Turtle triangle defence

I recently got the chance to roll with a local Judo black belt who has been training for 12 years and says that about 70 % of his matches were won with groundwork. He says that he's probably one of the better ground players of all the Judokas in my hometown. He got me several times with the reverse triangle choke from the turtle position (it was me that was turtled and he was in front of me).

I knew about that move but I've never tried it out and no one had ever attacked me with it before. This guy says that it's one of his favorite moves. How can I counter or stop this move from happening as early as possible from the turtle position?



how exactly is he applying the triangle? more details please.

I am turtled and he's in front of me. He places his right knee on the mat right next to my left ear. He then drives his left foot between my right tricep and ribs. Then he rolls me to my back and the rest is a bit complicated. I end up in a triangle and either tap or I am pinned in a position that's hard to get out of and my arms are vulnerable to submissions.

It's a pretty cool move actually and he was a very nice guy. I told him that he was more than welcome to come back to my gym at any time.

I love this move. It was shown to me by one of our Judo guys last week. I would imagine one way is to stop the knee before it gets in by pushing it out using your hands. I don't think it would expose your arms if you pushed on the knee.

I'll try it tonight in class and see how it works out.


if it's being done no-gi like I've been using it recently, the attacker has an underhook on the side he puts the knee down on. I do it standing, without the knee on the ground myself. It's a very nice move. Unless you have long legs, a little hard to finish cinching in for the choke without the gi though, so I usually convert up to a reverse triangle with my opponent on their back completely and me doing a kimura for no-gi.

once you're there, the reverse triangle is just going to suck and your chances of getting out get slimmer and slimmer, so I would act first and try to get out of the front headlock before they attack. I usually end up trying a sitout to get out of it as quickly as possible. Though, if it's in no-gi, try not letting them get an underhook in on one of your arms from the front headlock. It should be difficult to turn you over without that. If you're wearing the gi, it won't matter, since they can get belt control and just grab a chunk of your sleeve.

This move is a common move in Judo. My teacher would catch me with it all the time.

When ever I would shoot in on him he would sprawl and then transition into this move (incidently the move is called Yoko sangaku jime: side triangle choke in Japanese; Rigan Machado shows several varations of it in his book the Triangle on page 89 - 91; 130 - 134).

The key thing I learn in regards to defense is:

  • you can't reach out with your arms; doing this you actually give your opponent the space need for him to place his foot/leg between your rib and tricep. Also don't grab his leg because this also gives him that opening.

  • keep your elbows in and braced against your body. Also try to place you hands on your opponents hips or upper body and walk forward so that you get your hip underneath you. From this position you actually have the advantage because you have a strong base. You can transition into the guard or you can lift the opponent up and turn him to the side like the lift portion of the double leg.

  • another thing you can do is place you elbows and hands like in above and raise you hips up and spread you legs like an upside down V. Then from this position you are going drop to one knee and do a sitout; that is you're going to thread one leg through between your head and other leg. This movement has to be do quickly and explosively. This move gives you the back mount.

Erik Paulson won at least one of his old matches in Shooto with this. He shows several variations of it on his "Triangles" DVD.

The leg that goes to the side of his ear (i.e. not your other leg that digs between the tricep and ribs) - should you use your knee or your foot?


The leg you're taking about - you should use your knee.

Using your knee creates a tighter fit. If you use your foot there will be to much space .

Generally what you do is try to get the heel of the foot digs between the opponents ribs and tricep to touch the knee of the leg which is by the opponents ear.

Your arm, which is on the same side of the leg which is by the opponents ear, can under hook the opponents arm or better over hook it and grip the gi (palm down) near the opponents chest area.

This grip helps you to not only control the opponent when you turn him over but also to actually turn him over.