Illegal at Any Rank: The Twister

01.05.2022 by

The twister submission is synonymous with Eddie Bravo and 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, and like most everything Eddie Bravo created, the twister was heavily criticized by Jiu Jitsu traditionalists. These critics said that the twister was low percentage and as a spinal lock, it was too dangerous to use in competition.

Let’s take a closer look at the twister submission and detail its history and how to properly lock it in.

The history of the twister submission

The grappler credited for popularizing the twister submission for use in BJJ was 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu founder, Eddie Bravo. As Eddie has described many times, he started developing the twister when he was training under legend Jean Jacques Machado.

Bravo originally learned the twister when he competed in amateur wrestling as a teen. In amateur wrestling, this technique is referred to as “the guillotine” and is used as a method to pin an opponent.

*Its important to note here that Eddie did not invent the Twister, but he did create an effective system for getting to it and using it as a submission in BJJ.

Eddie was very good at this move and saw that with some minor tweaks it could be incredibly effective within Jiu Jitsu. To put his move to the test, Eddie began using the twister submission in different grappling competitions. His use of the move led to a bit of controversy due to the fact that it is a spinal lock, and this type of submission was frequently outlawed in competition.

This minor inconvenience didn’t bother Eddie, and he continued to develop the move along with his patented rubber guard – another one of Bravo’s moves that was criticized by BJJ traditionalists as a gimmick that wouldn’t work. As Eddie built his school called 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, he would prove all of these critics wrong. 

Many of the world’s top grapplers and fighters began learning the twister submission from Eddie, including ADCC champion Vinny Magalhaes and UFC veteran Alan Belcher. Both Vinny and Alan gave the twister rave reviews that were added into the intro to Bravo’s “Mastering The Twister” instructional.

Today, the twister is now taught at numerous schools across the world and especially at 10th Planet schools. It continues to be developed and there are now numerous entries into the twister from various positions.

The Basics of the Twister Submission

Here is a basic entry to the Twister Submission from turtle, as well as the important details you’ll need to remember for properly locking in the twister submission:

Turtle position

The basic twister submission setup is done when your opponent is in the turtle position. In amateur wrestling this position is called a riding position, where you try to set up a pin.

To start the basic twister set up, slide your leg in between your opponent’s knee and elbow to hook their leg. After you get your hook, triangle your legs together, grab your opponent’s far foot, and roll them towards you.

The truck

Once you roll your opponent, this puts you in what is called the truck position. A very versatile position, where you can hit various submissions, or transition to other dominant positions.

You can’t go directly to the twister from here, because your opponent will easily defend and block your attempt. So you have to set up the twister by attacking their legs.

A banana split or calf slicer will force your opponent to defend, leaving their upper body exposed.

Bypass opponent’s arm

After you begin acting like you’re attacking your opponent’s legs, they’ll naturally react and try to defend. They will reach over and try to break your hold.

This is the reaction you want and you need to immediately control their arm. Grab their arm with both hands with one holding their wrist and the other cupping inside their arm.

Next, you’re going to lift your opponent’s arm to make space, so you have space to bypass their arm. Both your head and inside arm are going to go under their arm as you lift it up.

Gable grip & finish the Twister submission

Now you are one step away from finishing your opponent with the twister, all that’s left is getting your grip around their head and go for the finish.

Loop your near arm around your opponent’s head and connect your palms together to make a Gable grip.(An RNC grip or S-grip will also work.)

Remember: Always connect your hands at the back of your opponent’s head and not at the the neck. Doing this puts more pressure on your opponent’s spine and neck.

To finish the twister, stretch your opponent’s leg out with your hook as you pull their head towards you. These two motions together put immense pressure on your opponent’s spine/neck and force them to submit. 

The Twister Submission from Back Control

Probably the simplest way to do the twister is from when you have back control:

Get your opponent on their side

The first step in setting up the twister from back control  is to get your opponent on their side. If you try to set it up when your opponent is in a sitting position it won’t work.

Triangle your legs

Once you get your opponent on their side, you need to take out your top hook and triangle your legs together. This gives you great control of your opponent’s leg and puts a lot of pressure on it.

Control opponent’s arm

From here everything proceeds as before: 

To keep your opponent from turning in, you need to control their arm. After you’ve established control over their arm, you can swim your other arm under it along with your head.

Get grip and finish

Once your arm and head bypasses your opponent’s arm, all that is left is to get your grip and finish. 

Twister side control

The last basic twister submission set up that we’ll go over is the twister side-control. It may look complicated, but is actually very easy to pull off.

Reverse Kesa Gatame

To start this twister set up, you need to establish the reverse Kesa Gatame side control. This is where you put the side of your body on your opponent’s chest and face towards their feet.

Your goal here is to bait your opponent to turn into you.

Grapevine/Fishnet

The reaction you want is your opponent to bring their far leg over to try and recover their guard. Although sometimes, they’ll try to recover using their near leg and that’s why you need to block them.

Grapevine your arms through your opponent’s legs to trap them in place to keep them from moving. In 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu terminology, they call this the fishnet.

Confused by 10th Planet lingo? Check out our article where we provide translations for Eddie’s occasionally far-out terminology.

Bring top leg closer

You could hook your opponent’s top leg with your bottom leg if you’re flexible enough, but a lot of us aren’t. That’s why it’s better to first hook their leg with your top leg and bring it closer to your bottom leg.

Once your opponent’s leg is in range, you can hook it with your bottom leg and triangle your legs together.

Shoulder roll

After establishing control over your opponent’s leg, gable grip your hands together and shoulder roll over your opponent’s body. Make sure to roll over your inside shoulder and not your outside shoulder.

As you roll through you end up right in the truck position.

Finish the twister

Now that you’re in the truck, you can go for a variety of leg locks or lock in the twister. Control your opponent’s arm, swim your head/arm under it, lock your hands around their head, and finish the submission. 

Defending the Twister Submission

Even if you’ll never attempt the twister, you still need to know how to defend the submission. Here are some ways for you to defend and escape the twister.

Defend the hooks

To avoid the twister altogether, you can block your opponent from getting their hook in. If your opponent doesn’t have their hook in you, then they can’t set up the twister.

Hand fight

If you get put in the truck position, your opponent is only one step away from putting you in the twister. That is why you must start hand fighting.

Go two hands on your opponent’s near arm to keep them from going for the twister or taking your back.

Seatbelt grip your opponent

After you establish a two on one grip on your opponent’s arm, you may be tempted to just try to kick your leg free, but before doing that, the better option is to get a seatbelt grip on your opponent.

Take your near hand off your opponent’s arm, reach behind their back and connect your hands together. Now you can kick your leg free and even take your opponent’s back.

Spinal Locks- Never Permitted in IBJJF

One place you’ll never see the twister submission done is within IBJJF competitions. They have a strict no spinal lock policy in place, which includes the twister.

There’s a vocal group of no-gi grapplers(particularly 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu students) that feel that spinal locks should be legal. But is it reasonable that the IBJJF have a strict ban on spinal locks?

While the IBJJF have made some questionable decisions, the ban of spinal locks is a very reasonable rule and here’s why: 

If a competitor tries to fight out of an arm or leg lock in an IBJJF competition, they may get injured. But in all likelihood, they can come back from the injury and train again. Trying to fight out of a locked spinal lock on the other hand could leave you with more permanent or even life threatening damage. This is why they are banned in the IBJJF.

If they were to allow them and a competitor got paralyzed from a spinal lock, the IBJJF could be held responsible. No doubt leading to a battle in court, where they may have to pay exorbitant legal fees or possibly even pay out damages.

The IBJJF doesn’t want to be held responsible for that, which is honestly quite understandable. 

If you want to do the twister submission in competition, however you do have options. Other BJJ competitions like ADCC, NAGA, and a few others permit the twister submission. Generally no-gi competitions are more likely to allow the technique. Additionally, the Twister submission is also legal in MMA.

Spinal Locks in MMA

Spinal locks along with all other types of submissions are legal in MMA, although there have been just two twister submissions that have been pulled off in the UFC.

The first was by the Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung against Leonard Garicia in 2011.

UFC featherweight Bryce Mitchell pulled off the UFC’s 2nd twister submission in 2019.

Wrap up

The twister submission is an incredibly innovative move that, despite initial doubts from the BJJ old guard, has been proven effective. You can hit it from numerous positions and once it’s locked in, the match is all but over.

Even if you can’t use the twister in competitions using IBJJF rules, this shouldn’t stop you from learning the move. Once you learn this submission, it’ll open the door to various other submissions like leg locks and back takes