Underhooks, Shovel Hooks and Waist-Locks (diary entry)

body clinch



The eighth lesson in my client’s second course on Mixed Martial Arts for Martial Arts Cross Training looked at very close range fighting. We began with the clinch and the double-under-hook position. From here we focused on controlling movement and posture. Closing gaps is crucial in grappling, as the slightest space allows an opponent to block or delay an attack. It’s important to move into the grip as deeply and early as possible, and to be wary of locking up too soon. I can recall the countless numbers of times when I thought I had a strong hold on an opponent only to realise they had exploited huge gaps I had left. Martial artists have famously emulated animals. Understanding how a constricting snake works is good homework for the prospective grapplers.


Once the double-under-hooks were becoming secure without much added adjustment I had my fighter explore various takedowns using mid (suplexes and compressions) and lowline (inner and outer leg sweeps) techniques. By adding some weight and resistance, he adapted and was forced to use good footwork to off-balance me. We covered both attacking from the front and the back.


Whilst holding the double-hook position we covered the use of strikes. From here an adapted form of very close-range shovel-hook can be applied. It takes a fair amount of coordination, but my view is that MMA is best exemplified in its own right by a strong use of striking within grappling range. We looked at holding a single under-hook whilst throwing shovel-hooks from the opposite side and switching sides.


A step-through variation on a front waist-lock takedown brought us onto the under-hook scarf-hold. This is a position preferred by many submission grapplers and Brazilian Jiu Jitsukas in favour of the traditional Judo scarf-hold because they believe the latter presents an unnecessary opening for an opponent to take the back.


Whilst working from this position we looked at a simple arm-bar trap and variations on the arm-triangle, moving into the north south position and the D’arce choke.

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