MMA Basic Training Begins (diary entry)

Tonight we began the first of a scheduled 10 hour course on Basic Mixed Martial Arts for Martial Arts Cross Training. This lesson brought us up to the one hour and a half point. We looked at building transitions between the previous covered disciplines: stand-up fighting (Boxing and Muay Thai), clinch-fighting (Muay Thai and Wrestling) and ground-fighting (Submission Grappling). The lesson was begun with a brief overview of the proposed programme and a definition of MMA. For the purposes of this training, MMA will be defined by the combat sport that commonly goes under this title.
We warmed up with a series of exercises that revised the previous disciplines my client has studied with me and also promoted ways to transition. They weren’t so much as specific combinations as exercises emphasising fluidity through combat ranges. My client was being prompted to switch between different ranges and then back again. We began with footwork, looking at altering heights and stances whilst moving. Short boxing combinations were brought in, as was sprawling from wrestling. We then moved onto bulling and over-hook/under-hook pummelling from wrestling. These exercises were drilled intermittently with the same boxing combinations. We then introduced knee strikes within the clinch from Muay Thai, overlapping clinching techniques from this martial art with wrestling. Shifting ranges again, we drilled a single leg takedown exercise with the same boxing combinations. Finally the same boxing combination was worked from and inside the guard on the ground. As the reader might assume from these descriptions, the core principle being repeated within this warm-up was to be able to use basic western boxing punches in conjunction with other ranges. Punching provides the fastest range and is often one of the best ways to set up other techniques, such as kicks and takedowns.
We then looked at genuine MMA combinations on the focus mitts. This began with jab/double leg takedown. This was taught immediately after we covered the high jab/low jab combination, as it follows the same principle. The fighter needs to drop his entire body down, keeping his back straight, after the first jab exactly as he would do if he were going for the low jab. The speed of the jab also sets the pace for the takedown. We then covered the sit-out response to the opponent sprawling, where the fighter takes the back and goes for a rear naked choke. Details on the back mount included using strikes to get openings for leg-hooks and the choke. Taking the view of the person sprawling we drilled the sprawl/knee strike and discussed ways to adapt the knee strike under strong grappling conditions. Going back to the view of the double-takedown, we looked at following up inside the guard. Here we worked on defending against attempted submissions using the safety position and then countering with overhand strikes. This was then linked to a separate combination in guard, involving using the hammer-fist to clear the opponent’s cover defence and striking with an overhand. Linking onto this we looked at stacking the opponent and striking from standing, passing guard and attacking from side control. When in this position we went through striking options – knee-strike and hammer-fist – and an Americana submission. This was also put into a single combination.
We finished the lesson with an extra technique from stand-up to address kicking. This involved a low round-kick set-up for a single-leg takedown. The fighter scores with a heavy kick to the opponent’s thigh and then feigns with a follow up. The opponent steps back to which the fighter shoots in for a single leg takedown on the opposite leg. The key area of training covered here is the way the fighter transitions from the high Thai stance to the lower wrestling stance between these two techniques. We looked a lot a using momentum in order to achieve this objective.

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