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  • Writer's pictureMatt Dod

Who Invented The Headlock?

I am a fat man. I am not a professional wrestler. So take this with a pinch of salt.

But from what I have seen, most pro wrestling experts and trainers will tell you that this hybrid of sports and entertainment is built around having a good core set of fundamentals.

This may take the form of having good cardio and stamina, an in-shape physique, charisma on the microphone and in no small part your ability to perform in exciting and safe matches between the ropes.

One core fundamental in any wrestler’s arsenal, is the topic which I would like to explore further today, the headlock.


Throughout of all pro wrestling since the early days of the 20th century, a common way in which a match may begin between two combatants is to see both meet in the middle of the ring in what is known as a collar and elbow tie up.

From here a whole magnitude of different outcomes can occur, thus making the collar and elbow a great way in which to start the action allowing for almost anything to happen from this position.

If the wrestler who has the upper hand in the collar and elbow confrontation releases their hold whilst pushing their opponent away from them slightly, keeping one arm wrapped around the back of their head whilst simultaneously pulling them back in, clinching the muscles of your upper arm tightly around their unfortunate neck in a classic pro wrestling headlock.


If the aforementioned headlock is one of the cornerstones of a wrestlers arsenal, so are some men regarded as the cornerstones of the entire pro wrestling industry.

One man, Ed Lewis, who in the early years of pro wrestling - When the two forms of wrestling were beginning to mix and the modern form of wrestling was starting to grow in the carnival and fair ground scene in Europe and the US – was at the forefront of innovation and change.

Going by his in-ring name Ed The Strangler Lewis & managed by legendary wrestling mind Billy Sandow – Ed Lewis grew famous in pro wrestling for bringing with him his legitimate for of the headlock, for more on that I will next refer to a book written by Ed Lewis & Billy Sandow, first published in 1926…


The headlock is the perfect platform to go on to execute a whole manner of other more destructive moves from.

For instance, we’ve regularly seen the user of the headlock be pushed forward and pull the opponent down to the mat in what is known as a bulldog, with some even running up the corner turnbuckle or ropes to perform an even more flamboyant version.

The headlock is such a key component in most wrestling matches, that to explain every single way in which the headlock can then be adapted and used would be redundant. As any pro wrestling fan will know, the headlock – in it’s most simple form can be found in countless matches around the entire world, being performed in front of the tiniest of crowds, to the main event of Wrestlemania – when you go back and keep an eye out for every time a form of the headlock is used in pro wrestling, you really start to see how it permeates through the entire business.

In the modern day, this tactic for beginning a match in most circumstances is seen as too old fashioned, slow and mundane for where pro wrestling is at currently, in most people’s opinions at least.

With most seeing the headlock merely as a way of killing the fast paced stylings of the action and pulling the whole match to a standstill.

Coming from the real world of wrestling, the headlock has a lineage that is proven as a powerful tool in any person’s arsenal who is willing to train to learn the subtle nuances and minutiae required to pull it off successfully.

In a world where UFC have exploded into mainstream popularity over the last decade, lots of pro wrestling fans are starting to value the realism of the wrestling more than the entertainment aspect – and, what steps away from the flashy, flippy stunts we see in every match nowadays and what is more realistic than grabbing a man by the neck, shoving him into your sweaty armpit and attempting to squeeze his head off.


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