you defend by sprawling out. This puts you right on top of the opponent in the front headlock position.  

To set it up, thread your right arm through the opponent’s left armpit and your arm should exit right in front of your opponent’s neck.  

Catch your bicep and form a figure four position and place your free hand on the opponent’s lat to lock in the position.  

Once you’ve secured the position, break your opponent’s posture down by forcefully rolling them onto their side. You may have to use some momentum by rolling yourself onto your hip as you fish for the Darce grips. After you lock it in, squeeze your arms together to finish the choke.  

Darce Choke from Side Mount

The Darce Choke from side control is another excellent option. It can be a very sneaky setup, unsuspecting opponents won’t see it coming! 

A lot of times, when you have your opponent down controlled with a side mount, their automatic instinct is to frame to create as much distance between their body and yours. By creating this distance, they would then try to either retain their guard or turn into you to try to get back on top.   

To try get on top, the opponent would have to fish for the under hook with their far side arm. Let them do so! Similar to the Darce Choke from the top half guard position, wait for them to turn in and start fishing for the Darce grip.  

Thread your arm underneath the armpit and exit out the front of your opponent’s neck. With your opposite arm, clasp your hands together and grab for a gable grip. Forcefully pull your opponent’s head down towards you. This will lock the choke in deeper.  

Next step is to replace the gable grip and grab for your opposite arm’s bicep. This puts you right back into the traditional Darce Choke position. Squeeze for the finish! 

Some Key Details to Consider

The Darce Choke is an extremely deadly choke to add to your grappling arsenal. It’s simple yet very effective. The great thing about it is that it's so versatile that you can do it from several positions. Here are some key details to consider when locking in the choke.  

  • 1
    Use the blade of your wrist when you lock in the choke. When you reach under the arm to thread to the back of the opponent’s neck, make sure you use the blade of your wrist against the side of the neck when you grab for your bicep. Turn your wrists in so that the boney blade part right under your thumb presses against the side of the neck. This minor adjustment will sink the choke much deeper.

  • 2
    Make sure your opponent’s shoulder is pinned against the side of their neck. One common problem when finishing the Darce is the space between the neck and the shoulder. If there is too much space there, the choke won’t sink in deep enough. That may require you to pull their head in closer toward your body or dropping your chest down against their shoulder. Make sure you make the proper adjustments to close in the gap.

  • 3
    When finishing the Darce, you can increase the chances of finishing the choke by switching your body position. One way you can do this is by sitting your hip down and hooking your leg over their body. This method is great because if they manage to get out, you still end up in the mount position! As an alternative, apply heavier pressure from the top. Pop up on your toes and drive down hard by pressing your chest against the opponent’s shoulder.

How To Defend the Darce Choke

  • Hook their elbow and sit through: To do the darce, you need to put the opponent’s arm across their neck. So obviously to defend a darce choke, you can’t let this happen!  To defend the choke, hook around their elbow to prevent them from locking in the choke. Also, given an open opportunity, a sit through can get you out of this bad position.  
  • Hold their hips: To lock the Darce in the opponent needs to take space and crunch your head downward. You can block this by extending your arms and hold their hips to stop the choke. 
  • Grab their arm: Grabbing the choke arm is the basic defense for all chokes. When they loop their choke hand keep your chin up and grab their wrist to block the choke. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Darce Choke is easily one of the most popular chokes among the head and arm triangle family of chokes. It is simple and extremely effective if you set it up just right.  

Even though it may be a very simplistic choke, you can see high level grapplers often go for this choke. Jeff Glover, Marc Laimon, and Robert Drysdale often hit this choke even against top level competitors. You could even see Drysdale pull it off against the great Marcelo Garcia in ADCC 2007! 

That just comes to show just how dangerous this choke can be. It might not be one of the first chokes you learn as a beginner just starting out. You might see it more in the intermediate level. It can be tricky at first, but once you get it down, you’ll have one of the best submissions in your arsenal!