Make your own free website on

Tactics of SAMBO Wrestling

Chapter 2


2. Breaking through the Opponent's Defensive Holds

To cross through the opponent's defensive grips, the SAMBist Must wear down the adversary's strong and secure defensive posture. Therefore, to break through the opponent's defenses, the SAMBist must meet and weaken the adversary's defenses to take the advantage to trick the opponent into being taken in by a ploy. It is then, by smashing the opponent's defenses, that the SAMBist consolidates is self-confidence in his victory while possibly panicking the opponent and sapping his will to win.

Methods exist for breaking through an opponent's defenses-- whether the fighters are on their feet or down on the mat.

Breaching the Defenses of the Standing Adversary

Offensive ploys to break through a standing opponent's defenses may be conducted by means of slipping past the blocking arms to close in on the opponent.

There exist numerous means of breaking through defensive holds when the SAMBist makes breaching opportunities by adjusting his own grips or better still, by forcing the opponent to adjust his own grips.

Slipping the Defensive Holds

To gain opportunities to slip past defensive grips, use the element of surprise, or at least partial surprise, to exploit offensive ploys.

To release the opponent's grip when facing him, the SAMBist needs an accurate, rehearsed plan to implement effectively as the opportunity presents itself. This permits the SAMBist to slip through even the talented and skilled adversary's defenses when the opening occurs.

Breaking through the opponent's defensive grips may require the SAMBist to push and pull at the adversary's grips or attack in spurts to twist out of defensive holds to permit an attack to follow.

In order to break through the defenses, the yanking motions or spurts of activity against the opponent are achieved to surprise him to weaken his grips by moving him backwards in one direction while strengthening your position facing him. If for example, the opponent grips your sleeve beneath your elbow, you must press on to execute a downward release maneuver against his attacking arm. This counter should be a sudden upward and inward motion to release the attacking hold.

If the opponent grips your uniform on the sleeve, your releasing maneuver can twist off his grip. Executing a swift and strong movement frees your arm. Simultaneously with this release movement, the SAMBist must finish off the opponent by initiating his own grips to control the opponent's elbow.

A counter grip on the opponent's uniform at the trunk or belt, can slip him out of his preferred defensive position. If while facing the opponent, a grip on his uniform on the lapel, collar, or clavicle can be used to drive or steer an opponent off balance. The gripping hand drives and wraps over the opponent's wrist from below and inside. In that moment, the driving motion of the arms must lead the opponent's arm downward and to the backside to exploit this retreat by the opponent by crouching and drop stepping into the opponent's hips to the adversary into a double leg throw (Fig 2).

Fig 2 Breaking through a defensive grip with the clavicle grip counter to throw the opponent down the high double leg throw.

If the opponent's controlling grip is applied to a uniform breast or lapel, escape this hold with a brusque bump and shove with the left forearm over and sharply outward against the opponent's wrist and continue the motion upward.

If the opponent's controlling grip is on your back under one of the SAMBist's arms, he evades and brings down the opponent for an abrupt finish with an upward bump and shove executed by the left forearm strike against the inside of the opponent's attacking arm. This forearm bump must be executed close to the opponent's grip. This requires turning to the right to drive with the hips. The legs must be slightly squatting. After releasing his grip, the opponent can be thrown using suddenly applied holds. If only one gripping hand is released, use the forearm to next hook up for a quick grip followed by the quick throw.

Grips that Catch the Opponent's Arms

Easily capturing and restraining an opponent's arms plays a role in maintaining a defensive posture while biding time for the circumstances to defeat the opponent. To frustrate the opponent until he may be scored upon requires advance planning and rehearsed ploys.

To deal with the opponent's reaching in to grip you, get close with your goal being a counter grip upon either the uniform lapel or the chest itself by wrapping an arm under the adversary's gripping arm to restrain his attack. You may then use your arm to drive into his armpit. If facing the opponent, his right hand grasps over left shoulder, raise your left arm upwards inside the opponent's right arm to drive powerfully to take a left grip deep inside his right armpit. Your right hand grips his clothes near his right armpit and you drive into him with your hips to decay his balance.

If the opponent uses a right hand grip on your lapel move your left hand beneath his right armpit. Then, drive into the opponent with your left forearm while gripping his right arm by the uniform near his armpit. Drop yourself downward to throw the opponent over your head with a propping shin in the abdomen (fig 3).

Fig 3 Breakthrough defensive grips to catch the opponent's arm to throw him overhead with a shin planted in his abdomen.

Approaching the Opponent's Defensive Grips

The skillful approach permits the SAMBist to break through the opponent's defenses-- not at the place that he expects and is prepared for, but in another zone completely.

For any attack to succeed, the opponent must have his offense frustrated and his defenses broken down. In order for the attack to occur, the SAMBist must close in with the opponent by means of a series of specialized approaches that lead to throws. If while facing him, the opponent grabs your sleeve on either arm, twist the fabric out of his grasp to deter him from closing in. Your intent should be to close in at that moment by distorting the rectangle formed by the locked arms and torsos of both SAMBists. To make this happen, step forward and to the left on the left leg with great force to distort the opponent's grip to his right side. The opponent cannot restrain the SAMBist using his prior gripping arrangement and altitude in relation to his torso and center of balance. Instead of a rectangle, the relationship of the bodies has become a quadrangle with sharply obtuse angles. Approaching the opponent with an offense delivered obliquely reduces the width of quadrangle angles allowing safer approaches that permit slipping past the opponent's guard to trip him like felling a tree with a sweep behind his leg or with both hands attacking behind both knees.

If the opponent grips your uniform sleeves for either or both arms, twist out of his grasp to deny his offense while allowing you to close in on him by squatting downward and forward with a small step ahead. In this case, the opponent cannot have a chance to defend himself because your dropping weight over extends his arms lowering his hands as well. Form the standing rectangle defined by the arms and trunks for the SAMBists down to the mat, attack begins by converting the rectangle to a quadrangle-- the more obtuse the angles, the better. By maintaining our hips and hands at about the same altitude as the opponent's hips, there is comfortable and easy access to double and single leg throws.

Breaking through Defensive Grips in Ground Wrestling (Par Terre)

When wrestling near the ground, the defenses employed will be mainly to protect against submission holds. Specialized grips must be employed against an opponent defending against the submission hold by locking his hands to prevent hyperextension of an arm. Here, to gain leverage, you may have to grip your own uniform, your opponent's uniform, or your own leg.

To gain the most extension against locked hands as a defensive hold, move his locked hands forward of his torso and move your legs to wrap around and behind his grip but forward of his torso. Usually, even a strong opponent's gripped hands can be worn down. Once locked in this position, the opponent cannot generate further defense much less mount an offense. Therefore, after the grip breaks, a planned and well rehearsed attack can be employed successfully to submit the opponent.

In the following paragraphs there will be examples of how to put in motion breaking through the opponent's defensive grips while wrestling on the mat. The techniques in this section will concern SAMBO techniques for unlocking the opponent's locked hands.

If you find yourself on the mat by the opponent's left side with his hands locked with his forearms and knees planted firmly against the mat, use both of your hands to grip his left forearm and lie down by his left side. Guide your right forearm between his locked hands and drive your left foot sole into his ribs and underneath his body to the other side. Cross your legs in front of the opponent's torso and align your legs against his head. Employ the strength of your back combined with your arms dragging against his left forearm to unlock his hands. As the hands separate apply a hyperextension on the elbow with help of the legs (Fig 4).

Fig 4 Breaking locked hands for applying a hyperextension of the elbow with the help of the legs in the hold.

If your hold down covers your opponent's sides with your legs, and he restrains your attack by locking his hands behind your back, place your left knee by the side of the opponent's head while pushing his body down to the mat with your right hand on his right side. Take care to block off his right side. Lean heavily to the right and downward on his torso against his locked hands. Force his hands to disconnect. The opponent's hands come apart-- conduct the technique to hyperextend the elbow.

If you attempt to hold down your opponent from on top of him, and he locks his hands around your back, first grip your opponent's left sleeve with your right hand and pin him to the right side. If your opponent so permits, shift your hand beneath his buttocks to block his retreat. Then, begin to break his locked hands. Kneel on the mat with your legs on either side of his head and move your left hand under his chin. With the opponent's hands clasped tightly behind your back, press him downward. At the suitable moment, lean your body into his torso to weigh down on his hands to slide his body toward your buttocks. Press then your left side to his right hand.

Fig 5 Disconnect hands locked behind your back when applying a hold down and hyperextend his elbow between his legs.

Step up and slide him under your buttocks by crossing your left hand to the right side. Press down on his chin and bend the opponent backward toward the mat to induce him to disconnect his hands. The disconnected grip leads to an attack to hyperextend his elbow by scissoring your legs around his arm (Fig 5).

If face down on the opponent in a tightly closed body position caused by him locking his hands behind your back, attack with a reverse elbow lift.

If the opponent the opponent is in this position with his head facing your head with his hands locked behind your back, shift position by sitting through to be near his left side and carry out a reverse elbow lift by attacking his right arm (Fig 6).

Fig 6 From the a front chest to chest hold down, disconnect the opponent's hands from behind your back by slipping to a reverse arm lock and lifting up on his elbow.

Exploiting the Advantageous Moment for Offense