What Is A Half Nelson? (Is it Effective?)

Wrestling might only be a sport, but that does not mean that it isn’t a complicated and demanding sport.

Whilst many people like to point out it is ‘not real fighting’, they are also missing just how much work goes into making a wrestling match happen.

Not just in staging and choreography, but also in the techniques that wrestlers use. Techniques that, if applied in the real world, can be pretty devastating.

What Is A Half Nelson?

Wrestling has a proud tradition that dates back hundreds of years, with many of its techniques being drawn and inspired by real combat maneuvers.

As many of these moves are often inspired by the individuals who first used or popularized them, they can often lack a descriptive quality that helps explain what they are or do, leaving newcomers in the dark.

One of the most famous wrestling techniques that are known to the wider public is the classic Half nelson.

But even here, many people aren’t exactly sure what it entails. Which is something that we hope to fix in this article!

In this guide, we are going to explain what exactly a half nelson is, and what exactly it is used for.

We’re also going to cover what distinguishes it from a full nelson move, as well as ways to help you escape from one, should you find yourself in its grips, whether it is in a sports match or your everyday life.

What Is A Half Nelson?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of things, we should probably answer the question first, and explain what exactly a half-nelson is.

To summarize, a half nelson move is a type of grappling hold that a person can use in a wrestling match.

It is usually considered a style of catch wrestling, a form that mixes both traditional wrestling techniques, as well as various combat maneuvers to incapacitate an opponent.

To execute a half nelson move, a person uses a hand to pass under their opponent’s arm, then locks that hand on the opponent’s neck.

This stops the target from being able to move the hand effectively, whilst the person who is using the move can also use the hand that is free to secure their opponent’s other free hand, to make sure that they don’t use it to grasp or pull the person executing the move’s hand off.

This is often considered by wrestling coaches to be one of the simpler, if not the easiest moves that are used in many forms of college wrestling, which is why it is also one of the most popular moves for people to learn in wrestling, as well as in some forms of self-defense.

Being able to restrict your opponent’s movement stops them from using many methods of otherwise attacking is an excellent move, both in real combat or in an aggressive situation, as well as in an official match.

The Difference Between A Half And Full Nelson

Of course, the existence of a half nelson implies the existence of a full nelson as well. And such a move does exist in wrestling, as a very effective shoulder lock technique.

The Full Nelson

The Full Nelson

The core principle of the half nelson is also applied in the full version, only this time, the person using the move pins their opponents to the ground, and performs the nelson moves under both arms to make it very difficult for the target to push them off or counter.

Quite often, with both hands being behind the head of a target when executed right, a person may also use them to force their opponent’s head into the ground, disorientating them even more, and making it even harder to counter.

The Differences

As you can imagine, although their executions are quite similar, the half and full nelsons are very different in how much of the body they use and handicap.

A full-nelson also almost always requires a user to be on the person’s back, if not at least facing it.

A half nelson meanwhile can be done from any direction, although the person in execution of the move will usually end up on the target’s back.

A half nelson can also lead to a full nelson if the execution was successful and the person can get a hold of their target’s other arm.

Another distinction between the two is simply how much each move is used.

Whilst the half nelson is incredibly popular in virtually all forms and levels of wrestling, the full nelson is an illegal move to use at most amateur or young levels, as the chance of accidentally causing severe injury is very high.

Where Is The Half Nelson Used?

As we have already mentioned, the half nelson is one of the most popular moves that is used in college and university-level wrestling.

But it is a common move that is used at almost any level, from middle and high school wrestling teams, and up to even professional wrestlers.

How Do You Escape From A Half Nelson?

Now, with all this information about the half nelson given, you’re probably curious about how you are supposed to get out of it if someone has you locked in one of these moves.

Often, the best way to combat this move if it is performed on you is to use the arm that is being grappled to grab or clamp on the attacker’s arm.

Once grabbed, the person being attacked can then use their free hand to peel their attacker’s hand from around their neck.

This is especially effective if you are either standing up or on your knees, which is why the half nelson is often done when a person is pinned on the ground.

Alternatively, make sure that your feet or legs are in the opposite direction that their attacker is forcing them into with the half nelson, making it difficult to get into position, allowing you to wriggle free.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the half nelson is a popular move to use in wrestling. And now, you’ll be able to use and break free of it yourself!

Christopher Anderson
Latest posts by Christopher Anderson (see all)