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.



A Choke from Top Sprawl

The Top Sprawl Position is great for a quick attack of the opponent. There are a lot of options that you can consider when you get into a sprawl with your opponent. In mixed martial arts there is always the option of striking with knees or fists to the face. Or there are submissions like a quick guillotine choke or anaconda choke.

Hatt Hughes submitting Almeida at UFC 117

For something a little different and more of a wrestling move, since you see a lot of jiu-jitsu based submissions, this front headlock choke should be added to your arsenal. Matt Hughes used this choke in a showdown against a jiu-jitsu user Ricardo Almeida to win UFC 117.  It can be quickly applied from the top sprawl position and the grip is very simple to learn.

Setting up from the Sprawl

The sprawl position should be well known to a mixed martial arts fighter because it is so easily fallen into after you avoid a takedown attempt. Or as explained in the video at the bottom of the page, after As your opponent atempts to grab your legs for a takedown you shoot your legs back and drop your hips to the ground to take your legs out of reach. At the same time Your arms are wrapped around the opponent’s chest, one arm over the shoulder and the other under the arm.

This arm position is exactly where you need it to be to complete this front headlock choke. The arm that is above the shoulder is slid through so that the inside of the elbow is tight to the side of the opponent’s neck. Then a palm to palm grip is used and you pull your arms in towards your chest to secure the opponent.

This grip needs to be kept tight to hold the opponent in position because at this point the opponent will know a submission is coming  In this position if you should keep your center of gravity low, base wide, and your chest over the opponent to maintain control over him.  In addition the arm needs to maintain pressure against the opponent’s neck throughout to get the most effective submission.

Knocking Him Out

First the elbow of the non choking arm is clinched into the body. This seriously tightens up the whole choke and pushes your arm into once side of his neck while simultaneously pressing his shoulder into the other side. This cuts off the circulation to the opponent’s head which results in a fast blood choke once sunk in deeply.

To Finish this front headlock choke your head is dropped towards the ground on the non choking arm side. This gives further compression to the whole setup. Then you walk your lower body to that same side that you dropped your head and squeeze the bicep around the opponent’s neck at the same time to get the tightest squeeze on the opponent. From here it wont be long before the opponent starts to see nothing but black.

Here is a video of this technique from start to finish.




An Olympic Wrestler performing a throw on his opponent

Almost everybody knows about the sport of wrestling whether they competed themselves in high school or college or they watch events on television. What people don’t know is that wrestling is one of the oldest sports being practiced in various forms around the world for thousands of years. One of the most prominent examples of ancient wrestling was performed at the first Olympic Games in ancient Greece, though this was a much more brutal form of competition.

Today different forms of amateur wrestling competitions are held across the world and the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Style (FILA) regulates most of these competitions. For a wealth of information and news on amateur wrestling styles and rules visit FILA’s home site here

Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling are some of the most popular versions of this sport practiced and are the only types of wrestling in the modern Olympic Games Along with these very widespread wrestling styles there are other international wrestling disciplines such as combat grappling, pankration, and oil wrestling are all practiced as well. There are also folk-wrestling styles which are classified by their native influences and do not have international ties. American collegiate wrestling is considered a folk-wrestling style but is similar to freestyle wrestling.

Greco-Roman Wrestling

This wrestling discipline has a very unique characteristic that separates it from other styles, there is no grabbing of the opponent below the waist or using the legs offense or deffense. In addition to this there is also an emphasis on throws and slams in this discipline while pinning the opponent is a secondary concern once they are slammed to the ground. This style is very explosive and power oriented because of the fact that you cant grab the legs or use them on the opponent, which makes it a very fun sport to watch and participate in.

Here is a video of Alexander Karelin who is considered one of the best Greco-Roman wrestlers of all time

Freestyle Wrestling

Freestyle wrestling is probably the most widespread type of wrestling practiced. The main goal of this style of wrestling is to throw the opponent to the ground and pin him. Because there are no restrictions on grabbing the opponent below the waist, along with the implementation of many techniques from other martial arts disciplines, freestyle wrestling is considered the most complete style of wrestling. It requires more finesse, strength, and quickness than the Greco-Roman style of wrestling.

American Collegiate Wrestling

American Collegiate wrestling is very similar to freestyle wrestling, however there are a few fine points which separate the two styles. The differences come from the folk-wrestling influence of the american collegiate wrestling. These differences include a focus on pining and controlling the opponent instead of throwing and slamming him along with differences in scoring and starting positions.

Other Wrestling Styles

Beach wrestling, grappling, Pankration and mixed martial arts are also styles of wrestling that FILA oversees around the world. Beach wrestling is a type of wrestling adopted by FILA in 2004 which takes place in a sandy arena and its participants try to throw their opponents to their back or out of the ring. Grappling tournaments are practiced as well and are separated from more traditional wrestling styles because of their emphasis on submissions over pinning the opponent.

Pankration has its roots in the ancient Olympic wrestling games. This is essentially an ancient form of mixed martial arts which combined strikes, wrestling, and submissions and lacking in rules. While the modern form of amateur pankration is a much more civilized sport, with safety actually being a concern, it is still a very powerful style of fighting.