U.S. Army Combatives – FM 3-25.150

5-02 Closing the Distance and Achieving the Clinch


Controlling a standup fight means controlling the range between fighters. The untrained fighter is primarily dangerous at punching range. The goal is to avoid that range. Even if you are the superior striker, the most dangerous thing you can do is to spend time at the range where the enemy has the highest probability of victory. When training soldiers, the primary goal should be instilling the courage to close the distance. Recognizing that standup fighting skills are difficult to master in a short amount of time, compare takedowns to the basic tackle. The following techniques are essentially a more sophisticated way to tackle the enemy.

a. The Clinch. The clinch position is the optimum way to hold an enemy after you have successfully closed the distance, but have not yet executed a successful takedown. While in the clinch, you have control of the enemy’s far side arm at the elbow, with the arm also tucked into your armpit. Your head is tucked into the enemy’s chest, and you hand is around his waist, controlling his hip. Your legs are sufficiently back to prevent him from getting his hips under you to attempt a throw. There are two ranges where confrontations start.

(1) Close Range. This occurs when the enemy is within striking range.

(a) Step 1 (Figure 5-6). When a confrontation seems likely, you will face the potential enemy and bring your hands up in a non-threatening manner.

(b) Step 2 (Figure 5-7). When the enemy attacks, change levels by pulling both feet up and placing them out in a broad stance. Simultaneously bring both arms up to cover the most dangerous possible attacks. It is important not to anticipate the means of attack, but to cover for the most dangerous potential attacks. Therefore both arms should come up every time.

Figure 5-6. The clinch, step 1.

Figure 5-6. The clinch, step 1.


Figure 5-7. The clinch, step 2.

Figure 5-7. The clinch, step 2.

(c) Step 3 (Figure 5-8). To clinch, reach over the far side arm and pull it down into your armpit, controlling it at the elbow. Simultaneously step around to the other side and drive your other elbow under his arm until you can reach around his waist and achieve the clinch.

Figure 5-8. The clinch, step 3.

Figure 5-8. The clinch, step 3.

(2) Long Range. It is more common for a confrontation to start outside of striking range. Having the courage to close the distance is the principle training goal.

(a) Basic Long Range. From a fighter’s stance, at an opportune moment, drive into the enemy. Try to place your forehead on his chest. You should keep your head up so that your forehead is pointed at the enemy and your hands should go just over his biceps. From this position, achieve the clinch as before.

(b) Long Range when the Enemy Attacks. If the enemy tries to initiate the attack with punches, use this opportunity to close the distance. He will be closing the distance to get into punching range, therefore clinching will be that much easier.

(c) Long Range with a Kick. If the enemy is content to stand back and await your attack, you will need to gain some form of advantage before closing the distance. One way to do this is with a kick. The kick should be with the front leg, and should be aimed at the enemy’s thigh. It is important that if you miss the kick, your leg should fall in front of the enemy so that you do not give up your back.

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