During the last couple of years, I really fell in love with No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu. Before that, I was doing mainly Gi BJJ, training and competing under IBJJF rules only. Then, as leg locks and front headlock chokes became a large part of my game, No-Gi started to emerge as a more interesting option.
Since I’m a part of an academy that’s still based on Gi Jiu-Jitsu, I decided to try and bridge the gap. To that extent, my strategy was (and still is) to work with No-Gi grips only, even when rolling with the Gi. It is much harder but much more fun that way! Also, I started looking into submissions that work as well in both worlds. Some were already there, and some, I had to research in order to adapt some Gi moves I really like to No-Gi. One such example is the Ezekiel Choke, or, better said, the No-Gi Ezekiel choke.
How No-Gi Ezekiel Choke Came to a Spotlight
It took me a while to get the hang of the No-Gi Ezekiel Choke, I must confess. As a Gi move, I had great success with it, so I simply had to take it over to No-Gi. It is such a reliable choice to have in your arsenal that it would be a shame if it was only confined to Gi. Luckily, there were a few options out there that guided me towards success with the No-Gi Ezekiel Choke. Now, it is a huge part of my game, fitting perfectly with back takes and front headlock chokes. Plus, it works from a few different positions, making it even more useful than the Gi version.
Lately, the No-Gi Ezekiel Choke came into the spotlight thanks to the efforts of a certain UFC fighter. Alex Oleynik managed to pull off a few successive Ezekiel Chokes inside the octagon. The impressive thing about it was not only the fact that he did it No-Gi, but that he caught it from the bottom. Yes from the bottom and from a bad position. Alex is a master at sinking in Ezekiel Chokes when he is mounted, something not many people can boast about. This just further demonstrates how versatile and useful the Ezekiel Choke can be, even without a Gi.
The Ezekiel Choke, both Gi and No-Gi is a submission with a high finishing rate. Pairing it with a few other is just going to increase your effectiveness with it. “High Percentage Chokes: No-Gi” is the DVD instructional you should reach for. Lachlan Giles is the man to turn to for the best instructional advice for choking people out.
The Ezekiel Choke
The basics of the Ezekiel choke (Gi version) are easy. The Ezekiel works primarily as an air choke, not dissimilar to an old-school Guillotine choke. For an Ezekiel choke with the Gi you need to be in a top position, either in half guard or mount.
The choke begins with you placing an arm around the opponent’s head. YOU’ll want the arm to be as deep as possible so that you can control the choking lever better. The choking arm is your other arm. Form the mount, for example, you want to first insert four fingers of your arm around their head, into the Gi sleeve of your other arm. From there on, you want to thread the forearm of that arm across the opponent’s neck. The choking pressure is from the bottom arm pulling on the sleeve, the turning of the palm on the top arm, the turn is towards the opponent’s throat, closing up the trachea and putting immense pressure on it.
The main advantages of the Ezekiel choke are that it is really easy to set up. It is sneaky and you work to form a position people do not directly associate with submissions. The arm under the head is a mainstay when playing the top position, whether it is mount or half guard. Another key element is that the mechanics are fairly simple, once you get the hang of it. The choke is a good fit for students of all levels and works at every level as well.
No-Gi Ezekiel Choke From Top
From the top position setting up the Ezekiel, the choke is easy. In No-Gi, you’ll still use the basic setup, with one arm around the head. However, gripping is different, which is where most people fail with this. having longer limbs is going to help immensely in finishing the No-Gi Ezekiel Choke.
From the top half guard position, You want to have a deep cross- face on the opponent. From there you’ll be looking to control the far side arm so that it doesn’t interfere. Once you have a clear path towards the neck, make a fist with your free arm. Then, place it across the opponent’s throat. Only after you place it there, use the bottom arm to establish a grip on the top arm. Depending on arm length, this grip will end somewhere between your elbow and the middle of your forearm. All you need to finish is stick your head close and lift the elbow of the choking arm while pulling with the other one.
From the mount, a great way to set up the No-Gi Ezekiel Choke is via an Americana. At the highest levels of the sport, you’ll need modifications to the Americana in order to get a tap. Or, even better, a pathway to another reliable submission. The starting position is an Americana grip from the mount, but with the head included in the grip. The goal is to release the top arm of figure four and thread it across the opponent’s neck. Now, you’ll have their arm looped around your choking arm. Actually, their arm plays the role of the Gi in this situation. Kee both elbows on the ground for a solid base and push forward with your torso. You’ll get incredible pressure and a really fast tap. Plus, there’s no need for long arms.
Sneaky No-Gi Ezekiel Choke From Bottom Mount
Before seeing Alex Oleinik doing this in the UFC I never even thought of submitting someone forms the bottom of the mount position. Now, it is a huge part of my game, despite having to work out a few kinks. Give it a try and you might end up working them out on your own. if so, let us know in the comments!
The basic idea of the No-GI Ezekiel choke from the bottom mount is staying safe. In the UFC, Alex made sure he’s safe by wrapping an arm around the head of his opponent and keeping him close. he reinforces this arm with a Rear Naked choke grip, protecting the side of his head from punches. Once he sees an opening, he sneaks the arm in, and, since he already has the Rear-Naked choke configuration, the choke is instant and imminent. In Alex’s case, having MMA gloves actually helped him finish. In a purely BJJ setting, you’ll need to work out how much to twist your arm and in what direction, but it is not too hard to do.
This is a really cool choke that can surprise your opponents from the bottom. Even when they know it’s coming, they’ll either tap or completely abandon everything, giving you a way out of mount at the very least.