When I was a white belt, I was often paired up with a brown belt at Evolve, who was known for his brutal ezekiel chokes. It didn’t matter the position or the situation, it was always a threat, and I lost count of how many times I tapped.
I consider that a formative experience because it taught me that the ezekiel was effective.
After that, I started making a conscious effort to develop it but I ran into a problem. The way I learned it could only be used in the gi, and I wanted it to work for no-gi as well. So I developed a method for doing exactly that, and I am going to share it with you.
How the No-Gi Ezekiel Works
There are several elements to how this choke works, and I am going to break them down to the best degree that I can.
- The hand that is under the neck has to be deep. Try to reach for their tricep with your hand and make sure that your bicep is against their neck.
- Use your head to turn their chin away. That will expose the neck.
- Slide the blade of your other wrist in so that it presses against their carotid. It doesn’t have to be that deep.
- Keep both elbows on the mat and walk the wrist of your bottom hand up your other forearm. That elevates their neck into the choke, and the higher you walk, the tighter the choke will be before any pressure comes into play.
- Roll your bottom wrist towards the mat and flex your biceps and forearms to finish. Think of it as a compression with your elbows slightly closer together.
I’ve been doing the ezekiel this way for several years now, and I have lots of success with it, both in competition and in the gym. Play with it and see if it works for you.
Why I Discarded the Ezekiel I Was Taught
Right now, in or out of the gi, I use the same method for the ezekiel because I have found it to be far more effective. These are the primary reasons for that assessment:
- Using the sleeve required me to get my top wrist further across the neck for maximum effectiveness.
- The chopping motion often required the use of significant strength.
- It was easy for the choke to move from being a blood choke to a windpipe choke, and I only wanted clean blood chokes.
I won’t deny that the old style ezekiel worked for me, especially at white belt. Often, it was a fight though, and why should you work harder if you don’t have to.
Recently a new application of the ezekiel revealed itself to me while I was drilling. Conceptually, it uses all the same principles of the choke I’ve been using but now the possibilities have expanded.
First though, here are some ways that the choke differs:
- It requires that you to be partially on your opponent’s back.
- There is no need to turn the chin.
- The elbows don’t have to be on the mat.
Other than that, it follows the same rules:
- The bottom hand has to be deep.
- The top wrist still has to press against the carotid. Going too deep actually makes it more difficult to finish.
- The finish comes from compression.
I also played with it from the arm triangle position of bottom closed guard with success. In fact, I hit it during a roll last night.