How To Put Someone in The Guillotine Chokehold
A Fight-Ending Hold (If Done Right)
Every guy out there wants to learn how to fight. It's why we shell out huge amounts of cash for martial arts lessons, read up on combat strategies from around the world, and watch professionals in the ring. What we're hoping is that we'll learn the secret that'll turn us into a Hollywood-style action star. The unfortunate reality of fights that take place off the silver screen, though, is that 9 times out of 10 they go to the ground. So it doesn't really matter if you've mastered the spinning butteryfly scissor kick if you have no ground game. Fortunately, grappling is just another martial art, and one of the simplest holds you can put an opponent in is called the Guillotine. Sounds fearsome huh? Well, it's also relatively simple to do.
Before we continue, if you'd like other guides, you might want to check out How To Knock Someone Out With The Sleeper Hold. Or if you're more of a martial arts historian, you might want to take a look at Bartitsu: The Original Mixed Martial Art as well as Glima: The Martial Art Invented By The Vikings.
For more martial arts guides and history, as well as trivia, general geekery, and action hero life hacks, check out my full Vocal archive, too!
What is The Guillotine?
The Guillotine is a submission hold, but specifically it's a chokehold. Now you can either perform it as an air choke, where you cut off your opponent's breath, or a blood choke, where you cut off the flow of blood to the head (the latter is the same principle that the sleeper hold, mentioned above, works off of). However, for the purposes of the instructions below, perform the Guillotine as a blood choke. It's more effective, and it sounds a lot more intimidating.
How Do You Do It?
All right, first things first; the Guillotine requires your opponent to be in front of you, and you need to get him lower than you are. This could be as a response to him coming in low for a take down, or you muscling him down so you can get a grip. In either case, you need to push your opponent's head down, and into your armpit. This works for either side, but your dominant side is usually the most effective. We'll use the right side for this example, but feel free to switch up the sides if you're left-hand dominant.
Take your right arm and slip it down the outside of your opponent's neck, curling round underneath. Reach down with your left hand and grab your wrist, pulling your right arm up. At this point you should have the crook of your elbow against your opponent's throat, your bicep on one side of the neck and your forearm on the other, your secondary hand grabbing your primary wrist and your primary thumb pressed up against your shoulder. Once you get here all that's left to do is squeeze with your bicep and forearm. In seconds you'll disrupt the flow of blood, and if your opponent doesn't tap out they'll pass out.
A Flexible, Functional Hold
The Guillotine is a flexible hold, and you don't have to be on your feet to do it; you can also do it while kneeling, or even from a ground position.
If your opponent comes at you and knocks you back (say for this example that he tackles you in a traditional wrestling "spear" with his head right next to your body) you're not out of options. Wrap your legs around your opponent's waist, locking your ankles together behind them. Follow the previous formula with the back of your opponent's head in your armpit and the front of his throat in the crook of your arm. If you need additional leverage, then extend your legs to put more pressure on your opponent's torso. This will make him stretch out his neck, giving you even greater access, and cinching the hold even tighter. And of course if you grip hard enough and pull with your legs and your arms, the Guillotine might become literal, so always be careful when executing this hold, and be sure that you have proper supervision.