Rear Naked Choke – BJJ Submission Explained

rear naked choke

The rear naked choke is without a doubt the most known submission in the world and practiced in every type of grappling art.

The rear naked choke or RNC is extremely simple to do and possibly the most effective submission in grappling. As Helio Gracie said, “For the choke, there are no tough guys. With an armlock he can defend, but with a choke he just passes out and goes to sleep.”

A rear naked choke may be the best technique in Jiu Jitsu and grappling, but it also has many details. It is very simple to do, but there are so many details grapplers forget to do to make it perfect.

Below is everything you need to know about the rear naked choke. Everything from its history, how it works, and a handful of rear naked choke techniques detailed for you to improve your technique.

Rear Naked Choke
Rear Naked Choke

When was the rear naked choke invented?

The rear naked choke may be the oldest known submission in the world. Centuries before Judo and Jiu Jitsu were invented, there were numerous illustrations of the rear naked choke from numerous cultures.

Art and sculptures of ancient wrestlers and gladiators administering a rear naked choke. Even images of men strangling lions, which is how it got its name in Portuguese, the mata leão(lion killer). 

The name for the rear naked choke in Judo is the hadaka-jime and sleeper hold in wrestling. Its age isn’t known, but for thousands of years people knew you could kill someone by hugging their neck.

How does the rear naked choke work?

A rear naked choke is a classic blood choke that cuts off blood to the brain. Within seconds your brain shuts off and you go to sleep if you don’t tap.

How it works is the hand that goes around the neck is the choke arm. The other is the top arm that locks the choke in. 

The most common and best grip rear naked choke is a hand on bicep grip. Gable and S grips are also used, but they are not as strong as the hand on bicep grip. 

How to do the rear naked choke

For this section, we’re going to say you already have back control and are ready to lock in the real naked choke. There’s numerous ways to get back control, but the steps for the rear naked choke are always the same.

You have back control with your hooks in and your seatbelt grip set. Make sure you are tight against your opponent like a backpack with no space. 

The seatbelt grip is one hand under the armpit and the other over their shoulder. Your bottom hand covers your top hand to protect it when the opponent goes to defend.

What is just important as the choke is your hooks. Having your legs hooked around the opponent’s body tight to keep them in place for the choke.

Now for the steps to do the rear naked choke. Fall to the side of your choke hand and start to get your grips. Slide your choke hand under the opponent’s chin and cup their shoulder to keep them from peeling it off. 

The top hand slices behind their head as you grab your bicep. As you have your grips set, slowly squeeze using your whole body to get the submission.

Rear naked choke with an arm trap

If your opponent is good at defending an rear naked choke, there is a technique you can do called an arm trap. It takes one of their arms away allowing you to attack them with 2 arms against their 1.

When you do an arm trap it will always be the top arm that you’re trapping. You can’t trap them with your bottom leg, because you have no space to trap their bottom arm.

From your seatbelt grip you grab the opponent’s top arm with your bottom arm. 

Push it down to their stomach and as you do hook your leg over it to trap it against their body.

Make sure to dig your heel into the opponent’s stomach to secure the arm trap. With the arm secured, you can start to set in your rear naked choke.

Rear naked arm in variation

There is actually an rear naked choke option with the opponent’s arm in. This choke is similar to how a variation of an ezekiel choke from back control works. It’s not a high percentage choke as the normal rear naked choke, but it is an option.

From the seatbelt, you’re going to feed your top arm deep across the opponent’s body and under their armpit . Grab the bicep of your other arm and put your other arm behind their shoulder.

Rotate inward and squeeze to put on the pressure and get the submission.

One Arm Rear Naked Choke

When you get your arm around the opponent’s neck it should be 99% over. Even for some reason you can’t get your other arm up to lock it in, finishing with 1 arm is possible.

As you wrap your choke hand around their neck make sure to get it deep and grab around their shoulder.  

In a normal rear naked choke, you need to have your head on the side of the opponents to close space. Not only are you doing that here, but protecting your choke hand by covering it with your chin.

As you squeeze, press the side of your head against their cheek to the tap. 

Rear naked choke grip setup variation

In Jiu Jitsu, there are innovations being made to every technique. Even a technique that seems perfect like the rear naked choke.

ADCC medalist just came up with a great method for setting your grip to finish an rear naked choke. What he came up with is an answer for when the opponent keeps blocking you from locking in the choke.

The first thing Lachlan does is different from a normal rear naked choke grip lock. After he cups the opponent’s shoulder with his choke hand, he puts his fist in his opponent’s neck.

By putting his in the side of the opponent’s neck it prevents them from being able to turn their head. They are stuck in place for you to set up your choke grip.

He brings his elbow over his choke hand. This gives you a lot of space to grab your bicep without the opponent being able to defend the choke. Slide your hand behind their neck and finish your rear naked choke.

Tips for doing the Rear Naked Choke

The rear naked choke is simple to do, but there’s many small details to remember to do it perfectly. Remember these details below, so you can lock on a perfect rear naked choke.

  • Slide Your Hand Under The Chin: To lock on the rear naked choke properly you have to slide your arm under the opponent’s chin. Your arm has to be under their chin or it isn’t a choke.
  • Hide Your Top Hand: The opponent can’t be able to see your top hand when you cinch it in or they’ll definitely defend it. Your hand has to slide behind their head with the back of your hand on their head.
  • Turn To The Choke Hand Side: The proper method of doing an rear naked choke is turning the opponent to the side of your choke arm. This because this gives the opponent less space to be able to escape. You can finish the choke on the other side, but the choke arm side is better.
  • No Space: You have to be on your opponent like a backpack. Staying tight on your opponent and not giving up extra space is key to a good rear naked choke.
  • Seatbelt Grip: The best way to hold back control is using a seatbelt grip. Two arms around their body with one arm under their armpit, and top arm across their chest.
  • Cover Your Choke Hand: With your seatbelt grip make sure to cover your top hand with your bottom hand. The top hand is your choke hand, so be sure to protect it.
  • Remember Your Hooks: Your hooks are just as important as the choke when doing the rear naked choke. Hooking your legs around your opponent’s body keeps them in place and harder to get away.
  • Don’t Cross Your Ankles: When you have back control, the most important rule you learn is never cross your ankles. If you cross your ankles, the opponent can lock on a nasty ankle lock forcing you to tap.
  • Cup Their Shoulder: Cupping the opponent’s shoulder blade with your choke hand makes it harder for the opponent to peel it off. Your choke hand will stay in place for you to lock it in.
  • Squeeze With Your Body: Don’t just use your arms to squeeze. When you go for the finish, squeeze them with your whole body and you will definitely finish them.