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What is your Stance? MMA and the significance of foundation

Recently, we watched UFC Champion Ronda Rousey defend her title against Challenger Sara McMann. Finishing her with a Left Knee to the Liver. (For more information on how the Liver Shot works, please visit our article “The Anatomy of the Liver Shot“).

I was struck by Ronda’s post fight comment “When we were going over Sara’s footage and how she fights, we saw that no one had really gone to the body with her,” Rousey said. “Being that she’s a wrestling style, she’s more likely to be bent over more and I just thought it would be really unexpected.” This quote from the article at the Las Vegas Sun.

Step foot into any reputable gym, and the first thing you should learn is the foundation, the Stance. Be it a Boxing Stance, Thai Boxing Stance, Wrestling Stance, etc. the basic stance has been optimized for the specific art it was developed from. But what does an MMA stance look like?

Many of the top level athletes in MMA today are converts from other disciplines. Sara McMann was and Olympic Wrestler, Ronda a Judo practitioner. As converts, these fighters bring with them baggage in the form of a ready stance. Something practiced so many times, it’s hard to unlearn, something that was studied and capitalized on by Rousey and her camp.

My interest in this topic was peaked before when I first began studying Thai Boxing with Ajarn Surachai Sirisute and he explained the difference between the American Pugilism, Basic Western Boxing Stance (in contrast to the John L. Sullivan Stance, the cross guard or the Archie More style) and then again when I spoke with Catch Legend Billy Robinson and he discussed the differences between the Amateur Wrestling Stance and the Catch As Catch Can Stance.

So what are these differences, why have these stances evolved as such, and what does any of this have to do with MMA? Lets start by examining the stances from a few of the arts found more prevalently in MMA. Mind you, each art, has multiple forms and variations of their basic ready stance. We will attempt to demonstrate the most generalized form that is representative of it’s respective art.

Boxing Stance

The American Pugilism Boxing Stance.  Click here to see it from various angles

The American Pugilism Boxing Stance. Click here to see it from various angles

Notice both feet are turned at a 45 degree angle. This blades the body and brings the liver further back protecting it with distance and the elbows from the opponent. Since there are no attacks to the legs allowed in boxing there is no penalty for turning in the front foot and exposing the sciatic nerve. There is a slight crouch which also protects the body and shrinks the target zones.

Thai Boxing Stance

Basic Thai Boxing Stance.  Click to see it from various angles.

Basic Thai Boxing Stance. Click to see it from various angles.

Here you see more of an upright stance. This guards against knees and kicks which may be directed at the head. Only the rear foot is turned at a 45 degree angle, this makes the hips square up to the opponent, exposing the liver, but also bringing 4 of the more powerful, rear side weapons (shin, knee, elbow, fist) closer to the opponent and therefore easier to bring to bear. Having the front foot pointing straight forward also aids in protecting against leg attacks to the sciatic nerve. The hands are held further outward which helps to prevent the opponent from grabbing and pulling the head downward. The hand positioning also assists in defending against the heavy force of a shin in the event of a head kick, but the stance does so at the cost of exposing the body.

Amateur Wrestling Stance

The Amateur Wrestling Stance.  Click to see from various angles.

The Amateur Wrestling Stance. Click to see from various angles.

This stance is optimized for defense against takedowns. The hips are square much like in Thai Boxing, but the crouch is similar to that found in a Boxing stance. The hands are held close, to guard against attacks such as arm drags etc. and also to be able to defend the legs in the event of a shot. As there are no chokes or neck cranks allowed in Amateur Wrestling, there is no penalty for exposing the head or neck.

Catch Wrestling Stance

The Catch As Catch Can Wrestling Stance

The Catch As Catch Can Wrestling Stance. Click on the image to see from various angles.

In contrast to the Amateur Wrestling Stance, the Catch Wrestling Stance is upright, this exposes the legs for shot style attacks but maximizes the defense of the head and neck as Neck Cranks and Chokes are 100% legal in Catch. Often times an opponent who shoots in on the legs and is unable to immediately effect a takedown, looses the match to a technique such as the Grovit.

The arms and elbows are held close to the body to defend against Underhooks, Body Locks and Arm Drags, and as with Amateur Wrestling, there is no striking allowed thus there is no penalty for exposing the face and head to these types of attacks.

So the next question is, what is the best way to approach fighting in MMA? Would it be best to develop a new, hybridized stance, specifically designed for the complexities of the cage? Or would it be best to transition from one purpose built stance to another based on your intentions?

Like anything, there are pros and cons to each approach. I don’t believe that a generalized stance would be as effective at any one specific task as a specialized stance. However, specialized stances can be exploited and can sometimes be a “tell” to your opponent.

Be sure to leave a comment and share with us your stance on MMA and the best approach to the foundation, the stance.

Guard Pass Quick Kills

In the past, we’ve seen a number of “Quick Kills” from Sensei Erik Paulson. But these were in the context of a takedown sequence.

Now he applies the same concept to passing the guard and he shares his expertise with us at the 2013 Combat Submission Wrestling Camp.

CACC Single Leg Suplex!

Catch As Catch Can Living Legend Billy Robinson is back again, and this time he’s helping Assistant Coach Sam and Ricky Lazaro refine a Kick Catch/Single Leg Suplex variation.

When I first met Coach Robinson, I had a few brief moments to just sit and talk with him. Well, when I say, “talk” what I really mean is, sit and listen. And during my listening, I recall him reiterating the idea of “Learning how to learn.” A concept given to him by his mentor Billy Riley.

I don’t know how many times I expect to use this particular series of moves in my own game, but there is plenty here to learn. Various concepts of leverage and body mechanics; general principles that I have extracted from this lesson and have begun to apply to techniques more suited to my personal style of Submission Wrestling and MMA.

I’d like to believe that I’ve begun to “learn how to learn.” And in so doing have learned how to look beyond what is directly in front of me. To see the driving principles that make the techniques work and then apply them to improve techniques that lie elsewhere in my repertoire. This has happened before with ideas taught to me by Mike Diaz in regards to butterfly guard, arm control and sweeps. To this day I am not a big butterfly guard player, but the lessons taught to me that day have improved my standing clinch game, my guard passing game and closed guard game.

And thus, I encourage you to look at your lessons, to watch your videos and to try to get just a little more out of them that what is immediately in the foreground. Look deeper and do your best to learn how to learn. Maybe I’ve got a little foothold (pun intended) into “Learning how to learn” or maybe I still haven’t got a clue. Either way, it can’t hurt to keep trying.

On a separate note, and I apologize for the abrupt and complete change of topics here, but as I’ve watched this season of The Ultimate Fighter (Team Rousey vs Team Tate), I couldn’t help but notice a few familiar faces. Jessamyn Duke, who is from Ajarn Chai’s Thai Boxing Association and is actually an Associate Instructor, and Shayna Baszler who I recognized, and this is why I bring this up, from a video with Coach Billy at one of the Catch Certifications.

I’ve never trained along side of Shayna, but as I’ve watched her interact with her fellow house mates. Last week, taking Japanese language lessons from Roxanne Modafferi, and then comforting her after her loss, I couldn’t help but become endeared by her plight.

Her journey was cut short with an upset loss to Julianna Pena, but I wish her the best and I hope to share the mat someday, perhaps, if I am lucky, under the watchful eye of Coach Robinson at a Catch Certifiaction.

Taekwondo In MMA

Some time ago, we shared a few set ups for the Turn Back Kick when we did a shoot with Sensei Erik Paulson. But long before that Coach Kiser was using them in the Taekwondo Junior Olympics and as a result developed his own favorite set ups which eventually made their way into a few of his MMA fights.

The Back Kick has a few different uses as it can be used to counter an opponent to circles to your left flank and attempts to create an angle (this variation can be seen in the clip with Sensei Paulson). And as you can see it can also be used as a follow up to a missed or evaded Thai Round Kick.

But in both of these situations, the Turn Back Kick has a secondary effect. It acts as a deterrent, keeping your opponent from rushing in to take advantage of a flanking situation. Even when your opponent backs away or evades your Turn Back Kick, they give up the ability to bridge the gap and thus trade safety for an opportunity to counter. This gives you time to repost and reset.

Share your favorite set ups and uses for the Turn Back kick. Leave a comment and let us know what other TKD techniques you like to incorporate into your MMA game.

An Arm Bar for Every Occasion

Typically, the arm bar from the guard requires that you first break your opponent’s posture. A feat that is sometimes, much easier said than done. It’s no surprise that this arm bar, one that flies in the face of convention comes from the man who in 2005 (I believe), released a 6 DVD Set focused solely on this one submission.

I’ve heard Sensei Paulson recount that in Judo, they often say, all roads lead to Arm Bar, and after seeing Ronda Rousey exemplify this maxim repeatedly in the octagon, and then seeing this gem of a technique, I have to admit, I’m becoming a believer.

Filmed at the 2013 CSW Instructor/Fighter Camp, this is really a great move to add to anyone’s arsenal. Be sure to drop Sensei Paulson a note on his Facebook Page and thank him for taking the time to share this with all of us.

Now… LOCK ON!

The Sit Out Drill

Here we present an in depth look at a simple building block of any serious MMA practitioner’s ground game. The humble, yet indispensable Short Sit Out.

Learning how to Sit Out is only half of the battle though, and in the video above we present a drill designed to teach you WHEN to sit out. Like many escapes, if you wait to long and allow your opponent to sink in and fortify their position, it makes your escape exponentially more difficult. The secret is to begin your escape as your opponent is only beginning to gain an advantageous position rather than after he/she secures it.

For those of you who are having difficulty learning the progression, we have supplied it below. It is a repeating and redundant sequence patterned after the training methods of Kali and Escrima known as Sumbrada, only here utilizing the movements and techniques of Wrestling and MMA.

Partner A: Obtains double overhooks from top North South Position
Partner B: Utilizes a 180 Sit Out (S Turn) and obtains Quarter Postion on Partner A
Partner A: Immediately utilizes a 360 Sit Out and obtains Quarter Position on Partner B
Partner B: Immediately utilizes a 180 Sit Out and obtains an overhook and underhook position from top
North South on Partner A
Partner A: Immediately utilizes a 360 Sit Out and obtains an overhook and underhook position from top
North South on Partner B
Partner B: Immediately utilizes a 360 Sit Out and obtains a double overhook position from top North
South Position on Partner A, completing the first half of the overall drill

Now you will continue the drill with the roles simply reversed so that both partners get a chance to develop the timing and techniques from all the possible positions in the drill.

Be sure to leave a comment below and let us know how you like this drill and if it has been helpful for your game.

And for our members, check out the Side Cross Escape Series to see yet another example of how to apply your new found Sit Out skills!

Cradle Counter to the Single Leg Takedown

Here we are again with a DamageControlMMA.com exclusive with the legendary Coach Billy Robinson. A special thanks to the folks at CertifiedCatchWrestler.com for being so inviting and welcoming to the Damage Control MMA project. Believe it or not, it takes a lot of work to bring these videos to you and not everyone is friendly to the idea of us bringing in our filming crew to grab an interview or a technique. Coach Billy Robinson, Jake Shannon and the Catch Wrestling Community at large has been so accomodating and for being so open to our questions and interest in Catch As Catch Can.

Last week I bored you with a long post. This week I spare you the long lecture and simply offer you this spectacular counter to the Single Leg Takedown which puts you squarely in control with a far side Cradle. Whether you’re a wrestler looking for a pin, a submission grappler looking to reverse a takedown and end up on top or a MMA practitioner, this move will have a useful place in your bag of tricks.

Check it out, the Catch as Catch Can Cradle Counter to the Single Leg.

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Basic Muay Thai Pad Drills: Inside Left Kick Counters

Since one of our very first Striking Instructionals “Jab Counters” we’ve had a lot of positive feedback and requests for more striking oriented videos in that format. Well here we are with another attempt at a video we hope you will enjoy.

The Left Kick Counter is a nice addition to the repertoire of any trainer or pad holder that wants to make his or her rounds more realistic. Incorporating these drills takes your partner from simply thumping pads, to reacting, and thinking. Sometimes they will engage the pads, other times simply defend attacks and other times they will defend and counter. This is the case with the Inside Left Kick Counter Drills.

Don’t forget to pay respects before and after your rounds. And don’t forget to leave a comment and let us know if you liked this series of Pad Drills.

Lock Flow Set Up For Arm Triangle

As a continuation of the Arm Triangle Series available in our members section, Coach Kiser shares another great set up for his favorite submission.

This time we Coach demonstrates how the Arm Triangle can be used to put a different twist on the end of a very familiar submission combination. The Hip Pop/Sit Up Sweep to Kimura to Guillotine series is a staple of standard Guard playing tactics. But in this series, we share how to use the sweep and Kimura to misdirect your opponent and finish with a secondary sweep or directly with an Arm Triangle.

This is just one of many set ups available in our members area. If you missed it the first time around, you may want to review the various finishes that are available once you employ the set up of your choice and find your self in a position to finalize. We’ve included our overview on this subject in the video below.

Belfort vs Bisping: KO Breakdown

What is it that goes into a surgical Knock Out like we saw on Saturday night when Vitor Belfort placed a perfect shin across Bisping’s temple?

It wasn’t by accident. It was a well orchestrated plan.

It’s easy to believe that you just throw some punches, mix in some kicks and voilà! Knock Out! And certainly, this can sometimes be the case, but this is a spray and pray strategy that is a roll of the dice at best.

Professionals find ways to stack the deck, to count cards if you will, strategically placing bets and thus increasing their odds of winning the jackpot of combat sport, the lights out, sleeping pill.

The members area of our website has always been structured to teach simple, easy to learn techniques and concepts that can be combined to produce potent, highly effective tools for our members. The Bisbing, Belfort fight is a great example of just such a situation.

On March 15, 2011 we released the High Kick Counter vs the Southpaw as part of our Southpaw Counter Series where we discussed the general concept of keeping the lead foot on the outside of your opponent’s lead foot.

Many people have asked us to follow up with a series for Southpaws, giving them options for dealing with Orthodox fighters, however the techniques and theories are more or less identical just reversed. In essence, regardless of your lead, you want to favor your rear sided weapons as Belfort did vs. Bisbping.

Later in 2011 we posted the Basic High Kick Set up video on our youtube channel. The theory for the set up being, that you threaten your rear hand, eliciting a parry defense, clearing a line for your head kick to follow and land, unimpeded.

What we saw on January 19th, was Vitor Belfort threatening with his Straight Left, which Bisping was wise to acknowledge and respect. After taking time to condition a response and set Bisping up, the Left High Kick was ripe for the taking.

Belfort faked the Straight Left, Bisping crossed centerline with his right handed parry, opening the outside line and Belfort delivered the goods with his left shin and it was game over.

 

Another key to the set up was taking the initiative and forcing Bisping to react rather than allowing him to initiate. This gave Vitor the ability to read Bisping’s responses and contributed to the card counting intelligence which would lend a much higher hit probability to Vitor’s well calculated shot selection.

Thanks for tuning in. We hope this was helpful to you.

Leave us a note in the comments below and let us know what you think of our fist foray into the realms of fight breakdowns.