Have you heard the Von Flue choke submission mentioned by a UFC commentator and are wondering what it is?
In this article, we’ll explain and look at what the Von Flue choke submission is, its history, when it’s used in MMA, how to do it, and how many Von Flue chokes there have been in the UFC.
What Is a Von Flue Choke Submission? (How Does it Work?)
A Von Flue choke submission, or shoulder choke, is a grappling technique that applies shoulder pressure to the carotid arteries in one side of the neck to restrict blood flow to the brain, leading to a submission via blood choke.
A Von Flue choke is expertly applied by first trapping the opponent’s arm – used in their guillotine attempt – against their own neck.
The practitioner then interlocks their hands, typically using a gable grip, to secure the position and ensure the opponent’s arm remains in place (see above image).
With their shoulder pressing against the opponent’s neck, the practitioner applies downward pressure to target the carotid arteries.
The opponent’s shoulder doesn’t directly compress the artery but acts as a static barrier that the practitioner’s pressure works against, effectively sealing off the space and contributing to the constriction.
When applied correctly, the resulting squeeze and downward pressure can quickly cut off blood flow to the brain, necessitating a tap out to prevent unconsciousness.
This happens as carotid arteries are the main channels through which oxygen-rich blood reaches the brain, and without oxygen the brain’s functions start to fail, leading to unconsciousness.
Von Flue chokes are used in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (gi and no-gi), mixed martial arts (MMA), submission wrestling, and combat sambo.
The Von Flue choke is generally considered an intermediate to advanced technique as it requires a practitioner to have a solid understanding of basic grappling concepts, such as positioning, control, and the mechanics of applying chokes.
In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the Von Flue choke submission is generally taught to blue belts.
Von Flue Choke History
Photo by East718
The Von Flue choke submission was named after Jason Von Flue, an American MMA fighter who was the first to use it successfully in a high-profile setting.
In his UFC debut after appearing on The Ultimate Fighter season 2, Jason Von Flue successfully used a shoulder choke against Alex Karalexis at UFC Ultimate Fight Night 3 in 2006.
The choke itself isn’t his invention as it has been used in various forms of grappling for a long time, but it wasn’t a particularly well-known or commonly taught technique at the time – especially in MMA.
This wasn’t the first time Jason Von Flue used the blood choke, as he’d used it to secure consecutive WEC wins in 2003, against Nick Gilardi and Chris Irvine. This is why the choke was named after him.
When Jason Von Flue sent Alex Karalexis to sleep in 2006, Joe Rogan didn’t know what the choke was or how Jason had won the fight.
After the submission, Joe Rogan was confused and said, “It looked like he finished him with an arm triangle, but it was very strange as he was on the opposite side of his body.”
When interviewing him, Joe Rogan said, “Now that was a very unusual choke you got him with. It was like a variation of an arm triangle, have you done that before?”
To this, Jason Von Flue replied, “That was number 3, my signature move, been training it for years.”
After regaining consciousness, Alex Karalexis can be heard saying, “I had no idea what the f*** happened”.
Even Bruce Buffer announced Jason Von Flue as the winner via side choke.
The Von Flue choke was new on the MMA scene and is now a part of the curriculum in many MMA and BJJ schools.
While not widely accepted, since 2017, the Von Flue choke has occasionally been called the Von Preux choke, after Ovince Saint Preux.
This is because he secured consecutive Von Flue chokes in 2017, and has since secured his 4th UFC Von Flue choke in 2019, a UFC record unlikely to be matched.
When Is a Von Flue Choke Submission Used?
A Von Flue choke submission is typically executed from side control and is often used as a counter to an opponent’s guillotine choke attempt.
When an opponent holds onto a guillotine choke after they hit the ground and especially when the defender has passed to side control, they inadvertently create the opportunity for the Von Flue choke.
The Von Flue choke also opens the opportunity to attack a kimura, americana, or straight arm lock after the opponent lets go of the guillotine and manages to get their arm free.
To do this they lift their arm over the opponent’s head, put their other hand on the mat, lean forward to pry the opponent’s arm out, then attack their arm.
A Von Flue choke is predominantly executed from side control because it’s the natural escape path from a guillotine attempt and affords the practitioner the leverage and angle necessary to apply maximal downward pressure on the neck for an effective choke.
A Von Flue choke can also be secured from full guard or half guard, as seen in the image above.
However, it’s much harder to generate the necessary pressure due to the opponent’s ability to utilize their legs for defense and to mitigate the leverage needed for an effective choke.
It’s also because the opponent has a much tighter guillotine squeeze, which can make escaping to side control more important than attempting a Von Flue choke (position over submission).
However, if an opponent has trapped the legs and escaping to side control isn’t possible, attempting the Von Flue choke is now the best form of defense in getting the opponent to let go of the guillotine.
How To Do the Von Flue Choke Submission
Here’s how to do the Von Flue choke submission, step by step:
1. Start in or get to Side Control
Secure side control on your opponent, where you have control over their upper body. They may be holding onto a guillotine choke attempt.
2. Arm Over the Shoulder
Wrap your free arm (the one opposite the side of the attempted guillotine) over your opponent’s shoulder and across the back of their head to control their posture.
3. Base Hand on the Mat
Place your other hand (the one on the same side as the attempted guillotine) on the mat to stabilize your position.
4. Secure the Grip
Interlock your hands with a thumbless gable grip. The hand wrapped around the back should be palm down, and the other hand palm up.
5. Trap the Arm
Squeeze your shoulder towards your ear to trap your opponent’s arm (the one they were using for the guillotine), preventing them from escaping the choke.
6. Prevent Guard Recovery
Use your knee or shin to block your opponent’s legs, preventing them from transitioning back to half guard or full mount. This maintains your dominant side control and sets the stage for a successful choke.
7. Apply Pressure
Shift your weight toward the side of the trapped arm to apply pressure on the neck with your shoulder driving into their throat.
8. Finalize the Choke
Continue to apply pressure, adjusting your position if necessary to tighten the choke. Hold until your opponent taps out, signaling the submission.
Here’s a brilliant Von Flue choke demonstration for further understanding:
How Many Von Flue Chokes Have There Been in the UFC?
As of November 2023, there have been 8 Von Flue choke submissions in the UFC (9 if you include DWCS).
Here’s the order they were secured:
- Jason Von Flue vs. Alex Karalexis – Fight Night 3
- Ovince Saint Preux vs. Nikita Krylov – UFC171
- Ovince Saint Preux vs. Marcos Rogério de Lima – Fight Night 108
- Jordan Rinaldi vs. Álvaro Herrera – Fight Night 114
- Ovince Saint Preux vs. Yushin Okami – Fight Night 117
- Ovince Saint Preux vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk – Fight Night 160
- Alonzo Menifield vs. Fabio Cherant – UFC 260
- Cory Mckenna vs. Miranda Granger – UFC on ESPN 40
- Gabriel Bonfim vs. Trey Waters – DWCS Season 6
As can be seen, the Von Flue choke submission is incredibly rare at the highest level, in the UFC.
This is because the Von Flue choke typically requires the opponent to hold onto a guillotine choke attempt after the position has been passed to side control – a fundamental mistake experienced fighters are unlikely to make.
Its somewhat complex setup makes it far less attempted than more common and successful MMA submissions like the arm-triangle choke.
Its rarity meant Cory Mckenna became the first female UFC fighter to secure a Von Flue choke when she submitted Miranda Granger in August 2022.
Here’s a video showing all of Ovince Saint Preux’s Von Flue chokes in the UFC: