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This Crafty Use Of The Cradle Will Surprise And Frustrate Your Opponents

This Crafty Use Of The Cradle Will Surprise And Frustrate Your Opponents


Using The Cradle To Smash BJJ Guys By Neil Melanson

Who is Neil Melanson? Neil could easily be considered one of the most dangerous men on the planet. Neil was the head coach of the infamous Blackzillians MMA Team and Randy Couture’s Xtreme Couture gym. He has coached some of the best UFC fighters to ever compete to the pinnacle of the sport including Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Randy Couture, Matt Mitrione and many more. His students have given high praise. Chael Sonnen said, “Neil would slap Rickson Gracie around like it was easy.” Jiu Jitsu black belt and former UFC Champion Vitor Belfort stated that “Neil could triangle anybody in any room.”

Neil boasts a unique education when it comes to grappling.  He began his education at the Hayastan School where he learned techniques from Catch Wrestling, Judo and Sambo from world renowned coaches Gene Lebel and Gokor Chivichyan. His grappling style is a combination of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Catch Wresting and Sambo. He is the living embodiment of the Bruce Lee quote, "Absorb what is useful. Reject what is useless. Add what is essentially your own.”

Beyond his impressive education and grappling abilities, Neil is an extremely capable teacher. He takes a meticulous approach and breaks down the details so that it can be easily understood by even the grappling novice.

Learn what Catch Wrestling Can Do For Your Game. Click Learn More!



In this video, Neil explores a cradle and some applications for Jiu Jitsu. The cradle is often used in catch wrestling and other forms of submission grappling. However, we don’t find it typically used in Jiu Jitsu.  Melanson starts the video by exploring the structure of a cradle. One hand wraps around your opponents head and the other arm wraps around his legs. Neil explores the different grip variations available. However, he typically ops for an s grip because it protect the fingers. If the s-grip is unavailable, he will leverage a butterfly grip. Neil is clear that the top side hand needs to be under you opponent’s chin. Some grapplers are very adept at shrugging as a component of defense and correct hand placement is key. After exploring the basic position, he discusses a drill grapplers can leverage to become well versed in the position.  He turns his hips to face his opponent’s legs. Next he steps over to capture the far side leg. The he switches his hips back and steps back to capture the second leg. Neil talks about the value of this position as a ride. You create quite a bit of pressure on your opponents’ diaphragm. From here, Neil explores a series of steps where you can shuffle your hips and then windshield wiper your legs to secure the cradle on the opposite side. It is an important detail that Neil opts for a 10 finger grip instead of a s grip on the far side. Last, Melanson explores several scenarios where this position is applicable. One is when you have top side mount and your opponent is framing to escape. Another is when your opponent is playing a strong knee shield. The cradle gives you multiple options but mainly Neil elects to explore the arm triangle. Some unique details to his arm triangle finish are he likes to pin one leg of his opponent with his to prevent an escape. He also states it is important for the head to be close to the shoulder and your knees should be off the ground.  He likes to have his near side arm aligned with his opponent’s spine. Last Melanson gives some details on the Von Flue choke, should someone try to defend the cradle by clasping their own arms. There is a lot of excellent detail in this video. The cradle can definitely add another layer to the Jiu Jitsu practitioner’s game. Well done Neil.

Many consider Neil Melanson to be a mad scientist of grappling. This sequence is a fine testament to that. His approach is not based on a singular style but a hybrid of many approaches. He is obsessed with independent and free thinkers like Nicola Tesla and his style of grappling is brilliant testament to that.  If you have ever seen Neil’s instructional videos than you certainly understand what we mean. If you have not had the privilege, click on the link below for Neil's Catch Wrestling Formula, check out Neil Melanson's DVD of the same name from BJJ Fanatics!  Trust us, you've never seen such brutally effective and perfect techniques as these ones!  




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