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The Ground and Pound in Mixed Martial Arts

In Mixed Martial Arts competitions one form of attack that has come into prevalence is the ground and pound striking. This was popularized by notable UFC fighters like Mark Coleman, GSP, Randy Couture, and Quinton Jackson. This technique is generally used by more powerful wrestler types who can easily take an opponent to the ground then go on an offensive. The ground and pound also has serious potential for knockouts in the hands of an expert.

Getting into the Right Position

The ideal position for ground and pound is full mount and from that position it should be pretty straight forward. However such a dominant position cannot always be obtained. For a solid ground and pound full guard, half guard, or standing over an opponent are the optimal positions to be in. From any other position on the ground, besides a well times punch in a sprawl position, any strikes thrown even from a monster are more distracting and annoying than anything.

From a standing position over your opponent you can land powerful downward strikes and still hae the power from your legs to assist the punch. However when caught in a full guard or half guard position all your power has to come from your arms and torso. This means that these strikes arent necessarily as powerful as using standing strikes but they have been seen to be just as deadly when used properly.

From Half Guard

When caught in a half guard position the ground and pound can be very useful. In strict grappling half guard top is not necessarily a dominant position but with striking allowed it gives half guard top position a distinctive advantage. From this position you are within direct striking distance of the opponent’s head and face. By using the right technique one can isolate an opponents arms and leave them defenseless against strong close ranged strikes.

From Full Guard

striking from the full guard top position in a mixed martial arts match

When in the full guard and trying to use the ground and pound one puts himself in a very dominant position if he uses the correct technique. Strong straight shot punches and hooks can be thrown from this position. These strikes use all arm and core strength though instead of having the power come from the whole body’s rotation including the legs and hips. This means when trying to strike powerfully your arms and body will tire quicker so striking effectively is also important.

Also when in this position and striking your arms are left away from your body. So when striking against a good grappler who is quick and aggressive the use of submissions should be watches out for. Although The ground and pound can cause massive damage from this position but is not an invincible strategy

Defenses

In defense to this ground and pound strategy an opponent will generally try and do two things. He will try and sweep you and get you into a less dominant position. This is because a solid ground and pound can only be worked from a couple of positions on the ground. Secondly he will try and break your posture because you can strike very well if you are pressed against his body. This means that in addition to power you need balance and precision in your ground and pound game.

The Martial Art of Taekwondo

Taekwondo do is a korean martial art that was developed around the 1940s and 1950s after World War II and durring the Korean War. It has its roots in traditional korean martial arts that were practiced in ancient korea by warriors training for combat. It was developed as a modern day combat training and gained popularity in the 1960s when the International Taekwondo Federation was established. It was recently added into the Olympic Games in the 2000 olympics as well.

Basic Concepts

Taekwondo is a striking oriented martial art which is known for its kicking techniques under the presumption that the leg is the strongest weapon on the body. It also puts emphasis on speed, precision, and balance durring striking rather than pure strength.

Also having its roots in traditional asian martial arts Taekwondo practices relaxation and mediation along with breathing techniques to maintain balance and focus. Also there is a focus on mental discipline, a sense of justice, and self-confidence which are all meant to provide mental training along with the physical, conquering mind and body.

Stances

Stances are the foundation of this martial art and provide its users with a versatile striking arsenal.  There are numerous stances which can be used each with its own advantages and disadvantages allowing for different kinds of strikes or blocks. A variety of stances are practiced by a taekwondo student allowing him to be comfortable striking from anywhere. For a list of various stances click here.

Punches or Hand Strikes

Taekwondo teaches a variety of hand striking techniques, some more oriented towards regular punching and some more irregular and precise strikes. A very powerful knockout punch taught in this martial art is the spinning back fist. Although they are banned in  lot of taekwondo competitions they are legal in mixed martial arts and have been used in the highest level of competition as a strong, unexpected knockout blow.

There are also specialized strikes like the knife fist which is a karate chop like strike, the fingertips are used fo pressure point strikes, and open palm strikes are taught too. There are also the more powerful eagle strike which is an upward wrist strike to the bottom of the jaw and the tiger claw which is generally a neck strike.

Kicking Techniques

Kicking techniques taught in taekwondo are extremely well known for their combined speed and power At first the basic kicks are taught then spins and combinations are learned from there. These kicks become extremely fast and precise in the hands of an expert taekwondo user. Simply explaining these kicks wouldnt do them justice but this video should be able to do a better job

Breaking Things

A taekwondo practitioner uses a hand strike to crack a brick.

As a martial art taekwondo also focuses on the art of breaking inanimate objects to demonstrate the strength, accuracy, and speed of their striking techniques. The objects broken depend on the technique being implied to break them but include boards, ice, bats, and bricks. There are also speed breaking or power breaking for practicing different techniques. This practice of breaking objects is necessary because practicing full power strikes like these could easily injure an opponent in any fighting situation. Therefor this practice proves to be necessary as well as demonstrative of this martial art’s power.

Techniques from Top Position of Full Guard

the full guard position when you don’t posture up

Durring a mixed martial arts fight all too often the two competitors will end up in the full guard position. There is a reason for this, from the bottom position most people feel relatively secure in this guard for being on the bottom. Also when performing a takedown, even a pretty good takedown can end up in this position once you get to the ground. However no matter how comfortable the opponent feels in this position it is the more dominant position.

From the top position there are many different options on what to do next. Passing the guard and performing a submission, even TKO are all options from here. However a good opponent will not easily let you take him from this position.

Posture Up

Once you get caught in an opponent’s full guard the first thing you should do is posture up. What this means is that you sit back into your heals, lower your hips to the ground, and keeping your back flat. The hands should be placed on the opponents hips and push down as well, this helps keep the back straight as well as control the opponent.

By posturing up when caught in the closed guard you protect yourself from many of an opponent’s possible offensive advances.  Posturing up puts you out of reach of his arms that will be trying to hit or grab you as well as straining his lock with his feet around your waist possibly giving you a chance to escape.

Passing the Guard

A technique that is al almost essential to MMA and grappling in general is being able to pass the guard of an opponent. This position can be almost like a stalemate at times but for the person on the bottom a stalemate is all he needs until you try something rash and he submits you. For the basics on passing the full guard click here.

One simple way to pass the guard is to posture up and use the elbows on the inside of the opponent’s legs to force them appart. this is not only uncomfortable for the opponent but it can easily break his legs behind your back and allow for a pass.

Submissions

Directly from this position there are not really any useful submissions to use. The key to performing submissions from this position are through quickly passing the guard and using the ensuing scramble to catch him off guard. If The guard is passed and side  control or optimally in full mount there are a host of submissions that can be deployed from those dominant positions.

Ground and Pound

An extremely effective way to finish a fight is through TKO. Being in the top of a full guard position gives you immediate dominance in the fight. A strong or long limbed fighter might be able to have a dangerous ground and pound from the full guard. However throwing punches can be a double edged sword because it leaves one open to submissions and sweeps.

Passing full guard and then seeking a gound and pound TKO is very lucrative. especially if you pass to mount position it is the most dominant striking position to be in really. Also you can pass to a standing position and try to work a ground and pound TKO from there.

Striking the Body in an MMA fight

Body shots are used in fighting not as knockout blows but as weakening shots meant to mainly wear the opponent down not take him out in one shot. In MMA fights today there seems to be a lack of body striking and more focus on getting the knockout blows. While this makes for some killer knockout blows to the head, the art of body shots seems to be dying out for some reason.

Body shots were famous for being used in American boxing matches to wear down an opponent in long fights. Shots to the body tend to lower the stamina of the opponent when used repeatedly or directed towards the ribs or sensitive organs. However in MMA the smaller lighter gloves are giving way to focusing on getting the knockout punch because it comes much easier.

Threat of a Clinch or Takedown

One reason people tend to back down form using body shots in MMA is because of the risk of getting caught in a clinch or getting taken down. This becomes a risk when trying to work the body because usually body shots are used in very close proximity. However to avoid this timing and using the correct body shots can result in avoiding a grappling scenario while also landing some damaging shots to the body

Where and When to Strike

a strong body shot counter in MMA

Body strikes can leave one open to attack either because you drop your hands when throwing a powerful strike or ill timed closing of distance for the strike. First, never drop your hands when throwing punches. Second Instead of using body shots as a leading strike, not very smart, when used as a part of a combination it lessens the chance of it being blatantly countered by the opponent allowing you to execute the strike effectively. Also when used as a counter this is a great way to catch the opponent off guard and land an uncontested shot.

Strike placement is also essential in landing effective body shots. One place to aim for is the liver, which is located on an opponent’s right side just just below their ribs towards their back. A direct liver shot releases the toxins that it previously removed from your blood causing pain and a freezing up of the muscles almost. In addition to the liver the three floating ribs on each side make good targets for right and left hooks. Lastly a straight shot to the sternum can also be an effective body shot but is seen much less often.

Usefulness

The usefulness of the body shot would differ from fighter to fighter but it should definitely be explored as a possible avenue for work. Body shots can be used more tactically to wear an opponent down to open him up for a bigger well placed shot to the head. However body shots are also more useful to more powerful strikers where less powerful strikers just don’t have the strength needed to damage the body in an effective manner. If used correctly though Body striking can change to outcome of a match by undermining the opponent’s efforts against you.

What is the best body type for fighting?

No two people are a like and in a sport such as mixed martial arts where all you have is what you were put onto this earth with those differences can make or break the fight. Some people are naturally bigger or stronger than others while some are smaller but more agile. In mixed martial arts one needs to be able to recognize where they can use their body type to their own advantage to come out on top.

The three basic body types, ectomorph mesomorph and endomoprh

There are three main body types that one can fall into, ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. An ectomorph has a narrower body, short torso, longer arms and legs, and longer thinner muscles. Mesomorphs have a broad chest and shoulders with solid muscle mass. Lastly an endomorph has softer muscle with rounded features and generally more fat storage.

Ectomorphs

An ectomorph can be classified as the smaller quicker men of the fighting world. Although they lack large muscles and the strength of other body types they can make up for it with their reach and/or speed and agility. A fighter like Anderson Silva can use his reach and agility to stand up with anyone that foolishly tries to compete with his striking ability. However the trade off is that usually the smaller muscle mass relates to hindered grappling performance.

The poster-boy for this body type should be Manny Pacquiao. He is a boxer and not an MMA fighter but regardless his case should be made. Even though he is clearly smaller than his opponents his speed and unrelenting striking can keep almost anybody at bay as seen below.

Mesomoprh

A mesomorph is the typical athletic body type that one thinks of for someone such as a linebacker, built like a brick s**t house. Their broad chest and shoulders provide a great anchor for their bulkier muscles. Their striking capability lacks overall agility and speed but that doesn’t mean that their strikes cant be fast and brutal. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson would fall into this category and he is known for his power and knockout capabilities in the ring.

In the grappling game this body type generally has the advantage over the other body types as well. Since they generally have shorter bulkier muscles they have more control over their appendages when working the ground game.

Endomorph

An endomorph is not the body type that one normally expects to be an athlete or a MMA fighter. However, linemen in football take advantage of this body type and in recent times one fighter in particular, Roy “Big Country” Nelson, has taken full advantage of this body type when fighting in the octagon. The bulk associated with this body type can be tossed around and used to add power to compensate for lack of speed. Another advantage is that the extra fat generally stored by this body type proved a layer of protection and could easily get in the way of attacks in grappling.

So Which is Best?

In short no one body type can be listed as the best for fighting in MMA.  Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The best fighter knows what his body is capable of and how to use that to his advantage over the other fighter, who if he is any good will be using his own body type to his advantage. He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior -Confucius.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

A martial art that has gained much more notoriety in the past years is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This martial art focusses on taking an opponent to the ground and attacking him using joint locks and choke holds. It was started in the early 20th century by a Japanese man who imigrated to brazil and pioneered as its own martial art by his early disciples.

BJJ has its roots in judo because of the Japanese master’s own roots. However it was developed further and into its own martial art from the early user’s competing and learning as they went along. BJJ also incorporates moves from other martial arts that are effective as well. In addition to its relative youth compared to other long standing tradition martial arts, BJJ differs from traditional martial arts by being a sport and a way to simply improve fitness rather than just a systern of fighting.

Uniform

Brazilian jiu jitsu traditional gi

The traditional practitioners of BJJ wear a gi made of heavy cotton. This gi gives the opportunity to provide paces to grasp and opponent and a tool to choke him out with. The belt is used to secure the gi and signify rank similar to many traditional japanese martial arts. In recent times no-gi BJJ has become more popular, especially with those competing in mixed martial arts and those just seeking the exercise, where just fighting shorts and possibly a shirt are worn.

Fighting Style

The main advantage of BJJ lies int he fact that a smaller opponent, with the correct technique, can defeat even larger opponents. This also takes into account that a larger opponent will generally seek to  use striking to take down an opponent and will not focus on his ground game as much. Also when grappling a larger opponents strength can be negated by an experienced grappler. This is achieved by using leverage and getting in positions where the mechanical advantage is such that no amount of strength can break through the experienced grappler’s advances.

The way BJJ seeks to end a fight is through joint-locks and chokeholds. Joint-locks focusing on bending body parts the way they shouldn’t be to cause pain and, if used for real self defense situations, broken bones or torn connecting tissue. And of course chokeholds used to knock out your opponent through lack of oxygen or blood to the brain.

For a whole bunch of basic BJJ techniques click here

Ground Supperiority

BJJ almost exclusively focusses on fighting on the ground. This is much different from other fighting styles which either exclusively  focus on striking from a stand up position or split time between a ground game and a takedown game. This almost exclusive ground training gives a BJJ fighter a great opportunity to train himself to become a dominating force on the ground.

A great BJJ user will be comfortable in any situation you place them in on the ground. Realistically though he will simply work his way to a position he wants to be in and finish you off from there, or at the first mistake you make before he gets there. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has become a platform in recent years to form a dominating ground game and control a fight, hopefully leading one’s self ending up in the winner’s chair but even a loss can be used to better one’s self.

Silva Defends Title Against Sonne

What was being hyped up one of the best UFC matches of the year took place on July 7th at MGM Grand Garden Arena. The night opened up with some good preliminary fights, one of which being Forrest Griffin’s win over Tito Ortiz. However when the main even came up The UFC middle weight champion defended his title very well against the contender.

The Pre-fight

Last time these two fought, the first time, there was a high volume of trash talking and chest bumping going on between these two fighters. Therefor for their grudge match it was no surprise that these two were going at it again. There were multiple incidences of each of them going off on each other during press conferences and the likes. This culminated in Anderson Silva deciding instead of having the traditional stare down with Sonnen he was going to go at him.

Sonnen, unsurprisingly, was not intimidated to these advances from Silva. If anything it simply pissed him off more for the ensuing battle. In one interview he was sounding awfully confident saying multiple times that he would, “Find a way to win” regardless of the circumstances. Before this fight he seemed amped up enough to take on just about anybody.

The Match

At the begging of the match these two were both ready to fight, it was a fight for the title so obviously they came prepared. Sonnen was jacked up off Silva’s taunts and Silva was ready to get back at Sonnen for the multiple occasions he badmouthed him.

Out of the gate the two did not touch gloves, but they did come out swinging. The champion through a strong punch but was taken down early in the fight. On the ground Sonnen looked like he was going to finish what he started. On the ground he was relentless with his strikes from the second he got Silva to the ground. Sonnen even got to a full mount position close to the end of the first round. However Sonnen was unable to stop the fight even with his dominant first round.

In the second round the fight started off again with Sonnen trying to take the fight to the ground, but he was unsuccessful this time. Sonnen did have Silva pressed up against the cage and seemed to have the fight going his way. Then Silva created some space and Sonnen tried for a spinning backfist, bad choice against the spider. After Silva ducked the punch, Sonnen went down against the cage. A swift knee by Silva stunned him enough for Silva to move in and finish the fight with his fists; winning by TKO.

Aftermath

Silva defended his title for the tenth time in UFC 148 and remains undefeated in the UFC as well. Anderson Silva has agian proved hes a force to be reckoned with int he octagon but next he will face off against Chris Weidman or Mark Munoz who are both excellent fighters and have a chance to finally dethrone the champion.