Bear Hugs & Bag Work (diary entry)

tracey diary 3 tracey diary 515.11.20

Sunday morning’s PT consisted of half an hour self-protection teacher consultation and half an hour work on heavy bag combinations.

Teacher consultation was in response to a question regarding dealing with rear bear hugs. My teacher client had been asked about this from several of her students. Although she had some reasonable counters, she was sceptical about a lack of mechanical effeciency. Such concerns are highlighted by big size, height and weight differences. Smaller people can easily be dominated by larger people in grappling situations. This is particular type of attack problem is a common question asked.

My only concern with replying to it is that I fear is the person asking the question, really wants a simple hack. Such a thought process has been fed into the martial arts and self-defence community since the turn of the 20th century, where various teachers promoted their disciplines to civilians in periodicals and magazines as tips on how to deal with certain types of attack. Around the same time, so-called traditional martial arts began incorporating such scenerios into their syllabuses. We end up with this idea that every attack has its own unique response and that we should be training to react to an attack.

Proactivity is at the heart of my hard skills teaching. I want my clients to be empowered to take control of situations that threaten their well-being. Typically, I train people to attack an attack and to have a firm strategy of getting on the front foot. An individual who can successfully handle a rear bear hug are more likely to be individuals who can pre-empt an attack and maintain forward pressure; who will cover and push forward when taken by surprise, and will know how to grapple. There is no substitute for experience and learning through live training. Grappling really brings this into sharp focus. Whoever wants to defend against a rear bear hug is going to improve their chances of success if they develop the tactical awareness of pressure testing and sparring at the clinch range.

In order to deal with the rear bear hug, I had my client go through a simple footwork drill known in wrestling as the cut-off. This involves pushing your lead hip forward, stepping back and pivoting around 180 degrees in a low stance. Once this was confirmed, we moved onto the rear bear hug (both arms pinned). Backward head butts and foot stamps are good, but they should not be relied upon. As a clinch progresses the need for grappling techniques increases. Initially the person being clinched needs to know how to establish a strong defensive base against takedowns and be familiar with primal grappling style holds as well positioning. From this base she or he can utilise strikes and anti-grappling techniques. When held close in a bear hug, the defender needs to be able establish balance and maneouvre out. The first part of the cut-off works here and the defender should aim to stagger their legs and step past and behind their attacker. If the bear hug is above the defender’s elbows and the defender can bend their arms at 90 degrees, this option can aimed for straight away. If not then the defender needs to drop lower in their stance to get more movement with their arms. Once the defender has stepped behind, they can either check the still enricled arm and look to step back out again, using the cut-off footwork again to escape or if the clinch is still in deep they will have to take the fight to the ground. Strikes to exposed areas such as the groin are always useful and the ground is not an area we choose lightly, but the pick up and drop option can be a tall order for inexperience grapplers/people with a considerable size difference within the chaos of a high risk struggle. If the fight goes to the ground, it is imperative to drill moving to a dominant position to transition to knee pin and standing. We then looked at using the full cut-off against the rear waistlock, which is a straightforward escape. I went over details on a universal grip break. We also looked at pick-ups and the importance of hooking the leg.

Next we continued our work on the heavy bag. After a discussion on attribute training and its relevance to self-defence, we looked at closing the distance and using angles. We drilled body shots off diamond step/switch-hitting and then chained on the mid-section round kick. Next we exited with the teep and took the other side angle with a cross/hook/round kick combination.

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