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?
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.
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.