If you are new to MMA or have only been training for a few months, you may be struggling during sparring practices to strike against a grappler opponent. The difficulty when going up against an opponent who prefers to grapple is that unless you land forceful blows or move quickly after you strike, you’ll be tapping out before you know what hit you. Here are five quick tips for beginner MMA fighters. These tips should help you train harder and spar more effectively.
Tip #1. Lower Your Center Mass
If you prefer to strike during an MMA bout and find yourself facing an opponent who prefers to grapple, you are going to have to alter your stance. You may prefer to stand fighting up but if all your opponent wants to do is take the fight to the ground, your upright stance is going to work against you. An essential part of beginning to learn MMA is to master your stance. If you are a beginner, you likely haven’t mastered your stance yet. As you know, your right foot should be back if you are right handed and you should have your feet shoulder width apart. Staying on the balls of your feet is essential to give yourself power and endurance. To prevent a grappler opponent from toppling you, you will need to adopt a lower stance. Bring your torso down slightly while maintaining your basic stance. This will make it harder for your opponent to grapple with you and throw you off balance.
Tip #2. Master The Negative Portion Of The Jab
Grappler opponents will seize any opportunity to grab your arms if you let them. Standard defensive positioning for MMA is to have your fists up next to your cheekbones. While having a lightning fast jab is essential, to defend against a grappler opponent you’ll want to ensure that the negative portion of the jab – where your hand returns – is just as quick as the positive outwards motion. Have a training partner or coach assess whether you are pulling your jabbing hand back quickly enough. Conduct training drills to specifically address this backwards portion of the jab. You can use kettlebells to perform exercises such as the snatch that will improve your speed. This will increase your chances of hitting a grappling opponent without them being able to grab you.
Tip #3. Use A Double-Jab Combo
If your sparring sessions are ending in frustration as you get pinned to the floor, one reason for this could be that you aren’t keeping your grappling opponent at bay. No fighter wants to go in for a hold if they are being battered with jabs. To improve your chances against a grappler opponent, you need to perfect your double-jab combo. Starting from a defensive position with your fists raised up near your cheekbones, practice delivering two short, sharp jabs to your opponent’s chin or neck using your non-dominant hand. Follow these jabs up with a power punch such as a hook. When it comes to keeping a grappling opponent at bay, nothing beats the double jab.
Tip #4. Avoid Straight Punches
If you are already using jabs and still getting taken to the mat, you most likely reason is that you are throwing a straight punch with your dominant hand. The jab-straight punch combo is so common that skilled grappler opponents can anticipate the straight punch after the jab is thrown. A common grappler attacking strategy is to duck under the straight punch and grapple the waist of their opponent. To guard against this, throw a hook punch as described above. That way, even if your opponent ducks to go in for a grapple, they’ll still get a punch to the face.
Tip #5. Practice Your Moving Techniques
If you are just starting out in MMA, your drills are likely still focused heavily on moving correctly. You’ll know the importance of moving first with whichever leg is farthest in that direction. To avoid crossing your legs and throwing yourself off balance, you need to master the art of moving forward with your front leg first, back with you rear leg, left for left and right for right. Although movement drills seem repetitive, they are one of your best lines of defence against a grappler opponent. A moving opponent is far hard to take down. Perfecting your movement in all directions is your best chance of winning against a grappler.
These five tips should help any beginner MMA fighter improve their sparring against a grappler opponent. According to a leading provider of martial arts training in CT, it is often the basic stances, movements and positions that let beginner fighters down. As a beginner you need to perfect your stance, move without crossing your legs and work on the speed of your jabs. Get your basics sorted and a grappler opponent will have a far harder time taking the floor to the ground.