My training partners and I were so impressed by David Porter’s D’Arce choke seminar that we’ve all become hooked on nailing the finish in sparring ever since. I wanted to explore the topic further so I picked up his Brabo/Darce Evolution instructional on BJJ Fanatics. See below for my video review or continue reading if you prefer the written version:
What is the D’Arce Choke?
A quick bit of history – the D’Arce choke is named after grappler Joe D’Arce. Side note: everyone pronounces the technique as ‘dars’ but the correct pronunciation is ‘dee-ars-see’. Joe was a student at the Renzo Gracie academy when he first learned the technique and then went on to apply it in competition. The person he learned it from is John Danaher – see this article here for more on this story.
The D’Arce choke is a technique that I categorise as one of several head and arm triangle chokes – which include the Anaconda choke and the kata gatame/head and arm triangle itself. Another similarly related technique is the arm-in guillotine but according to John Danaher in his Front Headlocks System instructional, the guillotine chokes work in a different way to the kata gatame family of chokes. The D’Arce can be used with equal success whether gi or nogi and memorably quite a few times in MMA – see this UFC highlight video below:
John Danaher shows two D’arce choke set-ups in his Front Headlocks DVD. His versions are could be reasonably described as classic D’Arce set-ups ie using a gable grip at first to connect to the head and arm before progressing to the finish which can be done regardless of where the locking side ends up (in fact as you can see from the UFC video above, several D’Arce finishes end up with the locking side on bottomside). David Porter explains that his D’Arce Choke set-up is slightly different plus he adds a few more parameters, which I’ll discuss below:
The Brabo Darce Evolution
This tutorial (available to buy here) is divided into four major parts (let’s call them discs) with a total of 52 chapters and running time total of over two hours.
Disc one covers an introduction and is especially useful to hear David’s reasoning behind the adjustments he’s made over and above the ‘classical’ D’Arce patterns as shown in Danaher’s Headlock tutorial.
There are four main components to David’s D’Arce strategy:
1. Instead of a gable grip, David uses a single handed hook grip with his threading arm. This is strong enough usually to prevent the opponent from posturing out of the position.
2. To ensure a more secure arm entanglement David makes sure his opponent’s head is close to his body. He also deploys a trick – rotating his non-threading arm before ‘winching’ is back in place.
3. David will always seek to complete the submission with the locking side of his arms facing upwards/topside.
4. The final piece of the finish is to draw your torso in close to your opponent (crunching in as I like to think of it) and hook over one of your opponent’s legs which ensures they do not escape.
Once you’ve studied the opening chapters of David’s DVDs, the rest of the set comprises set-ups and openings from a wide variety of scenarios. Disc one covers set-ups for when you are on top eg mount and knee on belly but the easiest one to start off with in my opinion is the D’Arce choke against a person who is in the turtle – which is covered in Disc two.
Where things get a lot more interesting is on Disc three where David shows how to get the D’Arce when you are on the bottom – in most cases defending from underneath side control or using the guard. I liked these techniques a lot since I am a big fan of counter-attacking moves in BJJ. I also have a fondness for the side control escape to D’Arce as my late instructor Nick Brooks first taught me the same one many years ago.
Disc Four covers a variety of things including some gi-specific additions to the previous techniques. At this stage it’s important to state that all the D’Arce chokes so far are equally viable regardless of gi or nogi. These chapter four gi techniques add a bit more help with regard to certain grip placements when trying to manipulate your opponent into the best position for a D’arce attack. It also includes one of my favourite attacks – the Brabo grip using the gi lapel – another technique that was taught to me by Nick Brooks.
Following our session with David, my two training partners and I couldn’t wait to fire away with D’Arce chokes at every opportunity. That seminar gave me just the head start I needed to understand the technique and since then, watching David’s DVD has also been a great help to remind me of the details from the seminar and pick up a ton of additional content that he was able to show on the day.
What’s really surprising is just how accessible the D’Arce choke is once you learn to spot the openings. Given that I have never previously attempted a D’Arce before, the fact that in the space of just a week or two I am able to hit them with regularity in sparring is a testament to the effectiveness of David’s teaching method but also to the versatility of the technique: you can catch it from the top, or from the bottom, defending or attacking. Just as David explained in his instructional, a D’Arce choke is available at any point where you can see a gap under your opponent’s arm and can see their tricep of that arm. When I am trying a D’Arce entry, I’ll make sure to run through the short 4-point checklist (see above) from David’s instructional.
Prior to David’s seminar I wasn’t really interested in the D’Arce choke. It simply wasn’t a technique that was on my radar and as I mentioned before, have never even tried to use one before. But I’ve since gone into a deep dive and loving the D’Arce very much now. David’s instructional, like all his other titles, features material that is exceptionally well taught (I also have his kneebar one and his Decontrstructing Defense titles). They are structured in a way that shows how one concept or technique can be applied in a very wide variety of positions and set-ups. Adding in John Danaher’s chapters on the D’Arce also helps as he explains the theory behind the submission in great detail.