Tuesday, September 18, 2012

MMA: The Clinch - Fundamentals and Drills by Joe Silvia

Excerpt from Spladdle Forum's The Epic Clinch Thread:


I have generalized the clinch into a Fibbing Clinch & a Grappling Clinch. Generally speaking you are either holding and hitting or working for a takedown/sub. BOTH begin with the base camp philosophy....posture, facing, spacing, breathing, head position, etc. Let's merge these. With ANY tie up, you can either grapple or fibb. What do both have in common? Tie ups. So in essence, there is one clinch (tie ups).


Forehead position: Notice I don't say HEAD POSITION....if you say head position, fighters will use the top of their head.

Your forehead position is CRUCIAL for defense AND offense. EVERY position has to have a congruent forehead position (or more accurately a wedge).

  • Forehead to forehead (defensive)
  • Forehead to temple
  • Forehead to under the ear (pocket)
  • Forehead to sternum
  • Forehead to ribs or stomach
Ear to ear is an ABSENCE of head position!

People discuss forehead position, but don't always follow through with it and I think it's because the reason for it is that it's purpose isn't explained clearly. When you know WHY, you have incentive.

Forehead position makes you more effective defensively and offensively. Your forehead acts as a wedge....it creates space and disrupts it's evil brother: the seal. When you have a wedge, you are DISRUPTING your opponents posture and alignment. It makes your fibbing, takedowns, control ties, setup, and ability to nail subs and stuff shoots that much more effective. You should ALWAYS have a wedge, and if you are not using the forehead as a wedge, you need to replace it with another.

For example, if my forehead is under your ear, your spinal axis is off kilter, your vision lessened, balance disrupted, etc. If a person's posture, alignment and balance is off, they need to re-establish it if they want to be effective. While they are re-establishing this, you are attacking.

If I have no forehead position, I have no wedge and it's then easier for my opponent to establish a seal and establish control. Every clinch should have a battle for forehead position. Proper forehead position means you are controlling the joint mass center.

One should be mindful of his wedges and seals at all times. Always be asking if your forehead is in the right position. If there is absence of touch with the forehead, what other wedge can you use? Specifically, I see a lot of ear-to-ear...there's no wedge there. Also, people fail OFTEN at running the pipe as a single leg finish and 99% of the time it stems from the lack of a wedge or seal. Placing the forehead in the ribs, will pay dividends.


Drill#1: 'No Hands' Head Position Drill - Hands clasped behind the back, start forehead to forehead and jockey for a superior position. Think handfighting or pummeling, but with the forehead ONLY. DON'T underestimate this drill as a simple drill. There are a lot of techniques in this seemingly simple drill. A LOT. Try it with partners of various heights. REMEMBER grabbing a single leg and not finishing is a valid tie up.

Optionally, for beginner's or those new to battling for head position: 1 for 1 drill. Take turns, so you can navigate your way through the positions.

Drill#2: Incorporating Head Position - Spend a few rounds pummeling and handfighting...tie ups only and merge the above drill with it. Be mindful of where your wedges are and if you are even wedging in the first place.

Drill#3: Add in feedback cues - Whenever your opponent has a poor wedge, tuck his head into a guillotine or put him in a Nelson and frame him. For example, if he snatches your leg in a single, but uses the top of his head, pop it into a Guillotine. You don't have to finish, just put it there as feedback. If he grabs the single leg, but has NO WEDGE....he is looking at the floor, then put him in a Nelson and bury his head. If he has his head outside (MMA no-no) then place it in the guillotine.

Eventually go 100% with the subs. If he f's up his wedge, tap him as feedback.

Drill#4: Add Fibbing - Incorporate some light striking and spend lots of time here. Fibbing changes EVERYTHING. You have to learn to maintain and re-establish the forehead position through the storm of strikes.

Drill# 5: Incorporate takedowns - Now, you have a full clinch!

Visit these drills only as necessary, but when you have incorporated the elements, abandon them. More advanced people can skip the drills and simply start to incorporate the forehead position.



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