Your cart
Total: $0.00

BJJ Instructional Videos
John Danaher Leglocks
John Danaher Back Attacks BJJ
Half Guard BJJ Instructional Video
The Power of The Cross Face

The Power of The Cross Face


Recently, we wrote post on the power of the underhook, if you’d like to check it out, click here, today we are going to discuss the power of the cross face.  The cross face and the underhook go extremely well hand in hand, they supplement each other.  The cross face can also replace the necessity of an underhook when applied correctly, just as the underhook can replace the necessity of a cross face if applied correctly.

The underhook has a variety of uses from the bottom and the top, but the cross face is a more applicable weapon when passing the guard. The cross face is one of the fundamental concepts for pinning your opponent in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and controlling their head. In bjj, the cross face is primarily used to hold side control, full mount, and is an extremely important aspect of passing the half guard and applying pressure.

The Cross Face from Side Control

The cross face is one of the fundamental characteristics of holding down an opponent in side control.  The mechanics of the cross face and the reason it is imperative for maintaining a good side control are that it allows you to control your opponents head.  The goal of a good cross face from side control is to turn your opponents head away from you, therefore, taking his spine out of alignment and preventing them from doing a hip escape, or turning into you. 

 The body movement is limited when the spine is misaligned, and in bjj, a good cross face is an essential component to applying pressure and controlling your opponent’s head. Check out this video below showing the benefit and importance of a good cross face for controlling your opponent from side control.

The Cross Face from Full Mount

The cross face is also an enormous part of being able to have a good full mount.  Full mount is a tricky position to learn the mechanics of.  Many beginners will notice that when they mount their opponent, they get rolled back to full guard, or put in a half guard.  Maintaining full mount is an art in itself.   One of the key components to maintaining mount is the cross face.

 For the same reason that you cross face from side control, you have to control your opponents head and neck.  The cross face will nullify one side of your opponents escapes, therefore making it much harder on him to escape.  You have to hook under his head, apply chest to chest pressure, and turn your opponents head one direction to misalign his or her spine.  The cross face is also great for setting up submissions; it can be used to distract your opponent from potential attacks and make your submissions sneakier.  Check out this Ezekiel choke from mount, shown by Black Belt World Champion, Rafael Lovato Jr.

The Cross Face for Half Guard Passing

The cross face is also one of the core concepts to passing the half guard.  When passing the half guard, you typically would want to flatten your opponent, so both of their shoulders are on the mat.  There are two ways to do this, one, is a cross face to force their head and neck one direction, the other is the underhook, the best way is to have an underhook and cross face.

 If the underhook is not available, you can replace it with a strong cross face.  There are various ways to apply the cross face from passing the half guard.  Check out this post on "The Back Step Pass” it displays some unique set ups for cross face passing from half guard, also watch this video below showing some slick passes with a cross face.

 If you want to avoid getting smashed in half guard, check out half guard master and Black Belt World Champion, Lucas Leite’s “Coyote Half Guard” DVD, you won’t regret it!

Enjoy reading about guard passing and want to know even more? then consider checking:


Take a deep dive on one specific skill per month with the top instructors in the BJJ Fanatics family.

With your subscription you’ll get:

  • Private Lesson (Masterclass)
  • Preview of our Upcoming Daily Deals to better plan your purchases
  • Rolling breakdowns & more.

You’ll also get At Home Drills to work on, a Preview of our Upcoming Launches More!


Learn More

Half Domination by Tom DeBlass DVD Cover
Catch Wrestling Formula by Neil Melanson
Butterfly Guard Re-Discovered Adam Wardzinski DVD Wrap
Judo Academy Jimmy Pedro Travis Stevens