The Neck Crank in BJJ and MMA: Details & More

The dust had not settled on UFC 229 and I was already hearing people say that Mcgregor tapped to a choke from Khabib despite the fact that the choke was not cinched in properly. These comments made me laugh and I immediately came to the conclusion that these people were lucky enough to have never been caught in a neck crank (especially one from a powerful and skilled grappler like Khabib). The neck crank is a nasty submission and there is a reason that many mainstream organizations like the IBJJF have it on their banned technique list.

The neck crank is similar to the RNC in many ways but there are some key differences. The position and mechanics may look the same to the untrained eye but the two techniques attack different parts of the body. It is typically applied from back control but can also be applied in a number of other positions whereas the RNC is only applied from the back.

The rear naked choke is a blood choke. This is because it restricts blood flow to the brain via the carotid arteries. While the neck crank can restrict blood it is not technically a blood choke. It is more of a lock and the aim of the attack is to get the person to tap from discomfort rather than a fear of losing consciousness.

Here are some of the key elements of both chokes:

  • The choking arm encircles the opponent’s neck, with the opponent’s trachea at the crook of the elbow
  • The choke works by compression of the jugular vein, trachea and carotid arteries on both sides of neck.
  • When the blood flow in carotid arteries is sufficiently restricted, the victim will lose consciousness
  • The choke can be finished with the classic figure four grip or with a short choke (palm to palm).
Neck Crank from back control.
  • The top choking arm does not have to be across the neck (When applied from back control, it is typically applied across chin/lower face)
  • The submission is finished by forcing the head away (head is pulled so that ear goes towards their own shoulder). This is done while the body and neck stay stationary in a locked position.
  • Pain and discomfort is primarily felt in the TMJ, and cartilage in the side of the jaw.
  • If sufficiently tight the airflow may also be restricted and it is still possible that the victim will go out.
  • The choke can be finished with figure four grip or short choke option (palm to palm).

The neck crank is very popular in MMA as it can be difficult to secure a clean RNC due to the gloves. The gloves make it harder to get under the neck and give the opponent more material to grab when defending. Here is a video from the neck crank master Damien Maia:

Brutal submission (neck crank) from Demian Maia
Scroll to Top