Aug 262013
 
Signs and symptoms 300x300 Getting Hurt Doesn’t Have to Hurt Your Game   Improving Your Martial Arts Game Through Injuries

Poughkeepsie MMA

When one seriously devotes oneself to the practice of martial arts injuries are simply an inevitability.  It isn’t if they will occur but rather when and what type they will be.  They must be considered an occupational hazard and in a sense, a rite of passage.  You know someone is truly serious about the martial arts and considers it more than a minor hobby if they can endure a serious injury, go through surgery and months of physical rehabilitation and still return to train again.  Nobody wants to get injured, but if you train hard enough and long enough the odds are against you never having anything go wrong.  As they would say in Buddhism, all things are impermanent and all things break down, especially the body.  However, if one mentally prepares for this ahead of time it will greatly enhance their ability to make the best of these set backs.  As the old saying goes “if you’ve got lemons, make lemonade”.  The practice of the martial arts makes people both physically and psychologically stronger, and that goes for injuries in addition to victories and defeats in the ring or on the mat.  In this article I will discuss my own personal experiences with injuries in the martial arts and how I believe they have made me a better martial artist while also using examples of other martial artists who have physical limitations but have still thrived nevertheless.

When I first began training in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at age 16 I was not of the mindset that I would ever get injured.  It was not until I was in my mid 20s and began training with serious Pro MMA fighters and grapplers and heard about their injuries that I realized I would most likely have an injury at some point.  My first serious injury occurred when I was twenty-eight years old.  While practicing Judo throws with my instructor I attempted to base out with my right leg in order to defend against the takedown.  I had not yet learned Judo break falls, which I have since learned, and did not at the time realize the mistake I was making.  My knee twisted sideways and popped, and as I went down in pain I knew that something serious had just occurred.  Soon afterwards an MRI confirmed that I had in fact torn my right anterior cruciate ligament, which is one of, if not the single most common injury throughout all sports including martial arts.  Before this first knee surgery I had quite a bit of trepidation.  I was not sure how I would recover and whether or not I would be able to go back to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu feeling the same as I had before.  I had never gone through physical therapy and was not looking forward to all the pain I would have to endure.  I had heard that other people who had torn their ACLs had not been able to recover fully and had not gone back to training in the martial arts.  However, I also knew that my instructor, Brian McLaughlin of Precision MMA in Poughkeepsie, had also torn his ACL and had returned to become better than ever before and become a well-known MMA champion in the Hudson Valley area and throughout the Northeast United States.  This gave me hope that perhaps I too could come back in one piece from my surgery.

After I awoke from my knee scope my first few weeks of rehab were a rude awakening.  One of the first exercises I remember having to practice was simply to sit up-right in a chair with my back flat against the backboard and to try to lift the bent injured knee to my chest.  To my dismay, on my first try not only could I not lift my knee to my chest, I barely even had the strength to lift my foot more than an inch off the floor.  Quite frankly, it was shocking.  A movement that I’d been able to do since I was a toddler was completely impossible for me, and took weeks of daily practice to be able to perform again, and with every attempt I would experience quite a bit of pain.  This was just one of so many normal movements I could not perform.  I could not walk without crutches and I could not even stand up fully without leaning on something.  After about a month of rigorous physical therapy however, I found that I could very carefully walk a few steps without crutches, and when I achieved it, it was a major breakthrough.  After about 2 months of rehab I was able to balance on the injured leg itself for up to 40 seconds, and only someone who has been through a surgery like this can understand how that can feel like a major accomplishment.  Soon I could walk without crutches, then walking progressed to jogging and finally jogging progressed to running.  Before I knew it I was back on the mat doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, wrestling and boxing just like before.  However, this was not the last injury I would have to endure.  My rites of passage were not over yet.

At age 31 I was doing some no-gi grappling in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class with a newer student and when I tried to take his back he attempted some sort of escape which left me off balance.  I fell to my left side and my left leg twisted underneath me and popped loudly, just like the right one had two and half years earlier.  The second that I felt my knee buckle I immediately knew that I had injured my left knee in exactly the same way as the right, and an MRI confirmed that this time not only had I torn my left ACL but I had also partially torn my MCL.  When I went through rehab this time my mind felt pulled in two directions in terms my thinking about my recovery.  On the one hand, I had been through this before and so I was overall much more optimistic than the first time.  I knew what knee rehabilitation was all about, I wasn’t entering the unknown and I knew very well that I was capable of fully recovering and would not be surprised by any of the difficulties I would encounter.  However, I also knew that this time upon returning I would have two surgically repaired knees.  I was not sure how this would impact me and whether or not I might have been overly relying on the left one last time.  Yet my experience with the first injury proved invaluable as I recovered in record time from this injury with much less trouble than the first.  In fact, I believe that now both of my knees and legs in general are physically stronger than they ever were before due to all the rehab I went through.  Before I even returned to BJJ after the second knee surgery I was leg pressing 450lbs with only my left “injured” leg, and experienced quite an ego boost when I would see other people attempt to press that same amount of weight with both of their uninjured legs, and fail.  It was at this point that I realized for the first time in my life that I was capable of running a sub seven-minute mile, and that I could keep up a pace of 10 miles per hour on a treadmill for two minutes straight despite being slightly overweight.  All the rehab had improved my leg strength beyond what it had ever been before.

When I returned to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and martial arts at Precision MMA this time I noticed a number of differences begin to evolve in my game.  First of all, because my left knee was sensitive to base out on from where the incision had been made I found myself basing out on my left foot while passing my opponent’s guard and improved at this sort of passing, and I also began to improve some of my standing guard passes as well.  Once I had passed my opponent’s guard I found myself more likely to place my left knee on the opponent’s belly and became much better at holding this position as a result of the knee being too sensitive to put directly down on the mat, and I also started working more on my kasagatomi position rather than normal side control where the knee would be driving into the ground.  While doing takedowns I stressed those moves which would not involve my left knee touching the mat to avoid the discomfort, and in some cases I worked on takedowns where neither knee would touch the mat and became better at these sorts of takedowns overall.  It is also important to note that the practice of not allowing your knees to touch the mat for long periods of time while doing takedowns or while ground grappling is an important skill to learn for street self defense since even an uninjured knee will hurt quite a bit if grinding against hard pavement.

One other major area of my game that I improved as a result of my left knee having recently been operated on was that I started to move away from doing so many leg locks in my regular Jiu-Jitsu training.  Leg locks have always been one of my favorite attacks in grappling but one problem with them is that when going for a leg lock one often leaves oneself vulnerable to the leg locks of the opponent.  Despite the fact that according to my orthopedic surgeon a repaired ACL with patella tendon graft is roughly 27% stronger than a normal ACL, I was not about to put this theory to the test by giving my opponents more chances to crank on my knees.  And so instead of working on leg locks, which I knew I was already proficient at, I started working on all the weaker areas of my game.  Among other attacks, I started focusing greatly on brabo chokes, lat chokes, bread cutter chokes, wrap around chokes, carni’s (a shoulder lock from rubber guard named by Eddie Bravo), and other submissions which would not jeopardize my knees.  I also transitioned some of my favorite leg lock attacks which I used to use from bottom guard and bottom half guard into sweeps.  I would use the same entries for the leg locks as I would previously, but instead of finishing with a leg lock as I would before I learned to release the submission and sit up on top of my opponent to achieve the sweep.  In turn, this resulted in my ending up on top in regular rolling more often than before, and subsequently my entire top game improved, including guard passing, half guard passing, maintaining mount, side mount and back mount and all of the submissions I’d been working on from top positions.  Nor did I feel that my bottom guard game was any weaker than before, and despite my knees sometimes being sore after class and needing a little bit of icing, I saw that I could do every movement I had previously done in Jiu-Jitsu just as easily.  Not only this, but my kicks and knees in muay thai felt as if they had more impact, my footwork felt faster and I actually think that my takedown defense in wrestling improved due to not only increased leg strength but increased core strength due to getting used to balancing on one leg as a part of physical therapy.  And if we are to discuss tests of leg strength which fall outside the range of martial arts, just the other day I ran the fastest mile I’ve done in my life, at 6:28, running at 10 miles per hour for 3 minutes straight and just under that for the remainder.  So now when I hear people say that “few people fully recover from ACL surgeries and return to martial arts” (and believe me, I have heard this quote frequently and said with one hundred percent sincerity), I can only shake my head at the limits that the human mind imposes on the body.  I believe that few of the people who have quit martial arts as a result of ACL injuries have done it simply because of the injury itself but more because their minds were conditioned to believe they could not overcome it.  Now that I have worked my way back through two ACL surgeries I believe even more in my ability to overcome other future obstacles and I fully realize the potential of injuries to make a martial artist better, both externally as well as internally.

Indeed, these past set backs should prepare me quite well for tomorrow morning, when I will undergo a minor surgery on my wrist to repair a partially torn ligament.  I don’t yet know whether or not a subsequent surgery will be necessary after this one, and if it is I may be out from training for as much as 6 months and require titanium pins to hold the ligament in place, much like the ones I already have in my knees.  Either way I certainly have at least a couple months of physical therapy to look forward to and yet I feel relatively un phased because I have been through it all before and worse with my ACL surgeries and the rehab they entailed.  I am sure that even before it fully heals I will learn ways both in life and in the martial arts to work around this injury, and in fact, I already have.  The words that I am typing right now are being done with only my left hand which should serve me well in achieving more dexterity in those digits and my Muay Thai training as of late has consisted almost entirely of kicks, knees and elbows which I feel has made me even better at those techniques.  Now instead of dreading my return to martial arts I wonder what other new ways I can improve my arsenal through this injury, and if more are to come after that, as they quite likely will, I will do my best to count them as blessings instead of curses, and always return to the mat afterwards to see what new tricks I can develop out of these setbacks.

Though not injuries per say, there are a few notable martial artists who have become very accomplished not in spite of, but rather due to what most would call physical “handicaps” or “shortcomings”, but which I actually regard as advantages.  For example, the world renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and grappling champion Jean-Jacques Machado was born without a fully formed left hand.  However, it is quite likely that he is better than he ever would have been had his hand formed fully before birth and has almost certainly developed any number of techniques which work well for him in competition as a direct result of this.  Likewise, rising MMA fighter Nick Newell was born with only the upper half of his left arm and yet today he is undefeated at 10-0 and has one of the best guillotine chokes in the business which he very likely developed because of the difference of his anatomy.  Finally, the greatly respected wrestler, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and motivational speaker Kyle Maynard was born without either of his arms or legs, and yet he has been more successful in competition than most and continues to be an inspiration not only for grapplers and martial artists but people from all walks of life.  In a recent online video Rener Gracie even had a public grappling session with Maynard and showed how he had developed a very unique technique for escaping bottom mount based entirely on his body type.

As can be seen, many physical “limitations” are only such in so far as they are mental blocks.  Particularly in the martial arts, and most importantly the gentle art of Jiu-Jitsu, physical shortcomings can be turned into advantages if the mind of the practitioner is focused on overcoming adversity.  Because injuries will inevitably happen to a martial artist the best thing he can do is to figure out how to turn them into positives instead of viewing them as negatives.  If you are a martial artist, next time you have an injury try to use it as an opportunity to improve some other aspect of your game and once the injury has healed you may find that it was a blessing in disguise and that you are in fact better than you ever were before.

jamey 300x300 Getting Hurt Doesn’t Have to Hurt Your Game   Improving Your Martial Arts Game Through InjuriesJamey Bazes is a Poughkeepsie MMA practitioner holding a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt with over 15 years of competition experience earning over 100 tournament victories.  He also holds a Masters of Arts Degree in English from SUNY New Paltz with a focus on the English Romantic poets.

 

 Posted by at 7:15 pm
Aug 252013
 

Coach Brian hits a textbook “Marcelotine” choke (a variation of the guillotine shown hereMMA Tampa) in the expert division at the North American Grappling New York Championship.

Learn these and other Hudson Valley MMA techniques at Precision MMA in LaGrange, NY call 845-392-8495 or click here to get started

 

Aug 222013
 

MMA Tampa Coach and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Matt Arroyo shows the secret to the Guillotine choke!

Gracie Tampa South MMA instructor Matt Arroyo unveils his lethal guillotine choke!

 

arroyo 300x225 Mixed Martial Arts Tampa Matt Arroyo MMA Tampa

MMA Tampa

With Chael Sonnen’s main event victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC on FS1 the entire MMA world was reminded how powerful the guillotine choke can be when properly applied.  The guillotine is one of the most diverse techniques in all of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.  Arguably the most effective variation of the choke is the elbow high or “Marcelotine” version.  This particular guillotine is made so effective by the arm positioning that simultaneously allows the attacker to apply an intense amount of throat crushing leverage as well as counter the most common defense.  These factors make this submission nearly inescapable once it is locked in place.

Here is a video of Ultimate Fighter Season 6 veteran Matt Arroyo.  Matt honed his guillotine skills while working with MMA Tampa coach Rob Kahn (Royce Gracie’s first black belt) as well as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Marcelo Garcia.  Matt and his Tampa MMA students have used this technique en route to numerous victories in both sport grappling and professional mixed martial arts.

If you live in the Tampa area check out Matt’s MMA Tampa gym – Gracie Tampa South visit http://www.gracietampasouth.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Tampa Gracie top MMA Tampa source!

Aug 052013
 
1518944923 6a0943f157 300x199 4 Ground and Pound Techniques Used in High Level MMA

Hudson Valley MMA Ground n Pound

“Ground and pound”.  To the lay person this phrase means little, but to the initiated fan of modern day Mixed Martial Arts this is a term which has become quite well known in recent years, much to the credit of color commentators for the Ultimate Fighting Championship like Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg amongst others.  But what exactly is “ground and pound”?  Most MMA fans who have never trained with actual fighters or who only watch the sport casually will give answers that are not really satisfactory.  The most common is that “ground and pound” is a style of striking an opponent on the ground in MMA, with the emphasis usually being on the methods used by the fighter in top position to strike the bottom fighter.  While this statement is generally correct it does not truly do justice to the skill which many top fighters call their number one method for attaining victory.  As anyone who has trained with a skilled Pro MMA fighter knows, “ground and pound” has every bit as many nuances as submission grappling, takedowns or stand up striking.  Many people with limited training believe that there is little technique to striking on the ground and that once a fighter achieves a takedown he need only reign down punches or elbows until the referee steps in.  However, “ground and pound” is a skill in itself and simply “swinging away” on a downed opponent with little regard to technique is a good way to get submitted or swept by an opponent with a good Jiu-Jitsu game.  In this article I will outline four different “ground and pound” techniques which have been used by different fighters in high level MMA fights and explain what makes these techniques so effective.

There is no more fitting way to begin an article on the skill of ground-striking in MMA than to start with the man often quoted as “the godfather of Ground and Pound”, Mark “the Hammer” Coleman.  Coleman began his MMA career back in 1996 at UFC 10, the early days of Mixed Martial Arts when the sport had yet to be regulated under the “Unified Rules”.  Coming from a wrestling background and having been a former NCAA champion, the 6’1, 255lbs bruiser took to fighting like a fish to water.  In those days Royce Gracie had already established the value of ground grappling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in MMA, and this is what truly paved the way for wrestlers, cluing them in to the fact that taking the opponent down and finishing them on the ground was a legitimate method for winning a contest.  However, Royce had usually won his fights by using submission holds such as chokes and armlocks, rather than bludgeoning the opponent into defeat with punches, hammerfists, knees and elbows.  Lacking the submission techniques available to BJJ artists but having every bit as much knowledge of ground positioning, Coleman was perhaps the first Mixed Martial Artist to routinely win fights simply by taking his opponents down and striking them until a referee either stepped in or they were rendered unconscious.  Coleman had many methods for doing this, but one that I am going to look at in particular is what I will refer to as the “head in face” technique.  This is one of the primary techniques which “The Hammer” used to win the most important fight in his career, his victory over Igor Vovchanchin in the “Pride Grand Prix 2000 finals” which led to his becoming the first ever Pride HW tournament champion.  In essence this technique is quite simple, and yet devastatingly effective, and it is based on a few important principles that anyone must understand in order to recognize what makes for an effective “ground and pound” tactic.  In this fight, Coleman made used of the “head in face technique” by standing in Igor’s full guard, then driving his forehead into his face and from there, punching in succession to the body, followed by single shots to the head.

Now, there are four important principles to ground and pound which one must understand if they are to separate a truly superior “gn’p” technique from simply striking a grounded opponent with reckless abandon.  These principles are 1) controlling the arms 2) controlling the hips 3) controlling the head and 4) mixing up one’s strikes.   Anyone who studies the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu knows that controlling the hips and the head make a grounded opponent nearly helpless, and this same principle applies to wrestling and “ground and pound”.  If an opponent does not have free range of motion with his head then his hip movement is going to be very limited and likewise if he does not have full movement of his hips then his head movement will probably not amount to much.  Let me explain more clearly.  All bodily motion is dependent upon movement of the spine, which goes as far up as the back of the neck and base of the head, and as far down as the tailbone, which is parallel to the hips at the front of the body.  The two points of the body where the spine provides its greatest function are at its top and bottom, in other words, the neck/head area, and the hip/lower back area.  If a grappler controls one of these two points he has a good deal of control over his opponent.  If he controls both his opponent’s mobility is practically null as he has isolated his spine at both of its key points and this will make strikes very difficult to defend against.  This is essentially how control of hip and head movement makes for an effective “gnp” technique.

On the other hand, controlling an opponent’s arms is important because you take away his main tools of offense and most importantly, his greatest method of defense.  Controlling one of your opponent’s arms is often enough to prevent him from escaping or countering most forms of “ground and pound”, while controlling both of them makes his ability to counter or escape even more difficult, granted of course that the aggressor has some sort of head or hip control.

Finally, mixing up strikes makes for an effective “ground and pound” tactic because the opponent never really knows what to expect.  This means directing blows to different parts of the body, head and even limbs, as well as using different types of strikes such as hammerfists, downward elbows, diagonal elbows and straight and looping punches.

With Mark Coleman’s “head in face” attack on Igor Vovchanchin, he made good use of the first two and the fourth principles.  He controlled Igor’s head very well, which in turn allowed him to control his hips, and he mixed up his strikes to the body and head.  What Coleman did in this fight was to essentially stand up in Igor’s full guard and drive his head directly into Igor’s face, making his own head and neck a fifth point of contact with the ground so that he could base off of it and throw his punches with full power without sacrificing his balance.  With his feet planted and his hips above his opponents’, the bottom man’s hips were also limited in their mobility.  In this particular situation, since Igor could not free his head his spine and body as a whole were isolated and his guard rendered quite ineffective.  The placement of Coleman’s forehead in Igor’s face provided two other special advantages, in that it limited Igor’s view of the strikes coming at him and also caused him quite a bit of discomfort.  Coleman also directed his strikes to different areas, generally throwing several times to the body and once or twice to the head in succession.  As such, Igor was less capable of guessing where the strikes would land next, and thus had a more difficult time defending.  This is a technique which Coleman’s protégé Kevin Randleman would also later use with great success in his fighting career.

bio rickson 203x300 4 Ground and Pound Techniques Used in High Level MMA

Rickson Gracie doing the gift wrap

However, an even more effective “ground and pound” tactic than Coleman’s “head in face technique” is the mounted “gift wrap” which the great Rickson Gracie used to defeat Masakatsu Funaki back in 2000.  The Gracie family is well known for introducing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to the world, but their style of ground fighting is not only effective for submissions, it is also effective for striking as Rickson proved in this fight.  Now it is important to note that the most significant aspect of Rickson’s “gift wrap” on Funaki is not the trapping of his arm, but rather, the mount position itself.  When a grappler passes his opponents’ guard and is able to mount him he has complete control over his opponents’ hips because his entire body is positioned above them.  As such, the opponent’s legs have been taken out of the equation and his upper body has been isolated.  He does, however, still have movement of his head and the top portion of his spine, but as we will see Rickson’s technique later prevents this.  In this fight, after weakening Funaki with some shots from mount, he grips Funaki’s right wrist with his right hand, while reaching under Funaki’s head with left arm.  Following this, Rickson feeds Funaki’s right wrist to his own left hand which is underneath Masakatsu’s head.  This results in Rickson being mounted on Funaki while the latter’s right arm is completely wrapped around his own head, leaving him with only one arm to defend against Rickson’s strikes.  Not only is Funaki’s right arm now trapped, but his head is also held firmly in place by his own arm and his hips are being completely controlled by Rickson’s mount.  Goals 1, 2 and 3 of our “gnp” outline have now been met, and Funaki has no way to defend himself since almost his entire body is being controlled.  This is another outstanding “ground and pound” technique which works well for MMA.

aldocrucifix12 300x200 4 Ground and Pound Techniques Used in High Level MMA

The Mounted Crucifix

The third “ground and pound” position we will discuss has become quite popular in Mixed Martial Arts today and is generally referred to as “the side mounted crucifix”.  This move has a number of variations and has been used very successfully by a number of fighters, most notably Jon Jones in his UFC Live 2 win over Vladimir Matyushenko and Roy Nelson in his win over Kimbo Slice on “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10.  Much like Rickson’s mounted “gift wrap”, the most important component of this technique is first having a dominant position, in this case side mount.  Once sidemounted, the top opponent is past the bottom man’s hips much like a mounted opponent would be, except that in this case he has his weight distributed sidewise across his opponent’s chest and abdomen rather than being directly on top of him as he would be when mounted.  From this position, both of the opponent’s arms are tied up with the top man having one arm free to punch or elbow his opponent’s head.  This technique covers points 1, 2 and 3 of our “ground and pound” index.  First, not only one but both of the opponent’s arms are trapped.  Second, the hips are isolated in the sense that the guard has been passed and the legs cannot be used for much and the weight distribution of the top opponent makes hip movement difficult for the bottom man.  Finally, with both shoulders and hips pinned to the mat and a large body across the bottom man’s chest, the defender’s head has fairly little mobility as well.  The position can be made more effective by mixing up one’s strikes and Jones proved in his fight that it is possible to finish an opponent from here with elbows while Nelson proved in his that it is equally possible to dominate by punching with the free hand.

The final “ground and pound” position that I would like to discuss in this article is not usually recognized as such because it is done from a bottom position, but I would personally consider it every bit as valid as many done from top control and this is the “triangle position” from bottom guard.  Most people see the triangle as a submission only due to its ability to cut off the blood to the brain, causing the opponent to either tap out or pass out.  However, as Anderson Silva proved in his victory over Travis Lutter at UFC 67, this can also be a dominant position from which to land multiple short elbow strikes which in this case resulted in a submission not from the choke, but from the strikes being delivered.  Generally, the term “ground and pound” seems to be reserved for striking techniques delivered by the top fighter to the bottom fighter, and the reason for this is most likely because strikes delivered from on top tend to have more weight and force behind them.  Usually ending a fight with strikes from the bottom is difficult to do, unless, of course, it abides by enough of the 4 rules of our “ground and pound” index, like the triangle does.  First, it is important to note that the guard position is the only bottom position capable of being considered dominant because the bottom man’s legs do partially shut off full movement of the top man’s hips.  Because the bottom guard player has his ankles positioned above the hips of the top man, the top fighter cannot advance further to fully isolate the bottom man’s hips.  This is the first key to why the triangle can be considered a dominant position despite being done from on bottom.  The second reason is that one of the top opponent’s arms is taken out of the equation by the unique positioning of the bottom man, and the other arm is trapped across the bottom man’s chest, making it difficult for him to defend against strikes which was another key to successful “gn’p” that we mentioned.  Finally, the most important aspect of why the “triangle position” is a dominant angle for “gnp” is because it exercises maximum head control.  The top opponent’s head is being completely controlled by the legs and arms of the bottom man.  As such, the top point of his spine is isolated and his mobility is greatly lessened.  In the case of the Anderson/Lutter fight, Anderson had such a good triangle sunk in that he was able to deliver downward elbow strikes until the ref stepped in.  As can be seen, if one thinks outside of the box and utilizes enough of the principles of the “ground and pound” index, it is possible to stop a fight with strikes even from a bottom position.

Clearly “ground and pound” techniques are not effective because of top position alone, they are dependent upon a number of principles being used effectively.  The Mark Coleman/Igor Vovchanchin fight is an excellent example of how unique head control can be used to create enough pressure from top guard to threaten an opponent.  The Rickson Gracie/Funaki fight is an example of how head and arm control can be obtained simultaneously from top mount leaving the opponent with no method of defense from strikes. Jones’ and Nelson’s “sidemounted crucifixes” are examples of how both arms of the bottom man can be trapped simultaneously leaving him vulnerable.  Finally, the example of Anderson Silva’s triangle on Travis Lutter shows that if proper head control is utilized even a bottom position can give a fighter enough power to stop a fight with successive blows.  Next time you watch MMA and you see strikes being thrown on the ground I suggest that you pay attention to which of the four points from our “ground and pound index” are being applied, and take note of what the aggressor could be doing to make his ground striking more effective.  Knowledge of “ground and pound” techniques and the principles behind them will enhance your enjoyment as a Mixed Martial Arts’ viewer just as much as it can increase a fighter’s effectiveness in the ring.

Jamey Bazes is a Hudson Valley martial arts practitioner holding a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt with over 15 years of competition experience earning over 100 tournament victories.  He also holds a Masters of Arts Degree in English from SUNY New Paltz with a focus on the English Romantic poets.