Why is The Underhook so Important for Grappling

Table of Contents

There is one common theme around all grappling arts which is to achieve a good grip as getting a good grip can open up an opponent to a huge amount of techniques and without a good grip there are only a small number of techniques possible and generally they are low percentage in success.

Arguably the most effective grip and position to work off is the underhook, both in wrestling and in ground grappling arts like BJJ and Catch Wrestling, the underhooks opens an incredible amount of attacking opportunities. Many competitive matches are won or lost on attaining a proper underhook and the importance of the underhook for grappling cannot be underestimated.

The Underhook for Wrestling

The underhook for wrestling is pivotal in setting up many takedowns as once achieved it enables control of the opponents hip height, it can be used as an effective lever to control an opponent’s footwork and make their feet move to certain positions, it works off a pulling action that uses your posterior chain so you pull the opponent in to you thus making it hard for them to move backwards and lastly the underhook can tire an opponent out if you can break their posture with it and thus have them carry some of your weight.

Fighting for underhooks wrestling
Fighting for underhooks wrestling

Many different wrestling takedowns can be hit off the underhook such as single legs, double legs, knee picks, snap downs and ankle picks, the underhook increases the success rate for all these takedowns as you have a lot of control of the opponents movement thus creating very good opening to hit takedowns.

One of the best benefits of the underhook for wrestling is the fact that it can mitigate an opponent’s speed when it is applied, this simply means that if you use it against a faster opponent then the opponent can no longer use his speed as effectively as you control their movement.

There is also the double underhook position which is very dominant as it is the precursor to the bear hug and many big throws, this is less common to see in grappling matches but when the double underhook is attained it generally ends with a solid takedown.

The Underhook for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

The underhook is extremely important for BJJ and it can be a key detail in both offense and defensive techniques and tactics, it is the most important element of the top half guard, top side control butterfly guard and many other positions. Once the underhook is achieved a huge buffet of techniques is opened up and most importantly the underhook gives a route to attaining the back position which is the tier one position in BJJ to get.

In terms of defense the underhook is extremely important for escaping many positions in BJJ, especially side control and half guard and pivotal to get in order to properly escape from the bottom.

In Conclusion

Achieving and understanding how to use the underhook should be a focus for all grapplers, it is the key to opening the door of many techniques, it is the basis of offense and defense both when standing and on the ground.


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