How to Do the Paper Cutter Choke in BJJ

How to Do the Paper Cutter Choke in BJJ

The Paper Cutter Choke is an extremely effective and devastating choke when it comes to BJJ submissions. On top of that it can be very sneaky!

It’s one of those chokes that is hard to see coming if you aren’t expecting it. And that is extremely important when it comes to Jiu Jitsu! If you are able to lock in a submission on an unsuspecting opponent, you have a much higher the chance of getting the tap.

In this article, we take a look at some of the key details on how to do the paper cutter choke in BJJ.

How to Perform the Choke

The paper cutter choke is typically performed starting either from the side mount position or the north-south position (or somewhere in between). The paper cutter in itself is a fairly simple lapel choke from side control. It involves maintaining control of the opponent’s collar behind their neck with one arm and putting pressure right on top of the neck with your opposite arm.

Starting off with the side-control position, spin over to the north south position. The normal reaction of your opponent as you are smashing them down is to have their arms folded in front of them to generate some space between your body and theirs.

As you smash your opponent down, drive your body down and pry their arms open until you have chest to chest contact. The lesser the space between you and them, the harder it is to get out of this position!

Next, you have to pick an arm to trap. If you decide to trap their right arm, use your right arm to go underneath and around theirs, and grab the lapel directly under the middle of the back of their neck with your palms facing upwards and knuckles on the mat.


Once you have secured the collar, spin back to side control towards the trapped arm. Make sure you maintain heavy top pressure as you do this, so they aren’t able to roll out!

With your opposite hand, grab your opponent’s opposite collar. For this example, if you trapped their right arm, grab across and secure the left collar with your thumb in.

Afterwards, you simply drive your forearm down across their neck until your elbow touches the mat.

Key Details to Consider

1. You Don't Always have to Go North-South

Sometimes your opponent will try to defend your side control by getting a near side under hook under your arm. If you don’t react in time, your opponent can hip up and turn over to get back on top!

One thing you can do to counter this is to swim your arm under to grab the lapel behind their neck. This way you already have the grip, so you don’t even need to switch from side control to north-south positions. It really depends on what your opponent gives you!

2. Try to Be Sneaky When Setting Up the Choke

When you have your lapel grip and you are back at side control, chances are your opponent will be suspecting you are up to something! Although the paper cutter choke can be a sneaky choke, it doesn’t mean that you should be telegraphing your movements.

If you put arm across over the top of their head to grab his opposite collar, they’ll see that coming for sure! Try to sneak your opposite hand under their chin, away from their line of sight to grab the opposite collar to finish your move!

3. Use Your Head!

Sometimes your opponent can be stubborn, and they fight your choking hand with their free hand. If you find yourself struggling to grab the collar, you can use your head to trap their hand – literally!

If their free hand is down towards their hip, adjust your body and press the side of your head against their arm to trap it. This frees you up to access their collar without any distractions! Alternatively, if their arms are folded up towards their face, you can use your chin to pry it downwards to open up that neck.

4. Sprawl Your Hips Out and Adjust Your Arm Placement

When finishing the choke, make sure you sprawl your hips outward, with your hips touching the mat. This will deepen the choke even more.

Also, be sure to straighten your wrist out so that the blade of your wrist is directly on top of the neck. Lastly, if your opponent still doesn’t tap even after your elbow touches the mat, turn your forearm and elbow towards the top of their head and get the tap!

Check out the video below for some key details to look for:

How To Defend The Paper Cutter Choke

The paper cutter can be a brutal choke, but it is also real easy to defend against! 

  • Get on your side: For the opponent to be able to do the paper cutter choke, they must have you flat on your back. Since they have you in side control, you should already be trying to get on your side and defend. So, get on your side, frame, make space, escape, and you won’t have to worry about the paper cutter choke. 
  • Protect your neck: The paper cutter choke requires the opponent to grab your lapel and chop down on your neck. Be sure to have your hands up and chin tucked to prevent them from doing the choke. 
  • Block the UnderhookTo get you in place to set up the paper cutter choke, the opponent needs to do an underhook. This is because they need to grab the back of your collar to lock you in place to set up their paper cutter. If you block their initial underhook, they won’t be able to set up the submission. 


The paper cutter choke is a very powerful choke once you have mastered the technique. However, it might take a bit of practice before you can perform the choke correctly. Many beginners in BJJ struggle initially with this especially with all the key details involved. But once you have mastered the technique down, you have a very powerful choke in your hands!

Keep in mind that the paper cutter is a very strong choke that cuts off your opponent’s air supply by applying pressure on their windpipe. It doesn’t take a whole lot to get a tap from this once you lock it in.

The choke is so effective and so sudden that your might not even realize they are being choked out! If you aren’t careful, you might accidentally put them to sleep!