Welcome to the latest video in our series of martial arts tutorials filmed and explained by Warrior Collective. Warrior Collective is run by Stuart Tomlinson, who has been involved in shaping the UK martial arts scene for over twenty years.


In this piece, UK-based Brazilian jiu jitsu expert Tom Barlow discusses five fundamental ways to defend against the triangle. Tom is a black belt under Braulio Estima. He is head instructor of Masters Academy in Plymouth, and multiple-times World and European Champion (gi and no gi).


Origin of the Sport

Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art based on the notion that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger opponent. This is done through the use of proper technique and leverage, combined with an understanding of how to take the fight to the ground. Therefore, joint-locks, chokes, and other submissions are important aspects of the sport. They are used to finish the encounter, should it be necessary beyond when control has been established.
In modern times, BJJ has become more recognised in the mainstream because of its successful application in mixed martial arts, showcasing the importance of grappling and ground fighting to audiences around the world.
Chokes are often regarded as high-percentage attacks in Brazilian jiu jitsu, which means the further they are on, the more difficult they are to escape (hence the high percentage that they will finish the encounter). The triangle choke is a commonly favoured choke.

Defending the Triangle Tutorial

  • Prevention is better than cure. You must maintain good posture.
  • Any time you have one arm between and one arm outside your opponent’s legs, you can be hit with the triangle choke.
  • The tighter the position the more difficult the escape will be. 


The video shows a progression of escapes as the triangle gets tighter and tighter. Each escape is based on two principles:


  1. Maintaining posture
  2. Changing the angle of the triangle

Defence 1: Posture and Stand

This is a reactive defence, and has to be done as soon as you perceive the threat of triangle. 
The defence works by applying the opposite forces of the downward pressure on the hips and the upward pressure from standing. 

Defence 2: Reinserting the Arm. 

Triangles are only useful if one arm can be isolated inside the guard. This defence works by reinserting the other arm before the triangle is secured. You then break the angle of the attack and use both arms to reset back to guard. 

Defence 3: Breaking the Angle 1

Triangles are most effective if the attacker can pass your arm over the centre line of his or her body. This defence works by preventing this, then changing the angle, before using opposing pressures to uncross the legs.

Defence 4: Breaking the Angle 2

This defence works in a similar manner. First you break the angle, then apply pressure to uncross the legs. It is a more dangerous defence than the previous one as the your arm is across the centre line. 

Defence 5: Crossing the Legs

This works because you use your legs and back to uncross the triangle. However, this is the final defence Tom teaches, as it can end up with you losing position, leading to a scramble.