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The Gold Medal Headlock

The Gold Medal Headlock

 

With ADCC next month in California, I find myself rewatching the highlights of the 2017 battles. I’ve probably watching Gordon Ryan choke Keenan Cornelius five times now. I would love to be takedown and choke the competition so flawlessly.  Let’s have “The King” break it down for us. 

In the match, Keenan had just shot in for a single leg takedown, which Gordon countered but locking up a head and arm front head lock. Usually, competitors will roll backwards in a sacrifice throw called sumi gaeshi. For that throw, the thrower hooks one leg on the inside of their opponent’s thigh (like a butterfly hook). Then they drop backwards and under the opponent, using the butterfly hook to throw them over, and ideally roll up on top into mount. This is a common counter to single legs because the opponent will place your leg right where needs to be to do the single leg, and can be done off a variety of grips. 

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Gordon demonstrates a similar, but fundamentally different throw. What he uses instead is called uki waza. He cuts an angle by side stepping to the right, well his left foot comes across, planting on top of his partners opposite foot, and then sits back. 

Important details: Gordon’s blocking foot is not just stepping in front of opponents foot. He is actively cupping the bottom of his foot around their shin/ankle, like how you would curl the foot around the biceps in spider guard. This secures the foot to his partner, making it impossible for them to try and step out of the throw. Second detail: Gordon is sitting back on to his left leg, rather than just falling back. This will help him come on top later.

Gordon preferred this throw because instead of landing with their bodies in a straight line, he and his partner land in a “T” position, which creates less distance for him to travel when coming up for mount. He turns so his forward plants on the mat, pikes up on to his toes, and walks around to take mount. All the while maintaining the head and arm control on his opponent. 

In the match, Gordon finished Keenan with an arm in guillotine. If you are adept enough to perform the takedown and keep the control, you should do the same. But this is jiujitsu, where opponents won’t let you have anything. So if they hand fight out, you still are up six points and can go straight to other submissions.

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