MMA Technique
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The techniques utilized in mixed martial arts competition generally fall into two categories: striking techniques (such as kicks, knees and punches) and grappling techniques (such as clinch holds, pinning holds, submission holds, sweeps, takedowns and throws). Although sanctioning bodies such as the IFFCF have rules and regulations for MMA, rules may vary between promotions. In many promotions they have adopted the unified rule system that the most popular promotion UFC has established. While the legality of some techniques (such as elbow strikes, headbutts and spinal locks) may vary, there is a near universal ban on techniques such as biting, strikes to the groin, eye-gouging, fish-hooking and small joint manipulation.

Today, mixed martial artists must cross-train in a variety of styles to counter their opponent's strengths and remain effective in all the phases of combat. For instance, a stand-up fighter will have little opportunity to use their skills against a submission artist who has also trained in take downs. Many traditional disciplines remain popular as ways for a fighter to improve aspects of their game.

Popular disciplines:

Most 'traditional' martial arts have a specific focus and these arts may be trained to improve in that area. Popular disciplines of each type include:
  • Stand-up: Various forms of boxing, kickboxing/Muay Thai and forms of full contact karate are trained to improve footwork, elbowing, kicking, kneeing and punching.
  • Clinch: Freestyle, Greco-Roman wrestling, Sambo and Judo are trained to improve clinching, takedowns and throws, while Muay Thai is trained to improve the striking aspect of the clinch.
  • Ground: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, shoot wrestling, catch wrestling, Judo and Sambo are trained to improve ground control and position, as well as to achieve submission holds, and defend against them.
Some styles have been adapted from their traditional form, such as boxing stances which lack effective counters to leg kicks and the muay thai stance which is poor for defending against takedowns due to the static nature, or Judo techniques which must be adapted for No Gi competition. It is common for a fighter to train with multiple coaches of different styles or an organized fight team to improve various aspects of their game at once. Cardiovascular conditioning, speed drills, strength training and flexibility are also important aspects of a fighter's training. Some schools advertise their styles as simply "mixed martial arts", which has become a genre in itself; but the training will still often be split in to different sections.

While mixed martial arts was initially practiced almost exclusively by competitive fighters, this is no longer the case. As the sport has become more mainstream and more widely taught, it has become accessible to wider range of practitioners of all ages. Proponents of this sort of training argue that it is safe for anyone, of any age, with varying levels of competitiveness.

Hybrid styles:

The standing fighter is attempting to escape defeat via armbar by slamming his opponent to the ground so that he will release his grip.

The following terms describe hybrid styles a fighter may use, over the course of a fight, to achieve victory. While some fighters have tallied notable victories by striking, ground-and-pound as well as submission throughout their careers, most fighters will rely on a smaller number of techniques while adopting a style that plays to their strengths.

Stand-up fighting is the core of sprawl-and-brawl.

Sprawl-and-brawl:

Sprawl-and-brawl is a stand-up fighting tactic that consists of effective stand-up striking, while avoiding ground fighting, typically by using sprawls to defend against takedowns.

A sprawl-and-brawler is usually a boxer, kickboxer, Thai boxer or full contact karate fighter who has trained in wrestling to avoid takedowns to keep the fight standing. Often, these fighters will study submission wrestling to avoid being forced into submission, should they find themselves on the ground. This style can be deceptively different from traditional kickboxing styles, since sprawl-and-brawlers must adapt their techniques to incorporate takedown and ground fighting defense.

Former UFC champions Tim Sylvia and Chuck Liddell have been successful using sprawl-and brawl techniques.

Clinch fighting:

Clinch fighting and dirty boxing are tactics consisting of using a clinch hold to prevent the opponent from moving away into more distant striking range, while also attempting takedowns and striking the opponent using knees, stomps, elbows, and punches. The clinch is often utilized by wrestlers that have added components of the striking game (typically boxing), and Muay Thai fighters.

Wrestlers may use clinch fighting as a way to neutralize the superior striking skills of a stand-up fighter or to prevent takedowns by a superior ground fighter. The clinch of a Muay Thai fighter is often used to improve the accuracy of knees and elbows by physically controlling the position of the opponent.

Former UFC champion Randy Couture is one of the most notable practitioners of clinch fighting. Also, current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva commonly uses knee strikes from a Muay Thai clinch.
Ground-and-pound in action

Ground-and-pound:

Ground-and-pound is a ground fighting tactic consisting of taking an opponent to the ground using a takedown or throw, obtaining a top, or dominant position, and then striking the opponent, primarily with fists and elbows. Ground-and-pound is also used as a precursor to attempting submission holds.

This style is used by wrestlers or other fighters well-versed in submission defense and skilled at takedowns. They take the fight to the ground, maintain a grappling position, and strike until their opponent submits or is knocked out. Although not a traditional style of striking, the effectiveness and reliability of ground-and-pound has made it a popular tactic as it was first demonstrated as an effective technique by UFC and Pride grand prix champion, Mark Coleman. Today, strikes on the ground are an essential part of a fighter's training.

Submission grappling:

Apart from being a general martial arts term, submission grappling is also a reference to the ground fighting tactic consisting of taking an opponent to the ground using a takedown or throw and then applying a submission hold, forcing the opponent to submit. While grapplers will often work to attain dominant position, some may be more comfortable fighting from other positions. If a grappler finds themselves unable to force a takedown, they may resort to pulling guard, whereby they physically pull their opponent into a dominant position on the ground.

Submissions are an essential part of many disciplines, most notably Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, catch wrestling, judo, Sambo, shootwrestling, pankration, Army Combatives, and MCMAP. They were popularized in the early UFC events by Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock.

 

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