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nielmag's picture
Controlling the limbs in mma striking

I thought this was an interesting article that discusses the importance of controlling the lead hand in an mma fight.  iain often talks of controlling the limbs in a self protection scenario.  I know a sporting contest and self protection are two different things, but i found it quite interesting.  please let me know your thoughts


Wastelander's picture

I saw this article this morning and was pleased to see that I'm not the only one who sees the problems with Johny Hendricks' striking--most people seem to take his record of KO victories as evidence that he must be a skilled striker.

With regards to the topic you pointed out, I actually think that the idea of controlling limbs is very underutilized in MMA. As Jack Slack mentions in the article above, Koscheck made use of a basic method of controlling the lead hand, but I think the most prevalant use of limb control in MMA comes from Jon Jones (especially in his fight with Rashad Evans). If you watched Rashad's recent fight with Noguiera, however, you see a very poorly executed attempt at controlling the lead hand. It just goes to show how few fighters actually understand the concept.

To be fair, I do think that the limb control methods of karate can be difficult to apply in a competitive fight due to the nature of fighting a similarly trained opponent--much of what we do requires closeness or an overcommitted attack, and those can be hard to come by in that situation. That said, there are several methods of limb control that we use that can carry over perfectly, and yet are hardly ever seen. I believe this will change over time as MMA fighters grow and evolve. They went from being mostly one-dimentional, to cross-training striking and grappling but having a preference, to being well-rounded in both areas. For a long time, the evolution of grappling in MMA has been a major focus, but I think now we are starting to see fighters wanting to expand their knowledge and skills in striking beyond the basics.

Michael Hough
Michael Hough's picture

That was a great article, I'm going to have to find some more by that author.

Over the weekend I went over to my brother's place and filmed some drills, most involving some kind of limb control.

What we didn't film was my brother using several of those concepts in MMA sparring with his guys. He's been doing it to them for a while, but not telling them exactly what it is he's doing. They've just been getting creamed.

I explained a bunch of it after we were done filming the drills, and I think it melted their minds. :) MMA striking is ripe for a paradigm shift, and I think this could be it.

MykeB's picture

If you find an article by Jack Slack on striking, read it.  Good insights, great break down of techniques and clear communication of thought.  Now, as to controling limbs in striking, there is a lot of value in it.  We've been breaking down Naihanchi Ich for the last couple of weeks in class.  A couple of the bunkai that are we work start from "contact range", about the range of an elbow strike, with both participants holding their hands up in sort of a high guard.  Forearm to forearm, the student uses a low block to sweep their hand(s) clear, followed by a hook to head or body (cross body punch).  Step off line while pulling(hikate) at a crontrolled hand and follow up with an uppper cut.  The step and pull keeps the attacker off balance and keeps them from, or inhibits, strikes from the free hand.  Partly inspired by Mr. Abernathy's Naihanchi/Tekki bunkai DVD and the kata based sparring dvd limb control stuff.


A good article by Jack that has a section on handfighting.  It also has a Machida animated gif with said hand fighting (control's Ortiz's jab to stay safe for the jab).