MMA News

Ben Rothwell’s GOGO Choke Has Chicago Roots


by Chris Martin

Luiz Claudio and Ben Rothwell

Luiz Claudio congratulates Ben Rothwell after his win against Matt Mitrione.

A family from Brazil came to America to unveil to the world the fighting art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. No, this is not the story of Rorion Gracie and his start at the first UFC. It is the story of the endless evolution of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in mixed martial arts. It is a story like all the stories of fighters and coaches that continue to develop and establish the most efficient fighting techniques.

On Saturday June 6, 2015 of at UFC Fight Night, Ben Rothwell boosted himself in the MMA rankings by forcing former NFL player and UFC star Matt Mitrione to submit handily with a scary-looking choke that made Mitrione’s face look like an 80’s troll doll. A traditional guillotine choke doesn’t normally cause Troll Face, nor does it cause such swift and powerful tapping. So, what exactly happened? Some websites called it a “Meathead Choke”–this made me laugh because knowing the back story of this choke (developed by an 145-lb man), it’s crystal clear why this is the furthest thing from a “Meathead Choke.” The choke that Rothwell used is what we call a “GOGO” choke. It was developed by Rothwell’s coach, Luiz Claudio, who currently resides and teaches martial arts in Schaumburg, Illinois. The secret of this GOGO choke has long been hidden.

Ben Rothwell GOGO choke

The first time I felt the GOGO choke was a few years a go. I was training at Ben Rothwell’s academy in Kenosha, WI with Thiago Veiga, younger brother of Luiz Claudio. At that time, Thiago was working as the head Black Belt instructor at the Rothwell MMA Academy. I was playing a sitting guard position while Thiago was in front of me with a front-foot forward grapplers’ stance. As I pulled my arms around Thiago’s leg and scooted forward towards his front thigh, my neck was exposed. Within milliseconds, Thiago scooped his front hand underneath my chin and did something that sent waves shooting down my spine. Everyone has a different way to describe their first GOGO choke experience. The best way I can explain my experience is I felt like a dog who had just experienced a shock collar for the first time. I had never felt any choke like this before. As I looked up at Thiago with utter bewilderment, he started laughing and asked me, “So, do you like that, gringo?” I responded, “What the f%Ck was that”? Up until then, I struggled finishing the guillotine choke all throughout my white and blue belt years to no avail. On that day, I knew I needed to figure out how to make this choke work for me.

The GOGO choke was developed by Luiz about 4 years ago. At the time, he felt the guillotine choke was not as effective for him. Luiz felt he was dependent on too much strength to finish guillotine chokes, so he started studying the way fighter Marcelo Garcia was using his technique. Particularly, how this similarly smaller fighter was using his shoulder to finish his chokes with notable success. As Luiz incorporated new adjustments to his shoulder leverage and grips, the choke improved. Though it was still not producing the results he was looking for. One day, he finally found what had been missing–a sensitive touch point on the neck. He started to play with it over the next year, and over time it developed into the GOGO choke. Luiz will tell you that it took him about a year to develop the choke, and once he found the “sensitivity”, it took another six months to add the attack into his permanent arsenal. This is now taught to all of Luiz’s students, some who travel from all over the country to learn his “Invisible BJJ” principals.

It has now been a year and a half since Thiago moved to California to open up his own school. When he left, I opened up a BJJ school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where I continue to train with one of Luiz’s Black Belts. I can happily report that I am finally hitting the GOGO choke with game-changing success.

After Ben’s big win last week I called Thiago. We joked about the GOGO choke’s effectiveness. I mentioned how beneficial the choke has been for me since I incorporated it into my game, and that after almost 2 years since first feeling that GOGO choke I am finally starting to hit it from many different angles and similar to Ben Rothwell, I am making opponents tap with two hands. The GOGO choke is a lethal choke! We exchanged more laughs and talk, reveling in our knowledge of this hidden secret to success. Thiago told me his belief that when people learn a choke or a new move right away it takes months, even years for that student to actually begin using the choke with any type of proficiency.

“People learn new moves all the time, but sometimes it takes years before they apply those moves. It takes time for the student to incorporate that move into their ‘game.’ The GOGO choke is certainly no different, but as you could see in Ben’s fight, it is there when you need it,” Veiga said.

Ben Rothwell

Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog

As Rothwell mentions in his post-fight interview, he used to train at one of the premiere, world-class fighting gyms. Once he started working with Luiz Claudio and LCCT, not only did his passion for the martial arts change, but his ground game hit a new peak. Rothwell has always been known for being a top-level striker with a blue-collar, Midwest mentality. What many people do not know about him is that he has a BJJ game not to be trifled with. He is equipped with secrets in his arsenal–also known as “Invisible Jiu Jitsu”, developed by Rickson Gracie and now being applied through great coaches like Luiz Claudio. Luiz trained for over 10 years under Rickson Gracie. He has established himself as a World Champion and a life, health, and wellness coach serving America by integrating Rickson Gracie principals of success with his own leadership methods that build confidence, integrity, creating healthier and stronger warriors.

After the Rothwell fight, Luiz received a private call from Rickson Gracie. They spoke for an hour and ended with Rickson reaffirming that he was happy with his student, Luiz, and how he is representing the “Invisible Jiu Jitsu”. Representing Rickson Gracie is top priority to Luiz Claudio.

The post-fight commentators on FOX were calling this choke a “diesel-squeezle choke” (never heard of that before), where you put the “fist in the throat.” It starts off as a “finger lock choke” (never heard of that one either), which transitions from a choke where you “put the fist on the throat” (seriously, who taps to fist on throat?), and that Mitrione should have fought harder to roll to his back or circle out. Allow me to translate on behalf of the Fox commentators–“We do not know what the hell that was, it was different, and obviously effective, because the victim looked like he gave up immediately as soon as this new move was locked on.”

Guys, it’s a called a GOGO choke, developed by a tiny Brazilian who understands “Invisible Jiu Jitsu”. And no, there is no DVD, yet. But get ready, because this choke is going to spread like wildfire through the world of mixed martial arts, altering the game indelibly forever.

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About Chris Martin

Chris Martin is Brazilian JiuĀ­Jitsu Brown Belt with over a decade of experience in the insurance and financial services industries. He has become a Black Belt in serving businesses throughout the Midwest who are focused on creating a culture of vitality and good health within their organizations. Most recently, Chris partnered with one of his corporate clients, Nova Gyms, to assist with the development of their fitness franchise. He has brought in martial artists and coaches who want to grow their business by offering them the business services, infrastructure, financing, and consulting needed to help them make their dreams a reality.

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