In the first of the three Judo Chops that spawned from Bellator 62, we took a deep look at the rare Von Flue choke that Brent Weedman used to force J.J. Ambrose to tap out. However, Ambrose had some very nifty submission attempts earlier in the fight and nearly finished Weedman once or twice with slick neck-based attacks.
The submission that people call the brabo or the d'arce aims to shut off the carotids simultaneously by creating a triangle with the arms. The set-ups for the submission are surprisingly diverse and many grapplers come up with unique ways to apply it from a multitude of angles. In their Bellator 62 battle, J.J. Ambrose primarily used Brent Weedman's tendency in bottom half guard to fight for an underhook against him and had Weedman red in the face and scrambling to get out.
Ambrose really came very close to finishing the fight and had several grapplers I know talking about how nice it was to see someone hitting the brabo from top half guard in a high level MMA fight. To honor his technical skills, we give you the second Bellator 62 Judo Chop on brabo chokes - or d'arce chokes, depending on what name you like (essentially a "brontosaurus/apatosaurus" situation).
As soon as the fight wrapped up, Kid Nate and K.J. Gould, the Grappling Editor, were already shooting e-mails to Patrick Tenney of U.S.A. Jiu Jitsu down in Virginia, to hear his thoughts on the rather slick brabo/d'arce submissions J.J. Ambrose was threatening to end the fight with. Hit the jump for Patrick's breakdown.
Other notable Judo Chops involving the brabo/d'arce: Carlo Prater and the Sucuri Roll, written by K.J. Gould, Terry Etim's Transition to the Brabo, written by Luke Thomas, and a section of my own Maia/Munoz ground-fighting deals with anacondas and brabos.
Ambrose is taking advantage at first of a mistake that constantly comes up when people play half guard. Weedman is correctly going for the underhook on Ambrose, but he's going palm down on the middle of the back.
This is Ben breaking into Patrick's sermon to drop in a GIF from elsewhere: In this short bit, Paulo Thiago and Mike Swick further illustrate Patrick's points below at UFC 109. To be fair, Thiago had battered Swick into a daze with a barrage of punches just prior and Swick was operating on survival instincts during the ground-fighting.
When you go palm down on the center or lower part of the back, what can and does happen is that the fighter in the top position will overhook through and under into that d'arce/brabo position. In order to avoid that, the bottom fighter needs to underhook either very high and turn his thumb over (so the back of the hand is on the back, instead of the palm, as this changes the elbow/shoulder orientation so that only people with the arm length of Jon Jones will be able to wrap through) or hook very low and around the hip while keeping the head tight and avoiding the crossface/shoulder pressure (which would put them back flat on the mat and eliminate the hard work).
Once Ambrose gets the arm through and under the head, he uses his other arm to knock Weedman's head closer so that he can secure a figure four grip (the d'arce). It looks like Ambrose ends up being only able to grab his forearm however - and not his own bicep, as desired. This forearm grip is what saves Weedman as Ambrose cannot apply the submission fully.
From what I can tell, the reason Ambrose can't lock it up is that Weedman is properly keeping Ambrose at an acute angle with his half guard, while Ambrose needs to get further perpendicular to Weedman to really get his arms utilizing the full potential of their length. Think of it this way, try to apply a D'arce directly from the front of an opponent in the turtle position, then try to apply it while alongside the opponent, the more straight on and less to the side you are to your opponent, the less your arms will be able to complete and squeeze the full lock.
Now because Ambrose has the head still controlled with the forearm grip, he is applying cervical pressure on the neck by pinching it into Weedman's own chest, this is where Jimmy Smith is talking about when saying "the full crank". It is extremely uncomfortable, but it's not the worst neck crank by a long shot. It's no "Dan Miller" moment. See the end of the article for the legendary submission Patrick is referring to here.
What bothers me is at roughly the 4:10 mark, you can see that Ambrose could have straightened his right leg to pass the guard and locked in the choke to finish, but he decides to not readjust and just keeps the low percentage crank going. Weedman gets a kickstand under himself and rolls over to better continue his escape attempts. At this point,what Ambrose SHOULD have done is use this as an opportunity to turn this into a M'arce (thanks, Jeff Glover seminar!) and slid out baseball-style in almost a side-by-side position to Weedman, shot his arm through even deeper and locked his bicep to finish the choke.
The following video is the m'arce Patrick is talking about,but unfortunately it is not of Jeff Glover.
Unfortunately, J.J. lets Weedman out and Weedman comes around the corner and takes top position.
This was a series of minor mistakes and missed opportunities to finish the D'arce choke. It won't be the first or last time someone gets put in a sticky situation because of poorly underhooking from bottom half guard.
Ben interjecting here again: During our roll a few months ago, Patrick got me over and over again with this brabo/d'arce combination due to my improper placement of the hand from half guard. It was a humbling experience and one that showed me that Patrick is pretty okay at this grappling stuff and with this set of concepts specifically.
The GIF to the right is from IFL: 2007 Semifinals, where Dan Miller basically locked up the "Nastiest Guillotine of All Time" award forever and ever. Phillips was actually unharmed once he regained consciousness and fought once more in 2008 before dropping off the MMA scene. Also, K.J. Gould has a great front chancery Judo Chop that focuses on what Jon Jones used to finish Lyoto Machida at UFC 140. The same type of neck crank/choke concepts are used in that, here and in Patrick's breakdown.