Our club RGA South Herts had the privilege of being taught a D’arce choke seminar by David Porter. David, a black belt under Pedro Sauer, is a formidable competitor. He has fought in over 300 jiujitsu matches and holds a highly impressive submission win ratio of 97%. Many of these submissions were via D’arce choke, a finish that David has adapted and refined into a system that can be used in either the gi or nogi.
I first met David online many years ago when he asked me to draw him a mongoose mascot design and we’ve been good friends ever since. The highlight video below shows just some of David’s competition action footage:
Setting Up The D’arce
The D’arce choke is one of a whole family of head and arm triangle submission attacks. David began the session by explaining what the D’arce is and how it has been traditionally taught. Already it was notable just how much superior detail David was able to throw into his teaching and yet all of it was very easy to understand and replicate when drilling. He explained the various problems he experienced when using the traditional gable grip and strength based arm squeezing version of the D’arce and how he adapted the technique into a system he was able to use far more successfully and efficiently.
The photos and captions I provide here in this report are not intended as step by step instructions (there’s still a lot of info I didn’t caption), but they help me and my students remember the key points of the various techniques he showed tonight. I think it’s okay to reveal that one of the key take aways from David’s set up is that he always makes sure the knotted part of his arm entanglement is on top ie facing the ceiling. to help us remember, he made an analogy to the body triangle – which is best positioned so that the locked ankles are facing upwards rather than trapped facing the ground.
Another big tip David showed was the way he rotated his second arm thumb down just prior to connecting his other arm and completing the D’arce hold. The benefit of doing this was that it created a very strong grip, which can be adjusted tighter and tighter. It is even more beneficial when wearing the gi, as the friction of the fabric helped lock in a tight grip. Notice also that I’m calling it the D’arce hold. Another big tip David was keen to emphasise is that there was absolutely no need to squeeze the arms tightly during the set-up phase…not even during the submission finish. The latter was completed by moving your chest closer and closer to your opponent’s head which compressed their head and arm closer and closer together. Finally, in order to prevent the opponent from escaping, it was important to hook around the opponent’s leg. It didn’t matter which leg you trapped, the objective was the trap his hips and prevent movement.
D’arce Set Ups
With the knowledge of how to finish the D’arce properly, David moved onto showing us a few setups and entries that got us into that finish position. In between the three or four setups that he taught (pictured below), he also went around the mat while we were drilling and quickly showed us some bonus set-ups. In one quick example, he showed how he could get a D’arce finish even when someone had taken his back!
Many of the quick demonstrations of David finding D’arce chokes from seemingly impossible and defeated positions were like some dark magical art – I’ve seen a lot of BJJ over my years and even I was super impressed! And yet David said there were just a few very simple rules he used which would trigger a D’arce attack: first, he looks to see if his opponent has opened their elbow out (even a small gap is enough) and secondly, he notes if their tricep is visible. When both of these events are satisfied then he knows a D’arce choke attack is feasible.
I asked David what happens if a D’arce attack fails and you are left helpless on the bottom. He replied that yes it meant we would be stuck under north south but then showed how to get the D’arce again, starting from underneath north south. Such was his mastery of this hold and submission that David was able to answer all our annoying questions without issue. At one stage, I had difficulty angling myself to roll over my partner and finish the D’arce so I asked David if he could give me a visual metaphor to help – and without dropping a beat, he quickly told me to place my chin like a violin player would place their instrument on their cheek. It was a perfect visual cue and I completed the move without problems thereafter.
I think my favourite technique today, and sadly one that I did not take photos of, was from top side control. David showed a very slick way to trick the bottom person to get a half guard, which unfortunately for them, simply meant that we now has a hook on the legs and an inescapable D’arce choke on them. There were many similar bait and trap style sequences he showed and I loved them all!
After the seminar was completed David offered to roll with as many of us as time allowed. I was his first rolling partner and I’m very happy to show the video of us rolling. I must admit, he was a gentleman and adjusted his pressure and weight just enough to allow me to move around. The main observation I noted was the fantastic way David was able to switch his hip direction, which forced me to constantly defend at awkward angles.
I’ve long known about David’s grappling prowess but to have him visit our humble gym and gift us his knowledge was a wonderful experience. To me, a good seminar should have the ability to enthuse every student into understanding and absolutely loving the techniques being shown and David’s superb teaching style very much fulfilled that objective. With his tips embedded in my mental mindmap, I’m definitely going to add more D’arce attacks into my repertoire.
My big thanks to David Porter for teaching us today and being so utterly generous with his time. Shout out too to Madelyn and German who accompanied David today. If you wish to learn more about David’s take on the D’arce then he has an instructional on BJJ Fanatics – although David tells us he has since added a huge number of additional set-ups that are not shown on that DVD. You can also follow him on Instagram @lanky_mongoose and on Youtube. But honestly grab him for a seminar, you won’t regret it.