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Harnessing the Power of the Shoulder: Techniques for Close Combat

Power of Shoulder

The shoulder, while often overlooked due to its range limitations, is a formidable weapon in close combat encounters. This approach, rooted in the historical context of naval melee combat, is referred to as "closed quarters," a term I prefer for its piratical origins and specificity. The shoulder can be utilized in three primary ways: slams, butts, and grinds, each offering distinct advantages within the confines of close-range combat.

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Developing Shoulder Slam Techniques: Power of the Shoulder

The foundation of mastering the shoulder slam lies in deconstructing a familiar technique: the hammer hook. This move begins by elevating the leading elbow to create a parallel line with the floor, locking the arm at a 90-degree angle. This action, combined with a pivotal movement from the rear foot and a coordinated turn of the body, propels the technique with force.

Practicing this technique against a heavy bag not only reinforces the concept of a "fused" limb but also prepares you for the next step: the slam-the-door drill. This drill, performed within the proximity required for a clinch, emphasizes using the body as a single unit to execute a powerful shoulder slam. By envisioning the upper body as a door and the rear foot as its hinge, you can simulate the slamming motion with intensity, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of both the hammer hook and the shoulder slam.

Mastering the Shoulder Butt

The shoulder butt, executed within the same close-quarters clinch, is a versatile technique that offers both offensive and strategic benefits. It involves a series of quick, inward strikes using a relaxed shoulder, ideal for wearing down an opponent or creating opportunities for more devastating attacks. Additionally, the shoulder butt can be delivered at an upward angle, facilitating follow-up techniques without compromising stability.

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Applying Shoulder Grinds

Primarily utilized by grapplers, shoulder grinds can also be effective in situations where an opponent is backed against a vertical surface. This technique focuses on applying pressure with the shoulder to the opponent's chin, jaw, or teeth, using the environment to prevent escape and increase discomfort, setting the stage for further offensive maneuvers.

The shoulder, with its capabilities for slams, butts, and grinds, is a valuable component of close combat strategy. While this exploration covers the basics, the full potential of shoulder techniques, including setups and follow-ups, awaits discovery through dedicated training. Whether for self-defense or competitive MMA, the shoulder offers a unique blend of power and versatility for the close-quarters combatant.

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