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Today we are going to see the Catch wrestling cradle sequence by Neil Melanson. He is one of the most respected MMA grappling coaches in the world. He is the head coach for the Blackzilians team based in Boca Raton, Florida. Neil has taught some of the biggest names in MMA including Randy Couture, Dominick Cruz, and Anthony Johnson. His no-gi game is amazing as is his Catch wrestling. Catch Wrestling is a classical hybrid grappling style that was developed in Britain circa 1870 by J.G. Chambers. Catch wrestling derives from a number of different styles such as Cornwall wrestling, Irish collar and elbow wrestling, and Greco-Roman wrestling. This style works great for MMA fighters and jiu-jitsu grapplers. I was really impressed when I saw his techniques. There are many positions and transitions that I had never seen before.
Everybody knows how hard it can be to establish control when your opponent is defending side control and shrimping away. This cradle sequence works very well for that. The cradle is a basic wrestling tool made for pinning. However, you can use it to set up submissions, controls, and guard passes. It also works well against butterfly guard and half guard.
Let’s see how he does it.
When your opponent is on his back he is open, but when he balls up tightly you lose a lot of control. Your opponent can beat you with an under-hook or a scramble. This is a good time to use the cradle. The same is true against someone who is a good butterfly guard player. It’s hard to get an under-hook but the cradle option is right there. Therefore, the trick is to use the cradle at the right time.
When Neil is in his opponent’s half guard with a knee shield he takes advantage of the knee shield. He likes to use upward grips which makes it hard for his opponent to sit up and get an under-hook. This allows him to buy some time and work. He looks to go cross-grip on his opponent’s wrist. He pulls this arm across and steps back with his leg. Then Neil threads his other arm under his opponent’s knee shield leg and he catches the arm on the bicep at the crook of the elbow. Right away he uses his chest weight to smash his opponent’s leg. He now has one entire side of his opponent tied up with just one arm.
Next, he lifts his other knee off the ground to increase the pressure. He brings his other arm around his opponent’s head and he locks his hands. The proper grip to use here is the finger roll or S-grip because it’s hard for his opponent to peel his fingers and break the grip.
It’s crucial to establish good head control at this point. He does this by pulling his opponent’s head into his pecs. Neil also pushes his own chest forward. This totally locks up the head control. There are several submissions from here such as the darce choke. However, the concept of Neil’s cradle game is to not be in front of his opponent’s hands, but to get behind him. From this position, he is looking to bunch and pass his opponent. He does this by driving with his legs to increase the pressure. Then he high legs and bunches his opponent. That means he steps one leg over his opponent’s knee shield leg and he turns his hip to totally wrap up his opponent even more. He can force his opponent’s head and knee together. Now Neil brings his back leg behind his opponent’s leg to increase the pressure even more. He uses his legs to wind-shield wipe above his opponent’s knee cap as he moves to his back. He stays tight and releases his bottom hand, then posts it by his opponent’s head. His opponent’s head crowns out and he goes under his opponent’s leg and locks his grip again and pivots to the back. From this position, there are many options such as punches, chokes, and leg attacks.
It’s very interesting to see the options Neil has off this Catch wrestling cradle sequence. He can go for the choke, for the back, and leg attacks. It’s a super tight position that offers him many options.

Here is the breakdown of the key points for the Catch Wrestling Cradle Sequence By Neil Melanson:

  1. I’d like to continue with the cradle sequence to taking the back and getting the submission. At this point Neil has his chest behind his opponent’s back as described above. Let’s continue from there.
  2. The key is to stick with your lock but you need to slide your hands. He does this by pushing his chest tight behind his opponent.
  3. He posts one leg to bring his opponent up to the seated position by walking him up.
  4. As he brings him to the seated position, Neil slides his hands to the outside of his opponent’s leg and he brings one hook in.
  5. Now he falls back and crosses his legs. He squeezes his opponent’s leg tightly waiting for resistance.
  6. When his opponent resists he releases his grip and places his thumb on his opponent’s chest.
  7. He finishes the rear naked choke and brings in the 2nd hook at the same time.

I hope you all enjoyed this awesome Catch wrestling cradle sequence. Thank you Neil. Oss.
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