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Spinal lock

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Title: Spinal lock  
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Subject: Joint lock, Small joint manipulation, Grappling, Armlock, Brazilian jiu-jitsu
Collection: Grappling Positions, Joint Locks
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Spinal lock

Spinal lock
A grappler applies a lock to his opponent's neck
A grappler applies a lock to his opponent's neck
Classification Joint-lock
Parent style Grappling
AKA Neck crank

A spinal lock is a multiple joint lock applied to the spinal column, which is performed by forcing the spine beyond its normal ranges of motion. This is typically done by bending or twisting the head or upper body into abnormal positions. Commonly, spinal locks might strain the spinal musculature or result in a mild spinal sprain, while a forcefully and/or suddenly applied spinal lock may cause severe ligament damage or damage to the vertebrae, and possibly result in serious spinal cord injury, strokes, or death. Spinal locks and cervical locks are forbidden from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu,[1] amateur MMA,[2][3] multiple forms of no Gi Jiu Jitsu,[4] Judo,[5] and other martial arts.[6] Due to its illegal nature and express purpose to cause serious, irrevocable bodily injury, paralysis, and death, its use both inside and outside of the gym can constitute aggravated assault.[7]

Whiplash effect caused by cervical lock application has been attributed to increasing the likelihood of vertebral artery dissection,[8] which may lead to stroke as long as 12 months after the injury. Cervical locks target specifically the high-cervical nerves (C1 – C4).[9] Damaging the nerves held in these vertebre can result in quadriplegia, 24-hour-a-day personal care, and inability to speak, breath, or use bowels.

Spinal locks can be separated into two categories based on their primary area of effect on the spinal column: spinal locks on the neck are called neck cranks and locks on the lower parts of the spine are called spine cranks.

A 2007 news article reported the dangerous use of spinal locks, which are primarily a feature of some martial arts and wrestling, in Australia's National Rugby League.[10]


  • Neck crank 1
    • Can opener 1.1
    • Cattle catch 1.2
    • Crucifix neck crank 1.3
    • Twister 1.4
    • Standing frontal facelock 1.5
  • Spine crank 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
    • Main references 4.1
    • Other references 4.2
  • External links 5

Neck crank

A neck crank (sometimes also referred to as a neck lock, and technically known as a cervical lock) is a spinal lock applied to the cervical spine causing hyperextension, hyperflexion, lateral hyperflexion, hyperrotation or extension-distraction, either through bending, twisting or elongating. A neck crank is typically applied by pulling or twisting the head beyond its normal ranges of rotation. Neck cranks are usually banned from sports competitions, with notable exceptions in combat sports such as submission wrestling and mixed martial arts, where they are used as submission holds or as a guard passing technique.

Can opener

The can opener (in Judo referred to as kubi-hishigi) is a hyperflexing neck crank that can be applied from the opponent's guard or from a mounted position, by grabbing the opponent's head using the hands, and forcing it towards the chest of the opponent. If applied effectively in a competition it may force the opponent to submit.

This may also refer to a type of neck compression employed from a rear mount position in which the back of the thumbs are used to drive into the neck starting from the high trapezius muscle toward the sternocleidomastoid muscles, causing severe discomfort, and even submission. As of 2006, this is permitted in shiai as long as the judoka's thumbs remain straight, and not bent. Its most common uses are to open up an opponent's chin for shime-waza or as a diversionary tactic.

Cattle catch

The cattle catch (also referred to as reverse crucifix, iron cross or stocks) is a hyperflexing neck crank involving trapping the opponent's hands and forcing the head towards his or her chest. The technique is performed with the opponent lying on his or her back, and the combatant performing the neck crank perpendicularly face-down in a side mount position above the head of the opponent, with the opponent's head resting towards his armpit. The combatant traps one arm using the legs, and the other using the arms. By using the pinned arms and legs as a point of leverage, the combatant can forcefully crank the head towards the opponent's chest.

Crucifix neck crank

The crucifix neck crank is similar to the cattle catch, but involves the combatant performing the neck crank being mounted on the opponent. Both of the opponent's arms are controlled, and the opponent's head is held in the armpit. By cranking the body upwards while keeping a tight hold on the opponents arms, the opponents head is forced towards his or her chest.

Both the cattle catch and the crucifix neck crank are colloquially referred to simply as the crucifix, which often leads to confusion with the traditional crucifix position.


The twister (a similar move in wrestling is known as a guillotine) is a sideways body bend and neck crank, which involves forcing the head towards the shoulder while controlling the body, hence causing lateral hyperflexion of the cervical spine. The technique involves tension in several bodyparts, and depending on the flexibility of the recipient, can also involve pain in the knees, abdominals and torso. The twister is often confused as being a spine crank since it involves a degree of lateral non-cervical spinal flexion. The main pressure is however on the cervical spine, hence making it a neck crank. It is performed from a back mount single vine ride position, where the top man has one "hook" threaded through the bottom man's legs and secured behind the ankle. The top man then pulls the bottom man's opposite arm behind his own head and grabs hold of his opponent's head, pulling it down to his shoulder. Popularized by Eddie Bravo and the 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu system.[11] On March 26, 2011 Chan Sung Jung finished Leonard Garcia at UFC Fight Night: Seattle in round 2 of their fight using a twister, the first, and as of 2014, the only twister finish in UFC history. Prior to this, Shuichiro Katsumura defeated Hiroyuki Yamashiro with a twister in ZST 20 on May 24, 2009.[12] On December 31, 2014, Shinya Aoki scored a first-round twister win over Yuki Yamamoto at Inoki Genome Federation's Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2014.[13] At the 2015 ADCC tournament in Sao Paulo, Vinny Magalhaes submitted Rodrigo Artilheiro in the quarterfinals using a twister.[14]

Standing frontal facelock

Facing opponent as though leveraging a guillotine, however cross facing the individual and rotating their head laterally, creating an incredibly dangerous hyperflexion of the neck sideways when hips are leveraged and the cross face is pulled up, attempting to apply extreme pressure and damage to the cervical vertebrae.[15]

Spine crank

A spine crank (the term spine lock is also often used to refer exclusively to this type) is a spinal lock that affects the thoracic and/or lumbar regions of the spinal column. A spine crank is applied by twisting or bending the upper body beyond its normal ranges of motion, causing hyperextension, hyperflexion, or hyperrotation of the spine. In martial arts, spine cranks are generally rarer techniques than neck cranks because they are more difficult to apply. Twisting or bending the upper body to apply pressure to the spinal column requires large amounts of leverage compared to twisting or bending the head.

One of the most well known spine cranks is the boston crab, which is usually depicted in pro-wrestling context. Similarly to neck cranks, spine cranks are illegal techniques in most combat sports, excluding some submission wrestling and mixed martial arts competitions, where they are used as submission holds. Even if allowed, spine cranks are very rarely featured because of the difficulty of applying them.

See also


Main references

  • Bernard, Thomas. Cervical Spine Injuries in Olympic Athletes. URL last accessed February 8, 2006.
  • Gracie Barra Tampa. Cattle Catch, A Confusion of Crucifixes. URL's last accessed January 7, 2006.
  • Kawaishi, Mikunosuke. Judo dislocation necklocks. URL last accessed January 7, 2006.
  • Radebold, Andrea. Lumbosacral Spine Sprain/Strain Injuries. URL last accessed January 7, 2006.
  • Riccaldi, Alain. Catch Wrestling: Boston Crab & Half-Boston Crab. URL last accessed February 5, 2006. (In Italian)
  • Wieder, Brian. Cervical Spine Injury in Athletes. URL last accessed February 8, 2006.

Other references

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Koch, Dan (August 18, 2007). "Wrestling guru: necks will be snapped". Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  11. ^ Cunliffe, Joseph. On the road to the 2003 Abu Dhabi Championships with Eddie “The Twister" Bravo. URL last accessed January 7, 2006.
  12. ^ Shunichiro Katsumura vs Hiroyuki Yamashiro . Mixed Martial Arts llc. URL last accessed May 1, 2014.
  13. ^ "‘Cro Cop’ Crushes Ishii with Head Kick, Aoki Lands Twister at ‘Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2014’", by Chris Nelson,
  14. ^
  15. ^

External links

  • Figure 4 Neck Crank. Extension-distraction of the neck.
  • Neck Extension. Hyperextension of the neck.
  • Neck Crank from All Fours. Hyperextension and hyperrotation of the neck.
  • Eddie "Twister" Bravo: Outside of the Box. Image series showing how the twister is applied from the side mount.
  • Twister from Head & Arm . Image series showing how the twister is applied when escaping from a scarf hold.
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