Now that you have all the must have MMA gear and some basic knowledge of MMA, the next logical move is to learn the some of the more straightforward and important, MMA strikes or moves. Naturally MMA is a varied sport and hence has a variety of styles and techniques that one can utilize. Kickboxing, karate and taekwondo will focus more towards kicking styles whereas boxing, muay thai or kung fu will be more focused on punching styles. Hence we can determine that there are many styles of striking and many ways for you to improve your style.
Basic MMA Striking
1. Jab, Uppercuts and Hooks
These are the three basic types of punches in boxing, almost every fighter learns these first as they will help create your offense in the most efficient manner.
Hooks are the most powerful punches in your arsenal. These will often be used to really damage an opponent so make sure you practice these often on punch bags to keep developing your power.
- Keep Your Guard Up: Remember just like with every punch you throw, keep your rear hand up guarding your chin with your elbow tucked in to protect your body.
- Bend Your Arm at a 90 Degrees Angle: When you throw the hook, your arm should be bent at an angle of 90 degrees, or close to it. If the angle is much more of much less, then you won’t get the maximum power from the punch.
- Rotate Your Body : Again, this is another essential motion to increase your punching power. Not only that, but you’ll find that when you rotate your body simultaneously with the hook, your head also moves which helps to either avoid punches coming back or at least rolls with them.
- Pivot Your Lead Foot: If you want to increase the power of your hook, then make sure that you pivot your lead foot simultaneously with the lead hook. If you’re hooking with your rear hand, then pivot with your rear foot.
- Bend Your Knees: You may have heard the term, “sitting down on your punches”. This basically means bending your knees to get the most power. Not too much though, just slightly so that you can still maintain your balance.
- Follow Through: It’s not a good idea to follow through with every punch. However, if you want to throw a hook with knockout power, then you have to aim to throw your punch through the target, not at it.
Uppercuts are an essential part of your arsenal. They involve getting very close to your opponent to hit their chin or body. From a low to upward moving power punch with a huge potential to knock your opponent out cold.
- Start in your boxing stance
- Imagine your opponent’s head being at mid-to-close distance
- Shift your weight a little bit to the front foot, lower your stance slightly and drop your front arm about one foot to create enough space to generate power
- Keep your back hand up, protecting your chin at all times
- Rotate your hips, getting your body to create force upwards while returning your position to a regular height
- Simultaneously, exaggerate that rotation even further with your shoulders and drive your front hand in an almost straight motion upwards, with your palm toward your face, in the direction of the chin of your opponent
- At the end of this motion your front shoulder should touch/cover your chin
- Return your front hand to your guard and reset into your stance as quickly as possible.
Jab is an important weapon for all MMA fighters. It is simple and basic, but many new fighters can’t seem to get it right. There is no real counting how many uses you can get out of the jab. It will take a long time for you to master the jab.
- A jab is thrown with your dominant hand.
- You have to extend the arm out completely while ensuring that your wrist is aligned to your elbow.
- The force behind the jab can vary.
- If it is a probing jab, it will be softer.
- If it is a penetrating jab it will have force like a battering ram.
- The timing has to be perfect.
Jab is also used to set up other hits when you are in the middle of fight, like the overhand punch. So these are basic MMA strikes in the form of punches. Now lets look further for different styles of punches and kicks too.
2. Overhand Punch
This curving punch is thrown with your other hand, the non-dominant one. Try to imagine yourself throwing a baseball and you will get the idea of how this punch is thrown.
- Overhand punch is common in the MMA.
- It is not finesse that is behind it but complete and utter force.
- Bring your arm forward with windmill like movement.
- Keep your fist and wrist aligned because you don’t want to sprain the wrist.
- Target the head of the opponent.
- As always, timing has to be perfect.
You can try this punch out on the punching bag and perfect the movement so it will be easier when you throw it during a sparring session.
3. Counter Punching
Counterpunching is complex and isn’t the most straightforward beginner technique. However counterpunching can teach you a few extremely important basics of dealing with an opponent.
Out-timing your opponent
- When you are within range of an opponent that is loading up with a heavy shot, you can throw a faster punch before he can get his in motion.
- This not only blocks your opponent from throwing their strikes, it prevents their combination, fluidity and keeps them defending.
- As the old saying goes, a good offense is a good defense. Hence counter punching provides you with the ability to defend with your attacks.
When your opponent overextends
- Floyd Mayweather Jr. was an expert at making opponents overextend. One of his greatest tricks was to hang his head over his lead leg to give the illusion that he was closer before pulling back and throwing a straight right when that opponent basically threw a shot into thin air.
- Hence counter punching is very reach dependent and hence can exploit an opponents disadvantage in reach very well. On the other hand if your reach is less than your opponents. You can use counter punching to feign openings and strikes allowing you to exploit the opponents advantages as well.
- This further allows you to use your combinations much more effectively as now you can slip out of your opponents trademark or most often used combinations. Whether you want to do this by provoking your opponent and making them waste energy striking air or by predicting their movements. Kung-Fu and Karate specifically focus specifically upon predicting movements and attacks before they are ever launched like a chess game.
When they are resetting or repositioning
- If you have measured that a fighter is sloppy when throwing a jab, this should present to you a window of opportunity. In order to capitalize, you must con your opponent into throwing that jab before slipping it and catching him on the way out.
- Counter punching is all about learning your opponents patterns. Figuring out which combinations and tricks they have up their sleeves and finding ways to make them misuse their strikes. If your opponent does a three part “jab, jab, hook combo”, you can use that to potentially set up an overhand punch on them.
4. Roundhouse Kicks
The most important of all kicks and your instrument for the destruction of your opponent. Round kicks are part of a lot of knockouts in the MMA. They are extremely powerful and dangerous when done right.
- Make your lead leg the pivot.
- The lead leg should be perpendicular to whatever you are targeting.
- Thrust the hip of the pivot leg while you turn the striking leg for the strike.
- Use your core muscle while you are turning your body for the strike.
- Put as much force as possible into the hit.
- Furthermore changing your kicking height often will prevent your opponent from predicting where the next strike is coming from.
- This will help you manage your targets better and
You want to make sure that you land the lower part of the shin on the target, whether it is a bag or your opponent.
5. Double Leg Takedown
The double leg takedown is borrowed from wrestling and has become a common move in MMA. It will be a while before you can gain the strength to pull off this move successfully.
- This is move is performed when the opponent is close to you.
- You need to get your hands behind the opponent’s knees or hips.
- Grab hold of them firmly and pull him/her off the mat.
- Complete the move by slamming the opponent towards your left or right depending on where their body weight was leaning.
One of the most effective takedowns in MMA, trip can be used to get the opponent off balance and get them on the mat while you are in a dominant position.
- Place your foot on the inside or outside of the opponent’s foot, whichever is easier in the moment.
- Keep your own body balanced.
- Grab hold of the opponent and force them towards the mat while tripping their foot.
- The lack of body balance and force will have them lying on the mat in seconds.
The kind of grip you have on your opponent can vary but the mechanics will always remain the same.
When you have the chance to practice these moves, make sure that you have an observer present who can point out the mistakes you are making. Get your gear on and get to practicing.