Posts tagged: Grappling Positions

Grappling Positions – Clinch Hold

Today, we will be taking a look at one of the more important and prominent positions in fighting (let alone mixed martial arts) a�� the clinch hold. Also known as a�?clinching hold,a�? it is a grappling position in which both opponents are standing, looking for a certain lock which will eventually lead to a takedown of sorts.

The clinch hold is also noted to be one of the main strategies to keep the opponent close enough to avoid hard strikes.

Entering the clinch, or a�?closing the gap,a�? is not an easy task, as the opponent can quickly throw some hard blows that could connect and do some heavy damage on the aggressor. However, it can be noted that achieving a low center of gravity and protecting the face with the forearms crossed over are the two best strategies to get inside for a clinch.

Once the aggressor has charged in, he will want to remain low, and use his legs to dig his dominant shoulder into the chest of the opponent. At that point, a number of holds can be applied, so long as the grab is performed correctly.

The first hold that a clinch can achieve is the bear hug. Most people understand that a bear hug is a tight grip around a person in which their arms are trapped beneath the aggressor. The arms can be wrapped around the chest or midsection from this position.

From here, one can almost always take the opponent down with either a throw, or a transition into an inverted bear hug, which shows the aggressora��s hands locked around the back of the opponent, and the aggressora��s head pushing firmly into the sternum.

Another clinch hold is the collar tie. This is one of the simpler grabs upon entering the clinch, where the aggressor wraps his arm up the back of the opponent, grabbing either the back of the neck or the trapezius.

The double-handed version is most prominent in Muay Thai fighting, and is much easier to take an opponent down, as a number of throws can be done from here. Knee strikes can also be done from the double-handed collar tie.

A variation of closing the gap for a collar-tie-into-knee-strikes would be to throw punches in bunches (left-right-left hook-uppercuts). This catches the opponent off-guard, and the collar tie can be applied from here.

Much like the bear hug, the overhook is another clinch hold that controls the opponent in the standing game. This is simply done by putting an arm over the opponenta��s arm and locking (or encircling) that arm around the opponenta��s arm. This can be done with one or both arms, and it is a fairly nice counter to an opponenta��s underhook, and a great preventative tactic to avoid a bear hug.

Finally, a pinch tie grip is the gateway to any of the above holds, in which the arms are wrapped around the opponenta��s back and locked via hand-to-wrist, finger-locked, or palm-to-palm. It is fairly easy to transition into underhooks or a double collar tie, but it can also lead to a throw or a variation to over-under position. Either way, the goal is to take the opponent out of his guard and into the defensive.

From any of these positions, the aggressor would like to end the fight, as is with most grappling techniques.

As seen with the double collar tie, strikes with the knees can be applied, but a�?dirty boxinga�? techniques have been effectively used, as well.

The guillotine chokehold is a great submission to apply from the collar tie; however, the advantage is always in favor of a taller fighter to achieve this type of lock.

Check out this video for more great tips on clinch fighting!

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Grappling Positions – Side Control

After taking a look at North/South Position just a few days ago, it is only appropriate that we analyze its close cousin, Side Control.

Sometimes called a�?Side Mounta�? or a�?Cross Mount,a�? side control looks very similar to north/south, in that the aggressor is on top of the defender. The exception comes in the position of the aggressora��s body, which is now perpendicular to the defendera��s body on the ground. The legs are free and the aggressor can exhibit extreme control over his opponent.

In this position, it is most appropriate for the aggressor to deliver blows with his knees and elbows. He/she can also perform various armlocks.

A little more susceptible to an escape, the side control position can be swept by the defender.

To do this, the defender slips his left arm underneath the body of his opponent, and pushes his left knee up into the opposing fightera��s side. Taking that same left hand, the defender can then grab his right foot and hook it under the aggressora��s leg. He will then usually sweep the aggressora��s leg out and twist into a butterfly position. From here, both fighters must alter their game to gain the upper hand.

Meanwhile, the aggressor also has a number of solid attacks from side control, despite the possibility of escape. One of the more powerful attacks is the knee bar. If the defender attempts a sweep, the aggressor can gain the upper hand by hooking the non-sweeping leg, and then propping himself up and grabbing the leg in a locked position. After performing this, the aggressor can then wrap his arms and legs around the sweeping leg and fall backwards, applying pressure on the other leg and hoping for submission.

Another form of side control is a�?Twister Side Control,a�? which is said to be a little easier in the grappling world. In this position, the aggressor is trying to avoid the defendera��s attempt of shrimping away from traditional side control. It is done by leaning to face the opponent’s legs, and placing the hand furthest from the legs head behind the opponent’s back, then leaning them towards the aggressor.

From here, you can apply the Twister (a guillotine move that applies extreme pressure on the neck and spine), and/or the Baby Arm.

Check out the video below for a complete tutorial on side control.

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Grappling Positions: North/South Position

A common ground maneuver, the north/south position can prove deadly for both the aggressor and the defender in many forms of organized combat.

In its most basic state, the north/south position shows two fighters on the ground, one on his back and the other on top of the fighter, facing the opposite direction, with his head over the combatanta��s chest. From this position, the aggressor, or the fighter on top, can strike his opponent, or apply various grapples that will force the opponent into submission.

In BJJ, the position is easily comparable to the side mount. Sometimes, the aggressor will even hold his opponenta��s belt in order to gain an even better advantage, making it hard for the defender to turn and wiggle out. Most effectively, the aggressor will try to keep his opponenta��s hips pinned to the ground.

Two common pinning holds are derived from kami shiho gatame, which pins the opponents arms on his/her side, and grabbing the belt. To get an opponent into this position, a straight over throw can be utilized.

One of the best escapes from north/south is called the pendulum. This can be applied when the defender is facing the ground, as opposed to on his back, which is a variant of the north/south attack. The defender will pin the opponenta��s arm to his body and left his left knee, kicking his right foot. This allows for a bit of momentum to place the opponent face down on the mat, allowing the defender to push his head into the opponenta��s back. From here, the defender becomes the aggressor and twists the arm behind his back into a possible submission hold.

Overall, the aggressor in the basic north/south position is trying to beat his opponent into a knockout or submission. He can move into other different ground games, such as side control, or remain on top using knee strikes to force a knockout of some sorts. Check out the video below to see some north/south techniques.

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Inside The Guard, A Versatile Position

Usually the starting point of grappling action in MMA matches, the guard is often overlooked by fans and even fighters, but a fighter using proper technique can prove the position dangerous.

Ortiz inside the butterfly guard of Griffin

The goal of the top fighter in the guard is to utilize ground-and-pound striking while aiming to improve their position. The top fighter also has the option of opening the guard and going for submission attempts.

The goal of the bottom fighter in the guard is most commonly to attempt various submissions off of their back or to escape using sweep techniques to return the fight to their feet. However, there are a few effective strikes from the bottom as well.

There are two basic forms of the guard: the closed guard and the open guard. In the closed guard the bottom fighter has their legs wrapped around the top fighter’s back, as well as their arms in cases. The aim of the closed guard is for the bottom fighter to keep the top fighter’s body as close to theirs as possible, limiting range in order to prevent devastating strikes and set up submission attempts.

In the open guard the bottom fighter uses his legs to control the opponent with the goal being to keep the opponent further away rather than close, because the bottom fighter becomes more vulnerable to strikes. The open guard can be used by the bottom fighter to set up submissions, but is most commonly used to create a sweep in order to return the fight to the feet or transition to the top position.

Alan Belcher trapped in Jason Day's rubber guard at UFC 83. Day lands 10 elbow strikes and 17 unanswered punches

There are various forms of the open guard such as the butterfly guard, the rubber guard, the x-guard, the spider guard, De la RivaA�guard and 50-50 guard. Arguably the most common in MMA are the butterfly and rubber guard.

The butterfly guard is a position in which the bottom fighter’s legs are hooked with their ankles inside the top fighter’s thighs. This allows for good control of the top fighter’s movements and distancing and allows for effective sweeps.

The rubber guard, created by Eddie Bravo, is gaining popularity and becoming more common in the MMA world. The bottom fighter uses a leg to trap the top opponent in their guard, opening up possibilities for submissions, sweeps and even effective striking from the bottom. Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki has developed one of the most effective rubber guards in MMA along with UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn.

The main goal of the top fighter in the guard is to advance his position. However, striking can be effective. Tito Ortiz is among one of the most effective strikers from the guard in MMA, in great part due to his devastating elbows. Elbows, hammer fists, closed fist strikes, and even Royce Gracie style palm strikes can cause damage from the guard.

Mousasi KO's Jacare via up-kick

Fighters inside an opponents open guard also have the option of standing in the guard to attempt various leg locks, such as knee bars, heel hooks and achilles locks. However, this can make them vulnerable to commonly the most devastating strike from the bottom guard.

Up-kicks have proven to be extremely effective in MMA and are a good tool for fighters on their back. Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi knocked out Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in dramatic fashion with a single upkick in the final round of the Dream middleweight grand prix at Dream 6 on September 23, 2008.

The bottom fighter has a clear advantage in the submission game from the guard. The most common submissions pulled off from guard are the guillotine, arm bar, triangle choke and kimura. Other popular submissions are the omoplata and gogoplata, but these techniques are most often used as a sweep to simply transition to the top or a standing position. However, they can be very effective when used from the rubber guard.

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The top fighter must aim to improve his position above all else while in the guard. A ground-and-pound fighter must move out of harms way against a submission specialist rather than being contempt to strike from the guard. Mark Coleman learned this lesson not once, but twice when he was submitted from within WAMMA and former Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko‘s guard during Pride FC competition in 2004 and then again in 2006.

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