Why Learn it?
Why learn to defend the headlock and head and arm position? These positions aren’t much used in BJJ. This is especially true of the headlock. Neither are efficient or useful. It’s obvious with the headlock that there is no place to go from this position. It’s also easily defeated by someone with even basic BJJ knowledge.
The head and arm or kesa gatame position is more common in judo but also seen to some extent in BJJ. It isn’t as useful as other pinning positions because it’s hard to transition from this position to other positions. You are essentially stuck in place. Once you go to this position you have to finish from there or get reversed. Not many other options available.
We need to train to defend both positions though. It’d be a shame for a good BJJ player to fall victim to a headlock in a self defense situation simply because they haven’t trained it. I consider training both these positions a bit like taking medicine. Not fun and only useful for very specific situations.
For both positions posture is king. ALL your efforts should be on getting to correct posture. If you focus on escape over posture you are sunk. Especially as a newer BJJ student. More often than not new guy’s attempts at escapes get them in worse trouble than if they had done nothing but hunker down. Here’s the simple escape sequence as taught by Mike Sweeny of Martial Arts Planet.
- Check to see if you have posture.
- If you have posture escape.
- If you don’t have posture then get posture.
- Go back to step 2.
Sounds stupid simple but many beginners will attempt to escape from inferior posture. If we can get them to see posture as their priority rather than escape then their escapes will improve dramatically. Having said that, here’s the posture needed for escapes from these positions.
- Near elbow to the mat! This is high priority. You need the near elbow on the mat in order to build the rest of your posture.
- Get up on your hip.
- Tuck in your chin, hunch your shoulders, turn into the top guy.
- Figure 4 your legs with a kickstand leg.
There is a paradox in escaping the head and arm position. You can’t escape effectively unless you get posture. You use the same pressures to get posture as you do to escape. If in the process of getting posture you also escape then all is good. In other words, all your initial efforts are on getting your elbow to the mat. Elbow to the mat is EVERYTHING in escaping head and arm. With your elbow on the mat you can escape easily from even the toughest guys. With your arm caught it becomes a nightmare to get out.
Well Indrek says this guy is doing the roll incorrectly. I’m not quite seeing what Indrek is talking about so take it as it is. I think he isn’t bridging enough. His hands also need to be lower on the top guy’s torso…