Arm Drags and The Pummel

Bailing from Bailing from the Clinch

In the first chapter I talked about Bailing as one of the things that separate the Outerclinch from clinching like a regular wrestler.  Wrestling and most martial arts use the Clinch to set up takedowns.  The problem with this in self-defense is obvious.  If things go badly you have no escape.  For women fighting men and children fighting adults this strategy can be especially dangerous and that’s with single, unarmed combat.  Add weapons and multiple opponents to the mix and Bailing becomes a much better option.



Shove-and-Bail is called that because you must create space in order to Bail.  If you are holding a Badguy’s arm in Cop’s Russian, you can’t simply let him go and run away without fear of being grabbed or hit.  Shoving a small person is simple, but if you are Bailing there is a good chance that you are the small person.

My first contact with Shove-and-Bail came when I was in the NYPD Academy.  With us it was about creating space between us and the Badguy’s so we could reach for the tools on our belts.  They taught to us a concept of using the Badguy’s weight as a springboard to launch from rather than trying to move him.  With Cop’s Russian, if you have trouble shoving your Badguy you should definitely use this springboard concept.

However, that doesn’t always feel natural in a fight.  A solution is the concept of we discussed before in the Break the Strike section of Cop’s Russian chapter of moving a Badguy when he is spinning on his axis.  Just as a Badguy spins himself on his axis when he attempts to strike, you too can spin the Badguy on his axis by using the lever of the Badguy’s arm and the energy of his attack.  A good way to develop this is the Spinning Drill below.



With your partner in Cop's Russian, use your body as an axis to spin your partner's body in circles around you.  He will pretty much have to comply for 2 reasons:

1- You are using his arm as part of a class 1 lever.

2- He will be fighting centrifugal force that will be trying to make his body fly way from the axis, you.  He will have to speed up to keep from flying away and falling down.


From this vulnerable position, he will have no balance and be easy to move, just as he would be easy to move on a spinning axis when you practice Break the Strike.  Here, you won't have to jump backwards, regardless of the size difference.

This Spinning Drill is also useful for directing the Badguy into the wall, for situations in which the direction he is facing is very different from the wall.  PIC

To borrow even more energy from your Badguy, add a Wax Drag



An arm drag is a wrestling move.  It is used to drag an opponent’s arm across his body to open up his defenses for takedowns.  A Wax Drag is an Arm Drag used to improve your Spinning Drill.  The name comes from the “wax on, wax off” scene in the movie, The Karate Kid.

To perform a Wax Drag:

  1. From 12:00, you  and your partner are standing in neutral, squared stances.
  2. Your partner uses his left arm to touch your right shoulder.
  3. Make your hand into a karate chop shape. 
  4. Move your hand in a small, counter-clockwise circle. 
  5. Clear your partner’s left arm from your right arm by making your outer forearm come into contact with your partner’s inner forearm
  6. Reach across with your right hand to grab your partner’s right tricep
  7. Rather than use your strength to drag your partner’s weight, use your opponent’s weight as an anchor to step around your partner’s right  arm and land in the 3:00 position
  8. From 3:00 you have many opportunities for takedowns.  You can also set up a Russian Tie or a Cop’s Russian from this Armdrag
  9. Keeping hold of his right tricep, slip your left hand under his right arm to palm his right bicep
  10. Slide your right hand from his tricep down his arm to his wrist to end in a regular grip or a Swan’s Neck Grip
  11. As you transition with your hands, make sure that your core covers his right elbow to complete your Cop’s Russian
  12. From your Cop’s Russian, begin the Spinning Drill

For wrestlers who like to use Arm Drags, the Cop’s Russian is a great compliment.  No matter how you set up your Arm Drag (from the Clinch, from Handfighting or just sheer speed) the Cop’s Russian is always there for you.



Most of this chapter is basic wrestling but you need to know some wrestling in order to have any timing with Outerclinch.  First you need to know some basic terms.  If you’re already a wrestler, please feel free to skip ahead to the Bailing from Pummel section.


Level Change

A level change is when you lower your hips below your opponent's hips.  Most takedowns involve some sort of level change.  The ability to score takedowns and defend takedowns is often closely related to where your hips are in relation to your opponent.   PIC

First, you need to know what an underhook is.  
PIC. To perform an underhook do the following:

1- From Wedge Stance with your right lead forward, slide your right hand into your partner's armpit until both your hand and elbow come out the other side.
2- Clamp your palm on your partner's shoulder in a monkeygrip. PICS side and back. You have the option of fighting your opponent face-to-face (as above) or pivoting 90 degrees to fight at a perpendicular angle. PIC 
It is very important to make sure that your elbow passes completely through the armpit and out the other side. Otherwise, your opponent could injure your elbow by wrapping his arm around your elbow and creating pressure, especially if he has a good wizzer.  PIC
The underhook is very important for defending takedowns because you can use the underhook to prevent your opponent from doing a level change. PIC You can also setup takedowns PIC, punches PIC and elbows PIC.
Your underhook puts you in an overhook and leaves you vulnerable to your opponent's wizzer. PIC

If you get your opponent in double underhooks you will be in an advantageous position for level changes and takedowns and it will be more difficult for your opponent to defend takedowns.  That is why you never want your opponent to get double underhook on you.

That being said, when you have an opponent in Double Underhooks, or more importantly, a Badguy, you must always be aware of where your elbows are in relation to his body so your elbows don't get hyper-extended.



If your opponent underhooks you the correct response to overhook him.  This means wrapping your arm around his underhook.  If you overhook with your left hand hand, your left leg is back not forward, and vice versa.  If possible, you want to pinch his arm to your body with your elbow and grab his tricep with your hand.  PIC

Because Double Underhooks is an advantageous attack position, it is not desirable to be in Double Overhooks.  In Greco-Roman wrestling, the salto is popular throw from Double Overhooks but that is beyond the scope of this book. PIC

The Overhook can be used to set-up takedowns, punches, and elbows,  However, when you wish to attack from Overhook, it is best to turn your Overhook into a Wizzer, a specific form of Overhook.



To turn your Overhook into a Wizzer, do the following:

1- Make sure Badguy's wrist is trapped against your core.  PIC

2- Tightly snake your arm around Badguy's arm, just elbow, making sure there is as little space as possible,  There are many variants but I like finsh with my snaking hand in a prayer postion against my chest.  PIC

3- In one motion, explosively turn your head, your right shoulder and even your hips and toes in a clockwise direction and lan all your weight on the trapped elbow.

The Wizzer can be used to set up many strikes, takedowns, head controls and chokes. PIC PIC PIC PIC

The disadvantage is that the Wizzer can be countered with an Underhook.


Over-and-Under Clinch/ The Greco Clinch/50-50  PIC

An Over-and-Under Clinch, also called Greco Clinch or 50/50, is simply having one of the Badguy's arms in an overhook and the other in underhook which means that the Badguy automatically has an underhook and an overhook on you.  As the term 50/50 implies, it is a neutral position as opposed to an advantageous position like double underhooks.  

What is important for all fighters in self-defense is the ability to use the Over-and-Under Clinch to defend against being lifted, shoved, dragged or taken down.  I think that defending against that sort of thing is especially important for women fighting men or children fighting adults.

Your Wedge Stance is your best structure to absorb the force of a Badguy.  It is also your best defense against being lifted.  This is because if a Badguy wants to lift you with a bearhug he has to connect his body to your hips.  If your shoulders are way in front of your hips in your Wege Stance and his armpit is blocked from changing levels with your underhook, he can't connect to your hips.  This is true regardless of the height/weight/strength difference between fighters.  So, in theory, women could use this against men and children could use this aganst adults.  Of course, the Badguy could try to pick you up some other way, grabbing your legs or grabbing your head, but there are other counters for that: sprawl and collar-and-elbow clinch, which we will discuss in other chapters.  

I said in theory because a Badguy that really wants to hurt you won't keep attacking from the same angle.  He will do explosive movements from side-to-side, clockwise and counter-clockwise and basically anywhere and that will quickly break down the structure of your Wedge Stance.  The solution to that is to have a good Pummel or simply to Bail from Over-and-Under Clinch right away.



Bailing from Over-and-Under Clinch

If you want to Bail from Over-and-Under Clinch, you must transition to Outerclinch and then Bail.  The way to do this is with an Armdrag because it easy to transition from Armdrag to Cop’s Russian and from Cop’s Russian to Shove-and-Bail. 

How do you get what I call a Snakedrag, an Armdrag from the Over-and-Under Clinch?

  1. From Over-and-Under Clinch, take your left Overhook and grab the right wrist of your partner’s Underhook
  2. Force your partner’s right wrist down to your hip
  3. Reach across with your left hand to grab your partner’s tricep
  4. You now have your Armdrag and can transition to Cop’s Russian to Shove-and-Bail


What if your opponent’s Underhook is so tight that you can’t force it down?

One solution is to Pummel.



Pummel is a flow drill where you and your partner continuously switch positions in the Over-and-Under Clinch.  There are many better wrestlers and jiu-jitsu fighters than me, so I highly recommend going on YouTube and viewing pummel lessons from:

If for some reason those viewings don't work for you, learn pummeling the following way:

1-Start in Over-and-Under Clinch with a right underhook on the Badguy's left armpit and a left overhook on the Badguy's right underhook.

2-Take your left overhook and release it and make that hand into a "karate chop".  Your  partner, the Badguy, will simultaneously do the same with his left overhook.

3-Rotate your left karate chop inwards, clockwise, so that the blade of your hand makes contact with the Badguy's right bicep.  Your  partner, the Badguy, will simultaneously do the same with his left karate chop.

4-Snake your left arm inside the Badguy's underhook and through his armpit to have your left am get the underhook.  Your  partner, the Badguy, will simultaneously do the same with his left arm.  It is very important that you don't compete and fight each other when first learnign the drill.  You should let each other get inside your underhooks at the same time.  That's part of how this drill increases your timing.

5-As you do this,  step your left foot forward and your right foot back.  Your  partner, the Badguy, will simultaneously do the same with his feet.



I prefer to have my lead leg and my lead arm, the underhook side, be on the same side.  PIC.  This is because the underhook protects leg on that side from being grabbed and I want the leg closest to my opponent to be the leg protected.



You could do your pummels fast or slow, hard or soft.  You can add a shoulder bump or even strikes: knees, elbows, punches, footstomps and headbutts.  You can shove, drag and spin your opponent.  For your Wide Range you want to train as many variants as possible.  For your Narrow Focus you want to train some form of pummel at every session.  PICS



When pummeling for self-defense you have to know why you do this:  

1- As a takedown defense and defense against impact, explosiveness, bad intentions, ambush, pressure and being slammed into a wall

2- To set up attacks (Cop's Russian, strikes, takedowns of your own)

3-  To develop your timing and sparring.  This is the most important because you can't safely spar at 100% with Cop's Russian.  Of course, you can learn to spar like a wrestler and a boxer and you should, but many students have to build up to that.  In between repetitions with a cooperative partner and sparring at 100% you need some kind of bridge to be able to apply technique against an opponent more athletic than you.  

The first step is Pummel, which feels a lot more like a real fight.  It's still not sparring but it moves you closer to that goal.

4- Fundamentals.  Pummel builds your Wedge Stance, your knowledge of underhooks and overhook, your Over-and-Under Clinch and your overall knowledge of clinching, your footwork and a host of other nuanced fundamentals you will need to develop real wrestling skills.  


Bailing from Pummel

So, let’s say your clinch is ok and you can stop a Badguy’s takedown.  Let’s say he’s not making it easy for you to force his wrist down to your hip.  What does Pummel do to solve that problem?

Pummel forces the Badguy to continually transition from from side to side and from Underhook to Overhook.  During that transition period he won’t have a solid position and his wrist will be easy to move.

The trick is to develop a 1-on-1 control I call the Snake-Catcher.  To make a Snake-Catcher simply take your thumb and the other four fingers and spread them apart in the shape of a fork. PIC CU Snakecatcher

The idea behind using a Snakecatcher is to use the rhythm of the Pummel to time your opponent.  Just as your opponent is about to slide his Underhook into your Overhook, you want the hand of your Overhook to be ready to instantly turn into a Snakecatcher and catch your opponent’s wrist in the fork made between the thumb and four fingers.  Once the wrist is caught in your fork, it will be easy to force it down to your hip because your opponent’s arm is an object in motion and therefore, by the law of inertia, easy to move. 

The important thing is to not let your opponent establish an Underhook before you get your Snakecatcher.  If he does, get another Underhook, you have to wait for the next cycle or two.  In training, you should wait as many cycles as it takes to get your opponent’s timing.  You can’t use strength otherwise the drill is meaningless.

Timing is critical, because if you begin your Snakecatcher before your partner attempts his Underhook, your partner will see it coming and won’t get caught with your Snakecatcher.  If you are too late and you wait till after the Badguy has lsecured his Underhook, you won’t be able to force down his wrist without using a lot of strength.  The time window between the Badguy beginning to enter his hand into your armpit for the Underhook and his passing through the armpit to secure his Underhook is a very small window.  This is why you must wait a few cycles to get the timing and drill Pummel and Snakecatcher on a regular basis. 

However, if Pummel and Snakecatcher are part of your Narrow Focus, you should no trouble catching a Badguy with Snakecatcher if he tries to grab you in the real world.  From Snakecatcher, you flow to Snakedrag to Cop’s Russian to Shove-and-Bail.



There are many “what if’s” that come to mind with Pummel. 

“What if the Badguy gets me in Double Underhooks?”

“What if the Badguy tries to grab my head, legs or arms?”

“What if I want to strike?”

“What if I want to set up takedowns?”


Competitive Pummel:

Once you get comfortable with Pummel, you can compete with your partner in some controlled sparring:

1- Battle for Double Underhooks-  You cooperate in a normal pummel for about 30 seconds to get some energy flow going, and from there you battle your partner to get double underhooks.  Once you get double underhooks you have a bodylock and you stop.  The Bodylock represents scoring a throw but sparring to takedown to often, especially at theearly stages of your training, increases the risk of injury.

2- Breaking Out of Double Underhooks- You take turns with your partner escaping each other's double underhooks.  There are many escapes, but my favorite is the one I learned at the Marcelo Garcia Academy.

From inside your opponent's Double Underhooks

     1- With an overhook, slide your forearm horizontally along your opponent's torso.

     2- Use your forearm as a frame to create as much space as possible

     3- Take your other overhook and snake inside for an underhook.  This will give you each 1 ovehook and 1 underhook and put you both back in Greco Clinch.

3- Sumo-  You and your partner are in a circle, square or some area with boundaries.  From Greco Clinch, you compete to push or drag each other out of the boundaries.  This sumo skill is very important for Wallfighting.

4-Shoulder Bump- When change the energy of your Pummel from soft to hard, bumping your shoulder into your partner’s chest is unavoidable.  This shoulder bumping is a good simulation of what crashing into a Badguy feels like.  It is also great for creating space and/or off-balancing your opponent to set-up strikes and/or takedowns.

5-Striking- Striking from Pummel in MMA sport is a sophisticated technique because you have a skilled opponent that can counter.  Most Badguy’s aren’t MMA opponents so you can simply strike where opportunities present themselves.  Once you and your partner are comfortable with each other’s energy, you can experiment by slowly placing various strikes on each other’s bodies in the middle of the drill: footstomps, knees, elbows, uppercuts, hooks and headbutts.


Pummel is a very versatile drill and it can be trained anywhere without a mat, a wall or even much space.  There is no excuse not to train it at every session.  For more Pummel variants and pummel drills please check the Wide Range section at the back of this book.


The Weakness of Outerclinch

Every style has its strengths and weaknesses.  The weakness of Outerclinch is that you can't spar full-power in Cop's Russian without injuring your elbow.  To spar, you go to other arts:  Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing, wrestling etc.  Learning to spar in other arts develops your timing for Outerclinch.  For people who aren't ready for sparring or for people who want to reduce their sparring we have flow drills, like Pummel, as a bridge between sparring and repetitions with no resistance.  


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