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No Holds Barred Fighting: Takedowns
Throws, Trips, Drops and Slams for NHB Competition and Street Defense
By Mark Hatmaker, Doug Werner
Tracks PublishingCopyright © 2005 Doug Werner
All rights reserved.
1 Shooting range
Shooting implies that there is a distance to be traversed. All shots are predicated on the fact that you've got to cover some ground to execute the takedown you desire (clinching is a another matter altogether).
Is there a specific distance that is optimum to shoot from? You betcha! As a rule, if you can't touch your opponent — don't shoot. In straight wrestling, you must be able to lay a hand on your opponent before you shoot. In NHB or in the street, the jab acts as the range finder. If your jab does not connect, you are out of range. When the jab finds the mark, it's time to go in.
Do not use a kick as your shooting range gauge for two reasons:
The leg is longer than your arm, and what you may be able to touch with your foot may be the six inches (at the absolute minimum) that gets you in trouble if you shoot.
Shooting is about speed. Using your leg as a range finder assumes you've got time to get that same leg back underneath your hips for proper driving. That's asking too much.
This is not an argument against kicking, but an argument against using the kick as an immediate precedent to the shoot.
Why can't I shoot if I can't touch my opponent?
Remember when you first started punching and were told not to telegraph a punch? It's easy to tip your opponent to your punching intentions by merely dipping a shoulder or providing some other tell with a single limb (not even the largest limb at that). Imagine how easy it is to read an entire body making its way toward you. That's why you must be as close as possible before shooting. We've got to stack the deck in our favor with every trick we can cobble.
One more time — if you can't touch your opponent, don't shoot.
2 Shooting stances
In standard wrestling, there are the square and staggered stances. But to take into consideration the striking component of NHB and self-defense, we need something a little different. Not much different, mind you. We'll gladly keep what works. The NHB shooting stance is the standard modified boxing stance (for a detailed description of this stance see the book, No Holds Barred Fighting: Savage Strikes). For submission wrestling, either the square or the staggered stance will work, but I advocate a staggered stance variant for the following reasons.
Most combat athletes today cross-train in submission wrestling (no striking) and NHB (striking included). It's wise to have a stance that blends easily between the two without feeling you're playing at two different mind-sets.
The modified staggered stance affords better defense against shooting and submission setups.
Standard staggered stance
The staggered stance as used in freestyle wrestling, begins with the legs approximately shoulder width apart.
The lead foot steps forward approximately a step and a half.
The knees are bent.
The body bends forward at the waist, while the back is kept relatively straight.
Important — Do not allow your shoulders to penetrate the invisible vertical plane traveling skyward from your lead knee. To allow the shoulders to drift beyond this plane provides easy opportunities for your opponent to unbalance you and/or snap you to the mat.
The rear hand is placed on the rear knee to provide protection against shots to this leg.
The lead elbow is placed on the lead knee with the palm facing up. Positioning the hand in this manner protects the lead leg.
This stance has a low base and provides deep stability. Moving the arms into underhook position makes them ready to defend upper and lower body takedowns. Drawbacks are obvious. In the striking match, the head is wide open. The legs are too far apart to afford the rapid mobility needed to evade a speedy and vicious leg-kicker. This stance is ideal for the straight wrestling match and perhaps for the submission match, but it's bad news for the NHB player.
Modified staggered stance
This is the stance I advocate for the NHB player who desires to cross-train in the submission only game. It allows you to blend the two games with a minimum of adjustments. You will notice that it is only slightly different from the standard striking stance but uses some of its components.
The legs are shoulder width apart.
The lead leg is placed one natural step forward. The more upright position provides greater mobility.
Both elbows are kept close to the body to prevent underhooking and arm dragging.
The lead hand drops approximately 12 inches below your chin with the palm up.
The rear hand turns palm down and is placed approximately 12 inches forward of the rear shoulder. As a visual mnemonic, imagine holding a large invisible medicine ball between your two palms — the lower palm up, the rear palm down.
The back is held somewhat straight with a bit of forward lean, but not as extreme as in the standard staggered stance.
From this position, you should be able to drop immediately into the standard staggered stance if the need arises. As a matter of fact, I recommend drilling that movement extensively. Move from the modified staggered stance to the standard staggered stance before a mirror. Then drill it with a partner who shoots a double leg that you defend by dropping to the standard staggered stance.
A note on hand placement
The lead hand can drift forward or to the rear, but always think of it being directed at a spot just below your opponent's chin. Placing your lead hand to the outside of this position opens the legs. Thinking "hand under chin" provides many defensive opportunities. Drilling this will confirm it.
Thumbs out, fingers together. Splayed fingers are easily broken or jammed. Breaks come from an opponent slapping at a hand to catch your wrist or jamming them on the way in. Keep your fingers together. You don't have to squeeze them tight. Leaving the thumb out will provide all the grip power you need.
Think like a sprinter
Traditional martial arts are fond of T-stances. The theory is that the body presented sideways offers a smaller target. Chances are you have already seen more than enough empirical examples of myths being shattered when the traditional meets the pragmatic in NHB competition. The traditional arts have their place, but it's not in the confines of hybrid reality fighting.
The T-stance is anathema to the savvy shooter. Structurally, it's all wrong. The feet are pointing in two different directions. In order to make any speedy or powerful transfer of your body weight toward the direction you wish to shoot, first you've got to align the skeletal structure of your legs to your target or desired direction of movement. Some will argue that you can shove off the rear foot that is pointed perpendicular to your target. That can be done, but again at the expense of maximum speed and optimum power.
Optimum foot placement for moving in any given direction is to have the feet and knees facing the direction you wish to travel. This is how we walk and run. It is no different in positioning our feet for shooting. For a superlative example of what works for exceptional initial speed, look to Olympic-class sprinters. When they position themselves in the blocks, they align the feet, the knees and the entire body toward the direction they wish to move.
Here's a Western scientific axiom that has an Eastern correlate. Keep your nose on your opponent's centerline. What does this mean? It means what it says. Look at your opponent, yourself or any human being. Observe that humans have bilateral symmetry. If a body is split down the middle, you have a mirror image of each half. These halves conjoin in an imaginary line that can be drawn down the center of our bodies from the top of the head to the groin.
To keep your nose on an opponent means to always face your nose on his centerline, no matter the distance between you. By going nose on, you ensure that you keep your body square to your opponent. This allows proper alignment for rapid shooting and easy access to all your offensive and defensive tools.
This rule is the converse of nose on. Your primary goal is to keep nose on with your opponent. Your secondary goal is to get your opponent to face off line. To face off line means to outmaneuver, outclass, or feint your opponent off his nose-on position. When you make your opponent face off your centerline, you will expose an entire side of his body vulnerable to attack. The off line can be subtle or conspicuous. Your job as a top shooter is to exploit every off-line opportunity, and this is done only with complete observation of staying nose on.
That's a lot to think about for a stance, huh? Drill all facets in a mirror or with a partner until they are natural. Change levels, change leads. Now it's time to move.
3 Shooting footwork
Below are the rules of movement found in all of our texts. I don't usually repeat myself because I intend for each volume to be an interlocking piece of a greater whole, but it's probably wise to go over this one more time.
Whatever direction you wish to move, move the foot that is closest to that direction first.
Step and drag. Keep your feet close to the mat. Don't lift them. To do so provides an opportunity to be swept or caught on a one-legged base.
Maintain your base. Don't cross your feet and keep them a shoulder's width apart while moving.
Have a fluid shift step. To shift step, step the lead foot to the rear or the rear foot to the lead, landing in perfect stance. Drill both variations until they are smooth.
Be fluid in all eight directions of movement as indicated by this diagram.
Begin at the center of this figure facing number one. Run a few rounds moving through each of the following footwork patterns.
Penetration steps versus leg dives
If you are close enough to clinch, there is not much call to ponder how you got there. If you can't touch your opponent, there is much to consider. There are two schools of thought on how to close this distance and each school comes from Western wrestling. These schools can be called the Penetration Step School and the Leg Dive School, or New School and Old School. A detailed breakdown on the two and a brief subjective commentary on which is "better" follows.
So which is better? The answer sounds like a hedge, but it's honest — the school that works best for you in a particular situation is the winner. I use both schools with about 25 percent more weight toward the Leg Dive. I find that Old School is more sound for defense in the All-in/NHB game and less likely to telegraph intention. I admit a prejudice for Old School, so keep in mind that the last comment is purely subjective. I use both schools and have seen numerous New School shooters use the penetration step exclusively with fantastic success. It is smart to explore both trains of thought and allow athletes to decide for themselves which school they spend the majority of their time pursuing.
Pay attention to each school because once we hit the takedown curriculum, we move directly to the setup and drop portion of the technique. The entry is up to you. You'll see both schools in the photos.
New School / penetration step
New School wrestling has seven basic skills: stance and movement, penetration step, lifting, hip heist, back arch, back step and coming to base. All golden skills, indeed. Here we concentrate on the penetration step.
Hit your stance.
With most of your weight over your lead foot, drop your base by bending at the knees.
Drive off your trail foot and step your lead foot between or past your opponent's feet on the outside as far as you can manage without sacrificing base.
Breaking the glass concept
Imagine a vertical pane of glass that is directly behind your opponent's heels. Always strive to break this pane of glass with your penetration step. By "breaking the glass" you ensure that you have adequately penetrated your opponent's base.
Penetration step with backstep
This variation allows for a stronger drive, but you must be artful and thoroughly committed because this addition is a huge telegraph.
It's like the preceding move, you begin by moving your rear foot directly underneath your hips. This allows you to have a stronger drive position.
As you reposition your rear foot, hit your level change simultaneously.
Penetration step "banging the knee"
It is preferable to stay on your feet for single- and double-leg drives. However, if an opponent maneuvers toward the retreat range (his five, your one) or you desire a quick drop out of range, the knee bang is an acceptable alternative.
Use either of the trail foot drive positions described before.
Shoot while dropping your base.
The lead knee, instead of the lead foot, breaks the glass and you should pop up immediately.
Two knee banging rules
Spend as little time on your lead knee as possible.
Strive to bang only the lead knee. Getting caught with two knees down puts you in an inferior position.
4 Old School leg dives
These are subtle moves and learning them is easier than it may first appear. Following are a solo drill, three ways to hit the leg dive (notice the leg is not picked up since we're just showing how to hit the dive itself) and finally, one position for recovery after a thwarted leg dive.
The dive is just what it sounds like — a dive into the mat.
Hit your stance and imagine yourself standing at the edge of a swimming pool.
Moving your hands before your upper body, reach for the water as if you were diving.
As you dive, break your body into chain links — the hands move first, then the head and finally the waist.
With the palms of your hands, slap the mat directly in front of the toes of your lead foot.
Get comfy with this breaking of the body into chain links and make a total commitment to the dive to your toes.
Dive at your opponent's legs without moving your feet using the chain link manner of movement.
From a right lead and with total commitment, dive at your opponent's right lead. Aim your head to the outside of his right knee.
Allow your right shoulder to impact on top of his right thigh. This move will stop your dive.
Do not control your descent — allow his body to break your fall.
Place your hands behind his knees.
Once your shoulder bangs into him, step your rear foot forward.
Single-leg dive — head to the outside
Dive as described in the double leg aiming for his right leg lead.
Allow your shoulder to impact his thigh.
Your lead hand goes behind his lead knee.
The rear hand reaches for his lead heel.
As in the previous move (and all leg dives for that matter) the rear foot moves after the dive.
Single-leg dive — head to the inside
Hit your standard dive but move your head to the inside of his lead leg.
Impact your rear shoulder on his thigh.
Place your rear hand behind his knee.
Lead hand cups the heel.
The rear foot can now step forward.
At this point, I'm sure you've noticed a pattern to the hand placement. Let's spell it out.
Two rules of single-leg dive hand positioning:
One hand is high (knee); one hand is low (heel).
The side your head is nearest indicates which hand reaches for the heel.
Leg dive recovery
As you can see, if your opponent causes you to miss your leg dive, you will wind up in a three-point base that resembles the end point of the solo leg-dive drill. No problem. Immediately spring up and return to stance. Notice in the photos that even if your opponent sprawls at this point, your hips are high, and you will have zero problem hitting him with a wing or duck-under to escape or gain top position.
There you have it — Old School and New School. I urge you to drill both school entries and become proficient in each.
Once you close the distance, you've got to know how to get hold of your opponent. Keep the following concepts in mind.
Hit him where he bends
Joints are the primary structural weakness in the human skeleton. The body is more apt to collapse at joints than at bone. Play to that natural fact and strive to place your hands and body at joints — otherwise known as hitting him where he bends.
Excerpted from No Holds Barred Fighting: Takedowns by Mark Hatmaker, Doug Werner. Copyright © 2005 Doug Werner. Excerpted by permission of Tracks Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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