Fighting off the Ground and Pound (diary entry)

ground and pound



Tonight we looked at a problem I noticed my client was having during sparring, namely defending under the mount. Most would agree this is one of the worst places to end up whether you are fighting in the cage or fighting for your life. Known to some as the “schoolboy pin”, this is a primal grappling move instinctively acquired when humans wrestle for individual dominance. It has been refined through every grappling combat sport that comes to mind. The person being pinned often feels helpless and totally dominated. Some respond in a desperate spasmodic fashion, resembling a fly caught in a web, but all-too-often they quickly resign themselves to their fate. From a functional perspective gravity is against you and your lower body has cut out of the fight. The only possible advantage anyone might see from this position would be if you have allies, whereupon you can hold the person pinning you in place whilst they attack their back. However, our context was the one-on-one MMA fight.


Refinement of the mount has led to a wide range of opportunities for the person being pinned to fear. If they flail their arms they are likely to be submitted. The face is often open to a succession of heavy strikes, including punches, hammer-fists, back-fists and elbows (which are especially effective at this range). Earlier UFC competitions – especially fought by the likes of Mark Kerr – Vale Tudo and the unique Finn Fight MMA promotion have demonstrated how brutally effective the head-butt can be from this position. Tonight, although we warmed up with an overall appraisal of movements from all ranges, we looked specifically at developing a strong base for escaping. This included muscle activation exercises, tactics and techniques.


The lesson began with some dynamic and very active stretching. I don’t teach static stretching at the beginning of training sessions, leaving them for the warm-down. I stay away from ballistic stretching on the whole. We covered mobility exercises and specific calisthenics, promoting fluid movement as we transitioned into various positions. Next did some mirror footwork, progressing onto placing punches and kicks, neck wrestling, bulling, underhook pummelling and revising the single-leg/rear waistlock combination, played as a fluid exercise.


We then went back to the ground and looked at various bridging exercises. The standard shoulder bridge, one-legged bridge, glute raise and elevated hamstring raise are excellent conditioning exercises for fighting underneath. We covered rolling onto one shoulder, making the most distance possible when bridging and then turned to snaking/shrimping. On top of these movements I added the cover and engagement of the core as well as other muscle engagement exercises such as the scorpion stretch.


We then used side control and the mount to get my client used to bridging off a human weight. Here we covered the basic roll and snaking options for escape. Focusing just on the mount it was time to learn from the fight and we engaged in some specific sparring from this position. After a few rolls, we assessed weaknesses and problems before the roles were reversed. Here we looked at going to half guard/taking the back mount and properly turning an opponent. Used of the cover was also emphasised along with trapping arms to turn an opponent.

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