Lining up in a ring across from your opponent can be daunting. How do you approach fighting someone you’ve never faced? A systematic process of probing, gaining information and attacking openings will allow you to control fights and consistently land effective strikes. In this article, we break down a step-by-step guide to gain control and dominate in the ring.
Probing With Long Range Strikes
The opening exchanges offer an opportunity to gain an early read by probing your opponent’s reactions. As the bell sounds, begin by using long range strikes to safely test reactions. Lead leg teeps, long jabs and outside low kicks force opponents to react while staying defensively responsible. Vary your strikes and target areas like legs, body and head then analyze your opponent’s reactions:
- Do they block, parry or evade strikes?
- Do they counter after defending or reset?
- Can you draw certain reactions with feints?
Their reactions reveal habits and expose potential openings for follow up strikes. Use these long range strikes to begin painting a picture of your opponent’s tendencies.
Reading Distance and Movement
With your first reads gained, focus on controlling distance. Analyze your opponent’s footwork and head movement when you step into range or shift stances. Carefully change levels and watch how they adapt.
- Do they give ground or stand firm?
- Do they preference lateral movement?
- Do they drop their guard when you shift stances?
Their movement and positioning expose openings to target. Footwork that consistently moves one direction can be punished by lead leg strikes. Head movement that drops guards when you change levels grants opportunities for quick attacks.
Control distance early and force reactions with your footwork to expose habits. Work the outside with angles if they retreat or step into space created if they allow it.
Gaining Information Through Looks
Once in range you can further probe reactions. Alter your guard, stance and positioning while observing your opponent’s responses. Standing more sideways or raising your guard higher presents new defensive looks. Watch for holes:
- Do they throw when you square up?
- Do they target the body when you go high guard?
Now add feints to these looks. Feint knees when you go high guard. Feint body shots when you square your stance. See if new openings appear and where they focus their defense.
Varying your guard and stance masks your real intentions while drawing out your opponent’s preferences. Their reactions tell you where they want to target.
Using Feints And Fakes To Set Up Strikes
Feints and fakes create further openings once you’ve landed clean strikes. Feints remain out of range while fakes are thrown from striking distance. A reactive opponent often exposes new targets off these looks.
After landing clean combinations, begin feinting spins or kicks. See if you can draw strikes that expose their balance or defensive holes.
Fakes work once you’re in tight. Throw half-power strikes meant to trigger reactions. Fake the cross then come over the top with the hook. Their reactions create the openings for real attacks.
Master using feints and fakes to manipulate opponents into exposing weaknesses you can exploit.
Vary Your Entries
Creating openings is useless if you can’t safely enter range to capitalize. Mastering diverse entries avoids predictability. Vary your approaches:
- Move straight forward behind strikes like the jab
- Cut angles to enter from the side
- Use lateral movement to bridge distance
- Enter in combination behind punches or kicks
Each entry creates different reactions. Mix up your entries and avoid patterns. Strike once in range to keep them guessing.
Target Basic Areas Then Expose Advanced Openings
Start by targeting major areas like heads, legs and body. As your reads improve, expose openings to target more precise zones:
- Rib cages, liver or chest.
- Nose, ears or chin.
- Calf, thigh or knee.
With superior reads you can start precision targeting. But be careful not to head hunt. Keep targeting legs and body to avoid being predictable.
Master Diverse Exits And Escapes
Entry is useless without intelligent exits. Always be ready to escape once you strike. Master diverse defensive options:
- Pivot out after combinations
- Exit at angles off leg kicks
- Cover up and exit clean after flurries
Exits keep you safe and avoid the tie up. Strike once then exit clean. Never allow yourself to be trapped against the ropes after an exchange. Exit at angles and keep them guessing.
Varying your exits avoids predictability and keeps you defensively responsible through combinations. Don’t become a stationary target.
Stages of Attacks
Once your initial strikes and combinations begin landing cleanly, you can up the ante and put together successive attacks. After an initial flurry, follow up with new combinations targeting openings created. Mastering combinations and targeting openings immediately as you create them keeps opponents on the defensive.
You should have combination stages planned out. Early when gaining reads, combinations may be shorter like 2-3 strikes. But once you find success, move to longer 5-6 strike combos. The key is putting together logical strike sequences that target openings as you create them.
If you hurt or wobble an opponent, immediately capitalize. When opponents are compromised from strikes, their defences and reactions will be diminished. Follow up right away with additional strikes while their ability to defend and recover is lessened. Just don’t get overzealous chasing finishes and lose defensive responsibility.
Repeating The Process
Use this systematic approach every round. Probe, gain reads and exploit openings. But be adaptive. Your opponent will adjust. Be ready to work them out again each round using your footwork, feints and fakes to expose new weaknesses.
Fighting becomes a game of adjustment and adaptation. Implement this process every round to control positioning, land strikes and dominate the fight. Stay defensively sound, exit clean and work your opponent out repeatedly through the fight.
Apex MMA Implements Systematic Fight Concepts
Here at Apex MMA in Brookvale, we emphasize these systematic concepts with all our fighters. Controlling distance, varying looks and entries, gaining reads, targeting intelligently and exiting cleanly. This enables our fighters to approach each fight with processes to expose and exploit weaknesses over time.
Implementing this systematic approach allows our fighters to dictate positioning, land strikes and control the fight. We reinforce these concepts in all our training sessions through padwork, sparring and instruction to produce intelligent and adaptive strikers.