Mastering the Art of Takedown Defense for Strikers

Dec 9, 2022MMA

For strikers in MMA, developing strong takedown defense is absolutely critical to success. Without the ability to neutralize opponents’ wrestling and grappling attacks, strikers end up grounded and controlled, unable to implement their striking arsenal. Mastering the art of takedown defense enables strikers to keep fights standing and impose their striking gameplan. This comprehensive article will explore the key principles and methods strikers must employ to build impenetrable takedown defense.

Establishing Fundamental Positioning

The foundation of effective takedown defense begins with proper footwork, distancing, and positioning. Strikers must maintain excellent positional fundamentals at all times to neutralize takedown setups.

Lead Foot Alignment

It is vital for strikers to keep their lead foot positioned pointing toward the centerline of the opponent. When the lead foot is not facing the opponent, it provides them an opening to attack an angle and get to the striker’s side or back. Strikers must be diligent about quickly adjusting their lead foot to track the opponent’s movements and prevent them from gaining outside angle advantages.

Rear Foot Adjustments

While the lead foot tracks the opponent, strikers should use small adjustments of their rear foot to maintain proper stance alignment. This allows them to conserve energy while remaining defensively responsible.

Threatening Back

An important aspect of footwork fundamentals is consistently showing opponents that you are willing and able to threaten back. Striking preemptively with jabs or pivoting to angle off makes opponents far more cautious about rushing forward or attempting to overwhelm strikers.

Circling Control

When opponents attempt to circle around strikers or get around their lead foot, strikers must use subtle movements to track them with their lead foot while adjusting stance with the rear foot. This saves energy while the opponent wastes effort changing directions trying to gain an advantage.

With strong footwork fundamentals, strikers are able to keep opponents directly in front of their lead side at all times. This allows strikers to consistently threaten the jab while monitoring opponents’ positioning and movements. It also ensures that any takedown attempts must come straight through the striker’s strongest angle.

Preparing For Takedowns Proactively

In addition to footwork and positioning, there are other methods strikers can use to proactively prepare for and discourage takedown attempts before they happen:

Distance Management

Do not allow opponents to freely move into takedown range. Use lateral movement and footwork to maintain proper distance until prepared to engage.

Cage Positioning

Make sure not to be pressured back against the cage, where takedowns are much easier for opponents to set up. Dictate Octagon position toward the center when possible.

Shot Anticipation

Be ready to react defensively as soon as opponents show signs of changing levels or overcommitting on strike attempts that could lead to desperation takedowns. Recognizing takedown setups early is key.

With intelligent distancing, cage positioning, and early shot anticipation, strikers make it extremely difficult for opponents to find openings for takedown attempts in open space. The opponents’ main opportunities to take strikers down tend to come as counters during striking exchanges.

Shutting Down Takedown Entries

Even when opponents time their takedown entries well, strikers have specialized techniques to shut down shot attempts before they develop:

Lead Leg Pivot

As the shot is initiated, pivoting hard off the lead leg removes that leg from the opponent’s reach while moving the hips offline from the shot angle. This redirection of momentum makes completing takedowns extremely difficult.

Head Control

Intelligently using the forearms and hands to control the head and create space limits opponents’ ability to drive forward and complete takedowns off shots. Keeping the head away is hugely impactful.

Grip Fighting

Constant handfighting with opponents is essential during shot attempts to prevent them from securing grips on the striker’s legs. Defending grips allows strikers to stay upright.

By pivoting off the lead leg, urgently fighting grips, and controlling the head during shot attempts, strikers can stall opponents’ forward momentum and disrupt their positioning. This enables strikers to shrug off failed shot attempts and continue defending.

Executing Scrambles

Even in instances where opponents are able to finish takedowns initially, implementing urgent scrambles presents opportunities for strikers to get back to their feet quickly:

Hip and Hand Posting

Posting up on a hip or hand when hitting the mat makes it easier for strikers to stand back up or shrimp out before becoming controlled on the bottom.

Constant Movement

Strikers should never concede the takedown and relax once grounded. Continually work to stand back up, shrimp, and scramble until in a standing position again.

Refuse To Concede

By refusing to accept or concede bottom position and constantly urgently working to regain their feet, strikers can often reverse initial takedown success into a quick scramble back to a standing position.

Integrating Offense

Layering offensive threat into takedown defense also significantly enhances effectiveness:

Counter Knees and Uppercuts

Throwing intercepting knees and uppercuts discourages opponents from recklessly changing levels and shooting takedowns in more open areas.

Pushing Away

After sprawling on shot attempts, forcefully pushing opponents away can provide opportunities to land damaging strikes as breaks are created.

Spinning Out

When opponents are able to take the back standing, intelligently spinning into them with elbows or knees serves as an excellent deterrent.

By integrating offensive striking techniques, strikers can make opponents far more cautious and hesitant about attempting takedowns. This greatly enhances their ability to keep fights in the striking realm.

Takedown Defence For Strikers At Apex MMA

With mastery of proper footwork, positioning, early shot recognition, urgent shot denial, continuous scrambling, and integrated striking offence, strikers can develop a strong takedown defence. Here at Apex MMA in Brookvale, we deeply understand the importance of anti-wrestling and incorporate these core concepts into all of our striking and MMA training. If you are a striker looking to rapidly elevate your takedown defence, come down for a free 7-day trial class and learn from our experienced coaching staff. We will quickly have you shutting down takedowns and imposing your striking game. Don’t allow wrestling to be your weakness any longer. Enrol now and start learning the art of takedown defence to become a complete striker.

author avatar
Team Apex MMA Martial Arts Coach
Apex MMA is a specialist mixed martial arts gym focusing on Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Led by an experienced team of instructors, Apex MMA offers comprehensive training programs for students of all ages and skill levels. With Apex MMA's systematic teaching methods, passion for martial arts, and strong community relationships, you will gain the tools to succeed in the gym and beyond.
You may like also