Grappling – Taking the Back (diary entry)

One wrestler is trying to get the back.

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Since last week was a striking centred class, today we looked at grappling only. Grappling is a rich area of combative study. Within reason, one can grapple at full resistance day-in, day-out and even several times a day with a comparatively much lower level of risk than with striking. It is both a human’s most primal method of unarmed combat and yet, particularly when on the ground, can be their most sophisticated.


We began with some sole exercises, getting everyone warmed-up and familiar with some basic shapes, such as the low stance side step and sprawling. Then we began the two-player drills. This started with neck wrestling and a bit of Thai clinch, which included light knee strikes. We then progressed to some Greco-Roman inspired sparring, which permitted no holds or throws below the waist.


Today we focused on getting the back. This tactic has priority in all the major grappling sports for good reason. Getting the back usually means gaining the advantage. There are some exceptions to the rule, but if your chosen strategy is to fight someone once they have your back then you are into management by crisis. We began with the basic standing arm-drag. This was drilled several times before I introduced the counter push that turned it into a two-man flow drill. We then went immediately to the ground to look at how the arm-drag can be applied from butterfly guard. We then got back to our feet and looked at a close range tactic for taking the back – the under-hook. This was repeated from half guard, as the ground variant.


All the above back-taking exercises were corrected at the introduction stage and then drilled as repetitive exercises to work muscle memory. After the exercises it was time to put everything into practice under pressure. If time had permitted we would have specifically sparring in each area focused entirely on attacking and defending the back – stand-up mid-range clinch to pressure test the standing arm-drag, butterfly guard passing to pressure test the grounded arm-drag, over-hook/under-hook clinch sparring to pressure test the close range standing back-taking and half-guard passing to pressure test the grounded close-range back-taking. However, this is was not the case, so we settled for standing grappling sparring and ground sparring.


DON’T MISS our workshops at the end of the month! Saturday 26th March 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Children’s Self Defence & 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. Vagabond Warriors Cross Training

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