The crucifix is a TERRIBLE position to get caught in, and once you’re in it then it’s really hard to get out of.
But if you stay resolute, study these defences, and get a little lucky then maybe, just maybe, you can escape and prevent yourself from getting armlocked, choked or neck cranked.
First, here’s a video of on how to escape several variations of the Crucifix. Or scroll down to see the step-by-step instructions with pictures.
There are 2 upper body controls in the crucifix position (harness grip or Kimura grip) and 2 lower body controls (top leg over arm or lower leg over arm).
Let’s start with the most common variation….
THE CRUCIFIX WITH HARNESS GRIP AND TOP LEG OVER ARM
In this variation your opponent has the ‘harness’ grip (one arm over your shoulder, one arm under), and is trapping your arm with his top leg.
In the crucifix your body is perpendicular to your opponent’s body.
The first thing you want to do is to get your spine parallel to your opponent’s by swinging or using the windshield wiper motion, so your closest leg go under your opponent’s leg. Once there, keep your leg hooked and off the ground and you will already be in a better angle.
Next, you have to protect your neck by putting your thumb under your opponent’s wrists.
Now move your hip away from your opponent by posting on your free leg and shrimping away. The goal here is to free your trapped arm, so repeat the movements until you have pulled your arm out from between your opponent’s legs. Keep your opponent’s leg hooked for now.
Now use both of your hands to pull your opponent’s arm over your head, lift your own head, let go of your opponent’s leg and drive yourself into cross side position. These final movements must happen simultaneously and swiftly.
Nobody said it was going to be easy, but you persevered and now you’re finally out!
(If any of these steps were confusing then check out the video close to the top of the page for clarification.)
THE CRUCIFIX WITH HARNESS GRIP AND BOTTOM LEG OVER ARM
If your opponent is hooking your arm with his bottom leg then your defense and escape is essentially the same…
Swing your closest leg under your opponent’s leg. You’ll be in a better position if your leg is hooked beneath the opponent’s bottom leg (although the top leg is better than nothing). Hooking his legs will protect your arm a bit.
Lift your hips, scoot them backwards and turn your body so that you can extract your arm while keeping you neck safe.
Now use both of your hands to free yourself from the harness grip by popping his arm over your head. Then pull that arm down while driving up with your head (to lock his arm in place), release his leg, and drive into side mount.
In this escape hooking the correct (bottom) leg is the tricky part but otherwise it’s very similar to the technique above.
THE CRUCIFIX WITH KIMURA GRIP AND TOP LEG OVER ARM
Here you’re still caught in the crucifix, but the big difference is that your opponent isn’t using the harness to control your body; instead he’s locking onto your arm with a Kimura grip.
Swing your body like before so that you can get your own leg under your opponent’s leg. Again, you may need to drive up a little bit so there’s room for your leg.
To protect your own arm push your gripped hand down as best as you can and connect it with your other hand. This will keep you safer.
Once you have your own hands connected, punch down with both hands hard and break the grip.
Turn towards him and move your hip away to extract your other arm.
When your arm is free, hug tight, release your opponent’s leg and drive in.
Remember, caught in the crucifix is a very tough place to be. It requires determination and practice to escape. It is a step by step process, but with enough repetition, you’ll have a chance to conquer this position.
A Confusion of Crucifixes
In grappling the term ‘crucifix’ gets applied to two very different positions: the crucifix position that we’re escaping in this article here, and a catch-wrestling style crucifix that’s a awful (and quite dangerous) neck crank. This article here sorts out the differences between these two styles of crucifix.
A Better Crucifix?
Want to amp up your crucifix attacks? Here’s a video that Rob Biernacki and I shot that take an already terrible position and make it 10 x worse!
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