Mata Leao – The Rear Naked Choke


The rear naked choke is a staple submission in grappling. Also known as hadaka jime (meaning naked strangle) in judo, the sleeper or strangler hold in wrestling, and mata leao (meaning lion killer) in Brazilian jiu jitsu, it is an efficient choke from a powerful control position. Applied from behind an opponent where they pose a much smaller threat, a well-executed rear naked choke can render an opponent unconscious regardless of strength, size, or pain tolerance. It works by blocking blood flow to the brain at the carotid arteries, resulting in unconsciousness. Even someone as fierce and as strong as a lion can be defeated with this technique.

For the choke, there are no “tough guys”… with an arm lock he can be tough and resist the pain… With the choke he just passes out, goes to sleep.” – Helio Gracie

In this video, Stephan Kesting breaks down the principles of the rear naked choke in great detail.

This Marcelo Garcia video provides 2 techniques for finishing the choke when your opponent defends against it.

This video from Redline Gracie Jiu Jitsu details an effective set up used by Rickson Gracie to transition from the mount to the rear naked choke.