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Speedy and Ritu organised a seminar recently with Dan Strauss, AKA the Raspberry Ape. The seminar was focused on Guillotines. He's been very busy this year touring the country and has done dozens of seminars on the guillotine choke.

The seminar was three hours long, and very detailed. It was hosted at Universal Martial Arts, which is in a large industrial unit, and it was cold! It's a tough building to heat at any time of the year but considering it was miserable outside it wasn't fun waiting for the seminar to start!

Dan Strauss says that he never does warmups at his seminars. In fact, he asked someone else to lead a warmup this time around so that we could at least get enough blood flowing to be able to think. Sadly, that didn't really work out, and we all ended up feeling rather cold again as soon as we stopped moving.

It didn't help that the seminar was incredibly detailed. We started off by drilling cupping the chin and the back of the head, and just doing that over and over, until we were able to cup both at the same time. Then we moved on to 'roll the shoulder' to make sure you can't see the nape of their neck... that's how you know that the guillotine is tight. Then we focused on 'pulling' the person's head down instead of just lying back and losing the head as we went for the guillotine.

Once we practiced getting the guillotine from different positions, we moved on to the 'thrust guillotine', which involves supporting the choking hand with your other hand and 'stabbing' up into the neck. The idea is that even if the other person tries to pass your guard to free themselves, they'll just push their own weight down onto the thrusting hand and choke themselves. By trying to escape, they're making it worse!

Dan Strauss is quick to emphasize that the guillotine is not a strength move. Which sounds funny coming from a guy who is pretty darn big:

He's got an interesting philosophy about chokes, though. He reckons that chokes, if you get the technique right, are easy to finish. Lock the choke in properly with not too much effort, and it might feel bad for the other person. Start slowly adding pressure, and even if they aren't ready to tap yet, they're going to get worried... "how much worse could this get?" The more pressure you add, the worse it gets for them.

The reason a lot of people don't tap in competition is that people squeeze with all their might for a second or two, then relax, and the person in the choke thinks "Well, I survived last time, I can gut this out." The next time you squeeze, it won't be as tight, and then the next time it will be even less tight as your arms slowly burn out. It's better to just not give away how much power you have, then they're more likely to tap!

I don't use the guillotine much myself, but I did enjoy the seminar and I'm definitely going to play around with this stuff in the gym.