GB Fundamentals: HeadLock Escapes

This week on GB Technique we are going to look at Headlock escapes on the ground – Week 6 and 14 in the GB Fundamentals Curriculum.
If you have ever wrestled in the back yard with your brothers or friends, you have no doubt been caught in a headlock on the bottom. This is such an instinctive reaction in a physical confrontation – to grab the opponent’s head and squeeze.
Caught underneath an aggressive, adrenaline-fueled opponent, the headlock – while not the most technical hold – can be difficult to escape from underneath if you don’t have a technique.
This is so common in street confrontations that is one of the very most important self-defense techniques in all of Jiu-Jitsu.
There is of course 2 variations of the headlock. The “playground” headlock that is not performed by a trained individual where they simply grab the head and squeeze and the technical “kesa gatame” or scarf hold where the top person controls the arm of the person on the bottom.
Check out GB Online to see more Fundamentals at GB 1
Let’s take a look at some of the best headlock bottom escapes some of the top Gracie Barra black belt instructors.
Headlock and Side Mount Bottom Escape #1 – Leg Over the head to armbar
The headlock escape sequence from Gracie Barra North Phoenix shows 3 different outcomes for the headlock escape:
Leg over the head
Take the back
Reverse the opponent and move to top position

Headlock and Side Mount Bottom Escape #2 – Back climb
Professor Philipe Della Monica teaching a headlock escape during the GB1 / Fundamentals Class.
Note how Prof. chooses his escape based on the position and reactions of the opponent on top. When the opponent closes one avenue of escape they usually create an opening on the opposite side or direction.

Headlock Escape #3 – Hip Shovel Escape
What if you get caught in a headlock under a heavier opponent? Uuugghhh!
Professor Bryan Waltz of Gracie Barra Colorado Springs demonstrates how to reverse positions on the big guys. I love this escape!

Headlock Escape #4 – Armbar Counter to Kesa-Gatame with Underhook
The Kesa-Gatame with Underhook is a more technical variation of the standard non-technical headlock and requires a different strategy to escape. Another great technique from Gracie Barra Colorado Springs.

What is YOUR favorite Headlock escape?
If you have any questions about technique, please send us a message at GB Online!
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia