The rear naked choke is the simplest choke that literally anyone can perform without any training. You’ve probably been put in one by your siblings or friends growing up.
It’s easy to administer, but with proper training, the rear naked choke is the most effective choke in grappling. Here is our complete guide for how to lock on the RNC.
We’ll go through all of the important details for how to lock it on and show various entries into the choke.
When was the rear naked choke developed?
The rear naked choke or RNC for short might be the oldest submission of them all. It’s exact age isn’t known, but it’s well into the thousands.
There are ancient artifacts of our ancestors doing early forms of wrestling and using the rear naked choke. We’ve known for centuries that if you put your arms around an opponent’s neck and squeeze, they go to sleep.
Jiu Jitu adopted it from Judo, where it’s known as the “Hadaka-jime.” It was perfected in Jiu Jitsu and is used by every form of grappling.
The mechanics of the RNC
How the RNC works is quite simple. Blood flows to your brain from the carotid arteries that are located on both sides of your neck.
When you wrap your arms around someone’s neck and apply pressure, this shuts off the blood flow. Your opponent will only have a few seconds to tap or be put to sleep.
Basic rear naked choke
Let’s start by going over the basic details of an rear naked choke when you have already taken your opponent’s back. Before you go into the choke, you have to do other steps to keep control of your opponent.
You need to be holding your opponent’s back tight with a seatbelt grip covering your choke hand with your top hand. When you’re holding this grip, keep tight on your opponent and be sure there isn’t any open space.
Your head also needs to stay tight against the back of your opponent’ head, so they can’t turn their head.
Next point of control is to hook your legs around your opponent’s body to keep them in place and from turning. Never cross your legs in this position or your opponent will hook your ankles and submit you.
Now with your control established, you can go into your choke sequence. Slide your choke under your opponent’s chin and cup their shoulder to make it hard for them to take off.
Then slide your top hand behind your opponent’s shoulder and grab the bicep of your top arm. With your bicep grip set, slide your top hand behind your opponent’s head and fall to your choke arm side.
From here, you can go finish your choke. Take a deep breath and squeeze with your body to lock on the pressure.
The Hadaka-jime or short arm choke is the Judo that BJJ took and created the RNC. It’s more of an air choke, where you drive your forearm into your opponent’s windpipe.
When your opponent is in a sitting position, slide your forearm under your opponent’s chin and clasp your hands together. No hooks necessary with this choke.
To finish the choke, place your chest on your opponent’ back and pull back on your choke arm.
RNC neck crank(the Khabib)
When Khabib finished Conor it wasn’t actually a choke, but a powerful neck crank. The set up could be the same, but your opponent defends by tucking their chin.
This blocks the choke, but now a vicious neck crank is open. With your arm wrapped around your opponent’s chin, either grab a bicep grip or Gable grips.
Then with your grip set, violently drive your forearm into your opponent’s chin as you turn their neck. If your opponent doesn’t tap, they may sustain serious damage to their jaw and neck.
One arm rear naked choke
If you get your choke arm under your opponent’s choke, you all but have the submission. You can even finish the choke with one arm if you can’t get your top arm in place.
Cup your opponent’s shoulder like a normal RNC and place your head on top to protect it. Control your opponent’s wrist with your other arm and start your squeeze to finish the choke.
Rear naked choke from wrist control
When you get your opponent’s back, you probably are not just going to get your rear naked choke without resistance. You’ll more than likely have to hand fight and one of the best things you can do is get wrist control.
Get wrist control by sliding your top hand under your opponent’s arm and grab their wrist. Once you grab your opponent’s wrist, they take their attention off their neck and fight to get their wrist back.
They take their hand off your choke hand and start fighting to get their other hand free. When they go to take back their wrist, let go of it and go back to attacking their neck and get your rear naked choke.
If for some reason, you lose your hooks, but still have the choke, you can still finish it. A finishing option you have if this happens is a variation of the RNC called the bulldog choke.
You probably saw this choke in the Robbie Lawler vs Ben Askren fight. Let’s say you have the choke locked up, but you didn’t have your hooks right.
The opponent turns to their knees and tries to escape. Keep the choke and move to their side and continue squeezing as you lean into your opponent.
RNC w/ arm trap
When your opponent has good RNC defense it might be better to take one of their arms away. You can do this by trapping one of their arms with your legs like BJ Penn was famous for doing.
Start by reaching under your opponent’s arm and establishing wrist control. With this control, push their arm down and hook it with your leg. Trapping it in place against their body.
Now with your 2 arms against their one, you should have no problem locking in your RNC. Their arm will probably get out, but you will still have enough time to lock in your submission.
Alternate grip set up
Leg lock master Lachlan Giles came up with a great set up to get your grips that is incredibly effective. With a normal set up, your opponent still has a chance to stop you from connecting your top arm.
This setup takes that chance away from your opponent. After establishing his chok arm, Lachlan makes a fist with his top hand and presses it against his opponent’s neck.
Doing this keeps your opponent’s head in place and prevents them from turning. From here, all you do is roll your elbow over your choke hand and lock on your RNC grip.
You have your hook locked in without having to fight to establish your top hand grip.
Important details and tips for doing the RNC
A rear naked choke is easy to lock on, but if you remember small details it can be perfect. Here are important details and tips for putting on an RNC.
- Stay tight: Hold your back mount tight against your opponent with no open space between you and them.
- Seatbelt grip: Keep a seatbelt grip around your opponent’s body with your top hand covering your choke arm.
- Head placement: Your head needs to be placed at the back of your opponent’s head with no open space.
- Hooks: Hook your legs around your opponent’s body to keep them in place while you work in your choke.
- Don’t cross ankles: When holding back mount, never cross your ankles or your opponent will hook them and apply a painful ankle lock.
- Arm under the chin: Always slide your choke arm under your opponent’s chin. This makes it harder for them to defend.
- Cup the shoulder: After wrapping your arm around your opponent’s neck cup their shoulder. Doing this makes it harder for your opponent to pull off your choke hand.
- Turn onto your choke arm: Before squeezing, be sure to fall to the side of your choke. This closes off more space and ensures your choke will be tighter.
- Hand behind head: In one quick motion, grab hold of your bicep and slide your top hand behind your opponent’s head. If your top hand isn’t behind your opponent’s head, they can peel it off and defend the choke.
- Use your whole body: Use your entire body to squeeze your opponent instead of just your arms. You’ll get more power out of your squeeze.