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The Striker’s Shoulder: Slams, Butts, & Grinds

Rough ‘n’ Tumble, scufflin’, illegal boxing, boombattle, and all the various and sundry names that go to describe the all-in melee that is truly no-holds-barred, no-strikes-off-the-table uses the entire body as a weapon.

Let’s take a brief sojourn with just one of those weapons — The Shoulder.

Due to obvious range restrictions, the shoulder is part of the closed-quarters arsenal.

(Notice, in deference to the origin of the word, I call it “closed quarters” in the piratical naval melee sense and not the modern and incorrect perversion to “close quarters.” Yeah, I’m that guy, a stickler for the details. Consider this, if the name ain’t right, what else might be wrong? If a guy calls a jab “a fisty puncher” and is oblivious to the word “jab” we’d suspect something was a bit awry in the boxing research, would we not?)

To the Shoulder!

We’ve got three broad ways to use it (Slams, Butts, & Grinds) and essentially only two attack paths (Inward & Upward.)

First let’s talk a drill that will allow you to find your power with the shoulder and then we’ll traipse into specifics.

We will reverse engineer the Shoulder Slam from a strike you likely know inside and out: The Hammer Hook.

For those not proud proprietors of a fearsome Hammer Hook, read on…


  • You raise the lead elbow parallel to the floor.
  • The fist essentially stays where it was as if rotating in front of you on a ball-and-socket joint.
  • The elbow has a strict 90-degree bend locking the arm into one fused piece of bone.
  • Hinging and pivoting on the ball of the rear-foot…
  • Fire a pivot from the toes of the lead foot turning the entire body as one unit to the inside: shoulders, chest, and hips all turn as one.
  • The entire body as one fused unit drives the fused-elbow hammer hook home.


Take a step closer to the bag so that you are in closed-quarters clinch range and hit the following.


I find the following drill, leaving the punch itself out helps seat the skill.

  • I want you to think of your upper-body as a door.
  • Your rear foot as the door hinge.
  • I want you to slam this door (your chest) by…
  • Driving off the toes of the lead foot.
  • Drive HARD slamming the door/chest with maximum viciousness.
  • Use the fused-body mechanics.

Now, once you have slamming the door down, you will have both a more fearsome hammer hook in your possession and a powerful shoulder slam.


Butting with the shoulder is, again, performed from the closed-quarters clinch.

Whereas the shoulder slam is a strike of power and travels an inward path, the butt is a short choppier shot.

  • Think of giving short choppy inward pops from a loose striking shoulder.
  • Often 2-3 in a row are ideal.
  • Shoulder butts are often used to wear on an opponent, or set-up better striking angles or insertion angles for an under-hook clinch.

You can also deliver the shoulder butt at an upward angle.

  • Keep the same loose shoulder and deliver 2-3 good pops to aid whatever you are setting up.
  • Resist the urge to “power” the shot by extending the legs. This will rise your base and render you a bit “light” making you ripe for sweeping, turning, or shooting short takedowns.


Grinds are most often used by grapplers on the horizontal plane, but when against the quasi-horizontal vertical of an upright fence, wall, parked car, one can use the grind if on the outside of the vertical press to crunch chin, jaw, and teeth as you wear out the body with the hands or set the legs up to topple the opponent/quarry to the mat.

In a nutshell, the shoulder is a fearsome addition to your street and MMA game. This brief journey left out set-ups, wise follow-ups and a couple of other shoulder tools but…another day, and not everything in the world is free, is it?

Click Here For Brutally Effective Boxing Moves Taught By Mark Hatmaker

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4 thoughts on “The Striker’s Shoulder: Slams, Butts, & Grinds”

  1. As a 25 year Veteran of the Private Security profession I have had my share of physical altercations. In fact a few have been a life threatening situation. I’ve had a gun pulled on me and stuck to my face, a knife or two pulled as well as many non traditional weapons such as sticks, bottles, even bar glasses. Having defense training as well as continuing to learn new skills is what has kept me alive as well as “fairly” injury free. Not to say I don’t have my share of bumps and scars…lol. but staying sharp on skills is a necessity! I start my own company this month! It’s time for me to do something for myself. Thanks for the great service and videos you share. Keep it up!