The rear naked choke is one of the most widely seen submissions in modern mixed martial arts. Also known as “Mata Leao”, it can send the dominant fighter’s opponent to sleep, which nearly always produces a tapout when applied properly.

Despite having the word “choke” in the move’s name, it is actually a strangle-hold. Chokes cut off air supply, and strangles cut off brain blood supply. Both however, are deadly if not released in ample time for the submitted fighter to break free.

Steps in applying the rear naked choke submission are as follows:

  1. You must first “take” your opponent’s back, which often means softening him/her up with a solid ground and pound game or that in combination with superb ground position transitions (ie. side control from inside of full guard).
  2. Once the back has been taken, it is advised to sink-in hooks (from on top) or a figure-4 (from underneath). At this time of tightening the hold around your opponent’s body the choke should begin to take place.
  3. Begin to administer the choke (strangle) by getting your arm as far underneath the neck as possible and continue to work until it sinks in further. Once a solid headlock is secured, it is time to secure the rear naked choke.
  4. To secure the choke and maintain dominance, it is important to have the hand of the arm which around the neck, and grip the bicep of one’s other arm. Once this is done, the hand on the arm with the bicep being grabbed will come back and towards your face. With the palm facing the back of the opponent’s head, press forward on the medulla region to lock it all up and produce a tapout.

Fighter in white trunks successfully submits fighter in the black rash guard by rear naked choke at the Gracie Open, in the video below.