Striking For The Takedown

Meshing strikes with takedowns is a fundamental component of MMA that far too many fighters neglect. I especially notice this with wrestlers and jiu-jitsu practitioners. The striking aspect of the sport often makes them nervous, so they attempt to shoot blindly in from outside of the pocket to avoid getting hit. As a result, their opponent thwarts their takedown attempts time and again and they end up getting hit a whole bunch. With the majority of MMA fighters possessing excellent takedown defense, you've got to learn how to move into the pocket with strikes and then transition to a takedown in order to be successful. If you move into the pocket without strikes, your opponent will see the takedown coming. If you shoot in from five feet away, he will also see the takedown coming. In this day and age, stealth is a must.

Don't ever get locked into striking mode or takedown mode, because your intent can be read from a mile away. There is no need to have two modes—they should be blended together to keep your opponent guessing. Once you learn which takedowns work off which strikes, the number of combinations you can string together become limitless. It's good to find the "striking to takedown" combinations that work best for you, but you should be proficient at shooting in off every punch you throw because you never know which punch in a combo will create an opening to take your opponent down. Having a large arsenal of combos will also prevent you from becoming a predictable fighter. If you only shoot in after throwing a hook, it won't take long for your opponent to catch on. Every time you throw the hook, he will be prepared to block the takedown.

Another good way to avoid telegraphing your takedowns is to vary the number of strikes you throw before shooting in. Sometimes it will pay to shoot in off a single punch, and other times you'll want to shoot in after throwing three or four punches. But no matter what combo you utilize, it is important not to force the takedown. If you throw a combo and the opportunity to take your opponent down doesn't present itself, step out of the pocket and set up your next combination. This will sometimes get your opponent thinking that you want to trade punches, which can take some of his focus away from defending the takedown.

I cannot stress enough the importance of blending the striking aspect of the sport with the grappling aspect. If you separate the two during training, you will have to switch modes during a fight. In the split-second interim it takes you to switch modes, your opponent can prepare a defense or catch you off guard with a strike of his own. By endlessly practicing striking to takedown drills, you not only eliminate that mental shifting of gears, but you also condition your body to lash out with strikes one second and then change levels to shoot in for the takedown the next.

Single us Double

In the upcoming section, I focus exclusively on the basic single- and double-leg takedowns. It is very important to learn how to set up both takedowns with strikes because it allows you to get the penetration needed for a successful takedown. I cover striking to the double-leg takedown first because that's what I'll go for when fighting an opponent in an orthodox stance. Shooting in off my left lead leg comes naturally to me, and with my opponent's left leg forward, I have the positioning needed to get my head to the outside of his body, wrap up both of his legs, cut the corner, and complete the double. If my opponent is standing in a southpaw stance, wrapping up both of his legs becomes very difficult because his rear leg is so far away from me. However, his lead leg is right there for the taking, so instead I will utilize the single-leg takedown. If you adopt this strategy, knowing which takedown to utilize comes easy. The difficult part is properly setting up your takedowns, so I recommend paying special attention to developing this aspect of your game.

Key Concepts For Striking To The Takedown

^Blend striking and takedowns. Your takedowns should be executed with the same ease as your strikes. ^Always keep your hands up as you drop your level to shoot in.

SOnly shoot in when in striking range. You must be able to physically touch your opponent at an arm's length in order to execute a technical and effective takedown.

^Don't get locked into striking mode or takedown mode. Blend both modes together.

SGet creative with your set-ups, combinations, and takedown attacks. Your set-up will determine the success of your attack.

^Learn the mechanics of each strike, and then learn which takedowns are most effective off that strike, v'lf you're fighting an opponent who has the same leg forward as you, work for the double-leg takedown. If your opponent has his opposite leg forward, work for a single-leg takedown.

§ Double-Leg Takedown _

j When you shoot in on an opponent, there are a few things you must always remember. The first is to keep your hands CQ up. There are a lot of fighters who are masters at timing your shot and throwing a knee, kick, or uppercut, and the last q thing you want is to get caught on the jaw as your weight is moving forward. For this reason, it is imperative that you □ don't reach for your opponent's legs until your head has made contact with his body. This might be hard for fighters lil who come from a wrestling background because they are used to swinging their arms out wide to scoop up their appall nent's legs, but such a habit must be broken through hundreds of repetitions in the gym. Second, you must have proper q balance when executing a shot. If you don't have good balance, you will not only fail at getting the takedown, but you I- will also be left in a vulnerable spot. Balance comes from simply maintaining good posture throughout the shot, and this is similar to keeping your hands up in that it can only come through time and repetitions. - Once you have shot deep and wrapped your arms around your opponent's legs, you want to step forward with your back leg, quickly cut the corner at an angle, and then finish the takedown. If you don't cut the corner, you are basically l_ tackling your opponent to the ground. Tackles work, but they take a lot more energy to execute. Cutting the comer also 05 allows you to land in side control and immediately get your offense going. If you forget to cut that corner and continue to drive your opponent backward, you might still get the takedown, but most of the time you will land in your opponent's guard, which means the bulk of your offense will most likely have to wait until you can pass your opponent's guard. Learning and drilling how to cut that corner is key, but sometimes things just don't go as planned. If your shot is extremely deep, sometimes your opponent will simply topple backward without you having to take a single step, landing you in his guard. Although this isn't the ideal situation, you still managed to get the fight to the ground.

I'm in a standard fighting stance, squared off with Paco in the pocket.

Dropping my level and assuming a crouched stance, I prepare to explode forward into a double-leg takedown.

I close the distance between Paco and I by exploding forward off my right foot. My hands remain up to protect my face from any strikes Paco might throw as I close the gap. It is important to notice the positioning of my left foot; I have placed it in-between Paco's legs, right on his cen-terline.

Driving my head to the left side of Paco's body, I wrap both arms around the back of his knees.

Continuing to drive into Paco using the momentum of my initial explosion, I step forward with my right foot. As I do this, I reestablish my base and realign my posture. It is important to notice that my right shoulder is directly above my right leg, and that I'm not hunched over.

I'm in a standard fighting stance, squared off with Paco in the pocket.

Dropping my level and assuming a crouched stance, I prepare to explode forward into a double-leg takedown.

I close the distance between Paco and I by exploding forward off my right foot. My hands remain up to protect my face from any strikes Paco might throw as I close the gap. It is important to notice the positioning of my left foot; I have placed it in-between Paco's legs, right on his cen-terline.

Driving my head to the left side of Paco's body, I wrap both arms around the back of his knees.

Continuing to drive into Paco using the momentum of my initial explosion, I step forward with my right foot. As I do this, I reestablish my base and realign my posture. It is important to notice that my right shoulder is directly above my right leg, and that I'm not hunched over.

Pushing off my right leg, I cut the corner by driving my weight to my left side. As I do this, I push my head into Paco's ribs and pull his legs to my right. To be more detailed, I lift Paco's left leg off the ground with my right arm and push into his right leg with my left arm.

The moment I come down onto the canvas, I start working to clear Paco's legs to prevent getting stuck in his guard. To avoid a scramble, I drive my weight into him.

Kick Boxing Guide

Kick Boxing Guide

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