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An Elbow From Hell in the Clinch with Bas Rutten

An Elbow From Hell in the Clinch with Bas Rutten


In MMA fights, the 4 oz gloves do provide some cushion, but not that much. Elbows on the other hand are not nearly as forgiving. Landing a clean elbow can absolutely be a fight ending strike, so it is important to be aware of situations when they will be most effective.

When in the clinch, it is difficult to land significant punches due to the lack of range which makes it harder to put power behind them. This is a great spot to utilize knees and elbows. Maintaining control in the clinch calls for proper use of collar ties and other grips, so taking that into account while figuring out how to efficiently use elbows is of maximum importance. 

The technique in the video below is a great one for both MMA and self defense. In a self defense situation, typically you would want to gain control of your attacker quickly to neutralize the situation. You very well may get into a situation where you get wrapped up, and proper clinch technique against someone who doesn't train will be extremely controlling. On top of that, no way will they see this elbow coming.

In the video below, Bas Rutten demonstrates a technique for landing a powerful elbow in the clinch, check it out!


The Technique 

There are many different techniques to be used in the clinch, however often you will see people use traditional collar ties to break their opponents posture and keep them where they are. In these kinds of situations, your partner's head will often be looking straight down and not that they will be able to block everything you throw, but they will be able to see it coming. The key to this technique is to both distract and prevent your partner from seeing what's coming.

To do so, Bas gets a collar tie with his right arm, but grips and pulls the head in a way where his partner's face is on the outside of his shoulder/bicep area, forcing him to look away and preventing him from seeing what you are doing. With this grip he is also pulling his partners head down so the only thing he can see are the right knees that Bas begins throwing.


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In the meantime, Bas brings his free left hand back, loading it up for either a clothesline or an elbow; in this case Bas demonstrates the elbow. After throwing a few knees your partner will likely be using both of his hands to block them. When you are ready, after throwing a knee and as soon as your foot hits back on the ground, let go of your partner's head and come in with your elbow.

Both of his hands are still going to be down as he is focused on blocking the knees and his head will be wide open. This also gives you a better opportunity to place your elbow and make it count, it is not often that you are going to have a shot as clear as this. Additionally, since your left arm has been loaded up, this is going to be an extremely powerful elbow.

One of the most important aspects of this technique is to make sure your partner can't see you. Once you have his head positioned in that way and you are landing knees, he is going to be much more focused on blocking the knees than fixing his head position. His chin should be nestled right in the crook of your elbow.

Depending on the situation you could also choose to land the clothesline instead of the elbow. You are in proper position for it, and it is also going to cause a ton of damage. A clothesline to that back of the head from this position in the words of Bas Rutten is “a guaranteed knockout”. This would be frowned upon in an MMA fight because it is on the back of the head, but a great option for a self defense situation.

About Bas Rutten

Bas began his martial arts training in the Netherlands at the age of 12 after overcoming some severe medical challenges and years of convincing his parents to let him train. His career began in taekwondo where he became a second degree black belt, and he also holds a second degree black belt in Kyokushin Karate. At age 20 he started competition in kickboxing, winning the first 14 of his 16 fights by knockout, 13 of which in the first round.

His professional mixed martial arts career began in the 1990’s, and he added the ground game to his repertoire with tons of submission finishes. Following a professional wrestling career he worked his way into the UFC where his talent became even more impressive. In 2015, Dana White announced that Bas Rutten would be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, becoming the first European to be inducted.

Instructional Info

This 8 part MMA instructional offers literally everything one could possibly want. He covers a wide range of techniques including stance, footwork, and rhythm for striking, pummeling and bodylock use for wrestling, guard and side control for Jiu Jitsu, and 2 parts devoted to pro tips from Bas covering a variety of different subjects.

The Tao Of MMA by Duane Ludwig
This instructional offers technique from every perspective of MMA, and one would be a fool to not take full advantage of it. No matter what you feel you need to work on, it is likely included. Take all aspects of your martial arts practice to the next level, check out his instructional here!