Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest-growing sports worldwide, and many expect it to surpass boxing as the most popular combat sport. MMA is a unique sport since it allows martial artists to use techniques from different styles like punches, kicks, elbows, knees, clinch, grappling, and submissions.
Five Essential Techniques All MMA Fighters Should Know
The days of mixed martial artists being only skilled at one martial art are over. Modern MMA fighters are well-rounded, and it’s virtually impossible to make it to the championship level without being well-versed in the different aspects of fighting these days.
Some of the essential techniques you should know as a modern mixed martial artist include:
1) The Jab
The jab is the most basic punch you can throw, yet it’s the most important punch in any combat sport that allows punches. It’s faster than any other type of punch, it scores points, and it can be used to gauge distances between you and your opponents.
The jab is often used to set up other punches and can even bring a fight to an end. For example, Anderson Silva knocked out Forrest Griffin with a jab while moving backward at UFC 101.
The jab is one of the safest punches you can throw since it only leaves a tiny opening for opponents to counter. It also serves as an excellent counter since it’s the fastest punch you can throw. It’s an effective way to break your opponent’s rhythm as they throw combinations.
Here’s how to throw a proper jab:
- Get into your fighting stance with both hands up in a traditional guard. We’ll be using an orthodox stance for our example.
- Extend your left hand as you throw the jab, keeping it on the same horizontal plane your left fist was when it was protecting your head.
- Dig your left foot into the ground and rotate it inwards as you throw the punch for extra power.
- When done correctly, your shoulder should cover your left side of the face as you fully extend the punch.
- Bring your hand back to the starting position after the punch to protect your face.
Regardless of your fighting style, you’ll need to know how to sprawl to excel at mixed martial arts. Takedowns are scored in MMA, so opponents can win rounds against you by simply taking you down. Rounds, where the striking exchanges are equal, are typically scored for the fighter who scores more takedowns or control against the cage.
Even Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialists should learn sprawling techniques, so their fights go to the ground only when they want it there. To perform a basic sprawl:
- From your fighting stance, shoot your legs backward as your opponent shoots in for a takedown.
- Place your hands where your legs were as your hips and body drop to the canvas. Your lower body should be on the canvas, while your hands hold your upper body slightly off it.
- You can then return to your feet after stopping the takedown or use the opportunity to control your opponent on the ground.
3) Rear Naked Choke
The rear naked choke is the most used choke in MMA and has a high success rate. What makes it even better is that you don’t have to give up your position if your opponent manages to get out of the choke. The same can’t be said about submissions like the arm bar or triangle choke. Fail to execute either one, and you’ll probably end up in a more disadvantageous position.
The rear naked choke is also one of the easiest submissions to master. You don’t need years of BJJ training to have an excellent rear-naked choke. Half an hour spent working through the basics of the technique, and you’re good to go. You must have your opponent’s back to perform a rear naked choke. Here’s what the choke looks like:
- After taking your opponent’s back and securing the position with hooks or a body triangle, work one of your arms under your opponent’s neck and grab your opposite shoulder with that arm. Grab your bicep instead if your arms aren’t long enough.
- Bring your other arm behind your opponent’s neck and grab your other shoulder.
- Now squeeze your arms as if you were trying to bring your elbows together. When done correctly, this technique stops blood flow to the brain, causing a loss of consciousness in seconds.
4) Push Kick
Also known as the teep, the push kick is used to manage distance at kicking range. It can be used to prevent opponents from crowding you, and it can also be used to do damage. The technique can be thrown at an opponent’s body or head. It’s also an effective way to attack the groin in a self-defense scenario.
The teep should not be confused with the front kick. The teep is thrown horizontally at your opponent, while the front kick is thrown upward. Think of the push kick as a jab and the front kick as an uppercut.
Just like a jab, the push kick can be used to set up other attacks. Muay Thai legend Samart Payakaroon’s fighting style revolved around the teep, and he often used it to set up roundhouse kicks to the body or head. Here’s what the technique looks like:
- From an orthodox fighting stance, lift your left knee to your hip level and extend your leg horizontally towards your opponent.
- Aim to land with the balls of your feet and keep your hands up to protect your head while throwing the technique.
5) The Overhand
The overhand punch is used more frequently in MMA than in other combat sports since grappling is allowed. The punch works best when set up with a level change, something you’ll need to do if you want to shoot in for a takedown.
Feint a shot and follow up with an overhand, and there’s a good chance you catch your opponent. Also, the smaller gloves worn in MMA make it harder to block the punch, making it more effective for MMA settings compared to boxing. Here’s what the technique looks like:
- From an orthodox stance, change levels by bending your knees.
- Throw the overhand with your hand going over your shoulder and head, then coming downwards towards your opponent.
- Keep your elbow bent at a 90 to 110-degree angle as your fist moves toward your opponent.
- Lean towards your lead foot to increase the power of the punch.
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