Mixed Martial Arts is a form of full-contact fighting that combines a mixture of styles and techniques derived from karate, boxing, jiu-jitsu, and various other combat sports. MMA is a relatively brutal sport requiring arduous physical training and disciplined mental focus. If you are interested in MMA and looking to begin your initial training, it is imperative to start with the basics. Though foundational skills seem tedious and unexciting, these techniques are crucial to become a skilled, formidable fighter. Read on to learn the top four elemental skills you can begin practicing right now.
1. Perfect Your Stance
Athletes everywhere agree that a perfected athletic stance is a vital skill in every sport across the globe. Baseball players must perfect their position in the batter’s box to ensure optimal bat-to-ball contact. Golfers wearing a camp shirt carefully practice the best way to plant their feet and bend their knees, creating a stance that best allows them to putt the golf ball. Similarly, MMA fighters find a proper athletic posture gives them an advantage over their opponent, as it provides a solid base to keep their balance and remain agile.
Orthodox and southpaw are the two basic types of stances in MMA. An orthodox position involves both your right hand and right foot positioned behind your left. This state indicates that your right side is dominant, as it places them in the ultimate striking position. Southpaw reflects the opposite and is what you would expect from a left-handed fighter.
In either stance, your feet should remain spaced apart with slightly bent knees. Whether you are in an orthodox or southpaw position, your feet should measure around 12 inches apart, with your front foot pointed directly at your opponent. Finally, never forget to protect your face by maintaining fists and keeping them close to your cheeks.
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2. Master the Jab
The jab is the most often used maneuver in MMA. Not only is this motion necessary for providing distance between you and your opponent, but it is a crucial element in more experienced, advanced strike combinations.
To master the jab, assume your proper stance. Utilizing your front fist, quickly send your arm forward towards your adversary, snapping your fist at the end of the motion. Keeping your elbow tucked tight, immediately recoil your arm, bringing your fist directly back to your cheekbone. Once you have perfected the basics of this strike, work on perfecting your precision and speed. Jab mastery is what sets the best fighters apart from the rest.
3. Learn the Straight
The straight is similar to the jab in that it is a forceful, forward strike. The straight, however, involves your back arm. Because the posterior limb is stronger and more dominant, the straight is typically much more effective and powerful than the jab. Typically, fighters follow one with the other, creating a classic one-two punch.
To perform a straight, begin in your orthodox or southpaw stance. Pivot towards your opponent, bringing your shoulders and hips to face forward as well. Simultaneously, apply the jab movement to your back arm, punching forward and crisply snapping back. The strike gets its power from your lower body rotation, so be sure to practice executing it in one full, smooth motion.
4. Block Leg Kicks
If you have ever experienced the pain and shock created by a leg kick, you know the sensation a fighter feels when he or she is stricken by one. That said, blocking leg kicks is a necessary defensive tactic all MMA students need to master. Not only does a block benefit you as a fighter, it physically injures the opponent and renders the leg kick unusable.
When your opponent begins to kick, lift your front leg off the ground. Maintaining a tight calf muscle and a flexed foot, block the kick with your shin. As always, remember to keep your fists engaged at your jawline, protecting your face.
Though the basics of MMA seem elementary, proper technique and precise form are crucial. Working with a coach or trainer to perfect the fundamentals is a great way to build a strong foundation for a long-lasting, successful fighting career.
Mikkie is a freelance writer from Chicago. She is also a mother of two who loves sharing her ideas on interior design, budgeting hacks, and DIY. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing the little ones or rock climbing at the local climbing gym.
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