AskDefine | Define headlock

Dictionary Definition

headlock n : a wrestling hold in which the opponent's head is locked between the crook of your elbow and the side of your body

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A wrestling move where the attacker puts their arm tightly round their opponent's head, which the opponent can't easily escape from.


Extensive Definition

A grappling hold (commonly referred to simply as a hold; in Japanese referred to as katame-waza, 固め技, "grappling technique") is a grappling, wrestling, judo or other martial arts term for a specific grip that is applied to an opponent. Holds are principally used to control the opponent, and to advance in points or positioning. Holds may be categorized by their function such as clinching, pinning, pain compliance or submission, while others can be classified by their anatomical effect: chokehold, joint-lock or compression lock.

Clinch hold

A clinch hold (also known as a clinching hold) is a grappling hold which is used in clinch fighting with the purpose of controlling the opponent. In wrestling it is referred to as the Tie-up. The use of a clinch hold results in the clinch. Clinch holds can be used to close in on the opponent, as a precursor to a takedown or throw, or to prevent the opponent from moving away or striking effectively. Typical clinch holds include:

Pain compliance hold

A pain compliance hold (also referred to as a pain compliance technique or sometimes a pain hold) is a grappling hold which uses painful joint lock, compression lock or pressure point technique to control a person or opponent. Pain compliance techniques are used by law enforcement, and often taught as a self-defense technique in martial arts and combatives.
Frequently used by police and corrections personnel in accordance with an "escalation of force" policy, such techniques presume a rational adversary. Some altered states such as mental illness, extreme flexibility, phencyclidine and amphetamine use, or extreme adrenaline may alter the subject's perception of pain or willingness to submit. Like other forms of non-lethal force, such pain compliance strategies are not perfect and may be abused as a form of torture, with plausible deniability. For this reason the use of pain compliance holds is often subject to explicit rules of engagement designed to prevent abuse and avoid conflict escalation.

Pinning hold

A pinning hold (also known as a hold down and in Japanese as osaekomi-waza, 押込技, "pinning technique") is a general grappling hold used in ground fighting which is aimed at exerting superior control over an opponent and pinning the opponent to the ground. Pinning holds where both the opponent's shoulders touch the ground are considered winning conditions in several combat sports.
An effective pinning hold is a winning condition in many styles of wrestling, and is known as simply a "pin". Pinning holds maintained for 25 seconds are also a winning condition in Judo. Pinning holds are also used in submission wrestling and mixed martial arts, even though the pinning hold itself is not a winning condition. The holds can be used to rest while the opponent tries to escape or to control the opponent while striking, a tactic known as ground and pound.

Submission hold

A submission hold (colloquially referred to as a "submission") is a combat sports term for a grappling hold which is applied with the purpose of forcing an opponent to submit, either due to extreme pain or fear of injury. Submission holds are used primarily in ground fighting and can be separated into chokeholds, compression locks and joint locks. When used as a form of self-defense, these techniques may cause dislocation, torn ligaments, bone fractures, unconsciousness or even death.

Partial list of grappling holds

The same hold may be called by different names in different arts or countries. Some of the more common names for grappling holds in contemporary English include:
  • Crosschoke: Athlete crosses own arms in "X" shape and holds onto opponent's gi or clothing.
  • Crucifix: A type of neck crank.
  • Figure four: Term for arranging one's own arm or legs to resemble shape of numeral "4" when holding opponent.
  • Flying armbar: A type of armbar that is performed from a stand-up position.
  • Gearlock: a modified sleeper hold that puts an incredible amount of force on the opponents windpipe, choking them out almost instantly if applied properly.
  • Gogo-plata: Performed by putting ones shin on the wind pipe of an opponent and pulling the head down. Typically set up from the rubber guard.
  • Grapevine: twisting limbs around limbs in a manner similar to a plant vine.
  • Guillotine choke: a facing headlock or choke, usually applied to an opponent from above.
  • Hammerlock: Pins the opponent's arm behind the back, with wrist toward their own shoulder.
  • Harness: A hold which encircles the torso of an opponent, sometimes diagonally.
  • Headlock: Circling the opponent's neck with an arm, especially from the side. Also called a rear Chancellery.
  • Spine crank: Applies pressure to the spine by twisting or bending the body.
  • Stack: Compress opponent in vertical sit-up position (feet up) to pin their shoulders to mat.
  • Staple: Using the opponent's clothing to help pin them against a surface.
  • Tie: A transitional hold used to stabilize the opponent in preparation for striking or throwing.


  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique by Renzo Gracie and Royler Gracie (2001). ISBN 1-931229-08-2
  • Championship Wrestling, Revised Edition. (Annapolis MD: United States Naval Institute, 1950).
  • No Holds Barred Fighting: The Ultimate Guide to Submission Wrestling by Mark Hatmaker with Doug Werner. ISBN 1-884654-17-7
  • Small-Circle Jujitsu by Wally Jay. (Burbank CA: Ohara Publications, 1989).

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