The Ezekiel choke (aka Ezequiel choke) is a popular BJJ submission that is typically performed using the sleeve of the Gi. In BJJ we usually see it performed from the mount position but it can also be done from the back and when in a guard position.
Brazilian judoka Ezequiel Paraguassú is often credited with creating the choke but this is a common misconception. The technique existed in Judo long before the formation of BJJ as a martial art. In Japanese the choke is known as Sode Guruma Jime which translates to ‘sleeve wheel constriction’. The exact origins of the choke in Judo are not clear.
The choke became associated with Ezequiel Paraguassú from the time he spent at Carlson Gracie’s gym in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. At the time Paraguassú was preparing for the 1988 Olympic Games in South Korea and would frequent Gracie’s gym in order to improve his ground game.
While training at the gym he had a hard time trying to escape the closed guards of his opponents. His opponents were often aggressive and he found that he could not progress his position despite his best efforts.
After some time he decided to try the Sode Guruma Jime while in the guard. Before long he began tapping out lots of guys in the gym with this choke and they began to take notice. After a while Paraguassú taught the choke to the others and they began referring to the technique as the Ezequiel choke. Over time the technique evolved to become known as the “Ezekiel” as more English speakers began referring to it.
Over the years the attack has become very popular in competitive BJJ. Top competitors in the sport such as Keenan Cornelius, Rafael Lovato Jr, Roger Gracie, Rodolfo Vieira, and Andre Galvao are all known for their use of the choke.
The mechanics of the choke
The choke is done by wrapping one arm behind your opponent’s head and grasping the sleeve of the gi with the opposite hand. Once you have a solid grip you can they slide the hand that is not holding the Gi across your opponents neck
The target of the choke can be either the compresses the opponent’s trachea or the carotid arteries.
Ezekiel choke Defense
The best defense to this choke is to have an awareness that it may be coming. When your opponent wraps an arm behind your neck you immediately should realize that an Ezekiel choke attack is now possible. Once you are aware of a possible attack you can bring your own arm to the attacking side of your throat in order to prevent your opponent from sliding in their hand to finish the choke. If your opponent still manages to get the arm in there is a wrist lock attack that you can try.
Be aware of the arm that wraps around the back of your neck. If you sense your opponents hand is going into their own sleeve then you know that an attack is likely.
Block the entry to your neck by putting your own hand in between your neck and your opponents attacking arm. With limited space to progress your opponent will hopefully soon abandon the attack.
The choke is most commonly seen from the mount position. Heavier fighters seem to favor this attack when they have a mount position as their opponents restricted ability to move is the perfect platform for the choke.
However the choke can also be performed from the back and when you have a side on ‘arm in position'(See video below).
The choke can also be done when you are in your opponents closed guard. This is how Ezequiel Paraguassú first had success with choke. However this choke can be very hard to finish from guard if your opponent is experienced. Instead many people prefer to use the similar loop choke which can be applied quicker.
The Ezekiel choke in MMA & Nogi
Although still extremely rare, we have in recent years seen some fighters have success with the Ezekiel choke in MMA.
Since MMA is done without the Gi the fighter has to use a modified version of the Ezekiel sleeve choke by using their own bicep to secure the choke instead. This is not an easy move to perform without the Gi and requires a lot of dexterity and longer arms in order to sink it in tight enough to get a tap.
The most notable example being Alexey Oleynik who has two wins by way of Ezekiel and a whopping 11 career wins with the choke overall. What was most impressive about Oleyniks choke against Viktor Pesta in his first UFC bout in 2017 was that he secured it from bottom position while mounted. This is particularly impressive considering he was able to get a tight enough strangle even with the padded MMA gloves on.
This same modified choke is performed in nogi grappling but it is very rare.
Check out the very entertaining Gracie Breakdown below including special guest Vince Vaughn.