Getting to Grips & Breaking Them (diary entry)

eye gouge standing13.02.19

The first lesson of the day was with my Kingham Hill class. We entered the realm of anti-grappling and grappling for self-defence. I approached it a little differently than usual. On previous occasions I have gone straight for the anti-grappling tactics, but recently I have become more inclined to familiarise students with the grappling range. My belief is that by getting an idea of how someone grabs and tries to manhandle a student, brings home the importance of maintaining balance. This point has been covered as we have been training striking, but a different type of balance is required in grappling. The dynamic in the clinch is different due to having to deal with someone’s weight pressed against a victim. After our warm-up of specific exercises, my class divided up into pairs and practised several standard sport grappling drills and attribute-based games.

We began with over-hook/under-hook pummelling. Here students quickly began to understand how grappling works and how a grappler controls another individual. They learnt how to maintain their balance throughout the exercises and to control the inside of the clinch. Once everyone had become fluid with the drill, I escalated to a competitive game with both sides fighting for the double under-hooks. We then changed the grip and moved onto the Thai clinch or plum position. The same principles were reinforced here and this game was also turned into a competitive game.

Next I introduced a wrestle-the-pad game (credit to my teacher, Mo Teague). Here students tried to grab a pad of their training partners, beginning in different grappling positions. This was another way to get an idea of the functional strength and fitness that underlines good grappling.

The lesson finished with an introduction to anti-grappling tactics. With a firm base in place, students learnt how to use the eye gouge, the head-butt and the horizontal elbow strike in grappling range. This was trained from standing and from against a wall. We went through the practice in three different stages – no pressure technique application, full contact against a focus mitt and a controlled pressure test with the grappler wearing a head cage.

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