Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Crawl before you walk, walk before you run!

Rubber Guard, 50/50, flying toe lock from upside down guard! There seems to be no limit in sight for the evolution of ground fighting. This barrage of slick submissions and crazy guard passes recently entering the fast growing scene of MMA has created a revolution of excitement. One might even call it a step towards Martial Arts fanaticism! The enthusiasm surrounding this surge has created a new approach to training and fighting. But like anything in life, you must learn to crawl before you can run!

I have cornered lots of MMA fights, from small shows to bigger national events, and there seems to be a consistent theme when it comes to a fighters approach to ground fighting. There seems to be no order in which a fighter approaches his ground fighting education.

It is structure that ensures a fighter is efficient in every aspect of the fight. Without structure our world would crash. If I wake up, get in my car and drive to the gym I expect the stop-lights to work. When the light is red I stop. That ensures there are no accidents. And when the light is green I go, that ensures I get where I am going. That aspect of everyday life is fundamental. I don’t have to think about it because it is structured. And with structure comes reflexive action. Green means go, I don’t have to think about it.

When Anderson Silva enters the pocket (striking distance) he sees a green light, hence he strikes. When Randy Couture sees a potential takedown opportunity, he sees a green light and shoots. The best fighters have a game plan for every possible crazy, face-smashing, arm wrenching situation, and that is part of what makes them champions.

The same goes for your ground approach. Without structure you have a universe of techniques that are not linked together. That is like trying to carry on a conversation by only knowing every other word in a sentence. That leads to hesitation. In MMA that indecision could mean waking up with a crazed-fighter celebrating over you!

The ground is the most position-oriented of the fighting situations. You could be passing guard and then get swept to mount with your opponent on top of you punching your face into the mat. The ground is a rapid-firing-monster that needs a game plan to control. And there is no better way to calm that storm then drilling proper fundamentals.

That doesn’t mean working an escape for five minutes and calling it a day. Just ask yourself how many times you have jabbed the punching bag in training. There seems to be a tendency for fighters to spend hour after hour developing their striking. But when it comes to drilling an escape from the mounted position the same enthusiasm is just not there.

So when a fighter approaches ground fighting it is best to master the fundamentals in a flowing manner. Getting wrapped up in the ever-exciting innovations has its time and place. Rubber Guard is not going to help you when your arm is about to get ripped off. Mastering the 50/50 position does nothing when an opponent is mounted on top of you. And the flying toe lock from upside down guard… just doesn’t exist! If your goal is to be great then there are proper steps. And those steps may seem tedious, but only if you ignore the long term benefits that drilling proper fundamentals will give you on your way to becoming a competent ground fighter!

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