Yesterday in Ethridge class, Coach Amy had Joe and I working on kesa gatame (scarf hold), which is a position that I’ve often thought was underutilized by people in BJJ, possibly because it’s misunderstood or confused with the wrestling headlock, so I was interested to read Stephan Kesting’s recent post about the two positions, and I completely agreed with what he had to say. Some people in BJJ seem to think that kesa all about controlling the head, but since Amy and Joe are both Judoka, they’ve helped me learn that it’s really about being in control of the arm and shoulder (along with proper body placement and weight distribution), and there are variations that can be done without the head at all.
I know The Professor isn’t especially fond of kesa gatame, so when I use it during rolling in BJJ, it’s mainly in a transitory way, in order to prevent a side control escape (and I often use the modified version with an underhook, because it’s easier to transition) but if I find that I am able to effectively control someone from there, I will attempt a series of armbars, which were the first submissions that Conan taught me, and they have been some of my most successful subs throughout my training. Just a couple of weeks ago when I submitted a larger male blue belt, it was with an armbar from kesa gatame (which isn’t the first blue I’ve tapped with one), and that’s also the only thing I’ve ever come even remotely close to submitting The Hulk with.
To further prove my point that armbars from kesa gatame are one set of submissions that I don’t totally suck at, it has been years since my husband tapped to me in Ethridge class, but during positional sparring yesterday, I submitted him twice. The first was with a straight armbar, and the second was the americana version, but they key to the whole thing was that I started in kesa gatame, because that’s not a position I’m typically able to get Joe in! During the positional grappling, he reversed me more often than I submitted him, and during our final death match he tapped me with an unconventional armbar, but being able to hold him in kesa and get those subs, when he knew exactly what was coming, reaffirmed to me the power of the position!