5 Grappling Techniques Every Striker Must Learn Before Transitioning To MMA

Grappling-based martial arts seemed to be the best base for mixed martial arts during the early days of the sport, but things have changed a lot since then. Strikers have now proven they can be just as dominant in mixed martial arts once they add takedown and submission defense to their fighting arsenal. 

This article will take a close look at some of the key techniques strikers transitioning to MMA must learn to be successful. 


Five Essential Grappling Techniques Strikers Need For Mixed Martial Arts

Here are some of the grappling techniques strikers transitioning to mixed martial arts must learn to be able to compete with wrestlers and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu players:


1) Sprawling

Sprawling is one of the first things you should learn when it comes to defending against takedowns. Spawl correctly, and there’s a good chance you end up in the top turtle position afterward. Sprawling prevents your opponents from grabbing your legs which they need to do to complete commonly-used takedowns like double or single-leg takedowns

There are different variations of the sprawl, with each working best for specific scenarios. To perform a standard square sprawl:

  • Shoot both of your legs backward, preventing your opponent from grabbing them.
  • Push your arms outward and use them to control your opponent’s head as your body falls to the ground. Your legs and hips should make contact with the floor, while your hands are on the mat or your opponent when you reach the ground.


2) Pummeling 

You’ll need to understand the basics of clinch fighting to stand a chance in mixed martial arts. Pummeling is how grapplers secure dominant positions in the clinch. Ideally, you want to have both of your arms underneath your opponent’s arms when stuck in the clinch. This gives you more leverage and opens up various takedowns and trips. 

Grapplers drill pummeling often to get their hands used to the hand fighting that takes place in the clinch. Here’s what a basic pummeling drill looks like:

  • Get into a clinch with a training partner, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with each other.
  • Each one of you should have an underhook secured and an overhook on the other side. This is the starting position for the drill.
  • Now start working to secure double underhooks by swimming your overhook arm under your opponent’s armpit while they do the same. Start light and gradually pick up the intensity until you’re both going 100 percent.
  • To make things more interesting, look to secure a body lock after securing double underhooks. The first person to do that wins the round then you start all over from shoulder-to-shoulder position.


3) Wall Getup

With the top three MMA promotions, ONE Championship, Bellator, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship all sticking to cages for their events, it’s safe to say the days of mixed martial arts competitions inside rings are almost a thing of the past. 

Getting taken down is the last thing you want to happen inside the cage as a striker, so you want to learn a few tricks you can use to get back to your feet if you ever ground. Cages in mixed martial arts are a double-edged sword. They can make it easier or harder for you to get back to your feet depending on how well you use them. 

The wall getup is one of the easiest ways to get back to your feet in mixed martial arts since you have the luxury of leaning on the cage as you make your way back up. 

To use the cage to get back to your feet:

  • Scoot your body toward the cage until you can lean your back on it.
  • Frame your opponent with the arm closest to their head so they can’t unload strikes on you as you make your way up. Use your free arm as a post. Make sure your post is as far away from your body as possible so your opponent can’t grab and break it.
  • Bring the leg on your post side in and place its knee on the ground. Now use the arm you’ve been framing with to secure an overhook so your opponent can’t take your back.
  • Sit up tall and use your post arm to secure your opponent’s free arm. Place your other foot on the ground and use it to push yourself to a standing position.


4) Shrimping And Bridging

Also known as the hip escape, shrimping is one of the fundamental techniques used in BJJ. The movement pattern is required to pull off many of the sweeps and escapes used in the sport. You’ll be happy you know how to shrimp if you ever find yourself mounted during a fight. 

Here’s what a basic two-legged shrimping drill looks like:

  • Start laying on the ground with your back flat and your feet extended. Your hands should be up.
  • Move slightly to a side and bring both of your feet to your butt. Lift your hips off the ground and move them back as your body moves forward.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat on your other side. Keep shrimping until you’ve used up all your mat space.

Aim for a few rounds of these every time you train. Shrimping is the easiest way to regain your guard when you find yourself stuck in disadvantageous positions like bottom mount, so make them part of your muscle memory

A bridge is another simple technique used to reverse the bottom mount position into the top guard position. It’s an effective technique, but it can be tricky to pull off on experienced fighters since it’s one of the first things BJJ and MMA fighters learn. 

To perform a bridge:

  • Trap one of your opponent’s arms. This is the direction you’ll be taking your opponent. Use your free arm to control your opponent’s posture.
  • Bring your feet up to your backside and bridge your hips up as high as you can. This leaves your opponent unbalanced.
  • Roll in the direction of the trapped arm to end up in top full guard. Your opponent will be able to regain their balance by posting if you don’t control their arm so don’t forget this little detail.

Once you get the hang of bridging and shrimping, you can start drilling them together. You simply bring your hips up as if you’re about to roll, then shrimp instead. It’s an effective way to familiarize yourself with two of the most effective defensive movements used in BJJ. 


5) Whizzer

The whizzer is your next line of defense if you fail to successfully defend against a takedown. It involves using an overhook as a crowbar to help break your opponent’s grip and raise their body. It should not be confused with an overhook that serves a different role. 

The key to making the whizzer work for you is hooking right above your opponent’s elbow, which gives you more control. You then use your free arm to break their grip. You pull your opponent up with the whizzer while pushing down on their arm to break their grip. 


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