How often do you find yourself elevating your opponent’s near elbow when passing the guard or maintaining side control?
If you’re like me, the answer is a lot, but how significant is it? Where does it rank in the hierarchy of control mechanisms? I wanted to discover the answers to those questions, so I started doing experiments.
Giving Up the Underhook
The first experiment was from the bottom of half guard. The goal was to identify how much effective control does the underhook give an opponent when I’m on my side with the other elbow firmly hidden under my body.
This is what I noticed:
- As long as I kept my elbow under me, it was difficult to flatten me out.
- Even without the underhook, I could still off balance and threaten sweeps.
Focusing on the Near Arm
In the second experiment, I gave up the underhook again but this time from the top of half guard. My focus was entirely on the near arm and keeping it elevated.
What I observed was this:
- Controlling the sleeve is not enough. It was still possible to bump and threaten my back if their elbow touches the mat.
- If the elbow is firmly controlled and elevated, it is easy to maintain control and pressure.
- I could still pass without the underhook.
Fundamentally, elevating the elbow accomplishes two objectives:
- It separates the elbow from the body, which isolates and weakens the arm.
- It limits range of motion, which makes it easier to keep an opponent flat on their back.
Both of those aspects aid and assist you in control and passing, but the second one is the most important piece. Just by keeping an opponent flattened out, you restrict their options.
Now I wouldn’t recommend that you abandon the underhook. It still serves many useful purposes, but I want to elevate the importance of controlling the near arm. So play with it and see how far you can stretch its applications.