Ask the Nail – Rethinking the Triangle

Ask the Nail

“The secret of this sport is, while you’re the nail, hang in there, let them hit you, until the day you become the hammer, then you smash them back!”

-Renzo Gracie


Rethinking the Triangle

Micah Caputo

The triangle choke is a staple of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Unfortunately, many people aren’t able to use the triangle effectively. Stocky people or people with short or thick legs may not be able to finish the triangle choke as well as longer legged opponents. Some opponents may simply be too big to triangle choke. Their shoulders, arms, and necks are too large for short legs to triangle. In my case a training partner in my gym is my triangle nemesis. He thrives on feeding me triangles and patiently defending until my legs become exhausted. The solution to this problem is not to abandon the triangle but to rethink the way it is used.

It is important in a combat sport like BJJ to know one’s limitations. If a person can’t use the triangle choke they should change the way think of the triangle. If we only think of the triangle as a choke submission and it doesn’t work we need to think about the problem and come up with a solution. This is a cornerstone of Jiu-Jitsu. A wrestler may choose to power through a roadblock, but BJJ (with it’s limited rules) allows the flexibility to find a way around the problem.

In this case if we view the triangle not as a submission only, but as a position a variety of options arise. We may not be able to choke the opponent but other submissions are available. For example the armbar, reverse armbar, kimura, americana, collar chokes and wristlocks are all options. Sweeps are available as well to the sides and to the front and back. This combination of submissions and sweeps makes the triangle position into a deadly type of guard. Now it would be irresponsible to add to the plethora of new types of guard that already exist (stinkbug guard anyone?) and it would be a lie to claim this as a brand new invented concept as all these submissions and sweeps already exist in BJJ and are practiced by high level competitors. (Personally, I think it is impossible to invent a new technique in BJJ. It is only possible to discover something new for yourself.) However, the concept of treating the triangle as a guard can improve any short legged persons’s game.

Do you have a new technique or idea in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that you have discovered? Write in to Ask the Nail and tell us about it for a chance to have your idea appear in an upcoming column.

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