Posture vs. broken scarf?

Roy (or anyone),

Your Minnesota-Vermont seminar dvd is excellent; one of the best bjj purchases I've made. Super solid stuff that made a difference in my game after only two times through to digest some of it.

The postures/techniques against (or to prevent) side mount are pure gold. Preventing the cross facing arm from getting to my head has really made me a much more challenging unathletic older guy.

In one of the seminars (I believe the VT), you show how to prevent the cross face and "lead" your opponent into a broken scarf position that can be reversed because of the correct posture. I haven't needed to pull it off yet, but I'm sure it is very do-able.

However, do you have any recommendations for posture when an opponent successfully attains a good broken scarf hold on you. I find that (because of good posture) opponents don't like to hang out in "regular" cross sides on me, and they switch to broken scarf. I'm sort of at a loss on what to do that isn't strength or flexibility based (no way for me to swing a leg over their head, or anything). My instructor has shown a couple of options that just aren't built for my attributes).

Your postures have made a gigantic positive difference in my "regular" cross sides defensive game, so I thought I'd see if you had any posture tips for this position.

Thank you. Please keep up the great work.



Thanks for writing.

I am at a loss for what you describe as "broken scarf." Can you give me a description of this position or show me a picture somewhere on the inernet where I can view this position? I have never heard of broken scarf.


Roy Harris

Harris International


Thanks for your response, and your instructionals.

I'm sorry about the confusing nomenclature. I should have included and explanation, just in case.

"My" broken scarf is a modified kesa gatame (I think) where the arm over the opponent is reaching under the far arm pit (ideally pulling that shoulder off the mat), as opposed to the traditional judo headlock position.

I hope this is clearer. Thanks for taking the time to correspond. Cheers.


Escaping from the broken scarf hold is mainly a matter of timing and sensitivity. In other words, it is one of those positions where once it has been sunk in by a person of considerable experience, it can be EXTREMELY difficult, if not impossible, to escape from this position.

So, the best time to escape from this position is right at the beginning of it (i.e. as soon as the person begins to move into the position). If you wait until he locks in his arms and settles his weight, it will be impossible for you to escape if you are somewhat of a beginner (four years of training or less) and your opponent is well skilled in the use of this position (meaning, he has five or more years using this position in classroom sparring and competition).

How do you escape at the beginning? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. For those who like to use this position, stop pushing with your hands to replace the guard. Rather, use your elbows. Yes, you will not be able to push them  as far away as when you use your hands, but there's a trade off.

2. Stop trying to replace the guard. Rather, go to your knees. However, keep in mind to push with your elbows and not your hands.

3. Stop the bottom arm from crossing your body and penetrating under your armpit.

These movements are VERY EASY. However, they require you to maintain a high level of awareness any time you are on your back. This awareness is what will lead to GREAT timing. And GREAT timing will lead to ease of use!

Here are a few articles to help you in your training:

Side mount escape training

Using no strength

Depth of Understanding

Partner outweighs me by 30 lbs.

Solo drills

Good training to you,

Roy Harris

Harris International

Thank you very much. The three points you make will keep my mind and body busy for quite some time. As I am still somewhat a beginner, awareness and timing are not my strong suits. But, focusing on their development must be a priority. And, thank you for the links, I'm sure I'll be able to pull useful info from all of them.

Now, I must go and impress my training partners by using the phrase "kuzure kesa gatame" a few times.


packer53, you might want to check this thread out for additional tips:


Thank you very much. That thread is a great start for me. I like your escape very much, simple and straightforward. And, it is a very good functional illustration of Roy's second recommendation above. I really appreciate the input.