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Is Smothering Legal In BJJ?

Is Smothering Legal In BJJ?

In the beginning, Brazilian jiu-jitsu started out as a defensive martial art, but it evolved into a more diverse combat sports category and subcategory. BJJ provides a variety of defensive submission tactics. The goal of submission moves is to force the opponent to submit, not to hurt them. Some practitioners often employ illegal BJJ moves that are dangerous and even fatal. However, IBJJF does not favor any act that may lead to severe injury. Smothering is one of the illegal bjj acts that can result in direct disqualification. However, there are still some BJJ practitioners using different smothering techniques.

Now let’s dive into the details of those Brazilian smother practising Smothering that violates the IBJJF rules.

What Does Smothering Mean In BJJ?

When someone smothers you, they block your airways by pressing their hand across your mouth and nose or any other part of their body. Suffocation and respiratory problems may result from it. This may be accomplished by suffocating the adversary and inducing a tap out with your hands or chest pressure. The primary purpose of hand smothering into the mouth or any other part is to compel the opponent to tap out quickly.

Most tournaments consider smothering as a violent act. Covering your opponent’s mouth and nose with your foot, palm, or any other part of your body or clothing is forbidden and disgusting.

The fact is that most Brazilian smothers are not even questioned after smothering. For instance, the smoothers use the mother’s milk choke, and most referees still do not consider it illegal. They are unsure if the opponent tapped out due to the pressure or the breathing shortage due to suffocation.

This choking is not seen as unlawful. This choke is totally legal, especially in BJJ Gi competitions when the smother’s chest is not clearly exposed. Despite being a highly valuable choke, only a few submissions are seen with a choke.

Smothering – Imitating Chokes

Different BJJ practitioners use smothering in various ways under the pretext of these chokes. Here, we deploy two chokes that smoothers mostly use to win the competition.

Mother Milk Smother Choke 

After full mount, you may use the mother milk choke maneuver. In this BJJ move, the BJJ grappler uses his chest to cover his opponent’s mouth and nose while pushing upward on the back of the opponent’s neck. He blocked his opponent’s airway by doing this. The opponent feels pressure and suffocation that he may tap immediately.

Erik Paulson is famous for mother milk smother choke. He uses this smothering technique to compel the opponent to tap.

Python Trap or Python Muffler

Python Muffler, sometimes known as Python Trap, is possibly connected to Vagner Rocha, a violent grappler who is well-known across the globe. He recently used this maneuver to defeat several opponents.

Python trap is a back choke in which Vagner completely subdued his opponent and impaled both arms so he could not fight back. Finally, he will be left with no other option than to submit.

Vagner caught one arm of the adversary in the python muffler with his leg and another arm with one of his arms. In order to increase his grasp, he has one leg on the opponent’s leg. The opponent’s lips and nose are covered with the free hand. He uses hand smothering on his opponent until he tapped out by covering his lips and nose to prevent him from breathing.

Is Smothering Legal In BJJ?

Smothering is an argumentative topic for dispute regarding whether it should be used. After being made illegal in BJJ, several competitions made smothering lawful. Some players dislike being smothered if you are rolling with them in your academy. Each academy’s regulations are different. But most BJJ academies and tournaments forbid Smothering and see it as cowardly. Mostly you will not get an appreciation for this submission, even if your gym allows you. It’s possible that others may begin to avoid rolling with you.

IBJJF Regulations For Smothering

IBJJF is regarded as the main group in charge of overseeing BJJ competitions. Several rounds follow the IBJJF’s rules and regulations. IBJJF asserts that Smothering is prohibited and forbidden according to the 6.3.2 technical foul list, stating

“When an athlete blocks air passage to his/her opponent’s nose or mouth using his/her hands.”

Oliver Taza was disqualified from the IBJJF NoGi Pans for smothering and manipulating his opponent. Oliver Taza fought Rodrigo Gortari at Pans NoGi 2021. He held him in place from behind and put a palm over his lips. Taza was disqualified, and Rodrigo was declared the victor since IBJJF strictly prohibited hand smothering.

EBI Rules For Smothering

Smothering was previously considered lawful under EBI regulations. Vagner Rocha used the smothering choke, sometimes known as the python trap, to win several competitions. Eddie Bravo stated his immense disliking for smothering methods a few years back. He openly criticized smothering by announcing

, “If someone does that s**t to me, I’m biting their fingers.”

Choking Smothering In ADCC

It is entirely forbidden to put hands, knees, or elbows on the lips, according to ADCC rules and regulations. This is a blatant admission that the smothering choke is an illegal move under ADCC regulations. “No hands, knees, or elbows on the face,” according to their guidelines and rules.


According to the rules and regulations of numerous competitions, smothering is an illegal act. Although few gyms allow hand smothering and other smothering moves, it is not a particularly preferred submission method.

The most popular smothering chokes in different competitions are the python trap and mother milk choke. Sixth-degree black belt Vagner Rocha repeatedly used a python trap to knock out his adversary. He is famous for using a forceful submission technique.

Smothering is a totally prohibited kind of submission. IBJJF considers it an unlawful act leading to disqualification. Many Brazilian smothers have used Smothering throughout history. Vagner Rocha used this choke to defeat several opponents. But recently, a number of important competitions have banned this violent tactic.

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