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How Not to Get Hit

The concept of being able to submit an opponent rather than just beat him to a knock out was all the rage when mixed marital arts hit the main stream. However that does mean that getting knocked out is not a serious concern for a fighter as well. There are many defensive styles that are seen by different fighters, each offering its advantages and disadvantages.

Is There a Correct Defensive Stance?

Get a little creative with a tai chi stance

Get a little creative with a tai chi stance?

The short answer is no, there are so many styles and variations in this sport that there cannot be one “correct” way to do anything really. However, there are certainly some basics of a defensive stance that remain true throughout many different styles.

The basic idea of a good defensive stance should be obvious, protecting the vital areas, i.e. your head and ribs. The first step is to always keep your chin tucked into your chest; the quickest way to get knocked out is to catch that one clean punch to the jaw. Your hands should be kept up at all times as well, with your fists near chin level to protect it and your face from strikes. Your elbows are kept in towards your sides to protect your ribs from body strikes.

As a fighter grows and progresses he tailors his style to his own strengths and comfort. Lowering the hands provides more striking speed and uses less energy whilst giving up protection. On the other end of the spectrum, keeping your hands higher, towards your temple, gives you better defense while sacrificing some quickness.

Good Offense

Its an old adage that the best defense is a good offense, and this can apply to a mixed martial arts style as well. It will be awfully hard for your opponent to hit you if you are constantly on the offensive and he needs to worry about his own self-preservation rather than attacking.

This can be effective especially against very aggressive fighters. The idea is to take the opponent out of his comfort zone and make him fight on your terms, not his. Someone that is used to being on the offensive, and planning on being on the offensive, can get flustered with an unexpected offensive push.

Bob and Weave Baby

Another defense against striking in mixed martial arts is to avoid getting hit all together by dodging punches. Now this sounds extremely easy, and really pretty obvious, but it is a lot harder to do in real life. There are two advantages of using this style of defense, one you are not getting hit at all (in an ideal situation) and two it gives great opportunities for a  counter strike

This style of defense takes extreme athleticism and conditioning. Being able to time and dodge an opponent’s strikes takes a lot of training and experience; and a serious pair of cojones in some cases because potential knockout punches can be very close to landing. This style uses a lot more energy than blocking punches as well because of the constant movement. In addition if your conditioning is sub-par and you utilize this style, when you get tired and your timing starts to slip up it could be disastrous for you.

However this movement allows for the potential counter punch as well. After missing a punch your opponent will have one side of his body unprotected and may be slightly off balance. Using your dodging motion effectively is the key to effective counter striking. As you slip a punch you also load your body up to explode into the counter punch, hopefully ending in a clean strike.

The best example of this style of fighting can be seen in Anderson Silva. He is so good at this he makes his opponents look like fools when they try to hit him and then he can quickly land a knockout blow of his own. He uses expert timing, positioning, technique, and Badass-ness to do this so trying what he does is not recommended for the glass jawed. Here is a video of Silva explaining some technique.

The Hook

This fighter is clearly feeling the effects of a well placed hook

Mixed martial artists seek to train and better themselves in all aspects of their fighting game. In today’s mixed martial arts arena it is crucial to be able to strike effectively because if you can’t you, make for an easy target for your opponent. Boxing skills in the ring are crucial to round out one’s skill set and prepare for a fight.

One of boxing’s iconic strikes is the hook. It has been used for years in the boxing ring as a powerful strike that can easily be a knockout punch. On the mixed martial arts stage the hook can be an even more powerful weapon. This mostly comes from the smaller gloves that make any strike much more effective than when wearing the boxing gloves. If landed cleanly on an opponent a powerful hook can easily knock even an iron jawed fighter out.

The Technique

Anyone can throw a flailing hook at somebody but the real power comes from using the correct form while doing it. The majority of the power while throwing a hook does not come from the arms but from the legs and core. For clarification’s sake i will describe a left hook from a right handed stance, or whats referred to as a lead hook.

The arm is bent at ninety degrees at the elbow and positioned parallel to the ground. The arm is effectively locked into this position for the punch. The body is then turned using the core muscles to rotate the torso. In addition the feet are pointed in the direction of the rotation to swing your hips and throw your body into the punch.  This rotation and foot movement allows the momentum and force of your entire body to be transferred upon impact making this punch devastating.

Here is a video demonstrating the proper technique. of course it is from a left handed stance but the fundamentals still apply.

Double Edged Sword

This powerful offensive strike can also easily leave you undefended. If you put everything into one punch and miss, or worse the opponent dodges it, the chances for a counter attack are very high. If you end up off balance your opponent could shoot for a quick takedown. Also if you don’t quickly raise your hands for defense against a counter strike one could land and put you in a very bad position. This means that planning and executing these strikes in a smart fashion is essential.

However a hook can also be used as a great counter strike itself. This comes from the natural movement when you throw the hook. When faced with a straight right or left it gives the opportunity to slide to the side of the striking arm and throw the hook on the opponent. This also places you in a prime position without a blocking arm for the opponent.

Body Shots

Another good use for the hook is for a powerful punch to the body. Again the turning motion of this punch serves to take you out of striking range as well as provide enough power to effect the body. A liver strike can be used to stun an opponent along with a quick follow up strike to the head for a knockout, easier said than done though.

Striking in MMA

Perfect example of a Knockout Strike in MMA

In mixed martial arts one of the most effective ways to end a fight is by knockout or TKO and the best, and pretty much only, way to do that is with striking. An effective striking game will change the way an opponent tries to fight you and the strength of your own fighting game. Striking is also extremely versatile in the sport of MMA because of the use of all the limbs, the small gloves, and the presence of the ground game.

The basics of striking in MMA are pretty simple. Many fighters in MMA have backgrounds in grappling anyway and learn the basic boxing and muay thai techniques at first. There are so many ways to use striking in MMA though it can take a lot of practice to get good at it from all angles.

Basic Stand Up Striking

In MMA there are a few basic strikes that are used throughout the different levels of competition. The most basic of which being the jab. A jab in MMA is a lot different from a job in boxing though. IN MMA the jab is more versatile because of the damage it can cause, unlike in boxing due to the heavily padded gloves.  The jab is a great way to kee an opponent at a distance you are comfortable with until you plan to strike. or also a quick and effective counterpunch.

Uppercuts, hooks, and overhand punches can all become deadly weapons every time they’re used in MMA. The minimal padding on the gloves reduces any cushion and allows each punch to be a possible killer. Landing solid strikes on the jaw or head of the opponent cause massive damage and can easily quickly change the tides of a fight.

Body strikes are also used very frequently. In strict boxing body shots are used to slowly wear away at an enemy’s stamina and are used in the same way in MMA fights. however because of the minimally padded gloves and use of knees and kicks the body shot becomes and even more effective stamina destroying machine. And with a strong enough strike to the liver or floating ribs an opponent can be frozen in place.

KIcks and knees are also implemented in MMA fights with devastating results. Nimble fighters can use leg kicks to ruin an opponent’s strong stand up game or quickly land a kick to the head and end the fight in one foul swoop. The knee is another powerful strike that can be used to wear away at an opponent’s body, or if times correctly their hed as well.

Ground and Pound

One aspect that makes the sport of MMA trully great is the ground and pound. When on the ground in a grappling situation one has the option to try and knock the opponent out. An untrained fighter could only be opening himself to further submissions or sweeps when trying to ground and pound. However when used correctly the ground and pound is a great way fro a powerful fighter to dominate a fight on the ground when on top of an opponent. There is nowhere for the opponent to go once you have him on the ground underneath you and eating your fist.