Bulldog Choke – BJJ Technique Explained

bulldog choke

In Jiu Jitsu, there are some techniques you look at and question the legitimacy of. You might say to yourself, when would I ever use that and why should I learn it?

Although even if you’ll never use it, you still need to know how to do it. Just so that it makes your Jiu Jitsu complete.

This is why we made this section to tell you everything about the bulldog choke. Breaking down everything from who came up with it, how it works, and detail how to execute the choke.

Bulldog Choke
Bulldog Choke

When was the bulldog choke created

Nobody really invented the bulldog choke. It has been a move people have been doing for centuries without any technique behind. 

We’ve all seen schoolyard fights, where some grabs a headlock and starts hitting the other person. That is basically a crude version of what a bulldog choke is. People just know if you grab a hold of someone’s head you can control.

There’s numerous ancient paintings and sculptures of men locking in a bulldog choke onto bulls and lions.Noone can really be accredited with coming up with the move. 

The bulldog choke is most taught within catch wrestling.  Some catch wrestlers prefer to forgo the process of getting back control with hooks and just attack the head. Going by the old adage control the head and the body will follow 

How does the choke work?

While it may seem like an amateurish move that shouldn’t work, the bulldog choke works. When you do it properly the choke can be really tight. Your opponent will also feel really silly that they got caught with a bulldog choke.

The bulldog choke is basically a mix of an RNC with no hooks and a guillotine choke. It also looks a bit like a No-Gi clock choke. You clasp your arms around the opponent’s neck and cut off their blood flow. It is also a bit of an air choke.

In all honestly though, there is nothing nice about the bulldog choke. Once you see their neck is open it is a submission you grab and squeeze laying in crushing pressure.

Bulldog choke details

A lot of the bulldog choke setups come from various scrambles. We’ll get to that later, but for this section we’re just listing the steps of doing a bulldog choke. 

Let’s say for whatever reason the opponent exposed their neck opening up the opportunity for a bulldog choke. First thing is your choke grip.

There’s three grip variations that are generally used depending on the setup and what’s available. Gable grip, RNC grip, and S grip.

Whichever one you choose remember this tip to slide your hand under the opponent’s chin. Put the back of your thumb against the side of their neck and slide it under their chin.

Once you secure your grip, sit your legs out to the side and lean into your opponent. You sit out away from them, because if they’re close they can defend and counter with a takedown.

Leaning on your opponent when doing a bulldog choke is important for two reasons. First it gives you leverage to make a tighter choke. The other reason it keeps them in place helps prevent them from defending.

You don’t see the bulldog choke often in competition because it is rather easy to defend. That is why you have to do each step perfectly if you’re going to go for it.

Ben Askren bulldog choke

The most recent use of the bulldog choke came in the Ben Askren vs Robbie Lawler UFC fight. It was a controversial stoppage, but the technique was legit.

In the fight, Askren took Lawler down and got back control for a moment. In that moment Askren got his hand under Lawler’s neck, but Robbie tucked his chin to defend.

Ben didn’t have proper hooks, so Robbie tried to turn away from Askren’s arm and attempt a single leg. When he did this it opened the opportunity for Askren to do a bulldog choke.

While he still had a grip around Lawler’s neck, Askren turned to the side, leaned in and squeezed.

Raquel Pennington bulldog choke

When Raquel Pennington did the bulldog choke, the set up came from standing against the fence. Pennington was controlling Asley Evans-Smith against the cage.

Smith tried to turn away, but exposed her neck and Pennington quickly capitalized. Grabbing a rear naked choke grip.

Although instead of going to Smith’s back, Pennington stepped forward and dragger her down by her head. Sitting out and locking in the bulldog choke.

Smith refused to step and tried to wait out the round, but fell asleep as the round ended. 

Yancy Medeiros reverse bulldog choke

Another unlikely submission that you never see in fighting is the reverse bulldog choke. The only one that was pulled off in the UFC was by Yancy Medeiros.

Yancy got a standing guillotine choke on his opponent and for some reason they defended by turning into Medeiros. When they did this Yancy just kept his grip and turned it into a modified reverse bulldog choke.

A move you will hardly ever see, but it was effective.

Duck under to bulldog choke

This catch wrestling technique starts from standing when you’re in a double collar tie up with your opponent. You’re going to start by pushing the opponent back.

Naturally they’ll react by pushing back and this is what you want. As they push you back, you duck under them and go to the back.

You’re going to keep your collar tie and use it to pull them down. Next step is to replace your collar tie hand with your choke hand. 

Slide your choke hand under their neck with the blade of your wrist under their chin. Then take an S grip and keep your elbows tucked in.

The final and most important step before you start your squeeze is the sit out.  It is very important when you sit out that you go past the opponent’s shoulder.

If you stay on the opponent’s shoulder, you’ll have to muscle in the choke and it isn’t likely you’ll get it. So always sit out past the opponent’s shoulder.

Now that you’re in position squeeze by pushing your elbows back and drive your wrist blade upward into their neck.

Bulldog choke setup option

This bulldog choke setup comes from when the opponent is in the turtle position staying tight. You’ve attempted getting hooks, but they just aren’t giving them up.

So there is a nasty catch wrestling bulldog choke you can set up. From the side of your opponent in the turtle, you’re going to do a crossface on them with your far arm.

Grind the blade of your wrist under their nose and forcibly lift their head up. This exposes their neck and you quickly wrap your other arm around their neck.

Take a knuckles down guillotine grip, sit out and get the submission.


As a grappler,  you’ll probably be able to count the times you’ll do a bulldog choke on both hands. While it isn’t likely you’ll hit this move often, you should still know how to do it.

  • Grip Options: The first grip  for a bulldog choke is basically the same as a guillotine choke. You grab the wrist of your choke and pull it tight into their neck. An RNC grip is your other option when you lose hooks and keep the choke. S grip is also another option.
  • Wrist under the chin: For the tightest choke use the blade of your wrist and have it under their chin. Your bicep can choke them, but there will be space and they can defend easier.
  • Thumb against their neck: A trick you can do to make sure your bulldog choke is tight involves the thumb of your choke hand. Have the back of your thumb pressed against the side of their neck to ensure your choke is tight.
  • Lean on your opponent: To do a proper bulldog choke, you lean your weight on the opponent for two reasons. One is to keep them prone and in place for your choke and the other reason is for leverage. You have to keep them in place, while getting leverage on them for a tight bulldog choke.
  • Sit out: The sit out is a really important step you can’t forget if you want success with the bulldog choke. Sitting your legs out away from the opponent to prevent them from grabbing them and countering the choke.
  • Go past their shoulder: When you sit out to make the bulldog choke work you must go past their shoulder. If you just stay on their shoulder, you’ll have to muscle it in and may not submit them.
  • Squeeze with your body: Just like with every choke squeeze with your body and not just your arms.