Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Power of the Baseball Bat Choke

The Baseball Bat choke is a very power submission that can be pulled off from a variety of positions.  I personally like to use it from a dominant position such as knee on belly, setting the choke, then moving to a north-south position to finish.  Same goes for loop chokes...which really aren't all that different.  They can be set up from a dominant position or one in that would be considered inferior and be just as effective.  We are going to just focus on the Baseball Bat choke from the inferior position.  

There are also other ways to apply this choke in a very sneaky manner.  It can be used in such a way that you can trick your opponent into setting themselves deep into the choke.  The baseball bat choke grips are rather simple.  Imagine holding a baseball bat...this is the orientation that your hands would feed into the collar your opponent.  

This can be done from closed guard, open guard, half get the idea.  The choke can only be effective if you have managed to break the posture of your opponent.  Once the grips have been set deeply into the collar, you can allow your opponent to pass your guard (essentially setting the choke even deeper). Giving up the pass can give a false impression that they are safe.  It tends to work well on those that are very aggressive to pass guard and/or haven't been burned by this choke.  Of course if you cannot finish the choke because the grips were not set up properly you will have just conceded a guard pass and gave up precious position.  I like to think of this choke as a Hail Mary of chokes.  If you were down on points and needed a quick submission to win a match then this choke could come in very handy.  

As with many things in BJJ, high level competitors will have success with positions, sweeps, or submissions which tends to start popular trends in the grappling community.  The Baseball Bat choke is definitely one that has come up due to Magid Hage's success at the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials in San Diego (2013).

This particular match happened between Zak Maxwell and Magid Hage.  

Note that Zak's coach was yelling to watch for the choke well before he began to pass.  He does attempt the armbar counter but the choke is far too deep to hang out and finish.

Who would have ever expected Magid Hage to pull this off twice in the same tournament?!!!  Here he does it again with much more dramatic effect against Clark Gracie.

The other potential problems one can experience with applying such a choke is being armbarred. Committing your arms deep into the collar in this manner gives a huge opening for your opponent should the posture and choke not be set up properly, or maybe they are fully aware of what you are doing and counteract with good timing.  Ironically it is Magid Hage again here attempting the same choke but it backfired.  You can see at the 0:50 second mark he is already setting up his first grip from a semi-open guard position which is very unorthodox.  He seemingly allows himself to be swept from the butterfly hooks and the choke is on.  His opponent immediately rolls to his back and throws up an armbar and forces the tap after a short fight.  

The first time I ever saw this choke was via this video which has some tournament footage and the breakdown of the technique.  They simply call it a Gator Choke here.

Last but not least, Magid Hage just released a short video on the baseball bat choke set up.  By this point we should all understand the basic hand positioning in the collar.  What's worth noting here is the the manner in which he sets up the choke.

How to Avoid being choked:
1.  Do NOT allow your opponent to get the collar grips
2.  If they get the grips DO NOT pass...break the grips
3.  If you allow #1 & 2 to happen POSTURE POSTURE POSTURE.
4.  Look to counter with an armbar

No matter what you call this choke it has its place in BJJ, particularly in a tournament setting...ESPECIALLY if you are down on points and need a sub to win.  Even if you don't use them in your arsenal of submissions it's good to be familiar enough with them to recognize the trap and know how to respond to the situation.  Don't be that guy or girl that sees the "easy pass" and is waking up confused on the mat.  

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