Submissions From The Crucifix Position
The crucifix position is one of the more underrated positions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It can be used as a great way to attack an opponent while he is in turtle. It can be another way of attacking from the back position. The control and the easy submissions that come from that position make it that much more favorable. While there isn’t a ton of submissions from there like other positions such as closed guard or mount, the subs that are there work exceptionally well.
Before we get into the various submissions that can be launched from the crucifix position, let's take a look at some ways to set up or enter into the position. In the video below, renowned Pedro Sauer black belt Professor Keith Owens breaks down three different ways to enter into the position.
Entering into The Crucifix Position
In the above video with Keith Owen, he presents some of the most common or most likely scenarios that you will find yourself and your opponent or training partner in that will allow you to enter into the crucifix position. In the simplest terms possible, the goal is to try to pin one side of the opponent's body with your legs and hips and control the opposing side of their body with your arms and upper body. Once the opponent is controlled, you can begin working the various submissions options like chokes and arm attacks.
Like most every technique in jiu jitsu, it's important to have both your upper and lower body working in concert with each other. In this case, when the opponent turtles up, we must thinking about what to do with both sides. So with our far leg, we must trap the near side arm of the opponent and begin to separate it from their torso. Simultaneously, we need to secure control of the opponent's other side to prevent escape. We do this by controlling the wrist which prevents them from making a strong base when we try to take them over and also sets the stage for the upcoming sub attempts.
Once these two elements have been achieved, it is all downhill, literally as we need to use one of several variations of "roll" to bring the opponent into the desired position. In the first version, Professor Owen demonstrates a bouncing technique that will give us the moment to go up and eventually over the opponent's shoulder bringing them on top of us with their arms secured by our legs and upper body. In the second example, Professor Owen actually pulls the partner back into him which achieves the desired body placement. And finally, in the third option he actually pushes his hips back and stretches his legs over the rear end of their turtle which achieves the desired roll without going over your shoulder. In all cases, securing the control is key to set up the proper mechanics of the move.
Two great submissions from the crucifix are both chokes. Read more to find out about these powerful attacks…
Rear Naked Choke from Crucifix Position
Since the crucifix position is just another version of back control, the first go to submission from there is obviously the rear naked choke. Once in the crucifix position, you must put your free hand into action right away. Taking your free hand, you must use the “blade” of your wrist and forearm to go underneath your opponent’s chin, going relatively deep in on the neck. When he goes to defend against your hand, take your hand that was controlling his shoulder and get a palm to palm grip, popularly known as a Dan Severn grip, an squeeze in. This is a strong choke that can end a match abruptly.
Collar Choke from Crucifix Position
The set up and attack for this collar choke is the same as the rear naked choke. Usually done rolling from the turtle, you will control your opponent’s far shoulder with your legs, and his close shoulder with your arm. With your free hand, you must use the “blade” of the your wrist and go underneath your opponent’s chin and get a deep grip on his collar. Once you have that grip, you must use your arm that is controlling his shoulder. Shoot that arm up and behind his head. Pull the collar and apply pressure with your hand behind his head. It’ll be time to tap.
One of the best BJJ and grappling practitioners to ever utilize the crucifix position is Baret Yoshida. Check out this amazing video which serves as both a highlight of his use of the position and an educational piece breaking down many key points of how he enters the crucifix position and the various submissions that he launches from this position.
Using the Crucifix Position to Break Through the Turtle
The turtle position can be one of the most difficult positions to break through because of the ultra-defensive positioning the opponent is using. Elbows are tight. Many times there is no way to get a knee or hook into their hips to begin breaking down the position. Many BJJ players tend to focus on the lower half of the opponent's body to try to control the hips and ultimately become frustrated when they can't break through. By attacking the upper third of the opponent's body with the crucifix position, you can open many new doors to begin to submit those opponents and spend much less time beating your head against the impregnable shell of their turtle defenses.
The crucifix is a great way of getting around an opponent’s turtle. The turtle can be a tough position to crack, but the crucifix position will make him think twice before trying to play it on you. Just worry about these two submissions, as they will get the job done and are not hard to attain. If you’re looking to improve your turtle attacking skills, checking out the Travis Stevens DVD set, Attacking & Defending The Turtle. This is your chance to learn directly from two time Olympic medalist and John Danaher black belt, Travis Stevens when he shows all of his secrets for destroying your opponent's defenses in the turtle position.