How To Deal With Collar Ties In BJJ

Learning how to grapple in the standing position is a necessary skill in today’s BJJ landscape. It is not enough to rely on your guard nowadays, as wrestling has become critical for most competitors. With this, learning how to deal with specific stand-up techniques is super important to a practitioner’s development. 

One of the most common grips used in the standing position is the wrestler’s collar tie. It’s a powerful technique for controlling an opponent and is a staple in all grappling sports. Understanding how to counter this grip will definitely help you become a more well-rounded grappler. Today, we’ll go over several techniques to beat the collar tie. 


Understanding The Collar Tie

The collar tie is a move where you hook your arm to the opponent’s head and neck, allowing you to control their posture. This grip is prevalent in many grappling styles and is often used as a precursor to typical attacks like the snap down, duck under, or variations of the single or double leg takedown. In Jiu-Jitsu, the collar tie can be used for offense and counter-offense. While it offers a lot of control, it also opens up several openings for counterattacks. 


Why The Collar Tie Is So Effective

Now that we understand what the collar tie is, let’s discuss why the collar tie is such a good technique. The collar tie can be a means to manage distance, holding even the strongest opponents at bay. Using the collar tie in conjunction with other movements like dynamic footwork, grip control, and takedowns will make you an absolute menace in the stand-up.


Nullifying The Collar Tie

When an opponent secures a collar tie, the immediate priority is neutralizing its usefulness. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by getting your own collar tie, forming a mirrored stance. Doing this allows you to stuff the opponent’s ability to control your head, effectively cancelling their control. Also, maintaining an upright posture and avoiding being dragged down is vital. Keeping your back straight and your head up reduces the opponent’s leverage and makes it harder for them to execute any form of attack.


Removing The Collar Tie

While neutralizing the collar tie is great, breaking the grip is equally important and, in most cases, preferred. One effective way is to use both hands to remove the grip. Start by grabbing the opponent’s wrist with one hand and using the other hand to drive against the elbow. This simple movement will save you many hours of frustration on the mats. Alternatively, employing circular movements with your hands to redirect the opponent’s grip is helpful, as this will force the hand to slide against your head. This approach not only removes the threat of the collar tie but also gives you the opening to attack with the arm drag.

In this video, ATOS black belt and MMA fighter Fred Leavy teaches a slick way to counter the collar tie. He mentions that learning conceptually is a great way to study BJJ, as you don’t have to be too dogmatic in the intricacies of techniques.

In the case of the collar tie, Fred recommends using a variety of grips to weaken the hold. He specifically teaches getting the inside position by doing an uppercut motion on the collar tie side, looping your arm inside, and grabbing the opponent’s neck. Doing this gives you a lot of stability and gives you the ability to manipulate their arm. Do not face the opponent head-on as you do this. Instead, force your head to the side of the opponent’s head for enhanced control and leverage.

From here, use your elbow to lift their arm as you go underneath. This should place you in a very strong position where you can then proceed to attack their back. 

Taking the back from the standing position is a strategy many high-level athletes use nowadays. According to John Danaher, exposing the back from standing is an excellent option because it is relatively difficult to take someone down head-on. Getting the back forces your opponent to be on the defensive due to the fact that they have limited ways to attack you back.


Additional Options

Here are more options you can do if you want to further expand your knowledge in defending the collar tie. 


1) The Duck Under (Cupping The Elbow) 

In this video, ADCC competitor Jay Rodriguez teaches the modified duck under to knee pinch takedown approach. This technique is fantastic for getting to the back and is a natural counter to the collar tie. One of the keys to this technique is to always reach for the far hip after you clear the opponent’s arm. This ensures that you get easy access to the back at all times. He also teaches the knee pinch, a fantastic follow-up move after you take the back. 

Notice that Jay drops his knee on the mat when executing the technique. For those with bad knees, it is still possible to do the duck under without dropping your knee, as long as you can clear the arm you are good to go.


2) The Standing Throw By 

In this video, William Abreu teaches how to counter the collar tie and take your opponent’s back. The throw-by is a fantastic move because it is easy enough to do and will keep you in a relatively safe position regardless of whether you do it successfully or not. A tip to a good throw-by is to shift your body at an angle as you do the technique. Do not stand directly in front of the opponent, especially as you begin to throw their arm sideways.



All of the techniques shown in this article should be included in your arsenal, that’s for sure. Regardless of your chosen game, understanding the collar tie grip, as well as its defenses, will add a layer of sophistication to your Jiu-Jitsu. We recommend exploring these collar tie counters as soon as you return to the gym. Get after it and have fun in training!


You may also like: 

Beginners’ Guide To BJJ Strength Training

What Is The BJJ Galaxy Guard?