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Spine Lock With Neil Melanson

Spine Lock With Neil Melanson


As we come up through the ranks in Jiu Jitsu our game is greatly influenced by what we have seen, sought out, and studied.  Depending on the academy, you may or may not have exposure to the level of detail provided by some of the best instructors in the world in their video instructionals. You game may be heavily influenced by the fundamental techniques that are trained repeatedly.  If you train at an academy where they don’t think outside the box and stay up on the changing times, the responsibility falls on you to then seek out and study what you are interested in. A great way to do that is through the library of video instructionals from BJJ Fanatics.

As Jiu Jitsu continues to grow and evolve, we continue to see submissions that are outside of the norm.  While we will always have the fundamentals of Jiu Jitsu, we also now have access to lean some “outside the box” submission techniques from some of the best in the world through the power of technology and video instructionals.   

It’s no secret that wrestling and Jiu Jitsu share many similarities.  Personally, I look at is as Jiu Jitsu being a more refined, technical martial art that essentially provides additional control options as well as finishes or submissions, whereas I see wrestling as a very explosive, powerful, strength based sport.  What I truly enjoy is seeing Jiu Jitsu practitioners with high level wrestling backgrounds brining that experience and out of the box thinking to the Jiu Jitsu space.  

One of the popular names in Jiu Jitsu that is currently doing this is Neil Melanson.  Neil is sought after by fighters, aspiring fighters, and high level grapplers looking to gain that edge over their opponent.  Neil is known for having a different approach to his game finding a balance between the explosive strength of wrestling and the refined art of Jiu Jitsu.  

I stumbled across Neil’s Sankaku Spine Lock submission break down video and was certainly intrigued.  I’ve seen a lot of different locks before, but this?  A spine lock? I just had to understand it better. Let’s break it down and work to better understand the application of this spine lock.


Starting out Neil is seated while his partner is kneeling in front of him.  Neil does a “grapplers lift” driving his hips forward coming up to one foot planted and the other leg with his knee on the ground.  The knee of the leg with the planted foot is driving into his opponent’s chest. 

If you like brutal submissions that ANYONE can use, Click Learn More!


As Neil steps up he circles to be almost shoulder to shoulder with his opponent reaching over the opponent’s arm and grabbing his own shin.  The opponent feels this and to defend gable grips around Neil and prevents his from moving any further. Neil now must abandon the shin grip and move to something else.  

Neil abandons the grip on his shin and pivots on that knee high leg stepping over the opponent’s back.  This leaves him almost sitting on the back of his opponent’s head, with his left leg biting the neck and his foot in a figure four lock with his other leg on the outside of the opponents left arm.  Essentially Neil now has a triangle, but from a weird spot. At this point he could simply start squeezing and trying to finish the triangle strangle, but in this situation, he prefers to go for the spine lock.  

The other option would be for Neil to reach behind his back and grab the opponent’s arm that he has trapped.  Manipulating that arm in conjunction with squeezing the triangle could produce a submission, but again, Neil prefers to go for the spine lock.  Having the option to use multiple submissions is always a great situation to be in just in case one does not work for some reason.  

When going for the triangle, you want to grab the same side foot using a two on one grip as you fall to the opposite side as the leg you are grabbing.  Once you are able to get to your hip you can switch from a two on one grip to a gable grip just above the opponent’s knee (towards their thigh, not the shin… this could be confusing once you get twisted up in the position. 

The spine lock is a powerful position for you because of your positioning.  In a street fight, self defense or even mixed martial arts, it is very difficult for your opponent to inflict pain or even produce a real threat from this position, giving you the upper hand and control over the situation.  

Neil has released several video instructionals covering various topics such as Kimura, or double wrist lock as it is called in catch wrestling, his Headhunter series focused on guillotine’s as well as his Ground Marshall series with guard, half guard and leg locks.  Needless to say he is rapidly sharing his influence on Jiu Jitsu in a way that is now not limited only to the elite athletes.


If you like his style and you are looking to add a competitive edge to your game, look no further than Neil Melanson’s video instructionals. The Snap Guard By Neil Melanson has everything you need and more!



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