The MMA Guard (diary entry)




This morning brought my client up to the ninth hour of his second 10 hour course on Mixed Martial Arts. Based on last lesson’s sparring we decided to move on from half-guard and to look at stand-up guards in MMA. This lesson focused entirely on the high (Muay Thai) guard.


We warmed up with some dynamic stretching exercises, which included various MMA specific movements to work through striking and grappling positions. This led onto mirror footwork, which was built on with sprawls, range setting, level changing and placing techniques. Next we moved onto elbow and collar-tie bulling, plum Thai one-for-one, over-hook/under-hook pummelling and takedown entries. This section was finished with some grip-fighting. Moving onto the ground we did guard passing and guard defence sparring, rounding off the entire warm-up section.


High guard is the guard most typically taught to new MMA fighters. It provides the fighter with more time to block and parry punches, which are more difficult to handle with MMA gloves than they are with boxing gloves. As to be expected, the guard handles the stand-up range very well, particularly against kickboxing attacks. However, it is vulnerable to the peek-a-boo style punching exchange and the overhand punch. The guard also favours the shallower Thai stance to deeper wrestling and boxing stances, which is great for mobility when fighting head-on and also for bringing up shin-check against kicks. However, it tends to leave a fighter open to linear kicks. Handling teeps are fine as they tend to be used more as push kicks when thrown above the waist, but thrusting and snapping straight kicks are a different matter. In order to deal with these three vulnerabilities we worked on using low kicks against the peek-a-boo punch exchange, using the v-step against set ups for overhand punches and also angling off as well as stepping back against aggressive linear kicks.


We used a feedback loop process of light sparring, exposing vulnerabilities, drilling solutions and then sparring again.

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