The Canard Chronicles: Three Grappling Myths Exposed

Most martial arts have a quasi-religious dimension to them. This is manifest not only in the exploration of our spiritual depths through meditation and philosophy, but also from the time-honored practice of passing knowledge from hoary masters down the hierarchy to callow acolytes.

Alas, like with religion, this tends to often result in unquestioning belief by said acolytes, with the result that the occasional canard is accepted as gospel, and never questioned on pain of excommunication. In my own nascent journey as a grappling acolyte, I have discovered three of these, and at great risk to my immortal soul, share them below.

1. You can't choke someone out from inside their guard

In my first-ever grappling class, I attempted to do just this. It's amazing what you can achieve when no-one has told you it is impossible. I didn't succeed, but I almost did, and so when I was told later that it wasn't possible, I received the news with natural scepticism. And then I found this stirring video:

Executing a collar choke from inside an opponent's guard is difficult, because most chokes require you to bear your upper-body weight down on your opponent while executing the technique. This is hard to do with your hips below his- but not impossible. As the video shows, if you can raise your hips high enough while in his guard, you can bring sufficient upper-body pressure to bear and finish the choke. Use this to surprise an unwary opponent.

Conclusion: Myth busted.

2. You shouldn't cross your legs while executing an armbar

Before I joined a grappling class, I drilled Ronda Rousey-style armbars on a grappling dummy, because really, who else would you want to emulate in this department? And when I finally started training with real people, my crossed-ankle armbars worked famously, and soon became my favorite submission.

I was thus perplexed to hear it being said that doing it this way constituted poor form. Of course, virtually every Ronda Rousey armbar refutes this allegation:


But perhaps this is because she's an American, and everyone knows that Americans, in their obsession with the practical nature of things, are disdainful of tradition and proper form? Maybe. But what conclusion to draw when a Brazilian Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu demigod also does the crossed-ankle armbar? Witness none other than Big Nog himself committing technical blasphemy as he finishes Ed Herman by armbar:


Executing an armbar requires controlling your opponent's upper body with your legs while isolating the target arm. Uncrossing your ankles and pinching your knees to gether is one way. Crossing them and arching your hips is another. They're two effective variations of the same technique.

Conclusion: Myth busted.

3. You have to dismount to finish an arm triangle choke

This was another discomfiting source of cognitive dissonance for me. In Judo, every white belt is taught the full mount as the most basic pinning/immobilisation technique. It is called tate shiho gatame, and in the classic form, involves executing a simultaneous arm triangle while fully mounted, thus:


Yet, I have heard Joe Rogan say countless times, whenever a UFC fighter attempts the arm triangle choke, that the fighter needs to dismount to the side to achieve enough leverage to finish it. Per this belief, the correct and effective way to get the tap is as demonstrated here by Jacare Souza, as he consumes Matt Lindland in his voracious reptilian maw:


Did this mean that decades of Judo tradition was wrong? I personally never had any difficulty tapping out partners with the arm triangle from tate shiho gatame, so my natural scepticism was again aroused. And then Josh Barnett vindicated the traditional method with this picture perfect finish in his last fight under the Strikeforce marque:


Less than a fortnight later, Rafael Natal finished Sean Spencer with the same arm triangle from full mount, thereby causing some cognitive discomfort to Joe Rogan:


I considered the case rested. Perhaps dismounting might indeed confer additional leverage (though I personally don't perceive any difference in effectiveness between both variations). However, it is definitely not necessary to finish the technique. So Joe Rogan, zip it.

Conclusion: Myth busted.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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