An upper belt just tapped you with a D’arce choke. They immediately ask, “Was that a neck crank or a choke?” It just felt like death to you so…
Why Does It Even Matter?
The goal is always to choke our opponent. If our opponent is resisting the choke, and it is properly applied, eventually he goes to sleep. There is only minimal variance in how much squeeze it takes from the proper position to render someone unconscious. Because chokes are relatively safe, you can apply them on your partner in a realistic manner against resistance without holding back for fear of injury.
The problem with neck cranks begins with the concept of pain moves. If your opponent in training is worried about having to go to work tomorrow he will likely tap early. He definitely shouldn’t let you twist on his neck, so this is the correct response. He is better to tap now, and do more Jiu Jitsu later. Your partner correctly protecting his longevity makes it hard for you to get in “realistic” finishing repetitions.
What happens when you are applying this same neck crank in a tournament on an opponent when they are winning, there are only 10 seconds left, and their grandma is watching? Will they still tap? If it was a choke, you could put them to sleep, with a crank you don’t have that option.
Even if it was a joint lock, you could break the limb of a stubborn opponent if they made you. With cranks, there are various levels of pain
tolerance. Even flexibility can limit cranks from being fight ending. Variables affect the finishing percentages of neck cranks reducing finishing reliability.
A Tap Is A Tap Though Right?
Nope. Remember, I am only as good as my training partners. If I am injuring them, by putting pressure on the vertebrae in their neck, I am breaking irreplaceable treadmills. I can’t just go buy new work out equipment.
It is my partner’s job to tap to protect themselves, even if it attacks their ego, but chokes are much less dangerous for them. Jiu Jitsu karma is real also, and if I am not taking care of my training partners, they won’t be as focused on taking care of me.
A tap because they are protecting themselves can be very different from a tournament style submission tap. Also, merely tapping our opponent isn’t the goal. Daily improvement is the goal. The taps will come naturally. We don’t have to force them.
So Is It EVER Alright To Neck Crank Someone?
I spent years learning how to finish my training partners with a choke instead of a neck crank. As I have developed sensitivity in my body to feel how I am positioned on my partner, my choke to neck crank percentage has greatly increased. Asking for feedback on the sometimes “cranky” moves (typically head and arm style chokes and guillotines) from my partners after every application helped me get an understanding for what led to it being a neck crank or a choke.
For years, I had the goal to never neck crank my training partner when going for D’arce chokes and arm triangles especially. I got to the point where I could adjust the finishing angles and pressure to usually keep it in choke territory. Every once in a while it was still a little on the crank end of the spectrum. I feel is is essential to put in work on perfecting the techniques so they don’t tweak your partner’s spine.
This Is Going To Hurt You A Lot Worse Than It Is Going To Hurt Me
I found that sometimes, my partner chose a defense which actually turned my D’arce choke INTO a crank in order to defend. It is still choking, but not quite as effectively because of the angle change they have chosen. Early on, I would just let go of the position when this happened, or try to transition to something else. I realized that I was giving my partners a false sense of escape and rewarding some inferior escape attempts. Since the movement had originated in a choke, I was still cutting off blood flow and could keep everything together to put them to sleep still if I was more persistent.
So now, I am always pursuing chokes, never cranks, but if my partner knowingly chooses to put themselves into a neck crank scenario, I don’t feel bad about continuing to pursue the finish. Against newer grapplers, I do NOT pursue this finish. They don’t know any better escapes. After finishing a choke I know had an element of crank to it, I try to tell them why that choke became cranky. I explain what escape route they can pursue to make it less so.
The Neck Crank I Hate The Worst
It is never fun to be on the receiving end of a neck crank, but the one I hate the worst is probably the inverted triangle from someone in bottom side control. This typically is not an attempt at an actual submission but a desperate attempt to change position. I usually see someone throw their legs around their opponent’s head because they lack tools to escape side control, and have found they can squeeze and get some leverage to start making space.
If this is when you are using your inverted triangle, I strongly recommend you build up your side control escaping fundamentals instead of relying on this crutch. Smart framing, staying on your side, avoiding the crossface, and finding underhooks will serve you much better in the long run.
Once you have standard side control defense in your arsenal, then sure, add in this inverted triangle, but also learn to do it properly. The inverted triangle from here is typically so poorly performed, I was actually surprised the first time that I felt someone apply this inverted triangle properly! Before, I had only ever felt that it was a squeeze and stall position with minimal finishing danger, but when the choke came on the danger shocked me. So, if you are going to use it, make sure it is solid.