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The Claw Ride & Breakdown in Wrestling

The claw ride, sometimes referred to as the “cross-throat ride,” is one of the most effective riding techniques in folkstyle wrestling. Because of this, many of the United States’ top collegiate wrestlers use the claw to rack up riding time during their matches. Read on to learn the basics of this ride, and how to use it as a breakdown, as well.

1. Palm Up in Referee’s Position

Because you want to get your arm underneath your opponent’s armpit and across his chest, you will need to modify how you position yourself in referee’s position. All you will need to do is simply turn the palm of the hand you are using to cup your opponent’s elbow with up (for an underhanded grip). This will allow you to release your opponent’s elbow and get your arm underneath his armpit much quicker.

2. Release & Drop Your Shoulder

Release the grip you have on your opponent’s elbow and move your arm underneath your opponent’s near-side armpit. For example, if you used your left hand to cup your opponent’s elbow in referee’s position, move your arm underneath his left armpit. From here, drop your shoulder underneath your opponent’s midsection so you can reach your arm across his chest.

Reach as far as you can and grip your opponent’s traps (trapezius muscles) right above his collarbone on the far side of his body. If you’re using your left arm for the claw, you will reach across his chest and grip his right traps. Use this grip to pull his upper body into you, and make sure to keep your elbow tight to your ribcage. This is the basic claw hold.

The arm you initially had wrapped around your opponent’s waist in referee’s position will stay in the same place. Use this tight waist to pull your opponent into you to maintain control.

3. Get on your Feet

With your chest in contact with your opponent’s back, get up on your feet. Keep your legs wide and position them slightly behind you so you can place all of your weight on top of your opponent. Push your hips in towards his body and use your legs to drive into him to apply pressure. Make sure you are continually pulling your elbow in towards your body to keep the claw tight, and don’t forget to use your tight waist to help you control your opponent. This is the basic claw ride.

If you can continue to pull your opponent in towards your body with the claw and apply pressure to him, you will maintain control of him. Collegiate wrestlers can actually start to accumulate riding time in this position. For wrestlers at the scholastic level, or for those working to turn and pin their opponents, you must now work to break him down.

4. Spiral & Circle

While keeping the claw secured, release the tight waist and move your hand down towards your opponent’s thigh on the same side of his body. For example, if you initially used your right arm for the tight waist, move your arm towards his right thigh. From here, “spiral” his thigh (reach your hand inside of his thigh) and place your palm against his inner thigh. Start pushing his leg outwards.

As you do this, switch your hips so you’re facing the same direction as your opponent. Then, connect your near-side hip with your opponent’s hip. For example, if you are positioned on the left side of your opponent’s body with the claw, connect your right hip with his left hip.

Walk your feet in a circle towards your opponent’s head, applying forward pressure to his back as you move. Continue to use your claw to pull him in towards you and keep pushing his thigh outward. If you apply enough pressure and keep driving into him with your legs, you will eventually break him down to the mat. From here, you can work whatever move you desire to turn him!

Win with the Claw

The claw is one of the most effective techniques you can use to control your opponent. Along with it, there are many different kinds of turns, tilts, and other types of pinning techniques you can use to dominate opponents. Before you learn anything else, however, you must first perfect the basic claw ride and breakdown. Remember the details of his guide when drilling; eventually, you will be tough on top with the claw! Good luck!

The claw ride is a basic, yet powerful, technique used to control opponents in wrestling. Read this guide to learn how to use the claw as a ride and as a breakdown.
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