Headlocks (Side, Front or Rear) – Grappling Technique

This page provides details on how to do a headlock. It looks at front, side and rear headlocks. With a headlock, an attacker has wrapped his arm around a person’s neck and can choke that person by pulling his arm tight against their throat with his other arm. This is a dangerous position and martial artists should quickly try to counter this technique. Therefore, martial arts students should also visit our section on Headlock Escapes.

Students should learn to properly & carefully apply this technique in order for their partners to practice effective headlock escapes. However, all grappling techniques should be supervised by a trained instructor in order to avoid injury and ensure that proper techniques are utilized.

Technique Instructions for the standing headlock

  • First, you will need to get in a position where he does not control your arms.
  • Preferably with the arm going around his head (strong arm) in a dominant collar tie position and the other arm holding his/her triceps.
  • To initiate the headlock step across his body with the leg that on the same side as your “strong arm” and throw your hips into your opponent.
  • Take the arm that was in the collar tie and throw it around your opponents head. The back of his/her neck should be on your bicep.
  • Keep a tight grip on his triceps with the other hand and try to pull it across your body.
  • If you executed the footwork properly your opponent should be “loaded up” behind your hips.
  • Rotate your shoulders aggressively towards your opponents head and he/she should be thrown over your hips.
  • Make sure once you are on the ground to keep your feet away from your opponents or they could reverse it on you.
  • Be considerate of your training partner!!! Don’t injure your partner. It is also safer to practice these techniques against items such as grappling dummies.

Types of Headlocks