The ninja choke is a super effective submission we don’t see often, but is really effective. For those that enjoy using guillotine and darce chokes, the ninja choke would be a great submission to learn.
Here is everything that you need to know about the ninja choke submission. Going over the submission’s origins, how it works, and important tips for locking it in.
What is a Ninja Choke?
The ninja choke is a submission that was originally a Gi technique using your lapel to choke your opponent. This submission in BJJ is primarily done from top side-control, where you sneak the choke in like a ninja. Some call it a ninja choke, while others just call it a lapel choke.
In modern grappling, there is a No-Gi version of the ninja choke that is becoming more popular to use. Especially in MMA, where we most recently saw Said Nurmagomedov hit the choke in the UFC.
A ninja choke is a mixture of a guillotine choke with a darce/anaconda choke with no arms in. One hand hooks under the opponent’s neck and you grab your other bicep like an RNC to lock in the choke.
How Does the Ninja Choke Work?
The ninja choke works the same as all other front headlock chokes. You’re bending the opponent’s neck downward and pressing your arms into their corroded arteries.
Doing this shuts off the blood to their head, which forces your opponent to submit or go to sleep. It’s as simple as a guillotine or an RNC.
Basic Ninja Choke/Guillotine Counter
The first ninja choke we’ll take a look at is a counter for when your opponent defends a guillotine. You grab a guillotine and pull guard, but your opponent defends by grabbing your forearm and dropping your shoulder down.
When your opponent pulls your choke hand away, this opens space around their neck. Your top arm is then going to rewrap around your opponent’s neck.
As you shoot your hand through, you’re going to attach it to your bicep. Your original choke hand for your guillotine now becomes your top arm for the ninja choke. Break your opponent’s control of your wrist, and place your hand on the back of their head.
The finish of the choke will be the same as a guillotine mixed with an RNC. Force your opponent’s head down. Keep your chest over their head, and squeeze with your whole body to get the tap.
Ninja Choke From Closed Guard
The next ninja choke that we’ll take a look at is also from closed guard, but going straight to the choke. This setup starts with breaking your opponent’s posture by pulling their head down with both hands.
Once their posture is broken, keep one hand on their head to keep them from raising their head up. This hand is also going to slightly pull your opponent’s head to the side of your body.
You do this so your choke arm can slide around your opponent’s neck. Much like a darce choke.
The only difference here is that you’re hooking just under your opponent’s neck and not also their arm. Also like the darce, when your hand comes through, you’re going to place it on the back of your opponent’s head.
Your top arm is then going to reach across your opponent’s back as you slightly sit up. If you have long arms, you can just grab your bicep without doing this.
But reaching over does provide you with more control and places your arm at the back of your opponent’s head. When you just grab the bicep, your opponent can pull their head out easier to escape the choke.
Once you’ve locked in your ninja choke, give your opponent a nice controlled squeeze to get the tap.
Ninja Choke From Standing
In MMA, we’re seeing the ninja choke get used more as a counter against a single leg. Here is how the submission works from standing.
When your opponent grabs a single leg, you first have to address it by putting on the whizzer. Grab your thigh with one hand and palm your opponent’s head to push them away with the other.
Naturally when you push your opponent’s head away, they will try to force their head back in. You’re going to set your trap by letting them bring their head back to your body.
As they come back, take your hand off your thigh, bring it up, and hook it around your opponent’s neck. Then to finish, grab your own bicep, place your top hand on your opponent’s back, and squeeze.
Ninja Choke From Bottom Side Control
The buggy choke isn’t the only submission that you can do from bottom side-control. You can also hit a tight ninja choke from this position.
A quick warning with trying a ninja choke from bottom side-control. You also put yourself in danger of being put in a Von Flue choke. Be aware of the trap and address it before going for your submission.
This setup starts when your opponent has head and arm control on top in side-control. You’re going to take a guillotine choke around your opponent’s neck.
At the same time, you’re grabbing your opponent’s near shoulder to take the pressure off your neck. Failing to do this step will make it easy for them to lock in the Von Flue choke.
With your guillotine grip, you’re going to cup your opponent’s chin and turn it to create space. Next, your inside arm is going to slide from under your opponent’s body and around their neck.
Once your choke hand comes through, take the back of your top arm and force your opponent’s head down. This is to keep them from popping their head up and to bring your top arm closer for your choke hand to grab.
After locking in your grip, pinch your elbows together and crunch down to put on the pressure.
Ninja Choke in the Gi(Lapel Choke)
The last variation of the ninja choke that we’ll detail is in the Gi. More people refer to this variation as a lapel choke, but you might hear some call it a ninja choke.
This lapel choke is done on top in side-control, using your own lapel. Start the technique by staying heavy on your opponent and putting shoulder pressure on their chin.
Once they’re prone, start pulling out your inside lapel. Make sure to hold it at the end, so you get enough material.
Next, pass your lapel across your opponent’s body to your other hand next to their neck. From there, the next steps are put together for the finishing sequence.
Place your hand on your opponent’s hip to block it, along with placing your head next to your hand. From there, just lift their head up using your lapel, which sets in the choke.
Important Tips For Using the Ninja Choke
The ninja choke is rather easy to pull off, but you can’t forget the details. Here are the important details and tips you must remember to be successful with the ninja choke.
- Break Opponent’s Posture: In order to get the choke, the posture of your opponent’s head must be broken. This is the same principle for all front headlock chokes.
- No Arms-In: Remember that you’re just hooking around your opponent’s neck and not their arms like an anaconda or darce choke.
- Tricep On Back Of Opponent’s Head: Be sure to keep your tricep on the back of your opponent’s head. If you don’t do this, your opponent is more likely to slide their head out.
- RNC Grip: Remember that you’re using the same grip as an RNC where you grab your bicep.
- Elbows Together: When you go for the finish, remember to bring your elbows together and use a controlled squeeze with your body. You’re more likely to get the tap when you put these two movements together.