D’Arce Choke – Excuting, Counter & Common Mistakes

October 9, 2018
D'Arce Choke Training

D'Arce choke - rotation from north-south position can become fatal

During its beginnings, UFC purely looked like a fight with no rules. Even in the earliest events, Royce Gracie demonstrated the power and brutality of Brazilian jiu-jitsu against bigger opponents like Dan Severn, Keith Hackney, Kimo Leopoldo, Art Jimmerson and many others. The opponents were taking him to the ground and Gracie won the fights almost without sending a single punch. Many fighters were masters of striking, but when it comes to the submissions, their lack of skills is the reason why they were losing their fights.

As UFC brought more rules, the importance of north-south position lost its significance. It was very easy to finish the fight from north-south position via sending knees to the opponent’s head. You could also get up and perform soccer kicks (it is still allowed in Pride). The changes forced the fighters to pay more attention to submissions and chokes from north-south position.

Take a look at the world-class example of Dustin Poirier’s D’Arce choke against Jonathan Brookins.


The first ever D’Arce choke happened at UFC 69 in the fight between Kendall “Da Spyder” Grove and Alan Belcher. Despite Belcher controlled Grove for the most of the fight, Grove slipped out and went to the north-south position. When everybody taught he will try to punch Belcher out, Grove applied a new submission that hasn’t been seen before – D’Arce (Brabo) choke. Belcher was extremely surprised and he had to tap out. It was later announced for the Submission of the Night.

For now, there were only 15 D’Arce choke victories in the UFC. Kendall Grove also won once via D’Arce choke against Joe Cronin.

Here is the list of UFC fights where D’Arce choke was a victory:

What is it

D’Arce or Brabo choke is a technique where you use the north-south position to take an advantage over the opponent’s neck. This type of choke is allowed in UFC, BJJ, and Sambo. However, since it is very dangerous, it is prohibited in some martial arts.

Nevermind whether your opponent lays on his back, side or kneels on his knees, D’Arce choke is a great way to finish the fight. Even if he protects himself well with one hand, he can forget about the other hand. D’Arce choke is one of the very rare chokes where you can easily bypass the defending hand in the case you know to look for cracks and openings. It is an excellent way to turn the stalemated fight into a victory.

It is easier to apply this choke when your transitions and ground game are good, but your hands are shorter. If Kendall Grove is excluded, all of the fighters that finished the fights via D’Arce choke were smaller than their opponents. Their reach was smaller too.

Executing the technique

Step 1. Assume the starting position is half-guard, and the opponent has under hook with the arm opposite of the opponent’s leg. If your right leg is between the opponent’s legs, the opponent maintains under hook position with his left arm. This is the trigger position for this choke. Go over the opponent’s arm and place the dorsal side of your palm under the opponent’s head.

Note: D’Arce choke is the most effective from north-south position, but when you learn the school technique, the emphasis is on half-guard position.

Step 2. Make sure you hold the opponent’s head with both hands. Try to prevent the movements of his right hand. Slide with your left arm forward and place your elbow on the ground. Catch the lower part of your biceps with the right hand, which is already under the opponent’s neck. Your arms have to end up in the figure four position, with left hand on the opponent’s left scapula.

Note: The position of your arms prevents the opponent’s neck from moving sideways. If your arms are too short or the opponent defends well, you can put the right hand on your forearm.

Twister Side D'arce Choke

Twister Side D'arce Choke. Source: bjj-world.com

Step 3. Put the drive forward to transfer your weight and increase the strength of the grip. In the case the choke is successful, the opponent will have to tap out.

Note: if you perform variation with a forearm, you will have to strengthen your left leg and push your chest forward. When your chest is pressing down onto the middle of the opponent’s chin, the submission victory is inevitable. Your elbow must squeeze the opponent’s head to the inside.

Here is a perfect example of how you can end up the fight with bigger fighters via D’Arce choke. You can trap opponent’s upper leg with your right leg for more pressure. The successful combination of biceps and forearm will enable more variations. You will become a very dangerous fighter.

There are so many variations of D’Arce choke. A good fighter can apply it from side control, half-guard, mount, or north-south position. This is also a good choice when your opponent constantly sprawls and defends takedown attempts. You can even enter from standing position by applying a throw or a trip.

Escape and counter

This tutorial shows it all (starting from 1:51).

Go on your toes and push your elbow towards the opposite side of the opponent’s body. Quickly rotate to north-south position. If you are in the Pride Fighting Championship, apply knees to the head.

In BJJ or MMA competition, put your free arm under opponents neck and rotate to the side control position. Come to the hip with your leg and rotate on the other side for the successful arm triangle. You can also lift your legs and body in the air by applying the pressure with your hand onto the opponent’s hips.

Common mistakes

There are few things every successful martial artist should pay attention to when going for D’Arce choke:

  • Do not grab your hands. You have to grab your biceps or forearm for the successful submission.
  • There is no body rotation. Some opponent simply won’t tap out. All you need to do is rotate counterclockwise if you are on the opponent’s left side, or clockwise if you are on his right side and your leading hand is left. You can also mount your opponent after pressing his neck.
  • There is the difference between school technique and fighting technique. You have to be aware that your opponent will not stand still. That is the reason why body transitions will apply more pressure onto the opponent’s neck.
  • Different body position when it comes to forearm grip. It is harder to choke with a forearm. You have to extend your leg or you have to close the knee as tight as possible to the opponent. When your leading arm is right, rotate counterclockwise for the success.

Additional options

Depending on whether you fight in MMA or BJJ, some tiny tricks may help you finish the fight:

  • Knee to the belly. If your opponent resists, knee him to the belly few times. He will have to focus on the pain and relax his neck. You have the chance. Or you can attack with your knee before you attempt D’Arce choke. In Pride Fighting Championship, you can apply a knee to the head attack.
  • You can switch to an anaconda choke. Here is the example.
  • Guillotine choke attempt. This is an excellent option in the case your opponent partially slips out.
  • Combine with Americana. You can switch to D’Arce from Americana. In the case your opponent starts to rotate, all you need to do is follow his movement and end up in north-south position.
  • It is also possible from arm drag (please insert link). Take a good look here.
  • A necktie is also a great option. The demonstration is here. A Peruvian necktie (please insert link) is the most often chosen.
  • You can even take your opponent down directly to the D’Arce choke position. Here is an example.
  • Side control bottom position needn’t mean you are finished. You can turn defeat into a spectacular victory. 

Wrap It Up

D’Arce choke is a great solution with many variations which can be applied successfully in martial arts. It is applicable from almost every position when you master the technique. Train hard and this technique can become your trademark. It is the recommendation for BJJ fighters that don’t own the black belt but compete against black belts. They will never expect such technique from lower belts!

For the end, take a look how Michael Collins does D’Arce choke in BJJ no-gi fight.

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