October 23, 2000
The sport of Mixed Martial arts has moved a long way since the days of the first Gracies in Action and the first few UFCs. No longer the traditional martial artists from Karate and Kung Fu walk in to be fall prey to a mixture of grapplers without even offering true resistance.
But those days are so far away from what the modern fighter faces in the ring. After all, it's been nearly a decade since Royce made his run of a sixteen man tournament. Since then, we've seen the rise and fall of the dominance of certain styles.. From BJJ, To Wrestling, to Submission Fighting... Which is where we stand now. Fighters right now have a wide range of skills, no longer do fighters find themselves completely anemic in some area of fighting.
However, many fighters still lose because they can not get to the situations where their skills can be used to the fullest extent. So, now that the sport of MMA has evolved to include cross-training, the most important skill in Mixed Martial Arts is transitions and controlling the transition. Many of the modern MMA fighters win or lose the fight at that point of transition.
Transition is the point where the fight changes from one situation to another. From ground fighting to standing free, from standing free to clinch. Those are the three points of transition.
October 23, 2000
That's why it's so critical for ground specialists such as Brazilian Jujitsu and Sambo and any sort of high skill grappler, to not so much concentrate on striking but to concentrate on an area of fighting that will allow them to use those strong grappling skills. And why it's more important for strikers to learn how to control the clinch and avoid long range takedowns rather than developing strong ground skills. It's a matter of playing to ones strengths instead of trying to survive in something you are only marginally skilled in. Why should Maurice Smith get proficient with at attacking ground style, and try to finish with those submission skills when he is so much more deadly on his feet?
Now, I am not advising to neglect learning all aspects of the Mixed Martial Arts skill set, but it's best to concentrate on where you are best at fighting. For ground fighters, it is imperative that they learn the skills to transition from the standing to ground, but also from the clinch to the ground. But they will have to learn more than just leg shot take downs. As the fight game progresses, every fighter who has decent stand up skills is drilling the sprawl and other takedown counters. Even the wrestlers who excel at leg takedowns are finding their attacks stymied and tough grapplers finding their previously easy clinches turning into a nightmare of knees and punches.
So for those who wish to fight on the ground, they must learn how to do leg takedowns AND takedowns from the clinch. We will see throwing take on a larger role in MMA in the coming years. Learning how to defend from the single leg and double leg is one thing, but learning how to defend the high crotch, the whizzer, the over under, and all the myriads of throws and high amplitude takedowns from Judo, Wrestling and other arts.
It is also important to understand the clinch to avoid some of the most devastating strikes that exists. To escape getting pummel-held and taking hooks and uppercuts and to avoid the plum hold where you can be hit with numerous knees is just as important as the offensive skills for grapplers.
For strikers, along with learning rudimentary skills to survive on the ground must learn to control the transitions as well. To avoid being pinned under the controlling skills of a ground and pound attack, or defending the smothering inevitability of an excellent submission artist is crucial to being able to use their own offensive skills.
So for strikers, they must learn how to control the clinch as well as control the direct transition from standup to ground fighting. This means not only learning the sprawl and controlling the distance, but how to effectively strike from the clinch with knees and punches without getting taken down or worse: thrown heavily. With learning how to control that transition, they do not need to learn as sophisticated ground attacks and defenses that are part and parcel of submission arts.
Again, this about playing to your strengths, not to your weaknesses. And to play to your strengths and keep your opponent from playing to their strengths you must control the transition.
Peace Through Superior Tactics
prophetic really......there was a time when one could log onto this forum and find intelligent thought provoking posts like this that would occasionally lead to intersting discussion. That being said, I've nothing to add, great post, very well thought out.
which type of yoga does rickson do?
I am not sure any asnwer will be equal to this tremendous post, but I hope some folks try.
If we do have guys that truly have no one-style base. Well, I'll be really interested!
To play devil's advocate....
Is that philosophy akin to a tennis player only being great at serve and volley? So it is tough for him to compete at The French Open because the outside factors don't compliment his game? Shouldn't one strive to be well rounded to deal with any situation? It's like a kevin Garnett that can shoot the three, bring the ball up, and post up anyone. I can see how impossible that it may seem, but that is where I see the future of the sport, e.g. no true point guards, power forwards, or centers, just people that can play in whatever situation the match finds them in.
Great post. I think you're right on for today's fighter.
But, keep an eye out for the emerging fighters who did not start with one area of expertise, but instead have been training the whole game all along.
I don't think we're anywhere near seeing the end of the evolution of MMA fighting and fighters.
Whaledog speaks true.
RG/Whale: Exactly, that's where we're heading now, are atheletes who excel at it all.
But even with that being said, there will aways be specialists. There will always be some aspect of the game you are strongest at.
Thanks for the compliments. I was in the middle of backing up my machine for a reinstall when I found that post... I think I might have a few more older ones.