BJJ Crossface: Position, Technique or Submission?

There are things in jiu jitsu not often talked about, but they are always on the surface. And everyone knows these things. The BJJ crossface phenomenon is something from this story. It has even a pinch of mystery. Somehow it is not talked much about the crossface, but everyone knows it.

Here is another phenomenal aspect of the crossface – What is crossface in fact? Is it technique or position?

Some BJJ practitioners consider it as a jiu jitsu technique, some as position (control).

And which dark side do you choose? On this issue, I would rather leave everything as it is than start another discussion. For me, the crossface is a control position with the possibility to submit with a choke.

Can you crossface in BJJ?

The short answer is – yes, cross face is legal in Brazilian jiu jitsu starting from the beginner BJJ white belts.

What is a BJJ Crossface in fact?

bjj crossface
Cross face jiu jitsu; Google images caption

Crossface is a simple basic concept for applying pressure to control the opponent’s head and upper body part. The point is to put shoulder pressure on the opponent’s chin to reduce his or her mobility.

The opponent can tap from a choke submission if the pressure on the chin and neck is strong enough.

The crossface technique can be utilized in different positions. The most common are mount, side control, and half guard.

Crossface submission vs position

I would boldly put the crossface control BJJ position on the list of the top best jiu jitsu moves. And even to the list of the best clumsy BJJ submissions.

Over years you learn jiu jitsu in its variety of stunning and cool techniques – in classes and in seminars. But there is a problem with them – you forget them. What never happened with the cross face knowledge. I was taught the cross face jiu jitsu hold in my first jiu jitsu classes and I have been using it for years and still use it.

“Under Pressure”

As usual, it is better one time to see how to do a crossface in BJJ rather than to explain. But here are some points to know.

  • cross face BJJ position is about making good pressure
  • the pressure needs to be done to pin the opponent with your shoulder
  • to make more discomfort, bent the opponent’s imaginary posture line
  • use the “middle finger rule” (don’t google, it’s my way to explain) to better hooking of your opponent. Watch from the 2:00 timeline on the video below

Setting a BJJ Crossface from Half Guard by John Danaher

How do you escape Crossface?

As usual, let’s Mr. Stephan Kesting BJJ black belt together with Rob Biernacki BJJ black belt show how to defend and escape the crossface. The technique is utilized in no gi from side control.

BJJ crossface vs wrestling crossface

Don’t confuse the cross face jiu jitsu move with the wrestling crossface. Or vice versa. That can happen because the crossface name is coming from the wrestling.

The implementation of crossafce in wrestling looks much different than in jiu jitsu. Actually, completely different.

Wrestling crossface
Chris Benoit crippler crossface

What is crossface in wrestling and who invented the crossface?

Crossface is a submission wrestling hold that has been utilized in wrestling for many years. Most often it is known as the Crippler Crossface which was named by the Canadian professional wrestler Chris Benoit employed by WWE. The submission hold was his finishing move.

Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit

After the controversial story around Benoit’s death, the technique was removed from the fighting surface. It appeared later again under the name crossface.

Video: Crossface Crippler Wrestling Hold

The Cross Face Chicken Wing

Yes, even more variations of crossfacing the opponent. The crossface chickenwing is a very punishing submission move in wrestling from the top position.

Wrestler Bob Backlund demonstrates the Crossface Chickenwing, 1994
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