Body Lock Basics: A Comprehensive Guide for Grapplers in MMA

April 3, 2023
From: Spartacus
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The body lock, also known as a bear hug, is a grappling technique used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) to control and immobilise an opponent. 

There are different variations of the body lock, including over-under and double underhooks, which provide different angles of control and opportunities for takedowns or submission attempts.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into everything you need to know about the body lock, from the basics of how to execute it to advanced applications in both BJJ and MMA. You’ll learn how the body lock can help you control your opponent, set up takedowns, defend against takedowns, and maintain dominant positions. Plus, we’ll give you some fun partner and solo drills to practise your body lock skills. So, get ready to lock it up and level up your grappling game with the body lock!

Importance of the Body Lock in BJJ and MMA

The body lock is an important technique in both BJJ and MMA for several reasons:

  • Control: The body lock allows the person applying it to control their opponent’s movement and restrict their mobility. This makes it easier to take the fight to the ground, manoeuvre for a submission, or maintain control during a clinch.
  • Takedowns: The body lock can be used to set up takedowns, particularly the double-leg takedown, which is a common technique in both BJJ and MMA. You can take your opponent off balance and bring them to the ground by wrapping your arms around their torsos and lifting them.
  • Defence: The body lock can also be used as a defensive technique, particularly in MMA where opponents may try to take you down. A body lock prevents your opponent from getting close enough to take you down or forces them to expend energy to escape.
  • Positioning: The body lock is often used to control an opponent from the back or side position, which can provide opportunities for submission attempts. It can also be used to maintain a dominant position, such as in the mount or side control.

Type of Body Lock

There are different types of body locks that can be used in BJJ and MMA. The most common types include:

  • Double Underhooks: This body lock involves wrapping both arms under your opponent’s arms and around their torso, with your hands clasped together behind their back. The double underhooks provide a high degree of control over your opponent’s upper body and can be used to set up takedowns, control the back, or defend against takedowns.
  • Over-Under: This body lock involves having one arm over your opponent’s arm and the other arm under their arm, with your hands clasped together behind their back. The over-under body lock provides control over your opponent’s upper body and can be used to set up takedowns, control the back, or defend against takedowns.
  • Body Triangle: This body lock involves wrapping both legs around your opponent’s torso, locking your ankles together, and squeezing tight. The body triangle is commonly used from the back position in BJJ to control your opponent’s movement and set up a rear-naked choke.
  • Gable Grip: This body lock involves clasping your hands together around your opponent’s torso, with your elbows close to your body. The gable grip can be used to control your opponent’s movement in the clinch and set up takedowns.

Each type of body lock provides a different angle of control and can be used in different situations depending on your goals and the position you are in.

Importance of Grip and Position in Body Lock

When it comes to executing the body lock effectively in BJJ and MMA, grip and position are two critical factors to consider. Here’s why:

  • Grip: The way you grip your opponent’s body can greatly affect your ability to control them. For example, the double underhooks and over-under body locks both require you to clasp your hands together behind your opponent’s back. If your grip is too loose, your opponent may be able to break free, but if your grip is too tight, you may tire yourself out quickly. Therefore, finding the right balance in your grip is essential for maintaining control while conserving your energy.
  • Position: Your position relative to your opponent also plays a key role in executing the body lock effectively. For example, in the double underhooks body lock, it’s important to get close to your opponent and get your head underneath theirs to maintain leverage. In the over-under body lock, it’s important to control your opponent’s arm that’s over your shoulder to prevent them from breaking your grip. Therefore, being mindful of your position and making adjustments as necessary can help you maintain control and execute the body lock more effectively.

Ultimately, the grip and position you choose will depend on your goals and the situation you find yourself in during a match.

How to Execute a Body Lock

If you’re new to BJJ or MMA, executing a body lock may seem intimidating at first. However, with practice and patience, you can master this essential grappling technique. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to execute a body lock effectively:

  • Get close to your opponent: To execute a body lock, you need to be close to your opponent. This may involve stepping into the clinch or closing the distance after a takedown attempt. Whatever the case may be, make sure you’re close enough to wrap your arms around your opponent’s body.
  • Choose your grip: Depending on the situation and your preference, you may choose to use a double underhooks, over-under, body triangle, or gable grip. Choose the grip that feels most comfortable and secure for you.
  • Secure your grip: Once you’ve chosen your grip, secure it firmly around your opponent’s body. If you’re using the double underhooks or over-under, clasp your hands together behind your opponent’s back. If you’re using the body triangle, wrap your legs around your opponent’s torso and lock your ankles together. If you’re using the gable grip, clasp your hands together in front of your opponent’s body.
  • Position yourself: Depending on the grip you’ve chosen, you may need to adjust your position relative to your opponent. For example, if you’re using the double underhooks, you’ll want to get your head underneath your opponent’s to maintain leverage. If you’re using the over-under, you’ll want to control your opponent’s arm that’s over your shoulder.
  • Control your opponent’s movement: Once you have the body lock secured and your position adjusted, use your grip and body position to control your opponent’s movement. This may involve lifting them off balance, moving them in a certain direction, or preventing them from moving altogether.
  • Execute your next move: Depending on your goals and the situation, you may choose to use the body lock to set up a takedown, control the back, or defend against a takedown attempt. Whatever your next move is, make sure you execute it with confidence and precision.

body lock mma

Applying the Body Lock in BJJ

The body lock is a versatile grappling technique that can be used in a variety of situations in BJJ. Here are some ways to apply the body lock effectively:

  • Using the body lock in takedowns: The body lock is a powerful takedown technique that allows you to control your opponent’s body and take them down to the ground. To execute the body lock takedown, get close to your opponent and secure the double underhooks grip around their body. Using your leverage, lift them off the ground and take them to the mat.
  • Applying the body lock from the back: The body lock can also be used from the back position to control your opponent and set up submissions. To apply the body lock from the back, get your hooks in and wrap your arms around your opponent’s torso to secure the grip. Utilize your leverage to control their movement and look for chokes or armlocks to attack.
  • Using the body lock in guard passing: The body lock can be a useful tool when passing the guard and transitioning to a dominant position. To use the body lock in guard passing, get close to your opponent and secure the over-under grip around their body. As soon as you pass their guard, use your leverage to control their movement and establish side control or mount.
  • Escaping from the body lock: If your opponent has you in a body lock, it’s important to know how to escape and regain control of the match. To escape from the body lock, focus on breaking your opponent’s grip and creating space between your bodies.

Applying the Body Lock in MMA

  • Using the body lock to take the fight to the ground: To execute the body lock takedown in MMA, you need to wrap your arms around your opponent’s waist from behind, interlocking your hands in front of their belly button, and lifting them off the ground. This move can be used to set up a variety of submissions or to gain a dominant position on the ground.
  • Applying the body lock in the clinch: The body lock is also a useful technique in the clinch, which is the close-range standing grappling position that often occurs in MMA fights. In the clinch, you can use the body lock to control your opponent’s movement, limit their striking opportunities, and tire them out. Once you have secured the body lock, you can transition to other grappling techniques, such as a trip or a takedown, or use strikes to the body or head.
  • Using the body lock to control and tire out your opponent: In addition to taking your opponent to the ground or applying it in the clinch, you can use the body lock to control and tire out your opponent. By maintaining the body lock position, you can wear down your opponent’s energy, make it difficult for them to breathe, and limit their ability to strike. This can be a useful strategy in longer fights or against opponents with superior striking skills.
  • Defending against the body lock in MMA: To defend against the body lock in MMA, you should try to prevent your opponent from getting close enough to secure the position. If they do manage to get the body lock, you can try to break their grip or create space by pushing or pulling away. You can also use footwork and movement to avoid being trapped in the body lock position, or use your own grappling techniques to counter your opponent’s attack. Regular training and sparring can help you develop the skills and reflexes needed to defend against the body lock in a fight.

Training and Drilling Body Lock Techniques

Drilling body lock techniques is important for several reasons:

  • Muscle memory: The more you practise body lock techniques, the more your body will become familiar with the movements and positions involved. This will help you to react more quickly and instinctively in a real fight situation.
  • Technique improvement: Drilling body lock techniques allows you to refine your technique and improve your form. This can help you to execute the technique more efficiently and effectively, making it more difficult for your opponent to escape.
  • Conditioning: Body lock techniques require a lot of strength and endurance, particularly in the core and legs. Drilling these techniques can help you to build the necessary strength and endurance to execute them effectively, and to maintain control over your opponent for longer periods of time.
  • Confidence: The more you drill body lock techniques, the more confident you will feel in your ability to execute them in a real fight. This can help to reduce anxiety and improve your overall performance.

Partner Drills for Body Lock Training

Partner drills are an effective way to practise body lock techniques in MMA. Here are a few drills that can help you improve your body lock:

  • Body lock takedowns: Start with your partner in a standing position. Move in and clinch your partner with a body lock. From here, use your legs and hips to lift your partner off the ground and take them down to the mat. Practise this drill from both sides.
  • Body lock defence: Have your partner attempt to clinch you with a body lock. Use your arms and legs to defend against the body lock and prevent your partner from getting a secure hold on you. This drill will help you develop effective defence against the body lock.
  • Body lock transitions: Start with your partner in a standing position. Clinch with a body lock and take your partner down to the mat. From here, transition into another grappling position, such as mount or side control. Practice transitioning from the body lock to different positions.
  • Body lock escapes: Have your partner get a secure body lock on you. Practice escaping from the body lock by using techniques such as pummeling, shrimping, and hip escapes. This drill will help you develop effective escape techniques.
  • Body lock submissions: Once you have secured a body lock on your partner, practice transitioning into submission holds, such as the rear naked choke or the guillotine. This drill will help you develop your submission skills from the body lock position.

By practising these partner drills regularly, you can improve your body lock techniques, develop effective defence and escape strategies, and increase your overall grappling skills in MMA.

Solo Drills for Body Lock Training

Solo drills can be an effective way to supplement partner drills when training body lock techniques in MMA. Here are a few solo drills that can help you improve your body lock:

  • Shadow grappling: Stand in front of a mirror or imaginary opponent and practise the movements involved in the body lock, such as stepping in and wrapping your arms around your opponent’s torso. This drill will help you improve your form and develop muscle memory.
  • Resistance training: Use resistance bands or a heavy bag to practise the movements involved in the body lock. Wrap the resistance band around a heavy object or attach it to a wall, then practise stepping in and executing the body lock. This drill will help you develop strength and endurance.
  • Footwork drills: Practise footwork drills such as shuffling, pivoting, and circling around an imaginary opponent. This will help you improve your footwork and positioning, which are essential for executing the body lock effectively.
  • Core strengthening exercises: The body lock requires a lot of strength in the core muscles. Practice exercises such as planks, sit-ups, and Russian twists to strengthen your core and improve your body lock.
  • Hip movement drills: The body lock also requires a lot of hip movement. Practice exercises such as hip thrusts, hip bridges, and fire hydrants to improve your hip mobility and develop the necessary strength for executing the body lock.

Conclusion

As MMA continues to evolve, it’s likely that the body lock will remain a fundamental technique for both offence and defence.

We hope this article has helped you understand the importance of body lock techniques in MMA and how to train them effectively. Remember to always practise safety and take a gradual approach when incorporating new techniques into your training. With consistent practice and dedication, you can improve your body lock skills and become a more well-rounded fighter in MMA. Best of luck in your training!

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