A lot of people I teach and/or train with in BJJ constantly mix up the d’arce choke and anaconda choke.
It makes sense. They’re similar chokes. There are a lot of situations, such as coming out of the ghost escape from bottom side control, where you have the choice of attacking one or the other.
This post will explain the difference, as well as giving a simple breakdown on how to do the d’arce choke and anaconda choke in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Read on and never get them mixed up ever again.
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What is the D’Arce Choke?
The d’arce choke is an arm-in choke, which uses a combination of your opponent’s arm and your own arm against your opponent’s neck to apply a blood choke (like you’d do with a leg triangle or arm triangle choke).
The way you lock it up creates a triangle around the opponent’s neck, with their head and one of their arms caught inside.
There are a number of ways you can do the d’arce choke. The most common way I’ve been taught is from turtle position, when you have your opponent in a front headlock. You reach through, collapse your opponent’s head to bring them on their side, lock up the choke, and finish on top, in a sprawled-out position.
You could also set it up from the top in side control or half guard.
This video shows a setup and finish for the d’arce from the top:
Here’s another video showing a setup for the d’arce choke from the bottom:
And here’s Andre Galvao showing a few options for finishing the d arce choke:
The d’arce choke can be done in gi and no-gi, but is more common in no-gi. The extra friction of the gi makes it more difficult (though not impossible) to pull off.
It’s particularly popular in MMA, being the trademark of certain UFC fighters including Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier and Vicente Luque. Tyron Woodley also used the d’arce to successfully defend his title against Darren Till.
What is the Anaconda Choke?
Like the d’arce, the anaconda choke hold in BJJ is an arm-in choke, which involves trapping your opponent’s head and arm in a triangle created by your own arms.
It’s often hit from turtle, another similarity to the d’arce. A common way to set up the anaconda choke is to collapse your opponent’s trapped arm and roll to the side (often called a “gator roll”), ending up parallel to your opponent’s body.
Here’s a quick video that shows the anaconda choke, including the roll to set it up:
The anaconda is another choke that works in both gi and no-gi, but compared to the d’arce, it’s more common in gi Jiu Jitsu.
D’Arce Choke vs Anaconda Choke: Key Differences
So now down to how to tell the difference between these two chokes. They’re both arm-in chokes, which you lock up with a mata leão grip, like you’d use for the rear naked choke, with one hand connecting to your own bicep. This makes them easy to mix up.
The key difference is that the d’arce choke is arm-to-head, whereas the anaconda choke is head-to-arm.
What this means is that, with the d’arce choke, you reach through under your opponent’s arm, and lock it up next to their head/neck.
With the anaconda choke, it’s the opposite. Your arm passes beside their head/neck, and locks up under their armpit.
- D’arce: arm-to-head
- Anaconda: head-to-arm
Remember this and you won’t mix them up ever again.
There are some small other small differences you might want to note too. The d’arce is more versatile, being able to be hit from different positions, including the bottom. D’arce is more popular in no-gi and MMA, whereas the anaconda choke is relatively more popular in the gi.
Similar Techniques & Variations
There are a few other techniques that fit in the same family as the d’arce and anaconda chokes, which aren’t as standard in BJJ curriculum. If you like those two chokes, you might want to learn these variations, as they use many of the same mechanics to pull off.
The brabo choke name is often used interchangeably with the d’arce choke. Some simply refer to it as a d’arce if it’s in no-gi, and a brabo in the gi.
You might meet instructors or training partners who use it differently, and that’s fine. Generally, the way I see it is that it’s a brabo when you utilize the gi, instead of the mata leão grip.
The brabo choke usually involves passing your opponent’s lapel through from under their arm, behind their neck to the other side of their head.
You take the lapel with one hand and take a grip with the other on the other side of their head, in essentially a cross-collar choke grip.
Here’s Stephan Kesting with a great instructional video:
The ninja choke is a variation of the d’arce/anaconda where you do it without your opponent’s arm in.
In this sense it’s very similar to the guillotine choke. The main difference is you’ll use the mata leão grip to lock it up.
You can do the ninja choke from many positions, but it’s most effective from closed guard, as you’ll see in this video:
Here’s another showing it set up from top half guard, where it’s much more of a d’arce variation than a guillotine variation:
Finally, a personal favorite of mine – the japanese necktie.
This is an arm-in choke, very similar to the d’arce and anaconda. I like to think of it as having the setup of the d’arce, but the finish of the anaconda.
Like with a d’arce, you’ll reach through from arm-to-head and lock it up. You’re not going to collect your bicep in a mata leão grip, though. You just connect your hands palm-to-palm, pressuring down on the back of your opponent’s head.
You then shoot forward and drop to the ground, with your chest on the back of your opponent’s head – like you would finish an anaconda choke. Trap your opponent’s leg or arm, thrust your hips forward, and finish.
Check out Lachlan Giles showing the japanese necktie here:
The japanese necktie is also quite effective in MMA, and is one of the signature moves of Danish fighter Mads Burnell.
The d’arce choke and anaconda choke are two staples of BJJ. They’re very closely related, which is why they’re often confused.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter if you get them mixed up. It doesn’t matter what name you’re thinking of when you do a submission, only whether your not you hit it.
But if you want to remember the difference between the two, just remember d’arce = arm-to-head, and anaconda = head-to-arm.
You’ll be the envy of everyone at your school now that you can correct anyone who gets it wrong.