A Grapplearts reader writes:
Q: “What are the true dangers of neck cranks?”
A: It is funny how many clubs ban leg locks but allow neck cranks. Necks are under a lot of stress in grappling, even under ‘normal’ conditions: throw in a couple of uncontrolled neck cranks and you are looking at herniated disks, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis and a whole host of other painful degenerative conditions.
A lot of things can go wrong with a neck crank. First the person applying it can be just plain malicious. Or uncontrolled. Or he can slip. Or the person caught in it might not tap early enough. I’m not saying ban them outright (although you could make a strong case for doing just that), but treat these submissions very carefully: they can easily end someone’s grappling career.
Part of what makes neck cranks dangerous is that nobody ever taps when they are just lightly applied. It’s always like this: say you’re caught in a neck crank – it only hurts a little bit – you suffer through the pain, hoping to find a way out – your partner applies it harder – you resist – your partner applies it harder still – you finally tap out. Subsequently, surprise surprise, you find out that your neck is injured!
If you tear ligaments in your knee, your ACL for example, you can get it fixed with surgery. It is a painful procedure with a long recovery time, but it can be done. If someone slams a neck crank onto you, however, your surgical options are much more scary.
Until the day when surgeons routinely do full neck replacement surgeries (don’t hold your breath) APPLY THOSE NECK CRANKS LIGHTLY, TAP EARLY AND DON’T BE A HERO. If you can’t do these things then don’t play with neck cranks at all.