The Brabo Choke

The Brabo Choke

One of the best chokes you can know in Gi Jiu Jitsu is the Brabo Choke. Since its creation in the early 2000s it has proven to be quite an effective choke.   

The Brabo Choke is an extremely devastating blood choke that traps an opponent’s arm across their neck and chest, and using their own lapel to squeeze their neck. This opposing pressure you get is extremely painful and super effective to eventually cause you to either tap or pass out.    

There have been quite a few innovations in doing the Brabo Choke since its inception. Let’s take a look at the complete history of this submission and how to use it.

The Brabo Choke

Brabo Choke Origins

The Brabo Choke was created in the early 2000s by world champion and Checkmat affiliate founder Leo Vieira. Viera claims he got the inspiration to do the choke from watching a white belt student use an unrefined variation.  

“I always look to develop stuff and observe white belts training. I once saw a white belt using something like that and thought ‘man this could happen.’ Then I started working on the position.”- Leo Vieira  

This choke was created from aggressive guard passing, specifically the knee slide pass and the knee on belly. When you have your opponent pinned, you use their own lapel to lock in a super tight choke.  

Vieira used the Brabo choke with success in many tournaments. He submitted just about all of his opponents with it in the 2004 Pans championship and World Cup. After Leo proved the effectiveness of his choke, the Jiu Jitsu world started learning the Brabo choke.  

The name Brabo in Portuguese actually translates to angry, tough or aggressive, which sort of sums up the choke perfectly.  

Brabo Choke vs Darce Choke

You may notice a lot of similarities between the Brabo and darce chokes. That is because they use the exact same motion to choke the opponent. The only difference being you use the Gi with Brabo choke while the Darce is done without using the Gi. In fact, the Darce is sometimes referred to as the “No-Gi Brabo Choke.” 

How To Do The Brabo Choke

We’ll start with the basic set up from side control to knee on belly. When the opponent stays tight defending against collar chokes and arm locks this is when they’re most open for the Brabo.  

Take your inside hand near the opponent’s body and start to remove their lapel from their belt. After you take it out pass it to your other hand that should be behind their head.  

The next step is to go knee on belly. Generally when you do this, the opponent will naturally react and turn in to defend. If they don’t pull them up on their side to get them in position for the choke.  

Now we’re into the last couple steps. Pass the lapel again with your top hand with a palm up grip pulling them up a bit. This closes space and adds more pressure to the knee on belly.  

For the last step, take your free hand, grab the top of their shoulder, and put your head to the mat. Pull the opponent into you to set in the choke to get the tap.  

Watch Alliance founder Fabio Gurgel show you how to properly do the Brabo choke in this video.

Brabo Choke From Knee Cut/Slice Pass

Generally, the Brabo choke is done from knee on belly, but it’s also a good option from a knee cut pass. When you go for the knee cut pass and the opponent defends, you can set up a Brabo choke.   

The setup is the exact same as the traditional Brabo choke from knee on belly. Go through the same steps of getting out their lapel and locking in the choke.

Brabo Choke Counter Defense

Sometimes in a last-ditch effort to stop the choke, the opponent will block you from grabbing their shoulder. When they do this grab their defending arm and pull it across their body and drop your chest on it.    

Your other hand is going to go behind their back and reach as low as you can. To finish, sink your weight down as you pull the lapel inward. This video by the instructors at Ohio Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy do a great job of explaining these variations.  

Brabo Choke Variations From Guard

The Brabo choke also has quite a few options from the closed guard, we’ll take a look at.

  • Palm Down Brabo Choke: After you pull out the opponent’s lapel and pass it over, you pass it again, but have a palm down grip. Use this grip to break the opponent’s posture along with your legs to keep them in place.   Your free hand will go under this grip grabbing inside the opponent’s far lapel to lock in the choke. Use the same motion as an X choke to finish this Brabo variation. 
  • Palm Up Brabo: This variation is the exact same as you would do from top position, but from guard with an extra step. Pull out the opponent’s lapel and pass it like you normally would, but use your legs to get an angle.  This angle using your legs opens the space for you to grab the opponent’s collar to finish the choke. 
  • Counter Brabo Choke from Guard: This choke again is exactly like the counter from top position when the opponent defends. You go through the steps and the opponent blocks you from grabbing their collar. When they do this grab their elbow to pull it across their body as you angle and pull their lapel. 
  • Brabo Choke to Back Take From Guard: Sometimes when you try the Brabo from guard pulling their arm, they block it by following your angle. When they do this a back take option is available.  Do the same steps as the counter Brabo from guard with one more step to take their back. When you push their arm across, regrab their sleeve with your other hand and grab their hip with the other. Use that hip to pull yourself to their back and lock in your hooks to complete the sweep

Blackbelt Rodrigo Cavaca shows all of these variations in this video.

Key Details To Remember

The Brabo choke is a fantastic lapel choke option, but you have to remember the steps to make it work. Remember these key details when going for the Brabo Choke. 

  • No Space: Whether it’s from top position or in guard, you can’t give the opponent any space. You have to be tight while giving pressure when attempting the Brabo Choke. Otherwise they can defend and escape. 
  • Turn Your Wrist And Pull The Lapel: To make your lapel grip tight make sure you turn your wrist and then pull in your arm. This will make sure you have good pressure and keep the opponent in place. 
  • Chest Down: From top position keep down on the opponent to put heavy pressure on them. It will also add extra pressure for the choke. 
  • Get An Angle In The Guard: Getting an angle is super important when attempting the Brabo Choke from guard. Kick off your opponent’s hips to angle your hips to get the angle you need to lock in the submission. 
  • Control Their Arm: When you go for the hoke and they defend, you have to control their arm if you want the Brabo counter. It’s the only defense they have left, so you have to take it away to get the choke.

How To Defend The Brabo Choke

  • Defend the Lapel Grab: If you don’t let the opponent take out your lapel, they can’t do the Brabo choke. So stop them before they get a chance to set it up! 
  • Block the Grip Pass: To set up the choke, the opponent needs to pass your lapel twice before they can set it in. You can block the passes by doing overhooks, underhooks, or blocking their arm at their bicep. 
  • Defend Knee on Belly: If the opponent has you in side control, they need to get to knee on belly for the Brabo Choke. If you defend knee on belly, that immediately cuts them off from setting up the submission. 
  • Block the Collar Grab: If the opponent is a collar grab away from locking in the choke, you have to block it with your arm. They can still get you with the counter choke, but blocking the initial choke will buy you some time. 
  • Follow Their Hips: When the opponent attempts the Brabo Choke from closed guard, you have to follow their hips to defend it. To complete the choke, they need to get an angle on you, so follow their hips to block their attempt.

Final Thoughts

The Brabo Choke is a phenomenal choke with numerous variations. It has been proven to be a great technique that you really must know to advance in BJJ. This is one of the most powerful submissions out there. Make sure to take the time to drill this submission along with some of its variations. Be careful though, once this one sinks in, it tightens up quick. If you aren’t paying attention, your partner might already be taking a nap!