Interview With The Judo Vs Jiu-Jitsu: Kerry Saggers Ezekiel Choke

I wrote an article a short while ago exploring the difference between a “bad move” and an innovation. In that article I used an example of a match that took place between a Judo black belt and a BJJ black belt in which the Judoka hit an Ezekiel choke while inside of the guard of the Jiujiteiro, putting the opponent to sleep. This brought about a lot of controversy, with some people calling into question my credibility or the credibility of that example. Many said that the Judoka just caught the Jiujiteiro or that somehow this was a gross error.

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One fan suggested that we interview the Judoka, who I since found out is name Kerry Saggers. Saggers used a move that was actually popularized by a prominent Brazilian Olympic Judoka named Ezequiel Paraguassu, and that move is interestingly enough considered one of the few moves that are relatively safe to execute inside of someone’s guard. Saggers was kind enough to take time out of his day to share some of his thoughts with me.

First Saggers martial arts background is fairly standard for a Judoka “I Did full contact Karate for about 15 years; fought in Japan with a team from NZ (New Zealand) when I say full contact I mean no gloves or shin pads the only thing we were allowed was mouth guard our style was Goju Ryu, our instructor also combined Ju Jitsu and Judo. Then I started judo got my Shodan (black belt) in three years and now a 3rd Dan.” Readers should note that the time requirement to get a black belt in Judo can be shorter for serious practitioners than in BJJ.

Kerry Saggers

Interestingly enough, Saggers is not an avid competitor and was really only at the tournament to test his skills out “I only went to the BJJ tournament to test my ground skill. That choke I do (the Ezekiel) has caught a lot of BJJ fighters as you can see by video. I have pressure against his hips and when he tries to move I adjust my hips so he can’t move his hips. From the time I apply the choke it was only about 8 seconds before he was out, and I stopped the fight as ref didn’t realize he was unconscious.” This was no fluke or accident, this is Saggers’ go to move from inside of people’s guards and he is very confident with it.

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A common excuse I’ve read in response to Saggers’ victory is that the opponent wasn’t ready or expecting such an odd move, Saggers is fairly certain that that has little to do with it “I still get guys I train with it and they knows it’s coming but cant stop it. He couldn’t arm bar me, because that’s one of my specialized things I do. I know they will go for it but I have a lot of pressure on his hips so he can swing to get arm bar also he only had 8 seconds. I used to win a lot of judo competitions with flying arm bars and that choke.”

Kerry has a specific method for how he does the choke “The trick is I smother their mouth and nose with my shoulder and set the choke up. Then I lift my shoulder a wee bit they lift there chin to get a breath and I slide my hand across to my other sleeve.”

In spite of this technique having a lot of thought behind it Kerry acknowledges its obvious absence from BJJ “From what I’ve been told BJJ practitioners believe that if I’m in there guard I can’t do it. But I’ve drilled it to catch them with it. I even do it with my long sleeve rash top. But don’t get me wrong, I’ve lost twice when doing this choke to a triangle choke but have since fixed this weakness.”

Kerry firmly believes that there are very few if any weaknesses to this choke “Once I get my arm around the back of there head it’s just a matter of timing most of the time I’ve done this is from in their guard. But now I’m doing a Tomo Nage from standing and rolling into top mount and a lot easy to choke from here Tomo Nage was one of my main winning throws in judo when I first started judo. I think the main thing is BJJ practitioners underestimate some judo players. They think we just throw. But it depends on the club you train at. Luckily our club was 50/50 but I just liked the ground work. I think people still underestimate that choke if they have you in their guard. But it’s the same choke the famous Judo guy used on one of the Gracies (Referring to Ezequiel.) So I don’t think you will see it more. But as I proved, it can work very well inside of the guard. I have about an 85 percent win rate with this choke.”

Saggers is pretty well stuck in his ways as far as this choke, and he’s perfectly content with that “I haven’t had to develop other was to address the guard as I’ve drilled this choke to do in the guard. I don’t really train to fight in these comps, but have been running classes in MMA, and my students want to have a go, so I will definitely train for them. I’m 51 this year. Still rolling with the young ones and now and again they catch me, which means I’m teaching them well if they are catching me lol!”

In closing, Kerry Saggers has some thoughts for our readers “In this case people blame the BJJ fighter for being ineffective. This is far from the case as he beat my judo instructor the following year. And after that choke we fought No Gi and he won on points. I think people need to be more open to ideas and if it works for them do it. Not every technique work for the same people, I just adapt them to suit me. I’ve seen a few judo guys enter these BJJ comps and get cleaned up. But there are also a few of us who do well. A point to remember is we don’t specifically train for these competitions. Our ground work is only 50 percent of what we do compared to BJJ practitioners who focus on their ground skills. But I always go into these comps with the mentality of ‘If I win, I win, and if I get beaten then the guy was better than me on that day or I just messed up lol’”

There is a lot of wisdom in Kerry Saggers words and we are grateful that he took the time to share them with us.


  1. I really like your articles. I would like them even more if the grammar was correct. For example, using “there”, “they’re” and “their” correctly.

  2. I’m not too sure about that info, we train at our BJJ academy and just a few weeks past we’re practicing the Ezequiel choke, even rolling I recently got caught in one so I’m not sure it’s true that BJJ practitioners are not aware of this choke! Or maybe I misread the whole thing….


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