Post a comment in this post using your first name and first letter of your last name. (Eg. Bart B, Mike F, etc)
State the fight you watched at the begining of the comment. (Eg. “Jim Miller vs Melvin Guillard)
Following the title, in about 200 words summarize the fight briefly and attempt to analyze the keys to victory for the winner. If one fighter was faster, stronger, a better striker … or even just lucky, explain how things played out. Think about how fighting style, aggression and technique may have affected the winner’s victory. Use all the knowledge at your disposal to craft your insights – don’t worry about being perfect or knowing it all, just do your best.
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Here’s UFC champion Frankie Edgar teaching a basic combo, using the standard Jab-Cross to set up a clinch where knees to the face and body will be delivered. Notice how crisp his defense is even while throwing strikes and how he circles while disengaging. We worked a slightly different version of this in class, and its nice to see how its done by an elite striker.
(Above, a clash of style and stance: Lyoto Machida’s karate and Shogun Rua’s Muay Thai)
Your fighting stance governs a great deal about how you fight. All of your attacks will be influenced by it; your defensive structure is set by it. While there are many variations, there is a general sense of what is most useful and a majority of successful fighters only differ only 10-20% from it. Think of it like a steak. Some people like medium-rare, others well-done. If you were cooking for a large group (of carnivores, of course) and couldn’t individually serve them, you’d probably pick medium to medium well to best satisfy all. Serving rare steak or going with uncooked steak tar-tar would probably end poorly.
Below, a great, middle of the road stance (from local MMA instructor Brian Yamasaki) vs extremely low and impractical Shaolin kungfu stance.
I’ll call this middle of the road stance “the standard narrative”. Remember, no one particular technique or stance is the 100% correct thing to do in all situations. Fighting is fluid and dynamic, but this standard narrative does a good job keeping in pace with all the places a fight can go.
Guarding the upper body
The main two concerns here are reducing damage to your vitals and allowing quick and powerful strikes. We’ll mainly focus on the defensive aspect, but the guard described here doesn’t really sacrifice much in terms of firepower for the benefit of great defense – one reason it so popular in MMA.
With protection in mind, your hands should to be held above your collar-bone, your knuckles above your chin, protecting your face. Depending on your style, you can keep your knuckles at your temples (better defense), like you are answering the phone or even lowering them to the chin-level (better offense, riskier) to increase your speed of punching and relaxed shoulders.
Below, upper body high guards.
Here are some suitable relaxed lower guards with the arms.
In almost every case, you’ll want your elbows (chicken wings) to be down and in towards your body protecting your midsection. In the pictures above, many of the fighters are midway into a punch so their lead-hand elbow has drifted away from the standard position.
Especially for beginners, it is vital to keep the hands up and elbows tucked in even while punching, as it can save you from taking damage. Below right, Cain Velasquez’s high guard with the rear hand blocks his opponents punch while his punch lands flush.
Your chin should be tucked in towards your chest, “hiding” it and rooting your head to your torso.
When you are out of range of your opponent’s punches, your hands can drop slightly, but the standard narrative warns against it. This conserves some energy and allows for loose and fast punches as well as increasing takedown defense, but making your head more vulnerable to attack.
One other thing to consider – the tilt of your upper body. Generally, you want your spine pointing straight up (chin tucked in) and only lean 5-15 degrees off vertical. When a fighter is bending at the hips past about 15 degrees, they are typically looking to wrestle (or defend it). Below left, Jose Aldo is tilting forward to be aggressive via strikes while Gray Maynard is tilting slightly away in defense.
Here, Tito Ortiz is looking to wrestle, his torso bent at about 30 degrees of vertical.
When you are good enough, you can break any of these “rules” when the occasion calls for it. Below, Anderson Silva dropping his hands to Forest Griffin, then knocking him out. Lets be clear on this one. Silva uses superior knowledge of range to keep his opponents from hitting him, obviating the need to block. As one of the best fighters of all time, he is allowed to do what he pleases. However, he does teach the standard narrative in his excellent DVD, Striking Combos for MMA. He’s also got a book that goes over the basic stance – if you need a hard copy.
These are just a few of the major considerations – let me know what other things you think are important in comment section.