View Full Version : Headlock from the front

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05-16-2006, 06:59 AM
How do you get out of someone grabbing you in a headlock from the front? Do you kick their legs out from underneath them? It seems to be difficult to get out of without breaking your neck!!

05-16-2006, 08:00 AM
My great grandfather always taught me to 'GRAB, TWIST AND PULL' you would be surprised how compliant people become when they have their balls are being ripped off. Of course this is very difficult to do when the attacker is wearing jeans. Be imaginative ;)

05-16-2006, 10:02 AM
How would you ever manage to get into that kind of situation?

05-16-2006, 10:09 AM

We've also used a tomoe-nage or perhaps sumi-gaeshi like throw against a front headlock.

Brian Vickery
05-16-2006, 10:22 AM
How do you get out of someone grabbing you in a headlock from the front?

Hi Carl,

...Bite 'em! :grr: ...either on the arm or the torso! ...try it sometime, but don't tell the attacker that you're going to do that, if they know a bite is coming it takes all the fun out of their reaction! :eek:


Stephen Pate
05-16-2006, 11:03 AM
Always important when you find yourself in a headlock: Turn your chin toward Uke's body. This will help prevent blood flow from being cut off to the brain.

An atemi to the groin or inner thigh should help things get moving. Also a good sharp pinch to the upper inner thigh, tricep, or inside of the elbow can be very distracting to Uke.

With an irimi movement, I can see a possibility of kaiten nage, nikyo, or sankyo. From a tenkan shiho nage or kote gaeshi might work. These of course are just ideas, I've not tried them yet.

So: keep blood flow to the brain, good sharp distracting atemi, keep your center down, maintain extension through your spin (unbendable neck).

05-16-2006, 12:26 PM
Carl, could you be more descriptive on the position of uke's headlock. Are you both facing the same direction in the classic WWF style? Are you standing toe to toe in a guillotine type headlock? Obviously, there are very different things you can do to get out of either of them.

05-16-2006, 01:52 PM
Front headlock with uke's head locked beneath your belly; your hand under their
chin was favorite of my judo (jujitsu) instructor. VERY dangerous place to find
yourself. Train to not get in this position!

A similar place to be is in the hold where one of your arms is straight up against
your ear and nage is pressing your neck out of joint. I have escaped this one, and
not been paralyzed, but it always hurts.

Use the advice from Stephen Pate - BEFORE you get locked in, or you may be carried away, rather than walking (running) away which is preferable.


Lyle Bogin
05-16-2006, 02:17 PM
This kind of headlock is a good defense against a waist high shoot, especially with a bit of a sprawl. It's really dangerous if you get in one and the guy lifts up and back.

I've gotten sankyo or udekatame out of this one by passing under the guys arm. The link to the submission grappling is a good one...the common thread here is that you need to move toward the headlocker and not try to pull away if you are in too deep.

Kevin Leavitt
05-16-2006, 02:28 PM
If you are in a guillotine, hitting or striking is going to be very difficult to do. You are wasting valuable seconds and energy swinging. You need to work on your escape. First thing is to protect your neck, make it tight, and turn your chin in as Stephen mentions. Also press into toward him lyle recommends.

There are a number of ways to escape, it is hard to discuss or to demo here in words.

BJJ guys will ride up high and step up on the hips alot of times to keep from getting put in the guard which all but seals your fate. This also alleviates pressure on the neck. Then work on taking them to the ground so you can pivot and turn breaking the grip.

There are a number of ways to defeat the guillotine, it just depends on the position of the attacker. Best is to avoid it, which is fairly easy. Leading with bad posture and sticking your head down on a shoot is typically how you end up in this position.

05-21-2006, 09:52 AM
In a real fight - you can try to break the fingers of the attacker. If they know what they are doing
they will know how to protect against this. Going for their fingers on the way in is wonderful and subtle - be careful training this!

If you study them, finger holds are really cool. I think we don't do them in aikido kihon waza, cuz fingers are easy to break and we need them.


Bill Danosky
05-21-2006, 11:27 AM
Third control (sanka jo) is great against a headlock. It works either facing the same or opposite direction as uke.

05-21-2006, 11:53 AM
Assuming it's a guillotine headlock position - in real life, against someone that is good, you'll find it very hard to attack the fingers, strike, apply any wrist lock, or to pick the opponent up for a throw. These are all low percentage tactics in my experience. This is all due to how well your opponent can control your height from this position. Additionally, you must of course look out for the guillotine but also for knee strikes to the face and top of the head. In my experience, one of the best things to do - while of course trying not to get put into this position and turning your head/neck, etc., as others have suggested - is to bait the skilled attacker to seek height zones that work in your favor (as defense - letting you keep your balance better; or as offense - see next suggestion). Once you've baited the attacker thusly, say so that he starts seeking a standing guillotine instead of trying to get it in the guard (as others have said), reach up with your inside arm/head and seek to apply your own front headlock to his head. The further the attacker is into the attempted guillotine, the easier it is to reach for this counter headlock. Once you obtain it, because you are the top headlock, you'll have better leverage than the attacker. Now, simply kneel down on the inside knee (same side knee of the arm that first reached up). This will take the attacker down to the ground. Before you actually hit the ground, be sure to release your own headlock so that you can easily obtain side control once on the ground.

Even if you cannot apply this move, the threat of it will do a lot to control the attacker - this type of control gets increased once you are also threatening with strikes and threats to fingers, etc. If you cannot get this move, but can gain this type of control over your attacker, a skilled attacker will seek to move onto another tactical application - in which case the move did its part in getting you out of the front headlock. Thus, it's a good move to know.

05-31-2006, 03:33 PM
If the attacker knows what he is doing....

With this lock he will break our neck so quickly that it will be very difficult to scape. I think that sinking the chin (if we can) is a good choice for avoiding the inmediate death, but he can make anyway a rear Ukemi while keeping the hold, and we will fly through air with neck broken.

I have seen performed many defenses against this lock (yes, biting torso, hitting the groin, etc.) but I am not confident with none of these. They are all too reactive in nature and take a time that a highly trained opponent wonīt give us. And more if he applied the headlock after striking us (for example: a fast kick to forward knee and crushing our neck with the lock when we sink the head down due to impact). At the moment of damage assessment in our brain he will attack and he will use this lock quickly for a killing. Because is effective.

Best defense and technique against this headlock: donīt get there.There is a long way to go BFORE applying this lock to a well trained Aikidoka, who must offer his neck as a present, something difficult to see. With enough Tai Sabaki it will be very difficult to get into the range needed for applying the lock. And he will need to hit first, to get the needed possition. At that time, BEFORE the lock is applied, there is enough chance to make him to desist of aggression. But defense should always be preemptive, in my not at all authorized opinion.

I hope to keep learning from the persons who share their views here.
Respectful regards

05-31-2006, 11:04 PM
I've never heard of getting a neck break from the guillotine choke. I've been put in it a lot in competition with full force cranks, and even been thrown while in it (my wife commented it looked like something out of the WWF). I'm still alive. I would even go so far as to say it is very hard to break the neck with a guillotine choke. I think the best way to defend is explained above. Turn your chin, protect your neck, stack up or take the balance of your attacker anyway you can, then after you hit the ground turn body until your head pops out and you get side control. Then armlock the hell out of that arm.

Steve Mullen
06-01-2006, 07:10 AM
a little cheeck one is to nip the skin on the inside of the thigh, most (probably all) people will lift that leg, some will jump, this gives you the chance to take balance and do above.

06-01-2006, 07:55 AM
I've never heard of getting a neck break from the guillotine choke. I've been put in it a lot in competition with full force cranks, and even been thrown while in it (my wife commented it looked like something out of the WWF). I'm still alive. I would even go so far as to say it is very hard to break the neck with a guillotine choke. I think the best way to defend is explained above. Turn your chin, protect your neck, stack up or take the balance of your attacker anyway you can, then after you hit the ground turn body until your head pops out and you get side control. Then armlock the hell out of that arm.

Agree with the guillotine hold in competition. But I think that it is better to remember that is not the same aplying a hold on a competition than a neck breaking lock. No one wants to break your cervical vertebrae in competition, cause no one wants to go to jail after competing. Besides is not the same perspective of technique (submission versus killing).

A front neck lock, when combined with a QUICK torsion of your body to a side (we say 'making your belly button to watch the sunshine') will break a neck. Another way is with swiftly lifting your body while applying the lock and then sitting suddenly on your heels. It will almost always break the neck. Even from a 'harmless' side neck lock, a neck can be broken, when one pushes the cheek of the opponent downwards against the hip and suddenly sits backwards. All the time I use the word: sudden, quick, swift, because effect depends on rhytm mostly. A sustained movement will lead to a hold (like the ones we see in competition). A sudden jerk or broken rythm will break the neck.

Anyway, luckily, 99% of persons applying neck holds will try to strangle or inmovilize you. Then the scapes are possible. But I like to think always on highly trained opponents, cause if we train for the hard job, the easy job will be a piece of cake.

By the way, talking about holds and scapes, has someone mentioned here a fork throw? With pressure on fork and hip, lifting your body, this guy can be thrown over your head in a very dangerous throw. Besides there are sacrifice techniques that can ground him too, though I prefer the hitting scapes.

I hope everything is OK for all of you.
Regards and blessings for all

06-01-2006, 08:17 AM
a little cheeck one is to nip the skin on the inside of the thigh, most (probably all) people will lift that leg, some will jump, this gives you the chance to take balance and do above.

I think this only works in the dojo. My adrenaline levels are so high in competition I have broken toes and not noticed. I doubt a pinch will even bother me (especially cause I know that is just harmless pain, and my choke is going to put you out in the next few seconds). However it might tick me off enough to continue hurting you after you go out.

I'm still not convinced on the neck breaking stuff, but I think we may be talking about different kinds of headlocks and that is why we have different opinions.

06-01-2006, 08:54 AM
I'm still not convinced on the neck breaking stuff, but I think we may be talking about different kinds of headlocks and that is why we have different opinions.

You are right Magee. Since the begining I have thought that is a matter of semantics. After all, techniques online are somehow difficult to describe (and more when English is not the native language, like is my case).

Good luck with your practice. Oh, and I agree again with you too in the anesthesic effect of adrenaline. Thatīs why I still consider an evassive tactic based on body movement as a better option than finding ourselves in this possition. The guy will have to control me first, and this will be hard to get for him. But again, if he gets it, the groin attack is, IMO, the best choice.

Respectful regards and good luck.

06-01-2006, 09:05 AM
I agree with Mr. Calvo. I was shocked when I attended a jujitsu class and my judo instructor, who taught for the air force, told us to grab the hair of the person in front of us, pull them down, placing their head under our belly, our hand under the chin against the throat.

He said "if you don't like him, come here david!, you do this" - and he spun my neck with his hips and i felt the cervical vertebrae max out - and he used the same effort as if he was sweeping the floor with a broom.

Don Magee, you sound like a hell of a judoka. I think the hold you are describing (i'm rusty) involves a strangulation movement. Does that sound right?

I have a weak neck, so having it broken is more believable for me. I protect my neck more than i protect my belly.


06-01-2006, 10:17 AM
When I think of a guillotine choke. I think of something like this http://lockflow.com/article_view.php?id=65

I wish I could find a video of that flying guillotine that happend in UFC 60.

Basically wrapping your arm around his neck and then slamming him to the ground while twisting his head and squeezing your arm as hard as you can. I find if the arm is not sunk in deep enough I can just turn and pop my head out. Especially if we have been fighting awhile as I have worked up major sweat.

I'm really not all that great at judo/bjj. I'm just starting to come into my own. There are plenty of guys at my gym that can toss me around like a rag doll. My comment on the broken toes is just that you learn to let things slide in the heat of the moment. Your body also helps numb most pain you encounter. You also learn to tell the diffrence between 'bad' pain (joint about to break, etc) and just pain (crossface, pinch, pressure points, knuckle in the ribs, etc). Its really a requirement to be in any sport. You learn to accept the pain that comes with serious training for competition. You have to learn not to flinch when you check a kick with your leg, or block a punch with your arm, or just get plain punched in the face. Once you learn to deal with that the littel tricks that used to work just dont work anymore. You start to only react to things that require action (aka you react to injury vs pain). Sometimes you dont even react to serious injury as your body doesn't let you know you are injured. Case in point I was in an altercation with a guy at a new years party. In my attempt to subdue him I was kicked in the grion. I was able to take him to the ground and 'convince' him to quit fighting. 1 hour later I was in the hospital and unable to walk from the pain in my grion. Lucky I ended up ok. But the lesson to me was in training that would of dropped me like a rock. But in real life my body took care of it for me.

I used to tap to chokes that really wernt' sunk because of pain. I used to loose concentration when getting crossfaced, or put in a painful hold like eddie bravo's lockdown (kinda a calf cruncher that hurts horribly). I'd even sometimes tap to these things (like can openers, calf crunchers, cross faces, and the good old lay my fat but down on your chest till you tap). But you reach a point, you either have to learn to deal with these things, and train though the pain. Or get out of the sport. I rolled a toe (the little one) last night and it is all nasty and black and blue. But i'll tape it up and get out and train again tonight. If its broke, then I guess I'll be competing on june 10th with a broken toe.

I guess what i'm trying to say is you have no idea the skill level or mental attitude of your attacker. You need to use techniques that work on bigger stronger, and hyped up adrenaline fillled guys (Isn't this really what aikido is all about?). A bite, or a leg pinch might make your friend who isn't expecting it jump and release his hold. But if someone really wants to hurt you, its not going to slow them down, its just going to tick them off.

Kevin Leavitt
06-01-2006, 02:57 PM
Sure it is possible that a pinch or bite or grab might distract enough to loosen things up. It is also very likely that it will cause his reflexes to tighten up more.

Keep in mind you only have a few minutes before you pass out if it is sunk in good. Even if it is not...you have more important things to do with your hands and body than to pinch.

If they have you good...and they really mean to harm you...they will forgo a little pain to get to the endstate 30 seconds or sooner!

06-01-2006, 03:06 PM
So, I think we have a general agreement. This lock can be very dangerous when a determined opponent is applying it.

So, if someone tries to apply it to use, we should treat him really bad. :D


Kevin Leavitt
06-01-2006, 03:09 PM
blood chokes are really bad. They are really the most efficient way to take somebody out of a fight the quickest way that is almost a guarantee. Striking may work...but it takes more effort.

If you are having to use non-lethal tactics, blood chokes such as a Rear Naked and A Guillotine don't necessarily cause permanent damage either.

06-01-2006, 03:22 PM
Yes, you are right Kevin. I have tasted them in friendly contest and they are great. But I would refrain myself to apply these two holds as a first choice in real life, because they are dangerous techniques anyway, and even the controlled person can damage himself while resisting. I have read that many casualties happen when LEO apply shime waza in their duties all around the world. I guess that an articular restraining hold is safer, donīt you agree?


06-01-2006, 03:31 PM
Don Magee showed a picture of the hold - i think this is a case where the jujitsu has been softened for competition. sink in the arm and the hold loosens. stand straight up with the guy's head under your belly, either pulling up for the choke, or using one hand and belly/hip to ruin the neck and it's lethal as hell.

Kevin - my crumpled up old arthritic female sensei did blood chokes that had us seeing black in half of one second. i used to could do it meself.

Best advice is to 'not stick your neck out' arr arr.


06-01-2006, 10:16 PM
I dont think its been softened for competition. I've seen them done as you have described in competition. I've seen guys go out in as few as 6 seconds. I've seen guys tap frantically to the neck crank pain of the choke too. I threw a guy from a standing armlock once (A variation on this wonderful throw http://www.groundfighter.com/uploads/videos/Karo%20Parisyan%20Judo%205%20Kimura.WMV ). He tapped all the way to the ground (unfortuantly do to the nature of the throw we couldn't really seperate until it ended). I thought I broke his arm, but he was ok, just really scared. I dont think its watered down, its just really hard to get the right position when you are struggling against someone resisting against you. Its much easier to work on sinking the choke then the neck crank. Of course if he isnt really defending his neck, its all to easy. And yes the best defense to any technique is to not let them get you in that technique.

Kevin Leavitt
06-02-2006, 07:14 PM
I soften nothing for competition. We just simply set the rules that allow for a fairly safe environment. that is, we don't "pull" techniques or soften them. If it is too dangerous, we just don't allow it!

Punches, kicks, gouges, etc. twisting knees etc.

We still grind the heck out of bony parts and use pain. I was slamming my fist into a guys jaw a couple of weeks ago when slamming him in the guard. It is not hitting as long as you maintain contact! :)

06-03-2006, 08:40 AM

I have to decry my poor ability to communicate. I wasn't suggesting 'softening' in a pejorative or literal sense. I was referring to exactly what you said 'set rules for safe environment'. Poor word choice on my part.

And yes the best defense to any technique is to not let them get you in that technique.


I wholeheartedly agree with this point, especially for this technique!!!


Kevin Leavitt
06-03-2006, 03:19 PM
Cool...no problem! ya gotta have rules to keep things safe!

06-03-2006, 05:41 PM
Last night I was a judge at a local MMA competition. I watched a guy do a really nice escape from the choke in question. He took the guy down and made sure he didn't get his guard, then he just twisted his head out by walking his feet to this guys head. Later he sunk in an awesome spinal lock. It was neat to see the twister done in an enviroment where its not illegal.

06-03-2006, 07:40 PM

sounds like the guy seized the initiative and won, after almost blowing it. any chance of video?


06-03-2006, 07:43 PM
I'm trying to get ahold of them now, there were a few guys with camera's in attendance. No promises though but I'll do my best.

Kevin Leavitt
06-04-2006, 02:31 AM
You know, I have been on aikiweb for years. It is interesting now to see that number of guys we have that have been working MMA come over to aikiweb lately and have started exploring aikido as it applies to MMA. I think it is wonderful and has been handled in a very respectful and appropriate manner!

Just a few comments to let you guys know I am enjoying our threads!