Getting the underhook in the guard, especially in positions like the Butterfly guard and the Half guard, is incredibly important.
Entire matches have changed momentum just because the guy on the bottom got this one grip!
The underhook gives you a huge amount of control over your opponent’s body and also gives you a route to his back.
But your opponent won’t just give you this grip – he’ll fight you tooth and nail. Which is why you actually need to develop techniques to get to the underhook!
For example, when you’re fighting in the Butterfly guard, you want an underhook underneath his arm (or a belt grip if your opponent is wearing a gi) because that’s a very powerful grip to execute the butterfly sweep.
Here is a route to the underhook that I learned by watching Eddie Cummings in competition.
Watch the video below to learn this useful trick. Or scroll down to see the pictographic instructions.
The starting point for getting the underhook is actually a two-on-one grip.
Start by making sure there’s some distance between you and your opponent. Put the opponent’s point of the elbow in the middle of your palm, grab and bend the opponent’s wrist and rotate his arm in. Rotate his arm inward to break his structure and make his arm weaker.
Don’t mistake this for a Kimura grip although it’s beginning to go in that direction. Now you’ve got a handle to work with.
This is the two-on-one:
Next, hop your hips in and lift your opponent as high as you can with your feet.
The hop is important; if you start with your butt touching your heels it’s almost impossible to lift your opponent up because that would be all quadriceps strength. By hopping forward you use bodyweight to generate momentum, first towards you, then up.
While he’s hoisted in the air he’s not really thinking about fighting your grips, so use that air time to get a single or a double underhook (this is easier to understand by seeing it in video form than to read about it).
This may seem like a lot of steps just to get a grip, but sometimes gripfighting is the whole battle!
With single or double underhooks you’re in control. You can butterfly sweep him, switch to the X guard, take his back and make other good things happen!
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