Re-Covering the Cover (diary entry)

cover checking 22.11.17


Tonight’s training was all about going back through the cover tactic. This simple method has been adopted by various different martial arts schools. Quite simply, it revolves around protecting the head by using the forearms and elbows. Everything written beyond this point is my view. I find that the cover can be applied barehanded and with MMA gloves. When it comes to boxing, I feel the peek-a-boo tactic of Cus D’Amato serves as a good equivalent, but one must be mindful of the differences. From a self-defence perspective, the cover is an incidental, temporary tactic with the express purpose of quickly recovering from an overload of strikes, jamming said strikes and regaining the initiative. The self-defender closes into an aggressor and either returns strikes or clinches. In MMA the cover can be used in a similar way, but there is also the extension of choice. I go into far more detail regarding this tactic in my book “Mordred’s Victory and Other Martial Mutterings”.


After warming up with dynamic stretches we went straight onto the focus mitts and used the Dynamic Feedback Loop Training model. The fighter initiated striking and combinations from the cover position. The cover position was started by the coach feeding a barrage of shots from the get-go, prompting the striker to adopt the peek-a-boo guard, move into the barrage whilst keeping a highly mobile cover and then striking back. From this point the coach goes into flash-pad mode and provides targets. This was then fed into boxing sparring with 50% pressure. Peek-a-boo differs from the cover in the respect that bobbing, weaving and slipping work in conjunction with the guard. This was then dispensed with when the fighter donned MMA gloves and simply closed. However, it was here that I brought up a problem with the cover (which is discussed in detail in my “Mordred’s Victory”). The fighter must not adopt the cover as a guard position, rather it should be selected when the fighter chooses to move in close and fast. This fluid, flexibility is part of the art of using such a tactic and method effectively in sparring. We then tested its use against kick-boxing combinations, looping it with the focus mitts and the 50% sparring.peek-a-boo

cover close

Moving onto the clinch range, we used the cover to access different lines attack (high, mid and low) whilst jamming incoming strikes. Then we went into the clinch and looked at the cover’s utility against clinch holds and inside striking.


Finally the fight went to the ground and we looked at using the cover from the guard and under the mount. This was what inspired this particular lesson last week. The cover needs to be coordinated with lower body techniques. In the case of the guard, the fighter needs to ensure that he is moving his hips correctly, blocking his opponent’s hips, securing ground positions and attempting submissions and sweeps. The cover not only works as a strong shield against an opponent’s strikes, but can also be used to strike an opponent’s legs with the fighter’s elbow points. Defending under the mount, the cover has to be coordinated with bridging and snaking/shrimping. The position is great for keeping the arms in and away from submission attempts by the opponent. The cover also aids with snaking/shrimping.


Photography by Charlotte Von Bulow-Quirk featuring Steve Nicholson, Jamie Clubb and Tony Hughes.

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