Saturday, February 20, 2010

Defending the Takedown

About ten years ago I asked Royce Gracie why the Gracies didn't put out any instructional material on takedown defense.Royce replied with "why would the shark mind being dragged into the water". I really respect Royce and his system, but his response didn't make much sense to me & I even said that in one of my editorials printed in Black Belt Magazine .His response told Me that although the Gracies have so much to offer for defense exponents, they still approached fighting primarily from the context of two unarmed opponents fighting each other. One of the most critical skills you must become proficient in to be effective in a real self-defense situation is takedown defense.This is important for everyone, but especially Women who may be the target of a rape attack. The ground is the worst place to be in a street altercation, so you must do everything you can to avoid being taken down. Sprawling is the most common technique for those familiar with MMA and is indeed a skill everyone should master.There is endless instructional books & Dvds on this technique & will be shown in just about any book or video on MMA.Sprawling on the street should be done in a more "open" style than in MMA.What I mean by open is not overly committing or getting entangled with the opponent attempting the takedown.In real world defense we want separation and counter as soon as possible to either finish the conflict or escape it.

Sprawling is not the only method to counter or avoid a takedown and should not be the first one attempted.If you are able to read your opponents movements early, you may be able to create a little distance by moving back and at an angle to launch a striking attack.The first things you want to do is keep your legs away from opponent by simply moving them away from the attack/grab.In combination or after evasive footwork,you may be able to snap the head down by hooking your hand around the back of his neck and snap down & then push his head down & away while moving in the opposite direction.This technique is from wrestling and is very effective.You also should explore & learn "Down-Blocking" methods which are another technique from Wrestling and are usually combined with evasive movement,a single stiff-arm or snap down.Just remember to put them into a real defense context instead of sport wrestling, meaning the technique will be modified to cope with multiple possible attacks and since you'll usually start it from a different position.If the opponent has an ample length of hair,then by all means use that as a lever. You may also be able to simply "stiff arm" the shot by extending arms & pushing against His shoulders or even head. You may also use the blade of your forearm against his shoulders & neck to stifle his forward movement.Eye gouges,ear grabs,cross faces and the ilk can be applied during many of these techs to increase their effectiveness. Many of these techniques can be combined together and flow very naturally into each other and back/side movements are usually employed in conjunction with the defensive move. For example:opponent shoots in to tackle you and you take a step back and try to block him with the hands at the shoulders & sidestep to set up a counter attack,but the opponent changes direction and He slips past your hands, so you flow into the bladed forearm against the side of his neck by simply retracting the arm back and into the attacker or flow down into a down block.The opponent fights through the block and is wrapping his hands around your legs so you drive your hips into him and kick the legs back in a sprawl.It's usually good to get an arm between you and the opponent so you can underhook one of his arms to block it from getting your or use a choke,but I there is nothing wrong with having the arms on top either as you can push down on the head or use underhooks to drag him down.You can do one over,one under,it's largely a matter of personal preference and the specifics you simply need to experiment with.A lot depends on the level the opponents shoots as to where your arm position should be.You can still slide out,lateral or leverage out even if he's under both of your arms.If you have an overhook,then a Whizzer(from wrestling)is an available option to throw or start a movement to the outside to his back or transition into an armbar & take-down.Slip out/back out to the side you have the whizzer/underhook on by leveraging them away with it and yourself out with a twisting/turning rotating motion that should force them down and way and allow an escape or pathway to take the back.To go behind you simply need to clear the arm downward or push it forward upward toward their head(just get it past your body with whatever works is what matters,so it isn't in your way blocking you or allow him to hold up your movement/grab/pull himself back into position.Just grab it and pull/snap it down or push it with your hand or forearm press it etc.).If you have an underhook & are slipping out and around,then you clear the arm up and go under it.Clear the arm by using wrist control or just pushing it off(usually by the elbow)

Should your takedown defense fail & you find yourself on your back, you want to get to your feet as quickly as possible.Wrestlers excel at the pure grappling aspects of getting up and out,but in actual defense situations you want to combine different elements since striking, gouging & even biting since they are available to you & should be utilized.Hand & wrist control are critical skills here as well with the advantage of being free to break the fingers during the process(not allowed in MMA or Wrestling).

The main overall concept is to remain mobile & open in case weapons or multiple opponents are introduced into the equation.The same concept applies if you are taking someone down.Shoots should be done high & mobile.Single legs combined with hard sweeps work well and keep separation as does leg reaps & the shove & sweep.Just don't get entangled with the opponent so that He ends up dragging you down with him.A quick stunning or distracting strike may allow you to perform the takedown while minimizing his chance of a counter or of grabbing you. We want Separation to remain mobile and open to be able to adapt to unforeseen circumstances.

This is a companion post to Avoiding/Escaping the Groundfight