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BJJ Lessons: Joe D'Arce on the Choke That Bears His Name

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Lessons is a FanHouse feature in which we ask someone in the MMA world to teach us about one aspect of Brazilian jiu jitsu. Today Joe D'Arce talks about the D'Arce choke.

During the first round of Saturday's UFC 102 main event, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira knocked Randy Couture down and attempted to submit him with a D'Arce choke -- a move that was named after Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt Joe D'Arce. To find out more about the move, I called D'Arce at his gym, D'Arce Brazilian Jiu Jitsu of Long Island, and asked him to explain the move's origins and how it came to bear his name.

For starters, D'Arce wants to make very clear that he did not invent the D'Arce choke.

"It's odd that the choke is named after me because I never claimed to invent the choke, and I never claimed that I'm the only one who does it," D'Arce said. "But when anyone gets good at a certain move, other people associate that move with him. So people started using my name when talking about it. But I didn't invent the move. I was shown that move by one of the instructors at the Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy named John Danaher. He showed me the move, and I really liked it. So I worked hard at it, tried it from all different angles, and became known for using it, and it kind of snowballed to where people started using my name with it."

But when people speak of the D'Arce choke, they usually don't pronounce it the way Joe D'Arce pronounces his name. Joe's surname is pronounced "dee-R-see," but almost everyone -- including Joe D'Arce himself -- pronounces the choke like it rhymes with "farce."

"The person who really made that choke popular on the West Coast was a jiu jitsu coach named Marc Laimon," D'Arce said. "He knows how to pronounce my last name, but he said, 'It's too many syllables.' So he shortened it to 'darce' so when he's coaching someone in a fight or a jiu jitsu match he can yell out, 'D'Arce' quickly. ... No one ever says 'dee-R-see choke.' Everyone just says 'darce.' People often call me 'Darce' because they don't know how to pronounce my name when they see an apostrophe. People say 'Hey, Joe Darce' and I don't correct them, even though it is pronounced 'dee-R-see'."

The choke (which you can see illustrated here or in an instructional video here) is also referred to as the Brabo choke, but Joe D'Arce doesn't use either name.

"I don't even call it the D'Arce when I'm teaching jiu jitsu classes," he said. "I just call it a head arm triangle variation. I just call it the D'Arce when my students say to me, 'Can you show me the D'Arce choke?' Some people call it the Brabo, some people call it the D'Arce. I don't really care. It's just personal preference."

The D'Arce choke is sort of a reverse of the anaconda choke, and Joe D'Arce credited Laimon with pointing out some of the advantages to the D'Arce over the anaconda.

"I've had conversations with Marc Laimon about it, and we both agree that for us, the D'Arce fits our game better -- and is easier to finish -- than the anaconda," D'Arce said. "I have a hard time with the anaconda. ... Marc Laimon is the one who really made this choke popular. He teaches a lot of fighters on the West Coast, he's a well-known jiu jitsu coach, and what he calls the choke becomes what other people call it. He's the one who made the D'Arce choke the D'Arce choke."

Laimon has also added his own first name to D'Arce's surname to provide the name for a less common variation of the D'Arce choke, called the M'Arce choke.

"A M'Arce choke is actually a transition that Marc Laimon came up with," Joe D'Arce said. "It's a way to end up in the same finishing position, but Marc put his own little touch on it. I really like it. It's a good set-up."

Even if the choke isn't pronounced the same way as his last name, Joe D'Arce is, along with Masahiko Kimura, in a very select group of people who have submission moves named after them. D'Arce says that's a source of pride -- he just hopes no one thinks he's the one who gave the choke its name.

"It's flattering, but I hope people don't think I'm trying to take credit for the D'Arce choke, or claiming I invented it," Joe D'Arce said. "Everyone has certain moves they're good at, and I was good at the D'Arce choke, but the person who really made the move popular is Marc Laimon."

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