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History of the Triangle Choke by John Danaher
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History of the Triangle Choke by John Danaher
Would you believe the Triangle choke submission is arguably the newest submission in our arsenal of submissions in the sport of Jiu Jitsu?
The triangle choke in general is a favorite among grapplers across the globe. Having the ability to strangle someone with your legs and freeing up your hands to either assist with the choke submission, or to use for striking is clearly beneficial in any sport or self defense aspect.
Where did the triangle come from? When we look at the history of the triangle choke it seems to stand out from the other Jiu Jitsu techniques. If we look at Jiu Jitsu as a whole, there is a large percentage of our techniques that have been inspired by wrestling. Wrestling has been a highly developed sport for thousands of years. In addition to wrestling, we obviously can not ignore the early European mixed martial arts which included grappling along with striking and often times a bladed weapon. Along with this we have to also take a look at the history of Jiu Jitsu where it began, in Japan. As we look at the drawings and documents that have diagramed these sports over the last several hundred years, or more, there is one missing piece that we lack historical evidence of its existence. The Triangle strangle submission is no where to be found in the documents or depictions of these ancient martial arts that inspired the Jiu Jitsu we know and train today.
The best evidence available shows that the triangle choke submission was first seen in Japan at a Judo school in the early 1900’s, shortly before World War One. There is obviously a chance this happened prior to this point, but this is the only evidence that has been found to date to help us understand when the triangle choke submission made its debut in our world of grappling martial arts. It’s incredible to think about the fact that the triangle choke submission is only roughly one hundred years old whereas so many of the other techniques we utilize in this sport are literally thousands of years old. Looking at things like a double leg takedown, or a guillotine choke submission, or any other technique that dates back literally thousands of years, it’s wild to think the triangle choke is such and infant submission in when compared to any other submission used in Jiu Jitsu.
While the triangle choke submission was “late to the party”, once it was developed and used for the first time, it spread rapidly! With a growing focus on mixed martial arts, the triangle choke submission was a welcomed addition to the sport, allowing competitors to dominate opponents much bigger than themselves if necessary. Royce Gracie used the triangle choke in an early UFC fight to make a comeback and continue his winning streak. Viewers seemed to unanimously feel that Royce was “getting smashed”, and that he had lost the fight, ending his dominating winning streak. It turns out, the perception was that he was losing this fight because he was on his back playing a guard position and working to setup a triangle choke submission. Viewers were not used to the possibility that someone could be on their back but still in an offensive position.
Professor John Danaher refuses to let his students be anything less than incredible at executing the triangle choke submission. To Professor Danaher the triangle choke submission is close to the soul of Jiu Jitsu. “The use of your legs to wrestle your opponents’ upper body” is the soul of Jiu Jitsu to Danaher. When you are comparing upper body to upper body, strength comes into play and will ultimately determine who wins the match. The ability to use your lower body against someone’s upper body gives you an extreme advantage. Here is an example of Danaher’s Perfect Triangle!
John Danaher is a New Zealander Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts instructor. He holds a 4th degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Renzo Gracie, and is an instructor at the Renzo Gracie Academy in Manhattan.
John Danaher (born 1967 in Washington, D.C., United States) is a New Zealander Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts instructor. He holds a 4th degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Renzo Gracie, and is an instructor at the Renzo Gracie Academy in Manhattan. Although born in the United States, Danaher grew up in New Zealand, until arriving in the United States in 1991 to study at Columbia University’s philosophy PhD program. After arriving in New York, Danaher was introduced to Brazilian jiu-jitsu by a friend at the university, and began taking classes at Renzo Gracie’s academy in Manhattan. He continued training at the academy and began to teach classes as well while Gracie was traveling for competition. Since receiving his black belt in the early 2000s, he has been an instructor for several notable jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts competitors.
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