My client reached the final hour of his second Mixed Martial Arts course today. He has decided to continue the training with a third course, exploring the use of the stand-up guard. Tonight we looked at the mid-level guard and the low guard. Again, as with the high guard, one of the immediate problems presented by MMA guard as opposed to Muay Thai or Western Boxing guards is the size of the gloves. We worked using footwork more whilst building strong defences against the range of attacks.
After a warm-up of mirror footwork, various wrestling and ground drills we moved onto partner work wearing MMA gloves. We revised some of the work did the previous lesson with the high guard, working on strengthening its vulnerable spots. We used angled footwork to avoid the overhand punch and low kicks to handle aggressive peek-a-boo style punching flurries as well as stepping away from sharp linear kicks. Then we moved onto the other two guards.
Mid Guard: This is the basic Boxing Guard, which works quite well within MMA if it is adapted. The mid-guard needs to be longer in MMA. The negligible padding of the gloves will not protect the fighter in the same way as a nak muay or boxer. Therefore the arms needs to be out further to intercept punches and kicks in a similar fashion to that of the bareknuckle fighter of both classic Muay Thai and Western Boxing. This type of guard benefits from the sophisticated footwork and head movement of modern western boxing, meaning that the style is something of a fusion between the boxing of old and new.
Low Guard: This advanced type of guard is used as a baiting tool. In the boxing world Floyd Mayweather Jnr popularised a greatly adapted version known as the Philly Shell. The guard favours the counter-fighter and is good for drawing opponents onto attacks. However, it tends to move the fighter into a more side on position which is dangerous in MMA, as it opens them up for low kicks and takedowns. Therefore the low guard fighter needs to compromise with a more angled stance and to train for shin-checking and dropping their hips back.
The Cover: This is worth mentioning due to its use in MMA. Fighters raise the cover in half and full form to make up for the lack of boxing gloves. However, the cover is not a guard. I haven’t seen the cover used effectively in the same way as one uses a guard at long range. It comes into play between mid range and close range fighting, used to smother and clinch. As with self-defence, the cover is used to transition to another position or to regain the initiative.
Training was done on the focus mitts and a type of restrictive sparring that used short bursts whether working attack or defence.