The seminar was held at Rick Spain's Red Boat Wing Chun Academy in Redfern.
The crucifix is a variant of back control, with one arm trapped by your legs. The essence of back control is to keep your chest glued to your training partner's back, and it applies equally here.
This seminar assumed a basic knowledge of the crucifix. An earlier seminar we took with John in 2013 covered more fundamental aspects of the position.
29th September 2013 - Crucifix Control
IMPORTANT: John no longer recommends the common setup where you trap the guy's near arm with your leg from side/back control and roll forward over his back. He has seen or heard of several neck injuries from heads being driven into the mat when partners reacted too violently. Plus it is usually less effort to pull them back toward you once the controls are secured.
John Will and Sean Kirkwood demonstrate the Crucifix position
The Hunter's Drill
We hunt the crucifix position and when our partner tries to escape, we hunt and reclaim it again.
Crucifix Entry from Head to Head
We sprawl on him and get a front headlock, our R arm around his neck and our L arm around his R armpit and neck. We come up on our toes and drive him back, pushing his butt onto his heels and we stand up, until our hands touch our L knee. Drive into him, don't pull him toward us.
We push our L knee between his R arm and his torso, trapping pinching his R upper arm between our legs. We turn slightly to our R. We change our grips on his upper body so our L arm goes under his L armpit from the back, our R arm around his neck. The L hand grabs his R wrist, so we have the same grips as if we had a seat belt grip from IBJJF-sanctioned back control.
We step our L foot slightly in front of our R foot, then sit/fall down onto our left side, so his R arm is trapped between our legs and our arms encircle his head and L arm. The position of John and Sean Kirkwood on the photo above is the position we want, but on the other side.
The Hunter's Drill Itself
He will want to escape as he would from back control, by getting his back and shoulders on the ground, sliding down onto the mat toward his feet.
As soon as we realise we are losing the position, we change to a kimura grip on his L hand. Our R arm comes across his face so we no longer encircle his head, and we grab his L wrist with our R hand and our own R wrist with our L hand under his L arm.
He frees his R arm from our legs (for the drill, let him do it!) and turns L to his knees. We also turn L to our knees, keeping our grips, So we are kneeling next to him on his L. This position is called the "Kimura Dogfight". We post our head on the ground, keeping the kimura grip, come up on our toes and walk toward our head, this lifting our hips, so we can post on our head and jump over him to his R side. Come up on our R foot and put our weight toward our L hip, so we can snag his R arm behind our R shin and knee, Change our upper body grips to a seat belt, going under his L armpit, as before.
Fall to our L now and we are back in the same crucifix position.
(iI may be possible or sometimes desirable to get the seat belt grip again before snagging the leg after you have jumped over. I need to experiment with this.)
With the seat belt, we generally grab the wirst of the arm around the neck with the other hand, the one under the armpit. If he tries to strip our grip he will peel off the top armpit hand, and we go directly for the choke with the other. If our hands were the other way round and he peels the top, choking, neck hnad off, we do not have that option.
Crucifix Entry from Side Control
We have side control on his R side. His hands are up, protecting the neck, elbows in.
We switch base towards his head, to switchbase side control, our R arm under his L. Our L hand slides between his R forearm and chest, and grips his R shoulder, thus starting to separate his arm from his torso. Use our L elbow to pry his R hand further away from his chest. Our L leg sweeps up and over his face and snags his R arm, dragging it away to our L, so we can pinch it between both our knees and push them and his arm to the mat.
Reach over our L leg and grab the sleeve of his R arm, pinched under our L knee.Move our L foot above our R shin and post it around his shoulder level. Our R fist posts next to his L hip.
We push up on our R hand and L foot, swinging our R knee to meet our R wrist, in a knee ride position, still gripping his R sleeve with our L hand so his R arm is under our L leg.
We grab his R collar with our R hand, and hoist him up to a sitting position. We turn slightly to our R, pinching his R arm between our legs, similar to the first technique. As before we get a seat belt grip on his back, our L arm underhooking his. We sit/fall back to the crucifix as before.
John said he uses this method, sweeping the knee backward, to get kneeride from side control almost exclusively these days. The standard way of just jumping straight up from side control gives a quick player on the bottom too much opportunity to get his knee in and go to guard while you're trying to get your knee in.
In setting up any choke from the seat belt, we want to start by pulling the choking arm in tight, before we release the seat belt grip. So from the crucifix position with his R arm trapped and the seat belt grip we have achieved, pull with our L hand and drive our R forearm in under his chin and into his throat. This will prevent him being able to drop his chin to his chest and foil our subsequent choking moves.
Turn on our L side, and use the L arm to open his L collar and get a deep grip on it with our R, thumb inside.
Now we do two things at once:
- Slide our hips underneath his shoulders, going towards flat on our back again. You will need to post on your feet at least a little to do this.
- Move your L arm out in a wide arc, snagging his L elbow, ending up with our L hand grabbing the back of our head, this effectively trapping his L arm.
We should end up close to flat on our back - not so far that he could backward roll and escape.
From here, we just pull our R elbow to the mat for a strong choke.
snag the throat - turn on your side - get a deep grip - Slide hips under him and snag his arm so you are flat on your back - pull elbow to the ground
This is an enhanced version of the choke that makes any escape far more difficult. However, we MUST have a DEEP collar grip first. Otherwise, failure is an option, and a likely one.
We set up the deep collar grip with our R hand, thumb inside, as above.
This time, we move our hips so they are next to his, our L hip up against his R. We take our L leg over the top of his R leg, and hook out L instep under his R calf or Achilles tendon. We use this grapevine-style hook to lift his R foot off the mat, so he cannot bridge or post with it. Our R foot goes under his R hip.
We do not need to trap his L arm like before, we can just grip his L shoulder from behind.
We choke him pretty much the same way.
Our hips next to his makes it much harder for him to free his R arm from our leg control, or to bridge and roll backward, etc.
Upstream / Downstream
The above techniques all result in us landing in the crucifix with the arm trapped by our legs pointing "upstream", with the top leg (in the cases above, our R leg) hooking his arm and his hand more or less pointing toward his head, like an Americana.
It is also possible for us to trap his arm using the bottom leg (for the above, the L leg) with his hand pointing more toward his feet, like a Kimura. This we call the "downstream" control.
Both allow us to apply different submissions. In particular, the downstream configuration frees up our top leg to allow us to employ it for submissions without losing the arm.
Sorry, this was irresistible - but you too can be the Puppet Master with these Crucifix techniques ;)
Entry to Downstream
From Head to Head, he shoots at your legs. You sprawl to avoid the takedown. You move up on him slightly and get a "butt seatbelt" grip around his R leg and hip - your L arm goes under hi groin, the R arm over his butt - your R arm in line with his intergluteal cleft, or in more common parlance, his butt crack. John's words!
Slide your R knee in under his L elbow, R knee going between his L elbow and knee, as you use the grip around his R hip to pull and roll him toward you onto his L side. Your R shin hooks over his L elbow to trap his arm, as you hold it down under the outside of your R knee on the mat .
You now have a crucifix, except this time you are controlling his arm with your bottom leg and controlling his hip instead. It should be fairly easy to slip your L elbow over his R arm, controlling it under your L armpit.
Hell Choke - Jigoku Jime
From the position you are in, reach over and grab his L far collar with your L hand, thumb inside, palm down. Your L leg comes over his head and hooks his R ear in the crook of your L knee. Your R leg still has L arm trapped. You can grab his pants at the R knee or underhook his R leg with your R hand for extra control, which is always a good idea. Choke him by pushing his head away with your L leg wihile pulling his L collar toward you with your L hand. This is a very strong choke. It does not require a deep grip with the L hand and will work with more stretchy material like a T shirt just fine.
As John pointed out, it is ironic that a Hell Choke comes from a crucifix position.
Judo version of both upstream and downstream versions of the Hell Choke (Jigoku-Jime). With a different setup.
TransitionsWe need options when our partner starts to escape, and we start to lose the position. We need a Zen attitude here, where over attachment to a position can result in our downfall. A time to kill, a time to heal.
A time to hold, a time to transition.
To everything there is a season
We have the crucifix and seat belt control, his R arm trapped. He starts to shimmy down toward his feet, trying to get his shoulders on the mat and escape.
We transition to the kimura grip on his L arm as for the Hunter's Drill above.
"Float" his elbow by getting your L elbow/forearm underneath it, so it is "floating" off the mat.
Hip escape away from him and turn face down, feet behind you so you are 180 degrees to him , driving your R elbow to the mat. He is flat on his back. Your R hip should be next to his L ear. You never release the kimura grips. Move forward and try to snag his shoulder with the bottom of your rib cage. flatten out and sink into the mat, applying kimura pressure to his elbow and shoulder. This may be enough for a tap.
If not, we move around to side control on his R side and apply the top kimura proper. Key points - Our R hip is dropped to the ground and our R leg stretched back as far as possible to stop him sitting up and rolling us. We step over his head with our L leg with our foot on the ground, which also stops him sitting up, but its main purposes is as an engine to drive him up on his R side enough so we can crank his arm without the ground getting in the way.
He starts to escape, we get the kimura grip as before. He manages to turn away from us and get up on his L elbow.
We keep the kimura grip. We slide our L knee through the gap he has made between his elbow, his chest, and the mat. Our R leg goes over his head, and pulls it back to our R to the mat. We drive our L knee and hips under him and up, turning onto our back and into an armbar position.
Whether we want to bring our R leg out and over his body for the arm bar or leave it where it is depends on a number of factors.
If we do want to take it over, the safest way is to keep out knees pinched and take them to our R toward his head, this keeping his arm tightly controlled. this allows the foot to come out so we can take it to the far side of his torso without compromising our control.
Kimura Dogfight and Crucifix on the Other side
He starts to escape, we get the kimura grip. This time he manages to turn to his L all the way to his knees. We follow him turning L to our knees. keeping our grips, as per the Hunter's drill.
Now we post our R knee on his L thigh, in a sort of mini knee ride, giving us enough room to stuff his arm between our legs, catching it in a downstream position.
We get a seatbelt grip on his back, but on the other side, our R arm under his R armpit and L arm around his neck, our R hand gripping our L wrist,
We pivot on our knees, taking our feet clockwise as far out to the left as we can, keeping his L arm trapped. We fall onto our R hip, ending up in a downstream crucifix, his L arm trapped.
"Desert Island" Drill
It should be apparent that this gives the opportunity a different take on the first, Hunter's Drill. From here, he could start escaping, we get the kimura grip on the other side, go to the kimura dogfight with him, stuff the arm, and end up in another crucifix on the original side.
We could mix the two drills up, getting crucifixes and drilling on both sides, interspersing upstream and downstream.
John talked of his project to devise such drills for every position family in Jiu Jitsu, so that one could devise the entire panthen of Jiu Jitsu systems from those drills. If you were trapped on a desert island with no instructor (though presumably, with other people to train with).
29th September 2013 - Crucifix Control - mentioned above, more fundamental material.
11 Nov 2017 - Pirate Grip, Russian Tie - has an entry to the crucifix from the Russian Tie when he is turtled near the end. Can be started from your guard.