underhook advantages from clinch


Please excuse my ignorance for I am new to the standup arena of mma. I don't quite understand the advantages of the underhook. I've purchased the Dan Henderson series from SBG and discusses a lot of detail on how to get an underhook but I'm not too clear on the advantages of underhook over that of an overhook (whizzer). Are there more takedowns from that tie-up?


I am not the best at clinch range being so tall but I can tell you that for me the under hook has helped me a lot.

Firstly it stops the other guy just dropping down and picking up one or both of your legs in the clinch. Even if you can not stop him it gives you some indecation as to what he's trying to do. Your arm acts as a sort of forklift.

Secondly the underhook is a great control position to hit off of. I tend not to hang out in any clinch position but rather flow from position to position , like on the ground.

Some of my students however get a grip and hit and hold for some time.

Try (if you have not already) working the underhook into your game with the three I's method. Work it for ten minutes - using the details in Dan's tape, drill it by going 25 - 50 -100% for twenty minutes and then spar your total game 30 for minutes or so.

I bet your find you start you ground game from the top position more than usall. Do the same with whizzer, double underhooks etc and build your personnal game.

I hope that has been of some help as thats how it works for me.

plus I forgot to say, I have at last "clicked" about using my clinch skills on the ground to hold position, hand fight to set up submissons etc and also to stand up when I have someone in my guard. The more you look and work it the more you see and best of all its fun.

Unless youve been out of hard training for six months like me and you have to keep visiting the puke dustbin (trashcan).

Thanks Boyscout for your replies.

I bought the Dan Henderson tapes hoping to find some basic takedowns that work with and without the gi for more real life self defense situations. But I guess I found it to be a pretty intricate series. I've never been introduced to proper clinching other than the Muay Thai method. I guess I was looking for some more basic explanations of the position.

On the ground I realize that the underhook is an excellent way to control my opponent and keep them from posturing as well as attack with submissions.

matbjj, I can offer some insight based on a wrestling specific background (I don't claim to be too well-rounded, I coming from more of a wrestling "purist" background...)

To answer your question: yes, there are many more takedowns from an underhook than from an overhook (which is not really the same thing as a whizzer, more info below). So you have a lot of offensive opportunities from an underhook, only a few from an overhook.

Also, in terms of defense in that position...

A novice can get into an underhook and be *relatively* safe, even if he isn't really sure what to do there. But if you're new, and get into an overhook, you can unknowingly get yourself into a LOT of trouble against a guy that knows what he's doing.

Now when you bring strikes into the mix, I'll defer to others on here that are a little more well-rounded than I...

By the way, as kind of an aside, most wrestlers understand the "whizzer" to be similar to an overhook, but it's usually much lower, as a defense to leg attacks (e.g. single legs). Basically, it's 95% a defensive position. In my [very] humble opinion, I feel like I run into a lot of non-wrestlers that are very eager to learn the whizzer - almost like if they can only learn ONE wreslting technique, it's got to be a whizzer! I don't really understand that, and feel like a whizzer isn't something that most non-wrestlers need to focus on. Even in pure wrestling, it has a fairly limited application, and I would imagine even less usefullness in MMA. I guess all I'm really getting at is this: don't get too wrapped around the axil about learning the whizzer. There are dozens and dozens of wrestling-oriented techniques that are probably more useful to you.

Hope that was at least a little helpful.

Where can I order Henderson's clinch material?

Randy Couture basically said (in one of his tapes), that a dominant tie up, like f.ex. the underhook, is a position in which you have cleared one of your opponent's arms out of your way so that his hips are open for a takedown, be that a leg takedown or an upper body takedown.

The 3 main things your opponent can use to block your attacks (which will generally be directed to his hips) are his hands, his elbows and his forehead.

So if you get an underhook, get to the side of your opponent and put your forehead into his neck, you have cleared all 3 obstackles on that side of him.

With that being said, here's a question to Chip or some experienced wrestler here:

I'm sometimes having problems doing takedowns from an underhook when my opponent whizzers my underhook (even though I still have the dominant head position). What can I do?


I believe people have a heavy interest in the whizzer because it serves as a great counter to the old school BJJ bodylock take down.

In addition the underhook is a big part of the BJJ escapes from bottom game, so the whizzer comes up in rolls on the mat all the time.

Overhooks can be highly effective when used correctly. Paul did an excellent clinic on that at the last SBGi Spring Camp.

When it comes to the clinch and wrestling. . .It's ALL good stuff.


Can someone give me a link to Henderon's clinch tapes? Where can I order it?

Paul "off road" Sharp really knows his stuff when it comes to defending against the underhook. SBGi Spring Camp 2004 coming soon to DVD!


Check out www.straightblastgym.com

I ordered it there.

matbjj - It's not there.

Matt, I with ya on everything you mentioned, except I'm not familiar with the old school BJJ bodylock. What is it? (just curious)

jonpall, if your opponent is clamping down an overhook, WITHOUT getting head position, he is most likely just blocking/stalling. If he gains the head positioning, then he's beginning to open up avenues for attacks for himself (I'm being somewhat simplistic, but that's more or less the case).

Without seeing or feeling how you're doing it, here's my best guess...

An underhook should not be a static position - it's not just putting your arm under his arm, and *boom* you're done. Being in underhook position should be an extremely active position. You jam in an underhook, you get head positioning, and ATTACK IMMEDIATELY. You must move him, either by sucking in on the underhook and pulling, or by jacking him up and pressuring into him. Keep him off kilter.

Sorry if that advice is a bit vague. Again, it's a little tough to "diagnose" the problem over the Internet. :)

ttt for the rogue mod!

matbjj - Is this the instructional you are talking about???


Did you get the whole set?

"except I'm not familiar with the old school BJJ bodylock. What is it? (just curious)"

Chip, it's the bodylock trip that Royce used in all the early UFC's.

BJJ Bodylock Clinch as traditionally taught:

(1) right leg forward, weight on left leg, left hand by chin right hand extended for distance gaging, rt. foot kicks ("pezon") to distract

(2) at right moment bridge gap and swim both hands inside (under their arms). Hand are in middle of the back very low, upper butt area, rt hand (strong hand) over left.

(3) rt ear of head is against their upper rt chest. Push with your head, pull with your hands to "crunch" them backwards

(4) at the end, rt. leg outside hooks behind their left leg, and as opponent falls backwards step left leg over to go to mount

At least thats how its taught in traditional bjj schools. Messing around against people resisting I've always had trouble against them sticking their butt back

Aha! I see, thank you.

Paul "off road" Sharp knows his shit when it comes to defending against underhooks.

Chip, ok - but will my underhook arm just get stuck in the whizzer if I try a leg attack when he's whizzering my underhook? Sorry for the stupid question, but I've only very recently started doing no-gi takedown sparring in addition to ground grappling.

Are you saying that, for leg attacks from a single underhook, I should either attack immediately after I get the position, or, if he whizzers my underhook, wait for him to release his whizzer, keep my head position and not do my leg attack until he releases his whizzer?

I hope you understand my question.