Heading for and Heading the Head (diary entry)

eye gouge standing11.03.20


Wednesday lunchtime continued my self-protection course with Kingham Hill School. We revised basic clinch grappling and began anti-grappling training.


The solo warm-up began with some simple dynamic stretches moving onto grappling callisthenics and then we drilled moving from a low posture as well as sprawls and double-leg takedowns. Then we moved onto partner work. We revised the main clinching drills from the previous lesson – collar and elbow bulling, plum position neck wrestling, over-hook/under-hook pummelling and wrist-grip fighting. They were then put together for upper-body grappling sparring.


We then moved onto the focus mitts. Here I had the coaching student drill breaking the balance of their partner in preparation for the anti-grappling pad-drill. Next the coach put a focus mitt on and with his free hand he pushed, gripped and worked to break the balance of his partner who focused on striking the mitt. This is the first stage of anti-grappling training. The student is trained to work from a stable position and adapt to initial grappling attacks, such as grips, with strikes. We then trained clearing obstacles to a target and hunting a target. Both of these reinforce the objectives of the anti-grappling approach in that the defender fights to retain their striking objective. We also trained them as add-ons the pre-emptive fence situation.


We then drilled defending against shoots/double-leg takedowns/tackles. Low-line defence is best exemplified in the sprawl. We trained this in conjunction with a spear knee strike.


Next we moved onto defending the clinch from against a wall. This stage of anti-grappling brings in what might be called “dirty techniques”. However, it is important to note that they are not to be considered a panacea to grappling attacks. They work best when the person using them has a rudimentary understanding in grappling positioning and has grappled. This is why the previous lesson was entirely focused on grappling. With the defender pinned up against a wall he needs to drop low into a grappling stance, moving under the pressing force. The objective is to get the head. From here a double eye-gouge is an advisable counter-attack the main goal to leverage the head into striking range. The most immediate striking tool at this very close range is the head. Head-butts should be thrown using the surface area above the eye line and targeted under the eye-line. They should be used sparingly, just enough to get the next counter-offensive tool – the elbow – on the target. The defender should retain contact with one hand as they move to optimal striking range, using straight palms.


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