US Army Combatives

3-5 Grappling


Grappling is when two or more fighters engage in close-range, hand-to-hand combat. They may be armed or unarmed. To win, the fighter must be aware of how to move his body to maintain the upper hand, and he must know the mechanical strengths and weaknesses of the human body. The situation becomes a struggle of strength pitted against strength unless the fighter can remain in control of his opponent by using skilled movements to gain an advantage in leverage and balance. Knowledge of the following basic movement techniques may give the fighter a way to apply and gain the advantage in grappling situations.

a. Wristlock From a Collar or Lapel Grab. When an opponent grabs the defender by the collar or by the lapel, the defender reaches up and grabs the opponent’s hand (to prevent him from withdrawing it) while stepping back to pull him off balance (Figure 3-15, Step 1).

The defender peels off the opponent’s grabbing hand by crushing his thumb and bending it back on itself toward the palm in a straight line (Figure 3-15, Step 2) . To keep his grip on the opponent’s thumb, the defender keeps his hands close to his body where his control is strongest.

He then turns his body so that he has a wristlock on his opponent. The wristlock is produced by turning his wrist outward at a 45-degree angle and by bending it toward the elbow (Figure 3-15, Step 3) . The opponent can be driven to the ground by putting his palm on the ground.

b. Wristlock From an Arm Grab. When an opponent grabs a defender’s arm, the defender rotates his arm to grab the opponent’s forearm (Figure 3-16, Step 1).

At the same time, he secures his other hand on the gripping hand of the opponent to prevent his escape (Figure 3-16, Step 2).

As the defender steps in toward the opponent and maintains his grip on the hand and forearm, a zee shape is formed by the opponent’s arm; this is an effective wristlock (Figure 3-16, Step 3). More pain can be induced by trying to put the opponent’s fingers in his own eyes.

  • c. Prisoner Escort. The escort secures the prisoner’s arm with the wrist bent straight back upon itself, palm toward the elbow. The prisoner’s elbow can be secured in the crook of the escort’s elbow, firmly against the escort’s body for the most control (Figure 3-17). This technique is most effective with two escorts, each holding a wrist of the prisoner. Use this technique to secure the opponent only if rope, flex cuffs, or handcuffs are unavailable.
  • d. Elbow Lock Against the Body. The opponent’s elbow can be locked against the side of the body (Figure 3-18) by the defender. The defender turns his body to force the elbow into a position in which it was not designed to move. He can apply leverage on the opponent’s wrist to gain control since the lock causes intense pain. The elbow can easily be broken to make the arm ineffective. This movement must be executed with maximum speed and force.
  • e. Elbow Lock Against the Knee. While grappling on the ground, a defender can gain control of the situation if he can use an elbow lock (Figure 3-19) against the opponent. He uses his knee as a fulcrum for leverage to break his opponent’s arm at the elbow. Once the arm breaks, the defender must be prepared with a follow-up technique.
  • f. Elbow Lock Against the Shoulder.An elbow lock can be applied by locking the elbow joint against the shoulder (Figure 3-20) and pulling down on the wrist. Leverage is produced by using the shoulder as a fulcrum, by applying force, and by straightening the knees to push upward. This uses the defender’s body mass and ensures more positive control. The opponent’s arm must be kept straight so he cannot drive his elbow down into the defender’s shoulder.

g. Shoulder Dislocation. A defender can maneuver into position to dislocate a shoulder by moving inside when an opponent launches a punch (Figure 3-21, Step 1). The defenderholds his hand nearest the punching arm high to protect the head.

The defender continues to move in and places his other arm behind the punching arm (Figure 3-21, Step 2) . He strikes downward into the crook of the opponent’s elbow to create a bend.

Then he clasps his hands and moves to the opponent’s outside until the opponent’s upper arm is in alignment with his shoulders and bent 90 degrees at the elbow. As he steps, the defender pulls up on the opponent’s elbow and directs the wrist downward. This motion twists the shoulder joint so it is easily dislocated and the opponent loses his balance (Figure 3-21, Step 3) .

NOTE: The defender must keep his clasped hands close to the body and properly align the opponent’s arm by maneuvering his entire body. This technique will not succeed by using upper-body strength only, the opponent will escape.

(1) Straight-arm shoulder dislocation. The shoulder can also be dislocated (Figure 3-22) by keeping the elbow straight and forcing the opponent’s arm backward toward the opposite shoulder at about 45 degrees. The initial movement must take the arm down and alongside the opponent’s body. Bending the wrist toward the elbow helps to lock out the elbow. The dislocation also forces the opponent’s head down- ward where a knee strike can be readily made. This dislocation technique should be practiced to get the feel of the correct direction in which to move the joint.

(2) Shoulder dislocation using the elbow. While grappling, the defender can snake his hand over the crook in the opponent’s elbow and move his body to the outside, trapping one arm of the opponent against his side (Figure 3-23, Step 1).

The defender can then clasp his hands in front of his body and use his body mass in motion to align the opponent’s upper arm with the line between the shoulders (Figure 3-23, Step 2).

By dipping his weight and then pulling upward on the opponent’s elbow, the shoulder is dislocated, and the opponent loses his balance (Figure 3-23, Step 3). If the opponent’s elbow locks rather than bends to allow the shoulder dislocation, the defender can use the elbow lock to keep control.

h. Knee Lock/Break. The opponent’s knee joint can be attacked to produce knee locks or breaks(Figure 3-24)by forcingthe knee in a direction opposite to which it was designed to move. The knee can be attacked with the body’s mass behind the defender’s knee or with his entire body by falling on the opponent’s knee, causing it to hyperextend.

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