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Escaping the Headlock, Standing & Ground

Escaping the Headlock, Standing & Ground

This Can Help You On The Mats...Or In The Street!

The headlock is one of the most common positions in grappling and fighting, whether it is a trained fighter utilizing it out of desperation or an untrained fighter using it because it is all they know.  Standing or on the ground you are guaranteed to run into this position at some point in you BJJ career, knowing how to properly defend yourself from being thrown around and choked by it is essential knowledge, Gustavo Gasperin shows how to deal with it on the feet.

Technique 1.) Starting by defending against a haymaker, Gustavo closes the distance and makes it to a side clinch. Before Gustavo can enact a takedown, the attacker looks to put him in a headlock. Before Gustavo loses his posture he puts his hips under his shoulders and postures up, at the same time his inside arm blocks the inside of the attackers bicep to prevent him from connecting his hands together or land punches, Gustavo's back hand wraps the attacker's arm as well, pinning it to his side. Gustavo then looks to thread his rear hand under the attackers armpit to catch a stronger two on one on the attackers wrist. To make space for his hand Gustavo slides his front hand down the attackers wrist and pushes it back to make an opening. Once Gustavo establishes a two on one and he can look to take down the attacker or leave his rear hand controlling the arm and his front hand can land strikes. Gustavo decides not to strike the attacker but to get behind him instead, to do this he takes his front hand off of the attackers wrist and grabs the wrist of the arm still around his neck. Keeping good posture but bumping his hips forward Gustavo now looks to lower his level and escape his head out the back, all while maintaining control of both wrists. Once behind the attacker Gustavo can force the wrist up the attackers back and looks to either break the arm, kick out the leg, or just push the attacker away.


Technique 2.) The attacker managed to connect his hands and break Gustavo's posture. Should the attacker unlock his hands and look to punch Gustavo would block and trap same as technique 1, but if the attacker is just squeezing, Gustavo is going to look for a takedown. Gustavo reaches with his front arm and blocks the attacker knee while moving his feet to face to attacker. Gustavo's lead foot is in between the attackers feet and his back hand is hooking the attackers hip. To perform is spiral takedown, Gustavo twists his hips while lifting the attackers leg with his hand and pulling the attackers hip. Once Gustavo lands in the mount he uses a frame to break the grip and finishes by arm barring the now isolated arm.

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Technique 3.) Gustavo is in the headlock with broken posture. Looking to perform technique 2, but the attacker keeps cutting him off. For the takedown, Gustavo keeps his back hand hooking the attackers hip, same as before, but this time instead of reaching for the far knee, Gustavo makes a C grip behind the attackers close side knee. To finish the takedown Gustavo reaches his back foot, checking the attackers far heel. Gustavo then sits back pulling the attackers hip back and then using the C grip to rotate the attacker to his side.


Now that we have some standing options for the headlock, lets go to the ground and see what options we may have from there with Eli Knight.



Technique 1.) The attacker has his hands connected, to make space Eli makes a frame with his top arm across the attackers neck and reinforces his wrist it with his bottom hand. The whole time Eli is being cognizant of the position and tries to stay on side, if he gets flattened the attacker can exert a lot of pressure on Eli. Using his frame to push the attackers neck as far as he can, Eli then shrimps his hips back to drop the attackers head down even lower. From here Eli can swing his legs up around the attackers head. When Eli pulls with his legs it separates the attackers hands, breaking the grip. Eli then crosses his ankles, putting the attackers neck in between his knees, to finish the choke Eli puts his hand on the attackers hip and extends his legs to choke the attacker.


Technique 2.) Eli does the same as above but the attackers grip does not break. Using the momentum from from pulling the attackers head, Eli rocks up to his knees. Establishing side control by sitting back and putting his hands behind the attacker so he is not rolled back over. Eli then takes the mount by framing the attackers hip and stepping over to a modified mount. To break the grip Eli frames the neck and moves forward and up to break the grip. Eli’s advice is to move your body like an airplane taking off, not like a helicopter. This means you are not pulling straight up (this will break your own posture and make you weak) instead Eli moves forward, stressing the attackers shoulder, making his grip a lot weaker.

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Technique 3.) This time the attacker has a wide base and his head is tucked tight so Eli unable to fit in his frames for the first 2 techniques. Using his back hand to hook the attackers top arm, Eli looks to hook the attackers top leg with his back foot. Eli now drives forward, pinning the attacker on the bottom. To avoid being rolled from the top position, Eli uses his hands in a wide base to roll the attacker to his side. From here Eli does the same grip break as above.


Technique 4.) From the headlock position, the attacker now decides to strike Eli with his top hand. Eli says not to block the punches because your own hands will end being hit into your face, instead Eli looks to make frames by extending his arms and using his hands to cover the attackers bicep. From the bicep, Eli slides his hand down to the attackers wrist and feeds it to the top arm that is now swimming through the armpit, Eli catches a two on one grip (similar to Gustavo's first technique). To finish his escape Eli hooks the attackers thigh and drives up (same as technique 3). Instead of rolling the attacker all the way to his side, Eli keeps him pinned chest down and maintains a wrist grip with his threaded arm. On Eli’s head side he basis out his foot as a base (so he can take his hand off the floor and grab the attackers wrist). To break the grip he holds on to the attackers wrist and opens his chest up driving his shoulder into the attackers back, this causes great stress on the shoulder joint.


Technique 5.) Instead of a basic headlock, the attacker has Eli’s arm pulled out into a Kesa Gatame position. Catching an S grip under the attackers armpit, Eli looks to hip away from the attacker. This causes the attacker to lift his butt and follow Eli. As the attacker follows Eli, Eli bridges straight up and uses his grip to bump the attacker forward. Staying on his shoulder, Eli rotates to the other side as he pulls the attacker over top of him in an arcing fashion.


So, there are 8 possible headlock escapes for standing and ground. Get to the gym and train these, make them instinctual because the headlock is such a common attack.

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