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Pancake Your Opponent with Nick Heflin

Pancake Your Opponent with Nick Heflin


As you consider your day-to-day moves on the wrestling mat, you may one day sit down and realize how complex the sport can be. After all, one move leads to another, which leads to another, which can be stopped by another, and so on. Wrestling in this instance can be compared to chess in that you need to be strategic about how to shut down your opponent’s offensive tactics. You might be tempted to go to YouTube or ask other wrestlers about intricate moves that can stop your opponent in their tracks right in the middle of the shot. That is, of course, an acceptable option. 

Of course, the easiest option would be to just pancake them straight to their back. 

The easiest option is sometimes the smartest option in wrestling, as there are moments where you will not need to overthink your strategy. The front headlock pancake is the perfect example of this, as it is not a highly technical move itself. It does have many working components that can be further discussed, and in the video below the front headlock is broken down to the core by three-time All-American NIck Heflin. 


Blocking the Shot

Nick begins the sequence in a front headlock position. Getting to this point is ordinarily done in two manners: proactively off of a snapdown or reactively off of a shot. In the former, you simply work a collar tie and snap your opponent down after a few initial pushes to elicit a reaction. For the latter, the opponent is shooting on you and you react accordingly with a sprawl and transition from a crossface to the headlock. In either scenario, the front headlock has you reaching over the head with your other arm overhooking on their arm. In addition, the hips are kept away to prevent the opponent from continuing to drive forward. However, the video makes an emphasis on pointing out that this is a defensive tactic, so the latter scenario will be referenced from here on out. 



Hitting the Pancake

This move works well against competitors who are laser-focused on driving forward even after being sprawled on. Nick pushes slightly on his opponent by staying on his toes and directing his force onto their shoulder. A well-versed wrestler is not going to settle for being pushed over, so the natural response is to push back and work towards obtaining the legs. As they do, you ease off of the pressure just enough to create space. This space is needed to bring your arm that was draped over the head to the front (similar to a crossface). Nick brings that arm across his body, drops the knee on the same side to the mat, and whips his opponent laterally to their back. The overhook that you established earlier is perfect for taking away the post they need to counter. 


Even though you brought your opponent to the mat, you still need to build upon that move for success. The pancake leaves you directly on top of your opponent with control of their head and arm. The simplest solution here would be to go for the pin by keeping pressure on their chest and lifting the head. If you are competing in jiu-jitsu or submission grappling, the head and arm are both isolated, so you can go for an armbar or an arm triangle. Regardless of what sport you’re in, you have the opponent neutralized. 

As much as we value this sport for being strategically complicated, the simplest solutions are sometimes best. One of the best representations of this concept is the front headlock pancake, as demonstrated above by Nick Heflin. No matter if you achieve the position on your own or as a response to a shot, it is an extremely useful move to hit on an unexpecting opponent. 

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