Just getting into Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)? Looking forward to UFC on FX 2 and wanting to learn more about the sport? Well then you're in the right place. This is the final article breaking down the different phases and techniques of an MMA match. The sport is a combination of different martial arts and goes anywhere the fight takes it. We started with the striking, moved on to the clinch and most recently addressed ground grappling.
Now we come to the aspect that makes MMA unique to almost any other combat sport, ground grappling which allows striking. The ground game is often a mystery to those fans who haven't practice a grappling art, and can be divisive aspect of the sport. Some fans decry ground work as boring while others get absorbed in the minuet details, and I fall squarely into the latter category.
All submissions can be grouped into two general categories: chokes and joint attacks. Starting with chokes, the vast majority of choking techniques in judo, jiu jitsu, catch wrestling and other submission grappling arts are blood chokes. These are different from air chokes, which prevents air from entering the lungs and stops fresh oxygen from getting into the blood stream, which means that the brain eventually runs low on oxygen and the victim is rendered unconscious. These air chokes can take a great deal of time to be effective, are difficult to lock on fully and can be very dangerous (as it is possible to crush the windpipe).
Blood chokes on the other hand work by applying pressure to the arteries, cutting out the middle man of the lungs and cutting the brain off from blood. Blood chokes will result in unconsciousness within ten seconds of application and, once released, the blood flow will return to normal.
The most basic choke is the rear naked choke, the name meaning that it is done from back control and can be executed without a gi collar. We are going to look at the masterful rear naked choke of Roger Gracie after the jump.
Roger starts with his elbow under Randleman's chin and places his hand on his own bicep. Roger's left arm goes behind Randleman's head, creating the figure four grip. This grip, where Roger grabs his own bicep, gives the strongest possible squeeze on Rangleman's neck. Roger's forearm and bicep on either side are pressed against Randleman's arteries.
The result is a simple but powerful choke that is applied here so perfectly that after just four seconds Randleman is left unconscious.
This concept of using the arm to stop both arteries is also used in some forms of the guillotine choke.
Another blood choke called the triangle choke works on a different approach. This choke relies on not isolating the neck, but rather trapping an arm and the head. The classic triangle choke works by trapping the opponent's arm and head with the legs.
Here is Josh Neer's triangle win over Mac Danzig, and you can see Neer has Danzig in his guard. When the time is right Neer throws up his legs to trap Danzig's head and left arm between his legs. Neer puts his left leg across the back of Danzig's neck with his foot under his right knee. This figure four position of the legs is where the triangle gets its name -- this is a tight, vice-like grip. In this case, Neer's left leg is driving into the side of Danzig's neck stops the artery on that side and the squeeze of the triangle is so intense that is actually drives Danzig's own shoulder into the other side of his neck stopping the other artery.
For the shoulder to be driven into the neck, Neer has to force Danzig's arm across his body, taking away any space between the shoulder and neck. The result is an extremely tight choke that can cause a blackout in just seconds when fully applied.
This triangle approach can be done with the arms also in the "arm triangle" and be executed from several different angles. The D'arce choke, also known as the Brabo choke, is simply an arm triangle from a different angle. The anaconda choke also works on the triangle principle.
Now let us move on to joint attacks. Simply put, these submissions consist of pulling, twisting or cranking a joint to the breaking point. Almost every joint attack has some of the same basic steps: isolate the joint, gain leverage on the joint and then move it in an unnatural direction.
Let's take a look at a fundamental joint lock: the armbar. Now, the armbar attacks the elbow joint by over-straightening the arm, also known as hyperextension. This works with in all forms of armbars, the kneebar and straight ankle locks.
Here is Nick Diaz locking on a very tight armbar on Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos. Step one of isolating the arm is accomplished by Diaz's legs, one over the body and the other across Santos' face. Diaz gains leverage by grabbing Santos' arm and pulling it away from his body. This turns Santo's arm into a lever, with its fulcrum at the elbow. Diaz then pulls the arm down and pushes his hips up -- this pits Diaz's entire body against Santos' right arm.
Even when resisting, Santos' arm is pulled to the point of hyperextending almost instantly and he is forced to tap.
While straight arm locks attack the elbow, twisting armlocks attack the shoulder. The most common twisting armlock is known as the Kimura, named for legendary Judoka Mashiko Kimura (possibly the best grappler ever). The Kimura lock can break the arm or it will tear the shoulder. This motion of twisting the arm behind the back can be done with the legs also, in what is called an omoplata. Another twisting armlock is the Americana, or Keylock, which twists the arm up and over the shoulder instead of behind the back. This one can also be done with the legs from scarf side control.
Twisting leg locks are also possible and they have two different targets. The toe hold is a twisting ankle lock that works much like the Kimura. The heel hook is the most common leg lock in MMA and possibly the most feared. The principle is pretty basic: isolate a leg, immobilize the upper part of the leg, trap the foot in the armpit and then use the whole upper-body to torque the knee. It is often said that fighters should tap as soon as they are in a heel hook because by the time they feel the pain, damage is already being done to their knee. Rousimar Palhares is known for his vicious heel hooks.
There are other types of submissions that are less prevalent in MMA like neck cranks, which turn or bend the neck to the breaking point. Slicers are submissions that attack the arm or leg and work on a similar principle to putting a rock in a nut cracker and the gogoplata is a choke where a limber fighter can use his shin to stop the blood flow to an opponent's head.
I hope you've enjoyed this introductory series to MMA, but it in terms of the broad array of techniques used in the cages and rings of MMA, it was just that -- an introduction. If your interested in learning more about MMA technique I encourage to keep an eye out for our Judo Chop series, which usually run before or after each UFC event and break down the most interesting techniques used by fighters on the card. Also the website BJJ in MMA has pretty nice breakdown of submissions that are legal in MMA and the positions they can occur.