The crucifix position is one of the more underrated positions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It can be used as a great way to attack an opponent while he is in turtle. It can be another way of attacking from the back position. The control and the easy submissions that come from that position make it that much more favorable. While there isn’t a ton of submissions from there like other positions such as closed guard or mount, the subs that are there work exceptionally well.
Before we get into the various submissions that can be launched from the crucifix, let’s take a look at some ways to set up or enter into the position. In the video below, well-renowned Pedro Sauer black belt Professor Keith Owens breaks down three different ways to enter into the position. Here, he presents some of the most common or most likely scenarios that you will find yourself and your opponent or training partner in that will allow you to enter into the crucifix position. In the simplest terms possible, the goal is to try to pin one side of the opponent’s body with your legs and hips and control the opposing side of their body with your arms and upper body. Once the opponent is controlled, you can begin working the various submissions options like chokes and arm attacks.
Like most every technique in jiu jitsu, it’s important to have both your upper and lower body working in concert with each other. In this case, when the opponent turtles up, we must thinking about what to do with both sides. So with our far leg, we must trap the near side arm of the opponent and begin to separate it from their torso. Simultaneously, we need to secure control of the opponent’s other side to prevent escape. We do this by controlling the wrist which prevents them from making a strong base when we try to take them over and also sets the stage for the upcoming sub attempts.
One of the best BJJ and grappling practitioners to ever utilize the crucifix position is Baret Yoshida. Check out this amazing video which serves as both a highlight of his use of the position and an educational piece breaking down many key points of how he enters the crucifix and the various submissions that he launches from this position.
The turtle position can be one of the most difficult positions to break through because of the ultra-defensive positioning the opponent is using. Elbows are tight. Many times there is no way to get a knee or hook into their hips to begin breaking down the position. Many BJJ players tend to focus on the lower half of the opponent’s body to try to control the hips and ultimately become frustrated when they can’t break through. By attacking the upper third of the opponent’s body with the crucifix position, you can open many new doors to begin to submit those opponents and spend much less time beating your head against the impregnable shell of their turtle defenses.
With the crucifix, you get what known as a dual attack. That’s where you’re applying two attacks at the same time. As you’re controlling the person with the crucifix, you have both armbar variations and choking options immediately available to you. The beautiful thing about a dual attack is that your training partner won’t know which attack to defend.
Since the crucifix is just another version of back control, the first go to submission from there is obviously the rear naked choke. Once in the crucifix position, you must put your free hand into action right away. Taking your free hand, you must use the “blade” of your wrist and forearm to go underneath your opponent’s chin, going relatively deep in on the neck. When he goes to defend against your hand, take your hand that was controlling his shoulder and get a palm to palm grip, popularly known as a Dan Severn grip, an squeeze in. This is a strong choke that can end a match abruptly.
The set up and attack for this collar choke is the same as the rear naked choke. Usually done rolling from the turtle, you will control your opponent’s far shoulder with your legs, and his close shoulder with your arm. With your free hand, you must use the “blade” of the your wrist and go underneath your opponent’s chin and get a deep grip on his collar. Once you have that grip, you must use your arm that is controlling his shoulder. Shoot that arm up and behind his head. Pull the collar and apply pressure with your hand behind his head. It’ll be time to tap.
The variation of a collar choke from crucifix position is called “Jigoku Jime” – translated as the Hell Strangle. It is a very powerful choke as you use your leg to apply big pressure.
A way in which Brazilian Jiu Jitsu players can leverage this position is by attacking the opposition with an armbar. What is normally a pretty effective hold, it gets a little more complicated when you begin to factor in the crucifix position. Let’s take a closer look as to how you can properly execute the crucifix armbar, and start scoring some slick looking submissions!
Many experts say that the Back position is the most offensive position in BJJ; but, there’s certainly flaws with this position. Many people find it difficult to finish the rear naked choke in the conventional back position. n BJJ tournaments, taking the back and putting your hooks in are critical for getting points.
Like most positions in BJJ, there are many variations and many different ways to control an opponent and the back position is no different. The crucifix is a variation on the back take that takes both arms out of play so that the only thing the person can do to defend is to drop their chin in an attempt to protect their neck.
Keep learning and keep improving, and there’s no telling how quickly you will progress up the ranks in BJJ! Now enough reading, go give the crucifix a try and let us know how it works!
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