European NAGA and IBJJF Nogi champion at brown belt, Dan Strauss, examines his favourite submission, the guillotine, over a three hour seminar held at Mill Hill BJJ, London, UK. Daniel showed how to ensure the guillotine is applied with deadly effectiveness over a wide range of positions. He also taught how it could be used to sweep an opponent as well as a counter attack or transition to other submissions.
I have attended a lot of seminars over the years. Many have featured highly accomplished World Champions and many of these sessions I have had to travel many miles. But sometimes the best things can lie right on ones very own doorstep. At the BJJ academy where I train, we're lucky enough to have Daniel Strauss who has already accomplished so many things in his grappling career. Notably, he won a place to compete in the 2011 ADCC tourament and in 2012, won gold at the European NAGA grappling tournament and the IBJJF European Nogi Championships. Most of Daniel's wins come via submission and it's probably fair to say, the majority of these have been by guillotine. Or 'deathatine' as he dubs it.
For an illustration of the effectiveness with which Daniel can execute his guillotine submissions, check out the video below. This was last year at the Elite division of European NAGA tournament.
Daniel began the session with a drill to practice the guillotine set-up. He explained that many attempts were doomed to failure due to a poor initial set-up. The attacker's body had to be as close to the opponent in order for him to establish any degree of head control. The drill involved bringing our body towards the opponent and bearing the weight of our shoulder behind his head while we loosely positioned our hands into a basic guillotine grip.
After drilling the set-up manoeuvre Daniel explained the mechanics behind how the guillotine submission actually worked. The example he showed was the head-only guillotine, but the principles also applied if the opponent's arm was inside the guillotine. Daniel's key advice was to avoid applying the technique from a closed guard. He prefers to apply it when his body is shifted completely to one side of the opponent and his own knee shield used to push the opponent away, thus stretching his body away from the direction in which you are pulling his head for the guillotine. His other leg was placed over the opponent's back to prevent him rolling out of the position.
Daniel also discussed the variety of hand gripping options. The basic guillotine involved pulling up on ones own hand but there were also some cool alt-grip that would help glove-wearing MMA fighters.
Naturally any attempts to attack an opponent with the guillotine would elicit a reaction so Daniel demonstrated some neat techniques to follow on from an opponent trying to defend the submission. One of these was the arm switch from one side of your body to the other. Quite often, the opponent will move around the initial guillotine attempt. Despite the attacker still holding on with head control, any attempt to guillotine would be ineffective. Using Daniel's method to switch ones own grips, it was then possible to continue the submission.
The session was not halfway through and already we had covered over a dozen ways to apply the guillotine and the various methods of dealing with opponents defending. The seminar moved onto more intricate techniques involving baiting the opponent into a guillotine and also opportunities to use the submission in positions that might be considered less orthodox when considering a guillotine choke, such as the crucifix hold.
One of my favourites from the session was very fancy. It began with the attacker taking the opponent's back but not being able to successfully apply a RNC or switch to armbar etc. It involved grabbing ones own thigh, spinning around and then then rolling over to end up in a guillotine choking position. It was a lot easier to do than we all thought and was great fun.
I like attending seminars because they are a great way to become exposed to new techniques, or new ways of applying familiar techniques. Today was a little different in that it focused purely on one submission but having experienced the sheer depth to the different aspect to the guillotine, I now have a new found respect for this most ancient of submissions (think old skool wrestling) and it has renewed my joy with rolling nogi.
My thanks to Daniel for putting on a masterclass seminar today. Daniel's experience as an elite competitor plus his mix of in depth knowledge and laugh out loud humour makes for an excellent and fun way to spend three hours of technical jiu jitsu training.