Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Classic Headlock Position

The side Headlock doesn't get any more real than in a situation like this...

The side Headlock doesn’t get any more real than in a situation like this…

Now almost everyone has seen this position before whether it was in the school yard with a bully or in the backyard with some friends. An extremely common form of “attack” that untrained individuals find themselves using is this standing headlock. This hold can be daunting to someone who does not know how to escape from it but so easy to escape for one who does.

The Initial Contact

Because this is considering real attack situation, the attacker is not putting you in this headlock to give you a noogie. When there is malice intent it is always very important to protect your vulnerable areas as well as you can. From this position your face is the part that is most accessible to your opponent and most likely to be attacked.

Let us assume that the attacker grabs a hold of you with his left arm. To start to neutralize his striking your first priority is to protect your face with your own left arm. A first instinct is to use this arm to remove the attacker’s arm and free yourself but this is not all that likely to be effective and it will  take a lot of strength to break the opponent’s hold.

More importantly, your other hand can be used to take control of the attacker’s striking hand. This is done by reaching it around the back of the opponent and grasping his wrist and pinning it to his hip.  This is not only crucial to stopping the opponent’s strikes but also for performing the escape.

The Simplest Escape Ever

For as seemingly popular it is for one to automatically put an adversary in this headlock, the escape for it is very simple indeed. It requires only good body position and know how, there is really no strength factor in performing this escape. For as simple as this escape is, the famous Gracie BJJ family can teach you so much more about it.


First and foremost you must get your body into the right position to effectively escape the headlock. Your grip on the opponent’s wrist is very important and should already be in place. Your other hand cups the inside of the thigh near the knee. Remember to keep your neck bulled as well to avoid this headlock from breaking your body positioning and compromising your strength.

During this whole process it is also very important to keep low and maintain a wide base so that the attacker cannot manhandle you easily. Now for the final positioning you need to be behind the attacker. Specifically the instep of your right foot should be placed right at the heel of the opponent.

Crumble to Escape

The next step and last step of this technique is to essentially crumble to the ground in such a way that releases you from the attacker’s grip. To do this you drop your own left knee to the ground and use your body weight to lower the opponent. Then you drag your opponent down with you as you fall off to your right side. As you roll on top of your opponent his grip is loosened and you can use your hand to free yourself from his grip.



Why Attack The Wrist?

The wristlock is perfect for fighting off an attacker thats superior to you

The wristlock is perfect for fighting off an attacker thats superior to you

In a real life self defense situation you need to deal with the threat as quickly and efficiently as possible; this is even more the case if there are multiple opponents and only one of yourself. Instead of trying to fight your adversary standing up, this technique allows you to take the fight to them, and to the ground. This can be extremely useful if an attacker is unskilled and unfamiliar with fighting from the ground. But also you average person probably has a better chance standing up fighting you rather than from his back on the ground anyway.

Attacking the wrist for a take down is a very smart thing to do. It attacks one of the attacker’s very weak joints so resisting is not really an option. Also this technique’s success is not affected by the size of the opponent you are facing, again because it attacks a small joint. 

Where to Begin

For this scenario lets assume that the attacker makes the first move and reaches out to grab or strike you with his fist. Catching a strike to secure his hand might be difficult and require luck or very good timing. But if the attacker is simply grabbing your shirt, this technique would work wonders.

Lets assume that the attacker has is right hand on your chest. To start to release his grip, you first grab his hand with both of yours. Then in a twisting motion, pin his hand to your chest turn your upper body to the right to break his grip. Then you reverse the twisting motion to turn his hand backwards and gain some control over him. Because of the nature of this grip on his hand you can essentially use his hand like reigns to control where his body goes.

Now, The Take Down

Using the new reigns on your opponent, you move his arm in a circular motion, over and slightly outwards, This shifts his upper body out from over the top of his legs, making him very unstable. The motion is not entirely obvious at first but after some practice one begins to realize how to control an opponent with this wrist lock.  Now You need to move through the opponent to knock him to the ground. You step through the opponent, with your left leg, to knock him back and further.

You= also use your right elbow as another point of contact to bring the opponent down. It is not a true muay thai style elbow or anything, more of you striking with the point of your elbow as you move through the attacker. But it is a simple, quick, and decisive blow to his chest/solar plexus that will give you the extra push you need to complete the take down. 

There are some variations of this take down that require a little more finesse and experience, but that also means they are more likely to fail. The simplicity of this attack is what really makes it great for a self defense situation. Also once you get your opponent to the ground, you are in a standing position over him. This is extremely beneficial, especially in a self defense situation because it gives you almost complete superiority in the fight as long as he stay in that position.