Regardless of where you train MMA or BJJ one thing is for sure – within your first few months of training you’ll be shown how to do a Triangle Choke (Leg with Shoulder Suppression as we would call it in PRO MAI MMA). It’s such a fundamental technique that there are countless MMA and grappling schools that actually adopt an image of a Triangle Choke as their team logo. Even the most casual observer of mainstream MMA will have heard of a Triangle Choke and will be aware of the technique and yet incredibly in all top level competition so far in 2012 there has only been one Triangle Choke that has led to a tap out and a finish.
In over one thousand fights and over one hundred events like the UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator, Dream and WEC the stats break down like this
2010 – 11% of submission wins were Triangle Chokes
2011 – 9% of submission wins were Triangle Chokes
2012 – 2% of submission wins have been Triangle Chokes so far
For context so far in 2012 there has been 5 Arm Triangle Chokes (Biceps with Shoulder Suppression) equating to a 10% share of all submission victories. The Triangle Choke has always been an absolute certainty to feature in the core 5 submission list along with the Rear Naked Choke, the Guillotine Choke, the Arm Bar and the Arm Triangle Choke. However, so far this year it has been no more common than a whole range of submissions that are always outside of the top 5 like Heel Hooks and Neck Cranks.
Of course this could just be a blip, it might be that at UFC 146 there are three or four successful Triangle Chokes and the stats will start returning to where we’d expect them to be. But as we are already a third of the way through 2012 it’s hard not to conclude that the Triangle Choke may be slipping from its dominant position.
One possible reason for this is that the Triangle Choke has become a victim of its own success. It’s so frequently a part of our training routines that we have become extremely adept at recognising the set ups and then selecting the correct defence. I’m fairly certain that if MMA practitioners were practising Triangle Chokes with the frequency they practise something like a heel hook it would be less well defended and there would be far more success (as there was in the early days of MMA).
In contrast to this though the Rear Naked Choke is currently responsible for 42% of all submission victories so far this year, that’s 10% up on 2011 already. This is a submission that is practised in all MMA schools with regularity but it hasn’t suffered the same drop off in success that the Triangle Choke has. So perhaps this still raises some questions about the effectiveness of Triangle Chokes at least at top level competition. Regardless of your opinion on this you can’t argue the numbers – the Rear Naked Choke is currently out submitting the Triangle Choke by 20 to 1.