BJJ Can Opener Technique – All You Need to Know

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is full of amazing moves and techniques. Some of them are called “classics” and are taught in beginner classes all over the world. Generally, they are very popular, accepted, and liked. However, it is only one side of the coin. It is because, on the other hand, there are a bit different techniques. They are considered to be dirtier, riskier and sometimes are even called dick moves. And that’s exactly group what BJJ can opener belongs to. Below you will find all you need to know about this technique.

What exactly is BJJ Can Opener?

A BJJ can opener is a technique belonging to the group of the neck cranks. Therefore, in order to understand it properly, one must first learn more about neck cranks.

Neck cranks

Despite neck cranks are simple to understand, many people do not know how to go about them. The important information is that you can perform neck cranks in different directions. It is all a matter of twisting the neck of its range of motion. But what makes neck cranks dangerous is the fact that it can also lead to serious injuries or even be fatal. This is also the reason why it is not usually practiced in regular BJJ classes.

Moreover, neck cranks are also not allowed by all jiu jitsu organizations. Different federations have a different approach when it comes to this technique. Generally, the consensus is that spinal manipulation is prohibited in most BJJ tournaments. The term spinal manipulation in most rulebooks is used to encompass the entire spine and not just the cervical area. It means that you can’t go for a twister, do a can opener to open the closed guard or apply a full nelson on your opponent once you have his or her back in most jiu jitsu championships.

BJJ can opener

This technique is used to open a closed guard or even finish someone playing a closed guard. Instead of twisting the hip, you simply clasp both hands and get the other person’s neck to look down. You get to pull the head until you either get the closed guard to open or to get the opponent to tap out. This technique is commonly used in MMA. Especially when facing a person with a crafty closed guard or when the person wants to progress to either a half guard or pass the guard completely without standing up.

In BJJ, the can opener technique is, however, considered to be a dick move. And it’s even illegal in all cases at IBJJF and many others jiu jitsu federations events. However, this does not mean that you will never see this technique in use, outside of MMA. It is because a can opener is one of the neck cranks allowed, for example, in ADCC for advanced competitors.

Moreover, it is also a technique shrouded in a kind of legend. It is because a long time ago, according to the old rules, can opener was allowed at most tournaments to be used as guard break, just not as a submission. In those days, you could apply the spine lock to your opponent only while his guard was closed. You would be disqualified just if you had not released the hold once the feet opened. Even though these rules have since been changed in most jiu jitsu federations, they still live on as a BJJ urban legend. The myth of can opener’s legality stays alive to this day through hearsay and the occasional local tournament that allows it in all levels of advancement.

Defending can opener

Despite the illegality of this technique in various types of competitions, you can still encounter it. Therefore, it is worth finding out how to defend yourself against BJJ can opener. There are different ways on how you can do it.

The first method is to attack the arm. Once your opponent overcommits both arms and grabs your neck, you can immediately swivel and counter their can opener. Another way to defend this technique is to break the opponent’s posture and ensure that his head is right below your neck. You will have to clasp using both hands to ensure that the opponent doesn’t have the leverage for a neck crank. This can be also a good way to inch your way back to the first counter, which is an armbar once your opponent concedes the position.

Lastly, you also have to understand that the can opener works when you have your back on the mat. A simple counter is to sit up once you feel that your opponent is going to pull your head. You will just have to open your closed guard and to sit and move back. The reason why people get tapped out using the can opener is that they hold on to their closed guard. Whenever you feel that both hands are behind your neck, always be cautious and respect the submission. Open your closed guard and explore a different position.
Moreover, remember, recognition of the neck crank is of the utmost importance when dealing with can openers. This will save you a good amount of money from possible injuries considering some neck cranks tend to be fast.