The clinch. It’s a highly recognizable term among the combative arts, and it’s a flagship concept of BJJ. When we clinch, we close the distance between ourselves and our opponent, or in some cases an assailant. The idea of forward motion in a conflict can be scary idea to subscribe to at first but rewiring ourselves to make this concept natural is very important.
In many cases, the damage sustained in physical altercations comes from the inability to manage this dangerous area of space between us and an attacker. When a conflict begins, this area has to be monitored, and a good sense of distance must be present. Once the line has been crossed, that puts you at arm’s reach of an opponent, you have some important decisions to make.
As BJJ payers, we understand the importance of getting the altercation to the ground. But if you’re not a BJJ practitioner or very early on in your practice you may not yet know why it’s so important. When we’re able to bring an attacker to the floor, it weakens the attack. Your opponent’s ability to generate power that can inflict damage is severely limited. We can then gain position and decide the appropriate next course of action for that particular situation.
Closing the gap can occur in a variety of ways. You can get there as a result of someone else’s actions, such as a reaction to the advancement of an opponent or choose to clinch on your own accord to take control of the situation. Once some form of a clinch has been achieved we now have several methods to take our opponent down depending on the nature of the situation and the positioning of our body.
Take a look at this simple example of closing the gap and establishing a clinch. Jiu-JItsu Cop, Brian James demonstrates a scenario where someone is refusing to be handcuffed and continues to back up. Take a look.
In this video Eli Knight shows another example of closing the distance and using a simple clinch and takedown to get the fight to the ground. In this scenario Eli achieves the clinch from a defensive standpoint.
Although, the clinch comes in many different forms, these mechanics are very simple, easy to understand, and with some repetition can be committed to muscle memory with ease. With even a small amount of exposure to these ideas you’ll have the upper hand should you ever find yourself in situation that requires you to close the distance. Where law enforcement is concerned, learning to clinch and safely subdue another human must be at the top of the list.
Give your distance management skills the attention they require and revisit these foundational principles of BJJ often to keep your self-defense skills sharp. You never know when you might need to close that gap!