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How To Finally Escape The Kesa Gatame | Scarf Hold Escape

How To Finally Escape The Kesa Gatame | Scarf Hold Escape


Kesa gatame, also known as scarf hold is a headlock type position controlling your arm and elbow, making it difficult to get out from underneath your opponent. This is a dangerous position to get caught in, not only because it sucks to slowly be crushed to death, or have your neck cranked into oblivion, but there are also some nasty arm bars and wrist locks to get submitted with. In a real life street fight scenario, you are screwed if an attacker puts you in this position and you are unable to effectively escape. So get proactive with your kesa gatame game and start learning the basics of how to escape right now.

Kurt Osiander is one of those NO BS grapplers that just speaks to "men". His approach to Jiu Jitsu is simplestitc yet highly dangerous.


First, why don’t we take a look at what the kesa gatame is and how you get caught there. It is important to fully understand the move you are attempting to defend and escape from. Check out this video on a kesa gatame into a head arm choke. In this video they show you how to set up the kesa, and some little tweaks that can make all the difference.

For a solid kesa gatame game, your opponent needs to control your bottom arm. So many competitors will use the standard scarf hold, which is just the head lock. When this happens usually the opponent will crank on the head or even use their pressure and obstruct your breathing in some way making you tap.

Check out this video on how to escape Kesa Gatame and the Headlock in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Submission Grappling and MM by Stephan Kesting. Then we will break down how to escape Kesa step by step.

First things first when escaping kesa gatame: get your elbow to the mat. This gives you a big help getting your base back. Your free hand should be grabbing your opponents shoulder. If his technique is poor sometimes you can get him off balance by pulling him across your chest. If you can’t do this then try to maintain that shoulder grip and elbow on the mat to get belly down and up to your knees in a turtle position. Be careful here though as he may as well attempt to roll you over again. Take a look at this video on Kurt Osiander’s technique for escaping the Kesa Gatame

Launching Into A Reversal

Even though kesa gatame is an incredibly difficult position to escape from, it’s not impossible. By exploiting your training partner’s control you can effectively launch a reversal. The first thing to address is the possibly of being choked by the arm and the shoulder that are wrapping your head. Getting up on your side will help you maintain breathing.

Stay Connected

You need to connect yourself to your opponent’s back with a tight grip. Gable grip works well here, so does S grip. Once the grip is secured it is time to bridge. Get your foot close to your butt to maximize the power in your hips and set yourself up for an explosive bridge. Notice how Kurt jumps to bring his feet a few inches closer. This will really help you get as much power as possible with that leg.

Reversing Your Opponent

As soon as you have got your grips and your bridge is set, bridge straight upwards and force your opponent to lose their balance by shifting their weight.  This will cause your training partner to use the arm controlling your shoulder to base prevent being rolled over. Now you can drive into them with your bridge and reverse your opponent.

This should give you something to think about the next time you find yourself stuck in kesa gatame. It can be a very frustrating position to get caught in because of how hard it is to escape. But with practice you will find that these fundamental techniques will provide you an out as you sharpen your skill, and learn when to explode and how it feels to off balance your training partner’s weight.

I will leave you with one final technique for today. Watch this video as legendary Pace Gracie demonstrates his sweep from Kesa Gatame.

Kurt Osiander is a true jiu jitsu renegade with an old school jiu jitsu system that just works. The cornerstone of his system is fundamental principles for escapes, defense and establishing good position.

Checl out his DVD / On Demand Series called: Fundamentals of Jiu Jitsu Renegade. You'll learn the fine details of the basic, yet tried and true sweeps, passes, submissions and escapes.


Enjoy reading about escapes? Then consider checking others:


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