Triangle choke

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This article is about the triangle choke using the legs. For usage of the arms in a similar manner, see Arm triangle choke.
Triangle choke
The triangle choke applied at an early judo tournament.
Classification Chokehold
Style Judo
AKA Sankaku-Jime
Parent hold Guard (grappling)

A triangle choke, or sankaku-jime (三角絞) in judo, is a type of figure-four chokehold which strangles the opponent by encircling the opponent's neck and one arm with the legs in a configuration similar to the shape of a triangle. The technique is a type of lateral vascular restraint that constricts the blood flow from the carotid arteries to the brain.

Technique history[edit]

The triangle choke was seen in early Kosen judo competition,[1] and Tsunetane Oda, a judo groundwork specialist who practiced in the early 20th century,[2] demonstrated the triangle choke on video. [3] The technique is often used in grappling and mixed martial arts, a notable early example being UFC 4 when Royce Gracie used the choke to defeat Dan Severn to win the tournament. The standard triangle is particularly favored by practitioners of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, however several side or inverted triangles, typically seen more often in Judo competition, have been used in higher-profile MMA matches, such as when Toby Imada won 2009 Submission of the Year with an inverted triangle choke,[4] when Welterweight Chris Lytle submitted Matt Brown with an inverted mounted triangle/straight armbar at UFC 116 in 2010,[5] or in the Flyweight bout of Bellator LXXVII in 2012, when Matthew Lozano submitted Dave Morgan with an inverted triangle choke.[6]McGeary faced Kelly Anundson in the finals at Bellator 124 on 12 September 2014.[7] He won the fight via inverted triangle choke in the first round.[8] It was the first time an inverted triangle was attempted in Bellator MMA, also used by Fabrício Werdum to defeat Fedor Emelianenko at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum on 26 June 2010, thus ending Emelianenko's 28 unbeaten fight streak.


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt Marcos Torregrosa landing a flying triangle choke.

Tactically speaking, the triangle choke is a very effective counterattack employed from the bottom position, generally applied from the guard, or open guard (defensive positions). The choke can also be applied in the mount, side mount and back mount positions by more advanced grappling practitioners. The need for isolation of one arm could be a rationale for the frequency with which it is attempted in mixed martial arts and combat sports due to the brief vulnerability of one arm while executing hand strikes against an opponent in one of the aforementioned positions.

Soldiers demonstrating a triangle choke

Defensive Action[edit]

To escape a triangle choke, the defending practitioner must first elevate the head so as the preclude the full force of the submission, subsequently the practitioner must bring his arm away from opposition with his own carotid artery. Once out of immediate danger of loss of consciousness, the practitioner can concentrate reversing or escaping the figure-four lock.

In popular media[edit]

In the film Lethal Weapon, Mel Gibson's character Martin Riggs uses the triangle choke on a villain Mr. Joshua played by actor Gary Busey. Rorion Gracie is credited as the film’s special technical advisor: Brazilian jiu-jitsu.[9] In the film Abduction, Taylor Lautner's character uses the triangle choke on an antagonist. In the film Haywire, Gina Carano's character uses the triangle choke on Michael Fassbender's character. During a school fight in the anime Ikki Tousen, the character Ryomou Shimei uses the triangle choke on another character, Hakufu. In the 2013 film Oblivion, Tom Cruise's character (Tech 49, Jack Harper) subdues Tech 52 with a triangle choke, to avoid injuring him. Paul Walker, who was a practitioner of Brazilian Ju Jitsu, attempted to triangle Vin Diesel's character in the Fast and Furious series. In episode 5 of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series, a pit fighter named 'Bloodsong' uses this technique while on supine position to choke Asher, one of the 5 playable protagonists in the game. In episode 3 of the God Eater anime, Alisa Illinichina Amiella uses the triangle choke on Lenka Utsugi, the main protagonist.

Further reading[edit]

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