What Is A Full Nelson? (And is it effective?)

When it comes to any type of sport, there are always lots of different terms and phrases used to describe different techniques or moves. It is exactly the same in wrestling where they have different names for each of their moves which can get quite complicated. 

What Is A Full Nelson?

In this guide, we will be going through what the full nelson actually is and where it came from. We will also be going through examples of things moving and where it would be beneficial to use.

If you enjoy wrestling and you want to know just a bit more info about the different moves, this is a great place to start. This could also be a basis for someone wanting to start wrestling themselves! 

What Actually Is It?

This move is actually split into a half nelson and a full nelson. Both MMA and wrestlers use this move when in the rings. This is known to be a very uncomfortable hold to be put in and can sometimes be very difficult to escape from.

When put in this position, the opposition always tends to feel already defeated, and that is why this hold is known to be a powerful one to use.

Therefore, alright this might only be the start of learning one move, but all of them are simple and easy as they may look. 


This move of grappling has been around for a very long time. Apparently, there has always been some confusion about where it actually originated and with. Who was the first person to invent this move?

Some say it was in the Napoleonic wars but others think differently. However, this move is one of the first moves that most wrestlers try and master first because it is one of the best skills to have. 

Different Types Of Nelson

Throughout history more and more types of this move have been thought of. There is the full nelson, half nelson,and a quarter nelson.

There is one huge difference between the half and the full nelson which sounds simple but learning them both will take some time to master. In the full nelson you will be using both hands on your opponent’s head and while usually in a standing position.

However, when you are doing a half nelson, you want to have one of your hands controlling their wrist area and the other controlling the head, keeping it on the floor.

Both of these moves take a lot of control and strength to carry out properly and then they can have huge effects on the stability of your opponent. 

Everything Half Nelson 

Just because a move doesn’t seem to be that complex, does mean it isn’t one of the most effective tools you can use. That is directly linked to how this move works.

This move allows you to become the dominant one; you can put yourself in a position by controlling the head and the wrists and moving to a good position of control.

This is also a great way to get your opponent into a turtle position. Especially if you are new to wrestling, this is a great starter because it can prevent you from attacks like sweepers.

This is all about mastering your balance, strength and knowledge of the hold. You need to know when is best to use this and it all comes with practice. 

Is The Full Nelson Dangerous?

In many high schools, this move is not allowed because it is deemed too dangerous and there could be the chance of a bad injury. This is also the same for most combat sports which are not banned but are not used very often.

Due to this move being used as something that can immobilize your partner, it is not something that is used in younger, ammateur sports.

However, in professional wrestling, this is a go because they are adults and they also have the ability to carry this move out correctly.

With most moves it is all how you execute them. With this particular move, it is all about putting the pressure of your opponent’s neck through the movement of your hands.

It does not allow for finishing techniques but it is always a worry for amateurs if they don’t know when to stop or they end up damaging someone’s neck.

However, if you practice properly with someone who knows what they are doing, this could be a really effective move if you are able to wrestle professionally. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is It Called Full Nelson?

The term “nelson” is derived from “full nelson”, which dates back to the early 19th century. It is supposedly named after the British war-hero Admiral Horatio Nelson, who used strategies based on surrounding the opponent to win the Battle of the Nile and the Battle of Trafalgar.

What’s The Difference Between A Half Nelson And A Full Nelson?

The difference between the Full Nelson and the Half Nelson is that for the Half Nelson hold you’re only using one hand to pin someone’s head, while your other hand controls their wrist. The Full Nelson positions both of your hands against your opponent’s head.


Overall, this move is considered a dangerous one but only if you don’t have the right technique and someone teaching you how to perform it properly and safely.

There are so many different types just off the back of ‘Nelson’ excluding so many others and this is a great one to learn if you are looking to move out of amterur levels as you get older.

Obviously it is illegal at high school and amateur level but after that you can make the most of this powerful effective tool in your belt. 

Hopefully this guide has given you some background and information about this particular move and other similar moves that have been introduced afterwards.

Christopher Anderson
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