Fighting Dirty: Headbutts, Biting, Eye Gouging & Groin Shots
Dealing with these supposed game stoppers
Headbutts, eye gouging, and attacking the groin. The untrained person loves to claim that those three attacks alone nullify any and all martial skill, whether you are a grappler or a striker they will say that they will just headbutt you, attack your eyes, or kick you where the sun doesn’t shine. I love a good headbutt and the other “techniques” as well, but the reality is, if you do not have the proper skill to position yourself into a place of advantage, trying to do any of that to a legitimately trained person is very difficult if not impossible. Let’s talk about some tactics and methods to defend against these threats and maybe when it would appropriate to use such an attack.
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Headbutts: Anytime somebody has a top/dominant position on you the headbutt can be a potential threat and one that packs a lot of power in a very small movement, utilizing the entire body behind the thick bones of the skull. To nullify this move one needs to manage the distance (nothing new) on the ground you have to keep your opponents head glued to your body, if they are already touching you then they will not have the distance to accelerate their skull into your face or other soft targets. Example.) If you are playing bottom guard use an over hook and headlock with a high guard controlling their back and hips all while keeping your chin tucked tight and head squeezed against theirs to eliminate all space. Opton two would be to have some type of frame (forearms or shin) keeping distance from their head (note, that this can leave you open to punches and other strikes as well).
Biting: Somebody with no knowledge in a bad position may rely on their animalistic instinct to bite their way out of a bad spot. Just like above, controlling their posture is must but also think about using your arms to manipulate their neck so they cannot bite you. Honestly though, if you do have someone in say an armbar and they decide to bite your calf you have many options. Option 1.) Continue to snap their arm! Option 2.) Strike their exposed face. Option 3.) Shake your leg viciously, smacking their head into the ground. Biting hurts yes, but with your adrenaline running through you during a real confrontation you will not feel it too badly, also, you have the dominant position, use it to change their mind to defending something instead of focusing on biting!
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Eye Gouge: Eyes, you only ever get two of them so you better protect them! Same as above, manage the distance but now we are also talking about keeping track of the hands. Watching and controlling the hands of your training partner is never a bad idea, if you control their hands they will have a significantly harder time striking you, accessing a weapon, and also attacking your eyes. Example.) Like above if you find yourself in a bottom position, while you are controlling your partners head make sure to take an arm too. If you are in bottom guard, whatever arm is controlling their arm (think over hook) put your head on that side as well, that way you control the arm on the side you are over hooking and your head is far away from the other arm (If you are doing a good job of keeping their posture broken the other hand should have a very difficult time reaching your face) but if they do extend that arm to get you, arm bars, triangles, and even just kicking them in the face is a great way to deter them! Example 2.) Let’s say you have the top position, when they reach for your eyes (separating their elbows from their body) take that arm for an armbar, head & arm choke, or even modify your mount into a gift wrap position where you can begin effectively striking them or taking their back!
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Groin Shots: We all have that buddy who says BJJ is BS and they will just kick you in the groin or grab you their and twist and we simply roll our eyes or sometimes we even say “come sign the waiver at the gym and try!” First let's ignore the fact that in a fight adrenaline runs through you and statistically speaking groin shots very rarely end a fight (you definitely feel it afterwards though) ignore all that rational logical thinking for a second and lets talk how to stop someone from kicking you there or grabbing there as well. I probably sound like a broken record now, control the distance and control the hands. Example.) Once again you're in a bottom position, break their posture, overhook and arm, control the head, and maintain a high closed guard, should they reach in there, stuff the arm and triangle them! Example 2.) if you are in the top and they grab at your groin give them something else to worry about and defende (elbows to the face do wonders to change somebody's mind) another way you can deal with it is when they reach down, simply apply a choke on their now exposed neck and transition to a north/south control type of position.
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There will always be “what if’s” and the answer really is that it depends all on the circumstance, but by managing distance, breaking posture, and controlling your partner's hands, a lot of these “dirty” tactics can be all around avoided or used against them. So get to the gym, train hard, train realistically, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the difference between sport grappling positions and self defense positions and how the two are just small variations to the other!