Jiu Jitsu Pentagram Choke from Back Control

The History behind the Pentagram Choke by Ari Bolden
I’ve decided to write this article on the Pentagram Choke to answer some questions that I have received and read online.

The Origins
As long as I have been doing jiu jitsu, I’ve always found myself in strange positions. I have a ton of respect for ‘bread and butter’ moves like armbars, triangles and rear naked chokes. But the problem I was having is that so many people know the counters to these moves or are expecting them once you gain positional dominance. I watched thousands of matches and have rolled thousands of times and I kept seeing the same thing over and over.
Mount, hips shifting, grabbing the arm, person on bottom starts to move to counter which amounts to the typical jiu jitsu chess match which we all love and get a rush from.

The problem is, I suck at chess. I wanted to throw something in the mix that was different. I wanted the person thinking one thing and I pull off something TOTALLY whacked.

Getting back control, my opponents always went into what I call “standard RNC defence mode.” I knew what was coming, they knew what was coming and we battled back and forth until I got the choke or my opponent wiggled free.

If you are a grappler reading this, I want you to know that I am not taking away from the importance of the Rear Choke. It’s one of the best fight enders on the PLANET and if I see it, I’ll take it. But, I also know the importance of having ‘tools in the tool box.” The more tools I have, the more things I can fix.
I finally thought, what would happen if I got a triangle from back but got stuffed and I only had a weak triangle, could I somehow use my arms to make it tighter?

Enter the Twister, Eddie Bravo.
Eddie Bravo opened my eyes to the possibility that unorthodox jiu jitsu was not only possible but successful. I found it ironic that a modern and progressive art like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu had so much animosity towards Eddie when he started to share his half guard and rubber guard game with the rest of the world. Eddie told me once that (paraphrased) “When I came out with my stuff, many Brazilian’s chastised my jiu jitsu and said it would never work. Then, in the back rooms of their gyms and studios, away from the prying eyes of the public, they were trying my shit out.”

Jiu Jitsu is an art that keeps on evolving. My background in Japanese Jujutsu, Aikido and other arts have certainly allowed me to see things that I normally wouldn’t have seen. As one person said in the lockflow forum “And the evolution of MMA continues ... Im thinking the guy who thought about it was wondering what would happen if he applied a variant to the rubber guard from an opponents back or something.”
Almost after training with Eddie, I began to see things differently and realized than the legs could be used in unorthodox ways. The Pentagram was born out of a necessity to have more options from the back, to confuse my opponent by throwing something they’d never seen and getting a submission from and unorthodox position.

The Name: Why Pentagram?
I had developed the move but didn’t have a name for it yet. I was just about to film the technique for the website when we realized we didn’t know what to call in. My senior student (Dan) and I chatted about it for a bit. I concluded that it was ‘kinda a triangle’ but adding the 2 other sides didn’t make it a triangle anymore. We were almost going to call it the Pentagon Choke, but the name just sounded dumb. I thought “every time someone pulls this off in a match, they’ll be people saying ‘it’s the pentagon, it’s the pentagon!” The image of the US Military hub kept popping into my head. I just didn’t like that.
So I said ‘what about the Pentagram! Sounds kind of evil and shit. And a Pentagram has five sides and when you look at the arms and legs when locked in, it kind of looks like a pentagram star.”

“It does?” Dan replied.

“Okay, maybe you have to be really stoned or something, but it sounds cool.”

“Ok, let’s go with that.” Dan said.

Does it work?
Sure does. But it doesn’t work on everyone. In jiu jitsu, we often refer to moves as “high or low” percentage moves. That means how many times out of 10 will you get something to work. If you can have a move that will catch 30% of you opponents, that is a high percentage move. But, it doesn’t mean that low percentage moves are worthless. As I said before, the more tools in you tool box the better you are.
If someone has never seen the Pentagram, you’ll catch them because they won’t expect it. If someone has seen it or has played around with it, they now have to worry about defending yet another attack from the back position.

If you’re good at the Pentagram, you’ll catch people in it. Like any move, it has to be practiced.

In the Forums and Chats
Today was the first time in several months that I typed in Pentagram into Google to see what its status was (it’s like a child that goes off to college; you want to know if they are passing or failing...or partying too hard). I was surprised to see that it is alive and healthy in a number of forums, including:
http://www.brazilianjiujitsugear.com...ead.php?t=1252 (this is the forum which I help run)
http://www.lockflow.com/viewtopic.php?t=9473
http://www.budoseek.net/vbulletin/sh...ad.php?t=22581

After reading the comments, I can see that many people get it. They understand the reason and concept behind the move. There are a lot of really talented and dedicated grapplers out there and it was nice to read some constructive and unsolicited opinions on the Pentagram. I can see that people are even starting to test out some variations of talk about small tweaks to make it better. THIS IS WHAT THE EVOLUTION OF THE ART IS ABOUT. It’s the grunt on the mat that comes up with ways to improve the game. We listen and learn from each other.

The Future of the Pentagram
There are several variations that I have come up with since the initial release of the move 6 months ago. I have found a great way to get the move when your partner in turtled. I’ve also come up with a BRAND new variation called the DEATH STAR, which might be better than the original (or at least a way to counter a counter of the pentagram). My students are always trying to stuff my techniques which in turn causes me to make counters to counters (that is how the Death Star was invented)

Well, that’s it. I hope I’ve answered some of your questions. If you have any more, please feel free to pop over to our forum or send me an email via my site: www.submissions101.com

All the best and keep on rollin!
Ari ”Pentagram” Bolden

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