BJJ Self Defense Part 5: Defending the Low Tech (and Deadly) Headlock!


One of single biggest errors you can make when you’re practising a martial art is to assume that everybody else practices that same martial art.

Let me explain that…

Boxers spend 99.9% of their time learning how to fight other boxers. Wrestlers train to attack with, and defend against, wrestling techniques. And Wing Chun kung fu practitioners mostly spar – you guessed it – with other Wing Chun practitioners.

If your goal is to compete within the constraints of a specific martial art then training this way makes a certain amount of sense. There’s not much point for a pro-boxer to use valuable training time honing his ability to sprawl against a double leg takedown, or defend a Muay Thai knee strike.

But what about self defense? Nobody’s obliged to stay within a certain set of parameters on the street, and completely ignoring certain common scenarios in training could lead to a very bad outcome in a real life self defense situation!

Let’s take a look at just one example of how this applies in BJJ: consider the garden variety schoolyard headlock.

This is a super common low-tech attack in streetfights.

The head is a great big prize on the top of the body. When fists start flying, the temptation to grab ahold of it and start feeding punches to the other guy’s face can be almost irresistible for some people.

As a grappling position, the headlock has pretty much been discarded from the BJJ repertoire. Most jiu-jitsu teachers feel that clamping a headlock down on someone exposes your own back too much.

(There are certain exceptions to the “no-headlocks” rule; see the PS at the end of this email)!

But the danger is that if you don’t encounter a certain position on the mats then you’re not going to get very much experience at defending against that position.

So even if you don’t use the headlock as an attack yourself, you still need to know how to defend against it.

Click here to see one of my favorite headlock defenses on Youtube.

P.S. I want to clarify that I’m talking about the low-tech schoolyard headlock in the above youtube video.

There’s a very sophisticated position in Judo, Sambo and Shootwrestling called kesa gatame. It’s superficially similar to the headlock, but with certain KEY DIFFERENCES. These differences make it a much harder position to escape from.

And because it’s a relatively unknown position, kesa gatame also make a GREAT launchpad for some of the most effective chokes, armlocks and leglocks in the BJJ arsenal.

In fact, it’s one of my very favorite ground positions and it’s won me at least one BJJ Gold Medal match in tournament.

You can find out more about it, and two of my other favourite secret weapons, in the Unorthodox Attacks DVD and book combo.

P.P.S. If you’re new to the BJJ game – say you’ve been training for less than 2 years – and want to get good fast then download my FREE book, A Roadmap for BJJ. Between the info in the book and the tips I’ll send you by email I guarantee that you’ll put together the pieces of the puzzle much faster than you would have on your own.

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