The BJJ Crossface – How To Apply the crossface to Jiu Jitsu

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Introduction to the BJJ Crossface

The Crossface is a technique used in Brazilian JiuJitsu (BJJ) and other grappling martial arts. It involves using one‘s forearm or shoulder to press against an opponent‘s face, turning their head and directing the body in a way that is advantageous. The crossface is commonly used to create space between yourself and your opponent, but can also be used to submit your opponent under certain circumstances. The Crossface is a powerful and versatile technique that can be used in different positions and scenarios.

How the Crossface is Used in BJJ

A bjj Practitioner demonstrating a crossface

The Crossface is commonly used in BJJ in order to control an opponents posture, and can be applied from a variety of positions. It is typically used to set up other submission holds, such as arm locks and chokes. It can also be used to control an opponents head and neck, allowing for greater ease in passing the guard. The Crossface is a powerful technique that requires very little finesse or precision in order to be effective, making it a popular choice in many different situations.

Primary Benefits and Applications of The BJJ Crossface

In Brazilian JiuJitsu, the crossface is a common technique that everyone should understand. Here, we will explore some of the primary benefits of this technique. 

A wrestler stuffing the takedown using a crossface

Preventing the Takedown

The Crossface is one of the most versatile and effective techniques for preventing the takedown in BJJ. In my experience using the Crossface, I have found that it is a powerful tool for controlling the distance between myself and my opponent, allowing me to maintain a dominant position and prevent my opponent from getting in close enough to complete a successful takedown. For example, let’s say your opponent shoots for a single. In order to finish, my opponent must keep his head as close to my body as possible. By applying my forearm across his face, I can begin to create space, and begin the rest of my takedown mitigation strategies – sprawling, etc.

Improved Position and Control

The crossface is an effective technique to improve your positioning and control in BJJ. The technique involves placing your forearm across your opponent‘s face and using it to control their movement and keep them in a specific position. For example, when in side control, you can easily place your forearm across your opponents face to turn their head away from you. By controlling their head position, you more easily pin their shoulders to the mat. Obviously, this technique isn’t the friendliest, but it can be used to prevent your opponent from escaping, and potentially forcing the back.

Increasing the Pressure

The crossface is also an effective technique for increasing the pressure on your opponent. By applying pressure to your opponent‘s face with your forearm, you can make them very uncomfortable and tire them out faster, allowing you to gain the upper hand in the match. Additionally, the crossface can be used to set up other techniques, such as chokes and arm locks, allowing you to get the submission more easily.

Submission Opportunities

Setting up a triangle choke
Setting up a triangle choke

The Crossface is a versatile and powerful move that can be used in a variety of scenarios. As an experienced Brazilian JiuJitsu practitioner, I have found that the Crossface is especially useful in creating submission opportunities. Here are some of the most common applications of the Crossface in BJJ:

1. Arm locks: When used correctly, the Crossface can be used to set up a variety of arm locks. By using the Crossface to control your opponent‘s posture, you can sometimes get them to lift an elbow away from their ribs, creating an opening for a Kimura, Americana, or straight arm lock.

2. Chokes: The Crossface can also be used to create chokes, such as the triangle choke or rear naked choke. By far, setting up the RNC is the easiest. Once on your opponent’s back, use your choking arm across their face to turn their head. This can create some space between their chin and chest, and provide and opportunity to switch your choke to the other arm, and secure the finish.

3. Neck cranks: The Crossface is also useful in setting up neck cranks. When your opponent turtles, reach your hand across his nose until you can grab his shoulder. Close your hands, palm to palm and keep turning his face until he sits up. Once he sits up, slowly (and I mean very slowly). Try and touch his ear to his sternum, under enough pressure the neck will break – this is obviously a very dangerous technique, so please, please proceed with great caution.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When applying the Crossface in BJJ, there are some common mistakes that can be made. Here are a few things to watch out for when executing the Crossface:

Applying Too Much Pressure

One of the most common mistakes when applying the Crossface is to apply too much pressure. If too much pressure is applied, it can cause too much discomfort and even injury to the opponent. The cross face is designed to control your opponent’s shoulders via their head and neck. Once you have gained compiance, that is enough pressure. Be careful to know your audience as well. If you get the sense that your opponent might be sensitive to this sort of technique, maybe try something different.

Don't Smack Your Opponent!

One of the most common mistakes when using the Crossface is smacking your opponent with your hands or arms, using the crossface as a quasi strike. While it’s true that light slap may be effective in distracting your opponent, it can also cause a disqualification if done repeatedly or does damage to your opponent’s face. If you are in a competition, it can even lead to disqualification. Instead, focus on using subtle movements and pressure to keep your opponent in the desired position.

A Summary of the Crossface for BJJ

The Crossface is a powerful technique that can be used in Brazilian JiuJitsu. To perform the Crossface, the practitioner must grab the opponent‘s head or shoulder, turn it to the side, and apply pressure with the arm. This technique can be used to control the opponent, set up submissions, and even force them to tap out. When used correctly, the Crossface can be a highly effective tool that move that will give you an edge in your training In this article, I have provided an overview of the Crossface, as well as a stepbystep guide to executing the technique. Additionally, I have discussed the potential benefits of using the Crossface, as well as some of the risks associated with the move. With this knowledge in hand, practitioners can make an informed decision about whether or not to incorporate the Crossface into their BJJ game.


Final Thoughts on Using the Crossfsace in BJJ

As a Brazilian JiuJitsu practitioner, I have found the crossface to be an incredibly effective and versatile technique. It can be used in a variety of situations and can be applied to both standing and ground techniques. Additionally, it can be used to control or submit an opponent, depending on the situation. Overall, I believe the crossface is an important tool in any BJJ practitioner‘s arsenal, and I strongly recommend learning and mastering this technique.

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