Triangle questions


I'm 41 years old, 6'3", 180 lbs in shape (but I'm not in shape, so that's probably over 190 lbs now, but the point is that my build is thin), whitest of white belts. I've been taking judo since August, but laid off for the last two months while starting my new job.


I took my boys to judo for the first time in two months on Friday. Mostly we did newaza, which is great because my boys and I all enjoy it. The guy I ended up working most with was a brown belt, almost my height (I'd guess 6'2") and lots bigger, maybe 250, with a barrel chest. While grappling, I managed to get my right leg over his shoulder and around his neck. With my left leg under his right arm, I hooked my right foot under my left knee and tried to cinch it tight (hard, given that my opponent was so big). This position is what I've called the "triangle", based on my video watching and Internet study.


While my triangle did effectively keep my opponent from progressing much on me, I couldn't do anything else with it. In particular, I thought if I really cinched up tight on the triangle, I could cause him a lot of discomfort and maybe even submit him. Not even close. I did take away some of his effectiveness, but he never looked more than very mildly uncomfortable, certainly not like it was causing him any distress. You ever have a dream where you're fighting someone, but you are so weak that it takes all your energy just to move your arm or leg? That's sort of how I felt -- I tried to cinch the triangle tight, but it was like I was trying to do it on a bear, and I just couldn't really sink it in.


1. Is what I was doing a "triangle"? If not, what was it?

2. How effective should it be in controlling someone?

3. Should I be able to submit someone bigger and stronger than me from the triangle? After all, he may be bigger, but I'm using my body's largest and strongest muscles against his neck and shoulders.

4. Any advice on improving my game, other than obvious things like, "Don't take two months off when you're a white belt"?

1. Yes, but you were forgetting a few of the finer details. I was always taught (assuming that i was in the exact same position as you) that you should push off of your opponents hips with your left leg before locking it inot the triangle position. That should put you almost in a 90 degree position in regards to your opponent as seen from above. Also, while pushing yourself to the side with your foot like that, dont forget to pull your opponents right arm out and accross your right side. Once locked in, raise your hips into the air, and place two hands on the back of your opponents head and pull down.

2. If you can get a triangle on right, he's going to tap or go to sleep.

3. For sure.

4. Just keep rolling and asking questions when something doesn;t seem to be working properly.

there could have been many things that went wrong.

The sucess of a triangle is truly in the details. thought they all point in one direction - tightening around him leaving no space at all.

there are several things that may help.

people often attempt a triangle while having their hips flat underneath uke. you've got to get out to the side (almost perpendicular to him. ex. your right leg over and your body turned toward the right looking at teh side of his face))

And you must "bite" into him. your hips should leave the floor to come up and bite into him as you pull his arm to get the legs sinked in deeply. all this while turning to the side.(if you're initiating the triangle this will come with the push/pull setup for the arms. Your leg comes across the shin as the other leg pushes off)

Also pull his head down and make sure your calf is across the shoulders not down his back. all these things aid constriction. and with big guys and big shoulders you'll often have to adjust after the first attack. (you'll attack and your leg will hold him down while you keep cinching things up)

and sometimes you just have to accept that your triangle isn't working and then go to an armbar or an omoplata of at least go back to the guard rather than let him get away.

good advice. the way to do a classic triangle (or as we would call it in judo, a san gaku shime) ok. one thing i have to add. and this might be a kind of a gray area depending on how you do it. when these guys tell you to put your hands on the back of opponents head and pull down. that will make him tap almost instantly. im guessing they are speaking more from a BJJ point of view. now as for judo, i'd say (and i was told by a ref) that you should probably be careful how you pull his head down, or how obvious you make it seem. if you just put your hands there and tug away, the ref might say you're putting pressure on the neck and that's illegal. but if you kind of bend your whole upper buddy and obscure his head and wrap your forearms around it and give it a little pull it might not be as obvious. now you guys know some of these judo referees. in the 2003 US Open in LV, NV david camarillo (god himself when it comes to these newaza things, and some other things. ahaha) did it to my good friend gary st. leger in the second round and the ref didnt even know what was going on. the poor kid damn near passed out and the ref called mate. so you never know. i hope dave williams sees this, he can give us a much more 'for sure' ruling. in any case, the other two guys gave perfect advice.

Here's another thing that might help...If your configuration is left leg under his right armpit, pull/push his right arm across his body. If he is able to post out with his right arm on the outside of your body/leg, he can take pressure off of the choke.


Its all about the angle, as others have said. If you attempt a triangle with hips square, you wont have the correct angle, even though your legs are bent in the traditional triangle position, you wont have anywhere near the power to complete the choke (though it is possible).

Also, as BIC said, the "bite" as he called it is important. Ive seen a BJJ blackbelt do it where he kicked his leg up over uke and almost seemed like a kick as he clamped down. While thats an extreme you have to make sure you shoot your leg up(usually coincided with the pulling of the arm across the chest) so that your leg is as FAR up over his neck as possible and NOT just where your knee bends(raising your hips is the idea behind this i guess). Thats a thing i do myself a lot and not realize it since the choke APPEARS to be sunk when it really is not.

Your best bet is to get a willing uke, and just try those things and see what works.

Good stuff. Thanks.

its perfectly legal to grab the head and pull down to bring the chin to the chest. there is nothing illegal about it as it is nearly impossible to cause any real damage to the spine in that manner-- especially with your own thigh being under the chin to boot.

what you cant do is pull violently as if you are striking the guy in the bakc of the head. but if you put your hands there and pull his head down its perfectly legal.

there are pins, or versions of them, that place the chin in a position where it is being forced to the chest and there is nothing wrong with it.

keep the hands and feet out of the face and youll be fine.

hey josh, you know mary gail ford told me about that rule. i wasnt sure about it myself but i had to agree with her. i just hope she dont read this forum she might want to have a word or two with you. hey im traveling to yugo tomorrow so i wont be on for a couple of days adn you guys are going down to sd. so one more time lots of luck to everyone. fight hard!

so are you saying that when i have a triangle with the arm across it is perfectly legal to pull the head down to finish the choke.

I've always been told differently at my club

2 things we haven't mentioned, but should:

1) Anatomical differences make a difference, and a guy with a big barrel chest, a huge neck, or giant shoulders can be the hardest person to get the triangle on (even if you are lanky).

2) You are a white belt, working to triangle a brown belt. Experience is the greatest asset! You are attacking someone who is more experienced than you are in this area. This is not an easy task! The more time one has spent training a technique (and the counters), the harder it will be for others to catch that person. This person has a tremendous advantage over you in this arena. So if you can't catch this guy, it may not be that you are "doing something wrong." It may just be the extreme difference in experience levels.