Neck Crank

Neck cranks are simple to understand yet a lot of grapplers don’t know how to address them. You can perform neck cranks in different directions. It is all a matter of twist the neck off its range of motion.

It’s common for any practitioner of any grappling sport to have some type of strain or injury on the neck. The same goes for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. You may have hit your neck the wrong way when you fell or maybe you were trying to resist a choke by just flexing your neck. A lot of things can happen on the mats.

But what makes neck cranks dangerous is the fact that it can also lead to serious injuries or even be fatal. This is also the reason why it is not usually practiced inside the gym.

Banning Neck Cranks in Competition

Different organizations will have a different approach when it comes to neck cranks. However, the consensus is that spinal manipulation is prohibited in most Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments. It means that you can’t do a can opener to open the closed guard or apply a full nelson on your opponent once you have his or her back. Even ADCC bans the use of full nelson.

The term spinal manipulation in most rulebooks is used to encompass the entire spine and not just the cervical area. It means that you can’t go for a twister as well in most Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments.

Can Opener

A can opener is an example of a neck crank that is allowed in ADCC. This move is done to open a closed guard or even finish a guy who is playing a closed guard. Instead of twisting the hip, you will simply clasp both hands and get his or her neck to look down. You get to pull the head until you either get the closed guard to open or to get the opponent to tap out.

This move is a common scenario in MMA, especially when facing a person with a crafty closed guard or when the person wants to progress to either a half guard or pass the guard completely without standing up.

Ways to defend Against the Can Opener

There are different ways on how you can defend against the can opener. The first technique is to attack the arm. Once your opponent overcommits both arms and grabs your neck, you can immediately swivel and make him or her pay for the can opener. You will have to be perpendicular to also stay out of the can opener’s threat.

But of course, there are also instances when you are a bit late and there is already pressure on your neck. Another way to defend the can opener neck crank is to break the opponent’s posture and ensure that his head is right below your neck. You will have to clasp using both hands to ensure that the opponent doesn’t have the leverage for a neck crank. This can be a good way to also inch our way back to the first counter which is an armbar once your opponent concedes the position.

Lastly, you also have to understand that the can opener works when you have your back on the mat. A simple counter is to sit up once you feel that your opponent is going to pull your head. You will just have to open your closed guard and to sit and move back.

The reason why people get tapped out using the can opener is that they hold on to their closed guard. Whenever you feel that both hands are behind your neck, always be cautious and respect the submission. Open your closed guard and explore a different position.

Recognition of the neck crank is of upmost importance when dealing with can openers. This will you save a good amount of money from possible injuries considering some neck cranks tend to be fast.

How to Deal with Neck Cranks

A lot of gyms have an explicit rule that you can’t go for neck cranks. And the reasons are quite simple. First, it won’t even be used during a tournament. Next, the stakes are quite high if you constantly practice neck cranks.

But no matter how careful you get, there is always a chance that you end up dealing with some type of neck crank. It could be against someone who is spazzy or it could be some freak accident. You can still get a neck crank when you invert trying to recover your guard.

The best way to deal with neck crank is to know your neck’s range of motion. It is important to tap before you even feel the pain or hear any cranking sound from your neck. You also need to trust the partners who you go with. This is also the main reason why you get to see the popularity of gyms opening training sessions for certain either lightweight or heavy guys.

Chokes that Become Cranks

But neck cranks can be tricky. There are legitimate choke attempts that become neck cranks. For instance, a rear-naked choke can turn into a crank. And not only a neck crank, but you can also even have the jaw cranked turning it into pain compliance submission. You can also have a triangle turn into a crank. For instance, fighting to get your posture back up inside the triangle can sometimes crank your neck as well.

The bottom line is that neck cranks can come from different chokes even if they weren’t designed to crank the neck.

Unless you are doing MMA, neck cranks shouldn’t be practised given the risk that you can face. And though your partner is careful whenever he or she is going for a choke, you also have to understand that the gentle art isn’t exactly gentle at all times. There are instances when chokes such as a simple rear-naked choke can become a neck crank by accident. Whenever you feel slight discomfort on your neck, be sure to throw your ego out the window and tap.

About the author

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Richard Presley

A purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Richard is the owner and primary writer of Attack The back. Check out my About Me Page to learn more!