The Canto Choke – By Judo Olympic Champion Flavio Canto

Canto choke

Easily one of the easiest and most versatile Gi chokes has to be the Canto choke. You can hit it from almost any position and leave your opponent confused at how fast it comes on.

Here is everything that you need to know about the Canto choke. Going over who created the submission and how it has been innovated within Jiu Jitsu.

What’s a Canto Choke?

The Canto choke is a versatile gi submission developed by Judo Olympic champion Flavio Canto. It’s a quick choke that Flavio developed off of failed throws. 

In Judo, it’s common for athletes to be focused on defending throws and forget submissions. That’s why Canto began using his submission off of just one collar grip.

Flávio learned a similar collar choke from one of his coaches in Brazil. He adapted that choke off the same movement to create what people would call the Canto choke.

Once Canto began landing the choke in Judo competitions, it would quickly catch on. He would also share the technique with BJJ practitioners that loved the submission.

Since Flavio’s choke was introduced, it has become popular among Gi grapplers. It’s a great submission that’s easy to learn with numerous setups available, and it’s really effective.

The Canto Choke From Standing?

There are various setups for the Canto choke, but we’ll start with detailing the mechanics of the choke from guard. The same mechanics that are explained below will also work for a knee shield or in half guard.

Let’s start with the collar grip, which is the most important aspect of getting this choke. Take a semi-shallow collar grip on your opponent right at the side of their neck.

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This is so you have a little slack that will tighten up to lock in the choke. Your opponent’s lapel will be able to slide right under their neck.

Next, before you go for your choke, you have to keep space between you and your opponent. Keep your bottom foot placed on your opponent’s leg and your hand framing on their arm.

Now, you can go into the Canto choke. Lift your hips as you slightly turn and chop your leg down as you pull your opponent in. 

The motion is pulling your grip at the same time you’re pushing down your leg on your opponent’s head.  Make sure to chop your leg down with force to keep your opponent’s posture broken, so they can’t defend.

This should be enough to finish an opponent that’s caught off guard.

Finishing Option #2

Sometimes, a tough opponent is able to pull their head to escape the choke. If this happens, you have the option of hooking your opponent’s arm with your top foot.

Slightly turn your body to give you the space to hook your opponent’s arm. You can now finish them from there or use your hook to turn your opponent to their back and finish.

Finishing Option #3

Your opponent might also react by standing up out of the choke. If they do this, there’s an easy counter you can do by hooking your foot under their leg. Just like a butterfly hook.

Slightly hip out to give you space to hook their leg and use it to push your opponent. Forcing them back to the mat and into a super tight submission.

Flavio Canto goes over how to do his move with the finishing options in this video.

Canto Choke From Standing

This submission can be set up from a variety of different ways from standing. Whether you fake a trip or throw.

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The first step is to get your collar grip on your opponent. It doesn’t matter what fake you do, but what’s important is getting your opponent’s posture broken.

Once your opponent’s posture is broken you can pull them to the mat and go right into the Canto choke. Doing the same motion as you were pulling guard, but going right into the submission.

Follow the same steps to finish the choke as listed in the previous section and finish it how you wish.

Canto Choke From Half Guard

The Canto choke is actually very effective from on top in half guard. Your setup starts with you backing up to make your opponent react by moving into you.

Grab a hold of your opponent’s collar and cover your body over their top leg to block them. From there, you’re going to step over your opponent’s head and hook your leg at the back of their head.

Bring your feet together as you pull their collar to get the tap.

Canto Choke From Side-Control

This submission also works when you’re controlling your opponent in top side-control. Your first step is to get your collar grip and get an underhook on your opponent’s far arm.

Use your underhook to lift your opponent towards you to give you space to step over their head. Step over your opponent’s head, hook your leg behind their head, pull the collar, and finish the choke.

How to Defend Against The Canto Choke 

The Canto choke is really effective, but it’s rather easy to defend. Here’s how you defend against the Canto choke.

Defend Collar Grip

This choke begins and ends with the initial collar grip. If you defend the collar grip, you won’t have to worry about getting put in this submission.

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From the guard to defend the choke, always keep your posture like you would defend any other submission inside the guard. Keep your posture and avoid the choke.

Block the Leg 

Your opponent needs to hook the back of their leg around your head to lock in the sub. If you block their leg from hooking your head, it’ll stop the choke even if they have your collar.

Tuck Head

Another defense that you can do from both on top and bottom is to keep your head tucked. When your carotid artery isn’t exposed, it’ll help you defend and escape.

Important Tips for Hitting the Canto Choke

The Canto choke is easy to learn, but there’s small details that you’ll need to remember to successfully land it. Here are important tips you need to remember for landing the Canto choke.

  • The Collar Grip: This choke begins and ends with your collar grip. If you don’t have a good grip against your opponent’s neck, you won’t land the submission.
  • Leg Positioning: The back of your knee/calf must be pressed right on the back of your opponent’s head. 
  • Kick Down: You have to kick down your leg with force on the back of your opponent’s head. Doing this gives you a better choke and keeps them from being able to posture up.
  • Pull: As you’re kicking down your top leg, you have to pull your collar grip down. These two motions together are what make the choke work.
  • Make Space: From the bottom position, you have to make space in order to set up your choke. If you don’t have space, you will not get the submission.
  • Finishing Options: Remember the three finishes options you have for this submission. Depending on your opponent’s reactions, you can finishing it straight on or hook their arm or leg.