Reverse Neck Pinch by Ed Ruth
If there was one concept about defending the takedown that every wrestler should know, it’s this: pressure the head. The head is the essence of movement. After all, you move best in the direction that you’re facing and not so well if you’re turning away. If you’ve ever squatted or performed lunges, you know that keeping your head up at all times is a must unless you are willing to take all of the weight with you to the ground. However, what if you were able to not only stop the takedown but move to a pinning combination all through head pressure?
That question is about to be answered today, as three-time NCAA champion Ed Ruth demonstrates the reverse neck pinch in the video below.
Defending the Takedown
Before discussing the reverse neck pinch, it’s important to know how to defend the takedown. As Ed’s opponent shoots in for a single leg takedown, he brings his legs back and pressures his hip down for the sprawl. He also pushes the head down with his right hand and brings his left hand under their near-side arm to create the three-quarters nelson. As he does this, he moves his hips away so that he is not lined up directly in front of his opponent. Normally, you can use the three-quarters nelson to push your opponent’s head under them. However, Ed’s take is different, as you will soon see.
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Pinching the Neck
The hand Ed’s using to pressure the head is not going to stay on their crown. Instead, Ed moves the hand over to their neck on the opposite side. A key point in this is how he’s articulating his hand. He’s not keeping it clawed out for a grab, but rather extending it as a blade for specific pressure. As Ed also points out, “The more shallow I am, the more on the nerves I’ll be.” His other arm (specifically the forearm) is pressuring into the other side of his neck. At this point, you’ve put your opponent into a compromised position, as their head is facing down to the mat and the nerves in their neck are being pinched. This will create the movement you need to score.
While he’s creating pressure, Ed is pushing his opponent’s head down and over away from his leg. Instead of staying in a scrambling position, he postures up on his legs and walks away from the head. This accomplishes two goals: it causes the opponent to let go of the leg and it exposes their back. In a freestyle setting, you are going to get your exposure points, but it does have practicality in folkstyle as well. Once the opponent is turned on their side, you can use your far arm and swim for the half nelson to lock up the pin. In a jiu-jitsu setting, the guillotine choke is ready and available.
Head pressure is the foundation of takedown defense. With that said, it doesn’t just have to resort in a stopped single leg; it can turn into its own attack. By using Ed Ruth’s reverse neck pinch, you can turn their confident offense into a calculated risk.