Closing the Distance (diary entry)

Attacking the cover1



Our seeking the clinch theme took on a wider approach tonight. Previously we trained how to attain a takedown against a striker. Covering and grappling made up a lot of this work. This lesson focused more on the general tactic of closing the distance.


After our muscle engagement/mobility warm-up of quadruped shoulder rolls, scapula press-ups, dynamic cat stretching, Indian press-ups and Indian squats, we moved onto the focus mitts. We began with some simple freestyle flash-pad training, which then focused on slipping and rolling (bobbing and weaving). This brought us onto sparring drills.


First up, we slipped jabs off both sides to clinch using the arm-triangle. From here we added on knee strikes in an arm-triangle clinch and takedown into an arm-triangle submission. Next we covered rolling under hooks with high and low hooks. I used our dissection of this tactic as the basis for some solo training drills:


1 x round bobbing and weaving with footwork

1 x round bobbing and weaving hook to the head

1 x round bobbing and weaving hook to the body

1 x round bobbing and weaving hook to the head/hook to the body combination

1 x round bobbing and weaving hook to the body/hook to the head combination

1 x round various freestyle combinations which conjoins any of the above


Rounds should be a minute long and use of a mirror or reflective device – such as a window – is advised to check for faults in technique. Shorter than a minute I find makes the round too intense to be considered technical – the fighter will be pushed to get in as many combinations as possible. Longer than a minute without a rest will likely develop and reinforce bad habits due to the onset of fatigue. 2-5 minute rounds should be kept to pure freestyle work.


We then used rolling to drill waistlock entries into takedowns and suplexes.


The lesson finished with 3 x 2 minute rounds of sparring. These all focused on encouraging the fighter to close the distance and clinch. The first round was under Muay Thai rules, the second was under grappling-only rules and the final round was under MMA rules.


Here is a video that was shot at a seminar I taught in Denmark in 2013 demonstrating use of the cover to clinch.

Photography by Sonia Audhali Photography circ. 2009

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