Along with their explosive qualities, the olympic movements involve several other athletic traits, such as, flexibility, coordination, balance, concentration, focus, proper breathing, and several other areas. With this array of qualities, it allows an athletes lifting to better transfer over to their competitive venue. In example, a linebacker in football needs several key things to make a big play during a game, he focus on how to make the play, sprint to a certain position, and make the big hit while powering through the hit. All these incorporate several aspects that olympic weightlifting can bring.
Whether you are a general sport athlete, strength sport competitor, or the average health nut, the talk of Olympic Weightlifting is becoming more frequent in and around the weight room. The reason this lifting style has more and more people talking because of how it relates everyone. Olympic movements are very explosive in nature, much like that of a homerun swing in baseball, jump serve in volleyball, and several other athletic movements in near all sports realms. These explosive movements happen in the legs and core of every athlete at all times of play.
The most key quality many strength coaches see in these movements are their explosive nature. For both lifts the body, through the ankle/knee/hip extension, has to generate extreme amounts of power (Amount of Work done over a period of Time) to complete the lift. Much like in sports a body has to produce this same power through the core of the body to complete a given task.
The basic movements for Olympic Weightlifting are the Clean & Jerk and the Snatch. Most who here the lift Clean, go back to high school, where they learned a very ugly form of a power clean, (see how much weight you can hit off your hips, reverse curl, and hope to land near your shoulders) With one look of and competitive Oly lifter, one will see it is much more technical and athletic based. The Snatch is even more technical and is often the more difficult one to master. The sport of Olympic Weightlifting involves only these two lifts, but those in training will often use what are called “partial movements.” These movements include, but are not limited to, Power Clean/Snatch, Hang Clean/Snatch, Front Squats, and Back Squats. Many of these partials are often used and several workout programs for High School and College athletes for many sports. But the full clean and full snatch are extremely important to incorporate because of their use of full range of movement in the ankle, knee, and hip joints. This also plays a key role in flexibility and injury prevention.
The movements can be performed by all, boy or girl, young or old, tall or short, and can be started at many athletic abilities. Whether wanting to get into a new sport, better yourself for a current sport, or just wanting to be healthier these olympic weightlifting movements can aid in achieving these goals. These movements, much like technical movements in sports, require a well educated coach who can assist an athlete safely and efficiently. Many feel that learning these movements can be done via YouTube or their local gym friend much like a simple bench or curl, but their technical nature makes them difficult to learn and master.
The best example I can think of is when you are starting out in a sport you need a coach to make you better, to correct you when you are wrong, and to teach you as you grow as an athlete. Then when you get to high school you still have a coach, most likely more advanced and better qualified than the last coach. And then college comes and the athletes are more advanced and even more talented a coach is still needed to assist you and make you achieve more. And at the professional level, you guessed it, a coach will be ready and waiting to do the same. Point being, with very technical movements or sports a coach is needed to educate, coach, and inspire an athlete to become better, as well as, keep their athlete SAFE and HEALTHY.
1) DRILL THE TECHNIQUE
Very often I hear fighters complain that “the triangle is not for them”. Those are usually the individuals that only attempt the move during live practice, and never once drill the submission on their own. The success rate of every Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu technique relies on how often you drill it! This is especially true of the triangle. The amount of success you will have with it directly correlates to how much preparation you put in. I personally drill the triangle choke on a daily basis, and have been doing so for at least fifteen years! Make it a point to drill it often, and always under realistic conditions (you fight as you train).
2) STRENGTHEN YOUR LEGS AND CORE
Technique alone is not a panacea and you should not limit your training focus to improving it. Working on technique is always important, but so is improving your physical skills. Think about it, which one would you rather have: a technical triangle or a technical triangle backed up by immense power? Traditional martial artists often repudiate physical attributes and frown upon those that train and utilize them – avoid that type of attitude! Lift hard and work diligently on increasing your speed and power. Heavy squats, Olympic lifts and extensive core work will help you tremendously with your triangle and make you a more complete combat athlete.
3) SPECIFIC STRETCHING IS A MUST
While it is not necessary to be able to do the splits in order to be proficient with the triangle, flexibility not only eases the execution of the technique but it also expands its applications. The type of flexibility needed for the triangle choke is usually called “active flexibility”. The range of motion most commonly challenged is the same one you will find when trying to bring one foot to the opposite shoulder. If you can do that unassisted, you are as flexible as you will ever have to be to execute the triangle. If not, then work on it! Stretching should become part of your training regimen, together with lifting and cardiovascular work. The bottom line is that if you are not flexible you will have a hard time applying the triangle, especially on heavier/larger opponents.
4) UNDERSTAND THE TECHNIQUE
The triangle is a choking technique in which your opponent’s head and one arm are trapped inside your legs. It takes its name from the inverted triangular shape formed by the legs of the attacker. The key to the choke relies on placing your opponent’s head between three “bars”: the inside of your thigh against one side of his neck, his inside arm on the other side and your calf on the back of his neck. We should always strive to obtain these three pressure points while building our ‘vise’ – anything short of that is undesirable. The triangle is not a neck crank! It is common for fighters to focus solely on pulling down on the head, when they actually should be attempting to make the triangle tighter instead. Drill the technique with a partner, and adjust it until you can finish the choke without having to utilize your hands.
5) ALWAYS USE A GOOD SET-UP
To attempt a triangle without a set-up is like trying to skip the main course of a meal to go straight to the dessert – things just don’t work that way. An experienced grappler will immediately recognize a triangle attempt unless it is camouflaged by a well-executed set-up. Set-ups can be based on anticipation and preemption, disruption and counter-reaction, or diversion and misdirection (“sleight of submission”). As with everything worth having in your arsenal, you will have to drill your set-ups extensively until you can perform them in your sleep. Good Jiu-Jitsu is all about the execution of proper, clean technique. Great Jiu-Jitsu, however, is definitely found in the small details, and is all about the set-ups.
6) CONTROL THE INSIDE ARM
It is easy to think of the triangle in terms of a situation where one arm is inside the guard and the other one is outside. Most grapplers usually try to accomplish this by forcing one arm out of the guard. Instead, I prefer to focus on controlling the inside arm and moving it away from my opponent’s body, before closing the distance and forcing a closed guard-like situation. The more separation created between his inside elbow and torso, the better control I have. Once the inside arm is properly controlled you can take your time and close the distance on your own terms, easily guiding the outside arm to its intended position. Control of the inside arm also allows you to avoid “weak” triangles, where your opponent’s arm is not crossed in front of his neck.
7) BREAK THE POSTURE
As in every other technique in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it is important to disrupt the opponent’s posture before attempting to finish the triangle. If you execute the choke and allow your opponent to keep his back straight in a near vertical position, with his shoulders broad, chances are you won’t be able to finish it. It is important to understand that allowing your opponent to maintain good posture exponentially increases his escape ratio. Instead, your top leg should act as a sledgehammer, the calf striking down at the back of your opponent’s neck and forcing him downwards. Your goal should be to have his back as close to parallel to the mat as possible. This action also facilitates the creation of an angle and makes the triangle tighter.
8 ) CUT THE ANGLE
A triangle executed in line with your opponent is a recipe for neck injuries, especially when facing heavier fighters that like to pressure you while driving their weight forward. Maintaining such alignment also makes it much easier for the top fighter to lift and execute a slam in mixed martial arts. While applying the triangle choke always move your body to the side, trying to get to a position perpendicular to your opponent while maintaining your back flat on the mat. It is always easier to use the aforementioned “sledgehammer” movement of your top leg to facilitate this action. Cutting the angle also allows you to better transition into armbars, and to control the other grappler’s legs (be it to reverse him or to prevent a slam).
9) DON’T INCLUDE THE SHOULDER
The inclusion of the inside shoulder in the triangle choke is a dangerous and often overlooked mistake. The triangle is a type of head-and-arm choke, and just like in a good date with your girlfriend three is a crowd – the shoulder has no business being in there. The top leg should be running close to perpendicular to your opponent’s back, so that your knee and ankle are equidistant from your head. If your ankle is much further away, that means that you’re including too much shoulder in the lock and will therefore have a hard time closing it. This classic mistake is the number one reason behind grapplers claiming that “their legs are too short” or that they are not flexible enough to close the triangle. By not including the shoulder you will also be able to apply the triangle in much larger opponents.
10) IT DOESN’T END WITH THE TRIANGLE
The triangle choke is not only a great submission, but also an excellent platform for other attacks. If you have your opponent inside your triangle, keep your eyes open for other submission opportunities! A lot of grapplers get “tunnel vision” and fail to see great attacks that could branch off of a triangle, like armbars, inverted armbars, omoplatas, etc. The triangle can also be used as a way of reversing your opponent and obtaining the top position. In mixed martial arts competition, the triangle allows for the effective use of elbows and hooks to punish the opponent and force him to submit.
The triangle in my opinion epitomizes the essence of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. No other technique allows you to better see the practical application of leverage, enabling a weaker person to control and subjugate a stronger foe. The triangle is my favorite technique and should be a cornerstone of everybody’s grappling arsenal. I wish you the best of luck in developing this choke.
As I like to say to my students, closed guard is nothing but a failed triangle!
I have said it before and I will say it again: what is happening today to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the same exact thing that happened to Judo decades ago. We are witnessing the transformation of a martial art into a sport. Is that good or bad? Well, it depends on your point of view.
Many “modern” Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu players nowadays rely on unrealistic techniques (using the gi to create points of leverage that would not exist without the uniform – what I call “phantom fulcrums”). Such grips simply do not work in a real fighting situation. Does that mean that BJJ techniques are getting less effective? No, absolutely not. It means that BJJ players are choosing to incorporate into their games techniques that may not be effective in self-defense or Mixed Martial Arts situations. When using a gi is not a reality. When stalling for points is not a possibility. When striking and punishing your opponent is a must. When “advantage” points due to a half-hearted submission attempt do not count for anything.
It is my personal opinion that BJJ is a martial art, and not a sport. I personally don’t focus much on the sport aspect of it, especially nowadays. However, I respect those who are more sport-oriented in their training than I am. That doesn’t mean that they are wrong and I am right. It just means that our training focus is slightly different. I don’t teach techniques that I believe will not work in a realistic scenario. I do not teach “wrapping the gi” around your opponent. I do not teach “using the belt” all the time. I do not teach the latest fancy-named 20-step sweep either. I do not teach “stalling from the closed guard” and I do not teach “fighting for points or advantages”.
Unlike what many believe, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not “done”. I find it funny when people say things like that, while at the same time they are drilling armbars and learning how to counter a triangle. If BJJ is no longer a threat, why bother? Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is more present in today’s MMA world than 10 years ago. If you don’t want to believe me, just look at the limiting anti-grappler rules that are constantly being implemented!
I am not saying Jiu-Jitsu is the universal answer to our prayers either. Our style has many, many limitations (no striking, poor takedowns, etc.) that we should be constantly aware of. However, it is still the only style that I know of that can provide great self-defense skills to its practioners while relying on little athleticism on their part. And that’s saying a lot.
We have to be careful… “modern” Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a trend. Everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon and train the most “up-to-date” complicated techniques. Don’t try to fit in, and stick with what you believe is right for you.
Are you having problems finishing your Brabo chokes? Does your opponent have a deep underhook that is just preventing you from closing your grip around his neck?Watch this video and learn how to execute the Cossack Triangle. You will be sure to catch your training partners in this new, devastating choke.
Presented to you by the Mario Roberto Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Rochester, MN.