Technique Breakdown: ¾ Nelson to D’Arce Choke
The D’Arce choke is a popular and effective head and arm choke you can attempt from the top position in a front headlock or sprawl setup. In Alberto Crane’s ‘Front Headlock Chokes’ Instructional, Crane teaches the D’Arce choke setup with a special detail for finishing this choke utilizing a Gi grip instead of the traditional No Gi bicep grip used in submission grappling and MMA.
The setup for this choke begins from the front headlock position with you as the attacker on top. From the front headlock position, you will swim your right arm behind your opponent’s left armpit all the way through to the front of their right shoulder by the neck. You will find a better angle by positioning yourself on your opponents left side, with the line of your body perpendicular with your opponent’s left shoulder with your feet more towards your opponent’s legs as opposed to their head.
Once your right hand is on the far side of your opponent’s face, lock in a gable or S-grip and align your left forearm bone in-line with your opponent’s head and neck. You are not ‘karate chopping’ the back of their neck. Rather, you want to be able to use your left arm as a lever against your opponent’s head to force their chin into a tucked position and break down their base until they are on their left hip. This grip is known as the three-quarter Nelson.
Use your left forearm to drive your opponent’s head both down and slightly towards you to force them onto their right side and expose the full choke. At this point, if your opponent is tense and fighting, you may actually be able to finish the submission from here. Use your forearm on the back of their head to compress the chin and drop your chest weight onto their triceps, pushing their arm against their neck to finish the three-quarter nelson head and arm choke.
If your opponent relaxes to avoid the choke while you have your three-quarter nelson, you will not be able to finish the choke without further advancing position. The good news is that their relaxing to defend allows you to completely lock in the choke. To accomplish this, ease up on your grip and shoot your left hand further towards their back to set up the full D’Arce.
In this position, the standard D’Arce finish would involve you grabbing your left bicep with your right hand and compressing down to cut on your opponent’s arteries. However, if you are in a BJJ Gi, you have the option of using a sleeve grip instead of the traditional bicep grip.
To use the sleeve grip, as your shoot your left hand for the D’Arce, grab your left sleeve with a four-finger grip using your right hand. This anchor will give you immense leverage to finish the choke and will be easier than doing a traditional D’Arce. Note that you can stick your four-finger grip inside your own sleeve. This grip is not permitted on the opponent’s sleeve, largely for the safety of your fingers, however it is legal when you are gripping your own sleeve with four fingers inside.
Once you have your right-hand sleeve-gripped on your left sleeve, grab the back of your opponent’s Gi with your left hand and establish a solid anchor. With your right hand maintaining its sleeve grip, drop your weight onto your opponent’s head and triceps.
At this point, you should either allow your opponent to put you in half guard or put yourself in their half guard. While this may seem counterintuitive, by getting into their half guard, you are removing their ability to scramble and escape. Given how deep your choke is at this point, they will not be able to actually do anything with their half guard (other than tap out!).
With this grip in place, your leg in their half guard, and your weight on their triceps and hand, drive your right elbow towards the ceiling for the full leverage to finish the choke.
Step by Step D’Arce Choke in Gi:
- Begin in a sprawl position on to of your opponent as in a failed-shot scenario.
- Circle to the right slightly to find an angle.
- Shoot your right hand under your opponent’s left shoulder until your hand clears the far side of their head.
- Establish a gable or S-grip with your left and right hands and left forearm in line with your opponent’s neck and head for a strong three-quarter nelson grip.
- Drive your opponent’s chin towards their chest and break them down to their right hip.
- Use your weight and three-quarter nelson grip to finish the choke on a tense opponent.
- If your opponent relaxes and does not tap, shoot your left arm deeper and grip a four-finger grip with your right hand fingers inside your left sleeve.
- Grip your opponent’s back with your left hand.
- Allow your opponent to recover half guard or put yourself in their half guard.
- Using your chest, drop your weight onto your opponent’s triceps and head.
- Pull your right elbow towards the ceiling while maintaining the four-finger grip to finish the choke.
While this choke will take some practice, it is an incredibly effective submission against failed shot attempts or anytime you find yourself on top of your opponent in a front headlock or sprawl scenario.
Access to the sleeve grip in Gi allows even greater leverage and finish percentages than the traditional D’Arce bicep grip.
If you found this breakdown and video useful, check out Alberto Crane’s full front headlock choke series here!