The head and arm choke is really a family of submissions that all share a similar choking mechanic to the triangle choke, but with the squeeze performed with the upper instead of the lower body. This family is actually pretty big and the most commonly seen members are the Anaconda choke, the D’arce choke, the Peruvian necktie and the Japanese necktie along with the traditional arm triangle. Each of these variations were developed and popularized by different grapplers over the last few decades, but they all share the same roots and can be traced back to the same source. In the below video, Knight Jiu-Jitsu shows both the gi and no gi variations of three members of the head and arm choke family.
The D’arce Choke
The English name of this choke is a little misleading as it takes after Joe D’arce, a Renzo Gracie black belt who fought in Pancrase in the early 2000s and won several Grappler’s Quest tournaments. The story goes that the choke was named after him by UFC veteran Jason Miller, who had never seen it until D’arce used it on him in training. The Portuguese name is a little more helpful as it actually confirms the family that it belongs to. “Triangulo de braco invertido” quite literally translates as “Inverted Arm Triangle” and is certainly more descriptive of how this submission works. While D’arce certainly popularized this choke and was known for his mastery of it, he began his BJJ journey in 1997 and there’s another grappler who has an earlier claim to the choke’s invention.
That man is actually a Luta Livre competitor, Bjorn Dag Lagerstrom who is known to have used this choke three times on his way to winning a German grappling competition in 1996. The story of it’s invention was recounted by the president of the Luta Livre Esportiva federation, Daniel D’Dane. He explains that he spent time in Germany teaching in the early 90’s and this particular Norwegian student was being shown the Anaconda choke and was doing it “wrong”, but still getting the tap. It turns out the invention of the technique is actually a happy accident that points clearly to the parent submission in the head and arm choke family being the Anaconda choke.
The Anaconda Choke
The father of the D’arce choke has a very shrouded past and what little information there is about how the Anaconda choke was created all seems to point towards the same source. That being Milton Viera, the experienced MMA fighter and Luta Livre competitor who was awarded his BJJ black belt by Murilo Bustamante in light of his fantastic ADCC performances. He’s something of a master of head and arm chokes with two finishes apiece in MMA via D’arce choke, Anaconda choke, and arm triangle. He tells the story that he was wrestling at Gama Filho University and had learnt the 3-point roll but started to play with the grips used in the technique in order to turn it into a submission, and slowly but surely the Anaconda choke was born.
It’s important to note that Viera himself has openly stated that he may not have been the sole creator of this submission, as things often go with grappling. Rather than get into debates over who was first, he accepts that it’s entirely possible that people were working on techniques similar to, or even the same as, what he was doing at that time. As yet, nobody else has put themselves forward however, so Viera is the only source to be found so far.
The Peruvian and Japanese Necktie
These two submissions are certainly the most popular, but they’re just two out of a dozen or so different necktie variations. Each variation of he necktie has the core principle in common that they begin as a head and arm choke, but the attacker will then use their legs to create additional leverage from a position where using the upper-body only would not be sufficient. The Peruvian Necktie is named after Tony De Souza, an MMA fighter with two UFC stints and a BJJ black belt under Andre Pedernieras as he is the man credited with it’s invention.
The Japanese Necktie is named after Shinya Aoki, one of the pioneers of Japanese MMA who also happens to be a BJJ black belt, Judo black belt and A-class Shoot Wrestler. He actually refers to this submission as the World Choke on one of his very first DVD instructionals, and the story is that 10th Planet representatives gave it the more famous name after seeing him doing it in training. He’s not the sole originator however as the technique was also being developed simultaneously during the early 2000s by Jeff Glover, who called it the Lazy D’arce choke, and Robert Drysdale, who called it the Box choke.
The Arm Triangle
This is the grandfather of the head and arm choke family, the original submission that was developed into those that followed. It’s still more commonly seen both in MMA and BJJ than any of it’s children and is heavily utilized by both top-heavy positional wrestlers and ground-and-pound artists. The technique originally comes from Judo and went by the name of “Kata Gatame” which actually translates as “Shoulder Hold”. This is because of the rules that Judo competitions were contested under, it was easier to use the technique to win via pin as opposed to trying to win via submission.
There’s no real information on who the technique came from specifically, but it has been a part of the Kodokan Institute’s list of techniques since the very foundation of the school in 1882. Beyond that, it’s background really is a mystery but one thing is for certain, no submission in the history of BJJ, Judo or the dozens of forms of wrestling has ever spawned so many different variations or been developed in so many areas around the world as the traditional head and arm choke.
This piece is part of a series diving deep into the history of various submissions, click here to look through the rest of the series.