Von Flue Choke – Guillotine Choke Prevention

July 26, 2018

Von Flue choke is one of the rarest techniques used in MMA. Yet, the technique is very attractive. When you master this wonderful counter choke technique, you will be able to prevent any opponent from forcing you to tap out. No matter how strong his guillotine choke is, von Flue choke is an excellent way to teach stronger opponent a lesson. After all, MMA fighting is not all about strength. It is the combination of strength, technique, and timing. The technique is applicable in BJJ, especially if your opponent is a beginner who is a lot stronger than you. Higher belts usually know how to move to the side and prevent this choke. When the fighter is not good in BJJ and tries to dominate you via his strength only, this is the perfect way to earn a victory.

You have a strong opponent with the best guillotine choke? There is a way to put him to sleep now. With Von Flue Choke, let’s use his strength against him!

History and getting the name

The technique got its name by the worldwide known American mixed martial artist with a Dutch descent, Jason Von Flue. Jason was a welterweight and middleweight competitor during 90s and 2000s. He is known for many rare submission techniques which were surprising his opponents. In his whole career, Jason had only one knockout victory. He was a member of Jackson submission fighting team and an owner of brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

History of MMA remembers Jason for this wonderful submission. He is a similar type of fighter to Royce Gracie – very little strikes and world-class submission attempts. Jason never had a chance to fight for the title, but he left an undeletable trail in mixed martial arts.

In his fight versus Alex Karalexis, a Greek descent American mixed martial artist, Von Flue did a move which got his name on it after the successful submission victory. After Karalexis caught him via guillotine choke, many fans taught the fight will be over. But Jason used his half guard position and made a transition to a side control position. At the same time, he was pushing his shoulder towards Karalexis’ neck. As Karalexis couldn’t breathe anymore, he had to tap out. The crowd was amazed – what was this type of choke?! At one moment, Von Flue was losing, and he turned a losing game into a submission victory! Since January 16, 2006, the choke got its name – Von Flue choke. After all, Las Vegas is known for one more thing but gambling!

Here is an example of amazing Von Flue choke. And here is how Derrick Krantz did another variant of von Flue choke at Legacy 35.

There was a very small number of von Flue chokes in MMA history. Ovince Saint-Preux, a Haitian descent MMA fighter, holds the record with three von Flue chokes in his career (and he will not quit fighting soon, that’s for sure).

What is it?

Von Flue choke is a typical counter-attacking technique where you use opponent’s guillotine choke and strength against him. When executing this choke, you need to let your opponent catch you and risk being submitted.

Von Flue choke is a great way to turn the defeat into a victory. You usually rotate to the opposite side of the opponent’s arm and use your shoulder to create an additional pressure on the opponent’s neck. If the choke is successful, your opponent will tap out due to the pressure which is applied to his neck. Your goal is to press the middle of his neck or the lateral part, where arteria carotis interna is located. This will stop the blood flow into his head. A stubborn opponent might even lose his consciousness in the case he doesn’t want to give up.

When it comes to street fight, von Flue choke is hard for an appliance. Usually, bullies wrap their hands around your neck pulling you to the side. This is the reason why any Judo technique which destroys opponent’s leg could be a better solution. On the other side, if the bully takes you to the ground and you fall over him or perform a transition to side control, you can humiliate him with ease. He will probably try to wrap his hand around your neck, and you should just push the shoulder towards his throat. He will think ten times of attacking you after you put him to sleep.

Pushing your shoulder into opponent’s neck is one of the most effective ways to win the fight. The crowd will reward you with an applause, that’s for sure!

Executing the technique

Here is a great instructional video.

You can use this technique against an opponent who constantly goes for your neck and tries to finish the fight via choking. If you haven’t turned the back towards your opponent, there are big chances of teaching him a lesson. Be careful as much as you can – if he wraps his hands around your neck too tight, you will not be a winner! The most important things are a good transition, good timing, and proper pressure. If you press too hard on the wrong spot, the opponent can easily slip out of your von Flue choke attempt.

  • Step 1. Let the opponent has the guillotine on you. Take a good look whether your head is on his right side or his left side. Usually, right-handed fighters hold your head on their right side. Make sure you fall down to the ground. You will usually end up in full guard position. However, there is a probability of ending up in half guard too.

Note: In the case the opponent caught you in the standing guillotine choke attempt, make sure you fall on the ground with him. If you end up on the top of him, you will have chances of defending the choke attempt. When you are in the standing position, the defense is different, but you still have a chance.

You can also perform this when the opponent is in guard. All you need to do is pass his guard.

Von Flue Choke in MMA Training

Von Flue Choke in MMA. Source: Youtube

  • Step 2. Let’s assume the opponent holds his head on his right side. You should perform a transition pass to his right side into a side control position. You may perform the butterfly guard transitions to bypass the opponent’s guard.
  • Step 3. Clear your right arm out. It should be released and fully extended. Wrap it around the rear side of the opponent’s neck, locking your hands under the right scapula of your opponent. Make sure to cross your fingers.

Note: Make sure you wrap your hands around the upper part of the opponent’s back, shoulders, and neck. If your hands are too high or too low, an opponent can slip out easily. You will not be able to maintain the pressure properly.

  • Step 4. Go up on your toes to drive the shoulder. Move your legs in the direction towards your opponent’s head, pressing his neck with your shoulder at the same time. When you push properly, the opponent will tap out or he will lose consciousness.

Note: You must push your shoulder towards the opponent’s throat. Pushing shoulder to shoulder is the best way to provide your opponent with the space to defend.

Most often mistakes when attempting von Flue choke

Take a look at the instructional video for a better explanation.

And here is the list of most often errors:

  • Attempting the choke without bypassing the opponent’s guard. It is possible when the head of your opponent is next to the cage, but the opponent can lift his legs in the air and you will never pass his guard.
  • An opponent releases his arm from guillotine choke attempt. You must prevent this at all costs, or the choke attempt will not be successful. Hold his right arm with your left hand to prevent him from letting you go.
  • You are not going up on your toes. Technically, you can end up the choke attempt without this, but it will require a lot more strength. In this case, you can be two or three times weaker than your opponent, but if you maintain the pressure on his neck, he will lose the fight for sure.
  • You are lifting your head off the ground. Instead of lifting it up, place your chin down and push it towards the opponent’s ribs or towards the ground. The guillotine choke attempt will be successful when you push your head up. You are making the job easier to your opponent.
  • Don’t cross your hands on the proper spot or you don’t cross them at all. An opponent can escape if this part is not done properly. 

Preventing von Flue choke

The technique is counter by itself, so countering it could be a really difficult task. However, prevention is not much difficult.

There are few ways of preventing it:

  • The best way is to release the guillotine choke. Simply let the opponent’s head go. The opponent will probably end up in the side control position. Simply release him earlier! The opponent might be in full guard position or even in the standing position – you can use knees and punches against him.
  • Good spider guard or butterfly guard is a great defense. To be able to finish von Flue choke, the opponent will have to assume the side control position. He can also stand up from the guard and try to press your neck. However, good spider guard will prevent the opponent from focusing his weight towards his shoulder. Butterfly guard will keep your opponent off balance. You can also lift him in the air when he tries to come to close. It will prevent the choke attempt.
  • Following the opponent’s movement is also a good way. When your opponent moves to the right, you should move to your left. Follow his movement with your feet. The crucial thing is maintaining the distance between the opponent’s shoulder and your neck. If the distance is bigger than 20 centimeters, an opponent will have a very hard time coming close to you.

There is one crucial thing – do not let your opponent get close to you. If the shoulder-neck distance is bigger, von Flue choke is more difficult for performing.

Wrap It Up

The von Flue choke is the best way to defend a guillotine choke attempt. In the era of modern UFC and BJJ, many opponents focus on the simple chokes and submissions. Guillotine choke is the most simple way to end up the fight.

If you know to rotate to side control position while the opponent aggressively tries to stop the blood flow into your brain, you will always have an advantage. The opponent usually expects you to slip out of the guillotine choke attempt and continue fighting. But the counter which will end up the fight is something everybody should work on. After all, it is always better to turn the defeat into victory than fighting till the last bell and waiting for the decision or scorecards.

And for the end, take a look at Ovince Saint-Preux (OSP) highlights. He is the master of von Flue choke, and he won last two of his fights, against Yushin Okami and Marcos Rogerio de Lima.

Do you wonder how Saint-Preux does it? No need to wonder anymore! There is one secret – he is a southpaw fighter! It is easier for him to move to the right when the opponents catch him with their right hands. By nature, a southpaw fighter goes to the right to avoid strikes!

Train hard, watch your angles and upgrade your von Flue choke to maximum levels! Hard work always pays off in the end!

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