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10 Essential Striking Combinations for MMA: A Guide to Effective Stand-Up Fighting

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  7. 10 Essential Striking Combinations for MMA: A Guide to Effective Stand-Up Fighting
MMA Fighter

In mixed martial arts, mastering striking combinations is essential to gaining the upper hand in the cage. We understand that the foundation of an effective fighter includes crisp punches, powerful kicks, and the seamless flow between them. It’s about understanding the rhythm of a fight and executing the right move at the perfect moment.

As we explore striking combinations, we recognise the value they bring to both offensive strategies and defensive counters. Every combination serves a purpose, whether it’s to break through an opponent’s guard, set up a knockout blow, or simply to keep the adversary at bay. Striking isn’t just about brute force; it’s a form of art that requires precision, timing, and strategic thinking.

1. Jab-Cross Combination

When we talk about the fundamentals of striking in MMA, the jab-cross combination is a cornerstone technique. This pairing is not only foundational for beginners but also a staple for seasoned fighters due to its effectiveness and versatility.

Let’s consider the mechanics. A jab is a quick, straight punch thrown with the lead hand, aiming to catch the opponent off guard or create an opening. It’s crucial for establishing range and rhythm in a fight. When we throw a jab, we must ensure our non-punching hand is guarding our face, and our chin is tucked down to avoid counter strikes.

Following the jab, the cross is thrown with the rear hand, crossing the body to deliver power. As we throw the cross, we pivot on the back foot to generate force, driving the punch through the target. This one-two punch combo works together seamlessly; the jab sets up the cross, and the cross capitalises on the hole left by the jab.

In practice, the jab-cross is a versatile combo. We can use it as a quick, sharp attack to disrupt our opponents or as a setup for more complex striking sequences. The key to a successful jab-cross is speed and accuracy. We need to ensure that we don’t telegraph our movements, as this could allow our opponent to anticipate and counter our strikes.

This combination also teaches us about weight transfer and balance, as we shift our weight from the lead foot to the back foot, leading into the powerful cross. Mastering the jab-cross sets a solid foundation for us to build more intricate and devastating striking techniques in MMA.

2. Lead Hook-Rear Uppercut

When we talk about striking combinations in mixed martial arts (MMA), the lead hook-rear uppercut is a classic duo that can be incredibly effective. We use the lead hook to begin the sequence because it’s a powerful punch thrown with the front hand, designed to catch our opponent off guard and create openings.

We often aim the lead hook at our opponent’s head, targeting the jaw or temple. It’s important to pivot our front foot and rotate our hips to generate maximum power. We keep our rear hand up to protect our face, as throwing a hook can leave us open to counter-attacks.

Following up the lead hook, we quickly transition into the rear uppercut. The rear uppercut is delivered with our back hand, and we drive it upward, aiming for the chin or body of our opponent. The goal is to exploit the gap left by our opponent’s reaction to the hook. We must drop our level slightly and bend our knees to put our body weight into the uppercut, ensuring a powerful strike.

We use this combination because it mixes different angles of attack—a horizontal blow followed by a vertical one. This can confuse and overwhelm our opponent, creating opportunities for us to land significant strikes. It’s a combination that requires timing and practice to execute fluidly but, when done correctly, can be a formidable weapon in any MMA fighter’s arsenal.

3. Outside Low Kick-Jab

When we consider striking combinations in MMA, the Outside Low Kick-Jab is essential. It allows us to maintain distance while doing damage. We start with the outside low kick aimed at our opponent’s lead thigh. This kick is meant to disrupt their stance and slow them down.

After the low kick, we quickly transition to a jab. The jab is a straight punch using the lead hand. It’s fast and helps us keep the opponent at bay. The purpose of this jab is not always to do damage, but to create an opening or to keep the pressure on.

It’s vital to practise this combination to ensure fluidity between the kick and punch. Timing is key; we must deliver the low kick and follow up with the jab before the opponent can recover. This sequence keeps them off balance and unable to mount a counterattack.

For this combination to work best, we must stay light on our feet. Remaining mobile allows us to move in, strike, and move out quickly. We should always be ready to defend against any counters that come our way.

Training this combination can also help us with our overall fight strategy. It helps us read our opponent’s movements and react quickly. The more we practise, the more instinctive it becomes, making it a powerful tool in our MMA arsenal.

4. Inside Leg Kick-Straight Right

When we talk about blending techniques in MMA, the inside leg kick followed by a straight right hand is a fundamental combination. It’s an efficient and logical sequence that targets different levels of your opponent’s defence. By striking low with the inside leg kick, we disrupt their balance and draw their guard down, which opens up the target for the straight right.

The inside leg kick should be snappy and aimed at the inside of the opponent’s lead thigh. This not only weakens their leg over time but also momentarily shifts their focus and weight. As they react to the leg kick, we capitalise on this moment by transitioning quickly into the straight right punch.

It’s crucial that we maintain proper form while executing the straight right. We must pivot our back foot, fully extend the rear hand, and aim for the chin or the centre of the opponent’s face. The power generated from the rotation of the hips and shoulders will maximise the impact of the punch.

To properly synchronise this combination, we must keep our own guard high after delivering the leg kick to protect against counters. The transition should be smooth and fast, ensuring there is no delay between the kick and the punch. Practice this combination regularly to build muscle memory and increase the speed of execution.

By mastering the inside leg kick and straight right, we add a potent tool to our striking arsenal that will keep the opponent guessing and open up further opportunities for us in the fight.

5. Rear Uppercut-Lead Hook

When we’re talking about striking combinations in MMA, the rear uppercut-lead hook is a powerful duo to have in our arsenal. Starting with the rear uppercut, we utilise the back hand, which for a right-handed fighter is the right hand, to deliver an upwards blow that can break through the opponent’s guard. It’s crucial to pivot our back foot and drive the punch upward with our legs and hips to generate maximum force.

Upon landing the rear uppercut, we immediately follow up with a lead hook. The transition between the two punches should be smooth and quick. Our lead hand, which for a right-handed fighter is the left hand, swings in a horizontal arc towards the target. This hook takes advantage of the opponent’s shifted guard following the uppercut and targets the side of their head or body.

To perform this combination effectively, we must maintain proper balance and keep our non-punching hand in a defensive position to protect ourselves from counters. Practice this sequence repeatedly to improve speed and accuracy. With dedication, the rear uppercut-lead hook can become one of our most reliable combinations in a fight.

6. Double Jab-Leg Kick

In MMA, mastering the double jab-leg kick combination is vital for keeping opponents off balance. We start by throwing a jab, the basic punch with our lead hand. This aims to gauge distance and distract our opponent. Immediately after the first jab, we follow with a second jab. This creates a rapid one-two punch sequence, making it harder for the opponent to defend.

After the double jab, we shift our strategy to the lower body. We turn our lead foot slightly outward and pivot on it, generating torque. Our back leg then whips through in a leg kick aimed at the opponent’s thigh or calf. This kick can damage their mobility over time, slowing them down and making them less effective.

Timing is crucial; we execute the jab sequence quickly to ensure the opponent’s hands are up. As their focus is high, their lower body often remains unprotected. We capitalise on this by delivering a powerful leg kick. It’s important that we stay light on our feet and maintain our balance throughout the combination to enable a quick defence or follow-up attack if required.

Practising this combo helps us control the distance in a fight and deal damage both high and low. With repeated use in sparring, we can make the double jab-leg kick a reliable part of our striking arsenal.

7. Spinning Back Kick-Reverse Elbow

When we integrate a spinning back kick with a reverse elbow, we’re combining distance striking with close-range power. The spinning back kick, also known as ‘ushiro geri’ in some martial arts, is a powerful move that targets an opponent’s midsection, often when they’re at a medium distance.

To execute the spinning back kick, we turn our backs slightly to the target while looking over our shoulder to maintain vision. Our rear leg comes up, and we push off with the leading leg, quickly spinning our body to deliver the kick with the heel of the rear foot. The aim is to strike with power and speed, driving the heel into the target.

Following the kick, our body’s momentum naturally carries us through the turn. Instead of resetting, we can utilise this turn to flow into the reverse elbow for close combat. As we complete the spin, the leading arm tucks in with the elbow pointed, then strikes backwards into the opponent, usually targeting the face or chest.

During training, it’s important to focus on the fluidity of the movement, transitioning from one technique to the next without pause. The success of this combination relies on the seamless execution of both the kick and the elbow strike. Precision in targeting and control is key, ensuring that we’re not leaving ourselves open to counter-attack.

Practising this striking combination builds coordination, balance, and the ability to switch distances quickly during a fight. In actual combat, it can be a surprising and effective sequence, catching the opponent off-guard with a rapid change from long to short-range offense.

8. Superman Punch-Leg Kick

When we talk about dynamic striking combinations in MMA, the Superman Punch-Leg Kick stands out for its surprise factor and effectiveness. This combo merges the explosive power of a Superman punch with the disabling precision of a leg kick.

To perform this combination properly, we begin by feigning a rear leg kick. This feint causes the opponent to guard their lower body. Immediately following the feint, we launch into the Superman punch. This is executed by thrusting forward with the same side arm while the rear leg extends backwards, giving the illusion of flight – hence the name. The punch’s power comes from the forward momentum and full body weight transitioning towards the target.

As soon as our fist aims to make contact, whether it hits or not, we use the retracting motion of the rear leg to plant it back on the ground. Instantly, we follow up with a powerful leg kick targeting our opponent’s thigh or calf. The aim is to damage their mobility, which can drastically influence the outcome of the match. This leg kick should be done with the same leg we used to feint at the start to maintain a smooth flow and to catch our adversary off guard.

Mastery of the Superman Punch-Leg Kick combination can make us unpredictable and versatile in our striking game. The keys to success with this manoeuvre are speed, surprise, and fluidity. Practicing these elements will help us throw the combination seamlessly during a bout. Remember, the transition between the punch and kick is critical, as any delay can provide an opening for a counter-attack or allow the opponent to recover their defences.

9. Front Kick-Overhand Right

When we talk about the front kick-overhand right combination in MMA, it’s important to understand its strategic value. The front kick serves as a range-finder and can push the opponent back. It’s used often to create distance or disrupt an opponent’s movement. We execute this kick by driving our ball of the foot or heel into the target – usually the opponent’s body or face.

Following up with an overhand right turns this defensive move into an offensive one. As we retract our leg from the front kick, we’re setting ourselves up for momentum. The overhand right exploits openings, often coming over the top of the opponent’s guard. It’s a powerful punch that can do significant damage if it connects, especially if the opponent’s focus remains on the initial kick, leaving them vulnerable to the punch. Timing is key here; we throw the overhand as soon as our kicking foot plants back on the ground.

To practise this combination, we focus on fluid motion between the kick and punch. Our balance must be maintained throughout the move so that we can effectively transfer energy from the kick into the punch. Drilling the sequence helps it become second nature, allowing us to perform it quickly under pressure. It’s essential to keep our guard up after executing the combination to protect against counter-attacks.

In real fights, we look for moments when the opponent is either moving forward or is stationary but not expecting a change in striking levels. This combination works well when done swiftly and accurately, making it a staple for fighters looking to capitalise on their reach and surprise opponents with a fast transition from a lower to a higher target.

10. Body Jab-Head Cross

When we talk about effective striking combinations in MMA, the body jab-head cross is a fundamental tool in our arsenal. It’s a simple yet potent combination that targets two different levels of our opponent’s defence. Firstly, we hit the body to bring their guard down, then we follow up quickly with a cross to the head. The beauty of this combination lies in its ability to make our opponent vulnerable where they’re not expecting it.

To execute the body jab, we aim our punch towards the opponent’s midsection. This punch should be quick and sharp, aiming to make them drop their hands. It’s crucial to use our lead hand and not put our full weight behind it. The goal is to distract and open up their defence, not necessarily to do significant damage with the body jab itself.

Following the body jab, we immediately throw a cross with our rear hand. Our cross should be powerful and aimed at where the head will be following their reaction to the body jab. This means we need to anticipate their movement and time our cross with precision. As our opponent reacts to the body jab by either dropping their guard or trying to counter, there’s a natural opening created for our head cross to land.

In training, it’s vital that we practice this combination with both speed and accuracy. We should also mix up the power and timing of our body jabs to keep our opponents guessing. When sparring, we look for opportunities to use the body jab-head cross, ensuring we’re close enough to land both punches effectively without overextending ourselves. With practice, this combination can be a key part of our fighting strategy.

The Importance of Striking Combinations

In mixed martial arts, successful fighters know that mastering striking combinations is vital. It enhances their ability to react instinctively in the heat of battle and to make smart choices during a fight.

Building Muscle Memory

We develop muscle memory through consistent practice. This means that our bodies remember how to move without us having to think hard about it. By drilling various striking combinations, we ensure that these sequences become second nature. Here’s a simple way to look at it:

Frequent Practice: Regular drilling of techniques.
Objective: Embedding movements in muscle memory for quick recall.

For instance, a jab-cross-hook combo rehearsed hundreds of times will be executed more fluidly in a fight than a complex sequence practised only a few times. Muscle memory allows us to deliver strikes with more confidence and speed.

Increasing Fight IQ

Working on our striking combinations also improves our understanding of fighting. This is what we call ‘Fight IQ’. It’s about knowing when and why to use certain combos. Let’s break it down:

  • Situation Awareness: Recognising openings and selecting the right combo.
  • Strategic Choice: Choosing combinations that play to our strengths and exploit our opponent’s weaknesses.

As an example, if we know an opponent is weak against leg kicks, we might use a jab to set up a powerful leg kick. This isn’t just about physical skills; it’s about smart thinking too.

How to Practise Effective Striking Combinations

To excel in MMA, we need to enhance our striking techniques. Regular training, correct execution, and critical analysis of our performances are crucial for improvement.

Drills and Repetitions

Firstly, we focus on drills and repetitions. We start by breaking down each combination into single strikes. We then practise these strikes many times to build muscle memory. It is essential to maintain proper form throughout. Our drills include:

  • Straight punches: 50 jabs followed by 50 cross punches
  • Hooks and uppercuts: 40 hooks with each arm, then 40 uppercuts
  • Kicks: 30 front kicks with each leg, then 30 roundhouse kicks

By repeating these drills daily, we improve our speed and precision.

Using Pad Work

Secondly, pad work is a fundamental part of our training. Our partner wears pads on their hands and sometimes on their body and legs, which we strike. This method helps us with:

  • Timing: We hit the pads when they are in the correct position.
  • Power: We hit hard, but also safely, to not injure our partner.
  • Accuracy: We aim for specific areas on the pads.

Here are examples of pad work combinations:

  1. Jab, cross, hook to the head pad, low kick to the leg pad
  2. Double jab, cross, switch to a roundhouse body kick

Sparring Techniques

Finally, sparring helps us apply the combinations in a setting that mimics a real fight. We always spar with safety gear and ensure that we respect our sparring partner. Sparring allows us to:

  • Adjust tactics: We find out which combinations work best for us.
  • Build confidence: We get used to being close and exchanging strikes with an opponent.
  • Improve defence: We learn to block, dodge, and counterattack.

When we spar, we try to use a variety of combinations to see how they work in action. We always keep control of our power to keep the practice safe for everyone involved.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When practicing striking combinations in MMA, it’s crucial to execute them correctly to avoid bad habits. Below are two common areas where fighters often make mistakes.

Overcommitting to Punches

Overcommitting to punches can leave us open to counterattacks. It happens when we throw a punch with all our might, losing balance and leaving ourselves without the proper stance to either attack again or defend successfully. We must focus on these aspects:

  • Balance and Control: Always maintain a balanced stance and throw punches with control.
  • Recovery: Ensure that after throwing a punch, we can quickly come back to a defensive position.

Ignoring Defence

Ignoring defence while focusing purely on the offense is a critical mistake. While attacking is a part of the game, protecting ourselves is paramount. Here is what we need to remember:

  • Guard: Always keep our guard up to protect our face and body.
  • Counter Opportunities: Be aware of our opponent’s moves to spot counterattacking opportunities.

By addressing these mistakes, we strengthen our striking game and become more formidable opponents inside the octagon.

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