Crab during competitive match.
I've been asked the same question quite a few times now, and heard various opinions on the subject too. Is it really possible to secure a Boston Crab during a competitive bout, or is it only for give n take matches or even just for fake or heel/jobber promission bouts?
I guess some guys have spotted from my profile that this is a hold which I love to use (actually quite like being caught in it and punished myself too....but I have too much muscle to bend much, though I yell well and can sometimes just push out heh heh). Usually I am the one on top! And yes, of course it can be a really extremely punishing hold when properly applied making it very difficult for the victim, oops....I mean opponent, to breathe. Apart from having his back bent severely, he is effectively taking his own weight through his sternum/chest pressed into the mat, plus most of mine too....though more about that aspect in a while. There are so many subtle variations of the hold - I won't try to describe them all here (hand positions, feet positions, exactly where to sit etc etc) but it is always basically a balance between how much weight you put on your man under you and to what extent you are pulling his legs back to torture his spinal muscles and stretch him out. Of course if you want to, you can always make a guy submit virtually immediately. But that is potentially dangerous and anyway...what's the point? Nearly all the guys I wrestle, we are doing it for fun, exercise, male bonding (comradeship sounds a bit posh) and because it's hot too! I like to test my opponent gradually and punish him a bit....wear him down.....maybe get multiple submissions and use trash talk and make him say rubbish like, 'I submit sir!'. Or vice versa! It's a great hold for simply dominating your opponent - devastating for him to be in, and easy for me to sustain my position of domination.
Many of you will remember the huge fuss when one man beat his opponent with a Boston in a fairly recent legit MMA bout. Jonno Mears was suddenly famous and his victory with the Boston was much talked about on media. (In case it passed you by look here https://youtu.be/GMMigjW3q78.) It seemed to amaze the BJJ community that someone had used this hold successfully in a match - I'll not discuss the quality of his opponent's defence.
Because the matches I have are always with guys who I might want to wrestle again and who I certainly don't want to injure, my first concern is always the safety of my opponent. Actually - it's a bit more than that, I want him to have a good time too....even when we are going at it quite aggressively, it's more important to me that both guys enjoy the match than whether I win or lose. But my answer as to whether you can get the hold on in a competitive bout is, yes you can, if your'e in luck! Of course whether you can get any hold on in wrestling depends on how your opponent responds and defends when you attempt something. You're not going to get it on the way you sometimes see in pro style TV matches.....where it is often clear that a) one guy lets the other apply it and cooperates, and b) the man on top never really sits into the hold properly but remains planted on the ass or upper thighs of the man underneath and certainly doesn't lean back significantly.
There are times when you can get it on just in the loose scramble stage of a round....especially if you are fresher than your opponent, or bigger/stronger, or he is out of air. I have sometimes managed to escape from a front body scissor position (full guard) by taking hold of one of my opponents legs around my waist and slipping my forearm under his knee, without rising fully to my feet but keeping some pressure downwards on him, then turn him and step over into a single leg Boston. It's surprising, but some guys as you lever them back, then lift their free leg so that you can grab it and apply the full version. Or if you are feeling mean you apply a single leg crab and demand as part of the submission that they give you the other leg. "Where there's a will there's a way!" A well applied single leg Boston Crab is extremely effective and perhaps even harder to escape than the full version.
But if it is the situation that you are standing facing an opponent who is for some reason flat on his back and you can reach his ankles then you might be in business if you are quick and firm. Some guys defend themselves in this flat-on-the-back position by lifting one or two legs towards your torso anyway. I have found over a few years of experience that the best way to secure my opponent and turn him for a crab, is to apply a very firm Achilles lock. I tuck one of his ankles under my armpit and then use the inner blade of my wrist on his Achilles' tendon to force him to lift up high...as high as possible. Usually I secure the grip by holding my own opposite wrist - it's a bit like a applying a Kimura position on his ankle but levering the Achilles' tendon. If I can make him arch up high/lift him up using this hold, so that he instinctively uses his hands to take some of his own up-ended weight (handstand position) rather than take his own weight just on his head/neck, it means that he will not try grabbing my ankles (standard defence for being attacked with a Boston Crab). With very little of his body actually in contact with the mat it becomes very easy to turn him over onto his chest. Then I lower myself onto his back, sitting just immediately above his speedos in the small of his back, squatting quickly but very carefully. I keep a fairly wide stance so that my own balance is secure. If there is any risk I might lose my balance whilst turning an opponent I just let go and give this chance up. But once I have lowered myself onto his back, initially keeping most of my own weight on my own feet, it is then time to test him. I need to find out how flexible my opponent is. Without knowing that it is somewhat risky to apply the hold really hard. So for that reason, I go slowly. Listen to him. Feel how his body is responding. Does he go rigid and try not to bend...? Is he able to go with the hold a bit? Where are his arms...some guys keep an arm under their chest so that they can still breathe at least a bit when more weight comes down on them (the experienced ones!).
Then the fun begins. I slowly settle in properly on his back and begin to break him down with very gently bouncing of my weight. There are always surprises at this stage. I wrestled a very well muscled Indian guy some while back and though he was a fairly big and certainly strong wrestler his ability to bend was astounding! As I sat back on him his leg just seemed to go on folding back over him - scorpion-like - until his foot was nearly touching the back of his head and I was worried about my own balance. I was leaning so far back on him I though I might fall backwards and have to release the hold. (For the curious, I didn't. I put all my weight down on him and that did make the hold far worse for him and after about 10/12 seconds he started to submit.) The younger, fitter leaner guys generally bend well as do gymnasts of course. But don't assume this will be the case. What seems like a very mild bend can be absolute agony for one man and really quite easy for another. You have your two weapons to balance.....how much weight are you gonna sink into him (as you move your feet outwards you automatically transfer more weight to him....it can feel as though the man on top weighs a ton!) and how far back are you going to lean to stretch him out??
If you safely but quite quickly give him a hard time with the single leg version you have begun with, there will probably be a moment where you can reach forward and grab the other leg and turn it into a full Boston. For your comfort and enjoyment, and his torture. It's good to vary the pressure. Where are you holding his legs? Just at the ankles under your armpits (easiest for him, allowing him to bend more evenly) or have you got his mid-calves locked in making the hold tighter. Even more powerful is if you take his knees and pull back - do it gently at first as that makes this hold very effective indeed. I like to keep his ankles locked under my armpits and I lock my hands in front of my abs with a butcher grip. It's very secure then. Or I take his inner thighs so that I can control his legs even more....maybe splay them out wider - that's easier for him. If you wanna be mean use your inner thighs to push his legs more together - it makes it more painful for him. Of course important is where are you sitting. If you are just above his waist that is the most punishing positions for him. If you sit further up his back towards his shoulders you can maybe lift his abs off the mat and allow him to arch evenly through his entire spine. It is slightly easier for him to breathe in that position. Lift off the pressure by nearly rising onto your feet periodically and you will be able to crab him for much longer.
In my experience many guys submit within 5-10 seconds once they are caught. if you have been in the hold you will know that can seem like a long time. A few exceptionally fit and tough guys can last much longer. They know who they are! There are two or three impressively tough guys I know who are astonishingly resistant to the stretch and the pain. One lad I have wrestled quite a bit can resist an extreme full crab for up to around 3 minutes!!! He endures the hold really like no other, soaking up the punishment often without much sound except his deliberately controlled breathing. As I slowly crank it on higher and deeper I admire his incredible resistance and extraordinary strength and atheleticism.
Occasionally (as mentioned above) I find a big man who seems to be made of rubber where the Boston Crab is concerned. Maybe I'll tantalise you all by telling you that there is one very, very big guy here on MF with a very hefty muscled build (who has become extremely popular) who took my full Boston fully seated with all of my weight on him and cranked way back for almost two minutes before he tapped. I was so sure at the start that with the amount of muscle this brute has he would not bend at all, and then I slowly bent him until I thought he must be breaking. He told me afterwards that he had always had a very flexible back. Lucky bugger!
Anyway guys.....yes, you can secure this hold if you're confident and careful and quick in a competitive match. Not always of course. But it is sooooo much fun when you do!!! Be safe.