Jiu-Jitsu Letter


There was a time when I’d insist “No headlocks.”1 The idea was we learn many counters/escapes from headlocks, and they often result in taking the headlocker’s back, so it’s not good to use them.

But headlocks, specifically the scarf hold, are common in every kind of grappling except jiu-jitsu.

If you’ve trained a while, you know that there are counters to every counter. So, you ought to think about that next time you think you’re invincible against headlocks just because we learn so many headlock counters in class.

Headlocks are fine. Keep your partner’s back flat on the mat and get under the near elbow.

Train the scarf hold. Your headlock escapes will be better if you practice headlocks.

Ask your partner to practice them too. Since we typically don’t use them in sparring, we don’t get to practice our escapes. If you’re serious about self-defense, you need to understand that other grappling arts are serious about headlocks.

  1. Nowadays, if I’m watching students spar, the most common coaching I’ll offer is, “Stop grabbing so much cloth” to whomever is desperately gripping whatever they can, wasting energy trying to muscle his partner off him. (They usually don’t listen. 🤷🏻‍♂️) ↩︎

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