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No Holds Barred Fighting: Savage Strikes
The Complete Guide to Real World Striking for NHB Competition and Street Defense
By Mark Hatmaker, Doug Werner
Tracks PublishingCopyright © 2004 Doug Werner
All rights reserved.
Stance, footwork, upper body mobility and rolling a fist
NHB striking stance Good base is fundamental. Whether on your feet or on the mat, a fighter must be firmly in control of his balance. And it's important to control your opponent's balance as well. Before hitting, make sure you can stand. You can generate solid strikes only from a solid stance.
Things to keep in mind about good standing base:
1. An often quoted statistic is that 90% of fights end up in a clinch and on the ground.
2. Keep in mind that almost 100% of fights begin standing up.
3. In competition the fighter who scores the take down ends up the winner 90% of the time.
A fighter needs to play the odds and make sure that he is strong on his feet to reduce the chance of being struck or taken down and to increase the odds of striking or scoring the takedown.
The stance is not static, although we will describe it in a static position. Once you are able to emulate the stance, start moving around with it. Be fluid while maintaining the integrity of the stance principles. The following chapter on movement will go a long way toward helping you move intelligently.
Assuming the NHB striking stance
We will assume a right lead. Pretend that you are standing on a clock facing noon. Step the right foot to 2 o'clock and your left foot to 8 o'clock. Keep the upper body facing noon. The weight is distributed equally between your feet with soles in contact with the floor, but feel the weight more through the balls of the feet. Knees are bent carrying the body midway between an upright position and a crouch.
Looking at the stance head-on, see that the hands are up, fists clenched loosely with the rear-hand touching the cheek and the lead fist positioned at shoulder level approximately 12 inches in front of the lead shoulder. The rear arm rests on the ribs, while the lead forearm assumes an exact parallel position approximately six inches in front of the lead-side rib cage. The chin is tucked toward the breastbone while lifting the lead shoulder to protect the jaw. This mimics a hands-free telephone position in which you would hold a handset between your chin and shoulder. This hand and arm position is good cover for defending strikes.
Resist the temptation to flare the elbows at the bottom of this defensive shell creating an inverted V. Doing so allows an opponent easy access to land body shots.
This is a modified boxing stance. A fighter must guard against strikes as well as take-down efforts. The stance is a bit wider and lower than a boxer's stance to make a stronger base. With the shooting aspect in mind, avoid a completely upright and narrow-based boxer's stance by keeping the 2 o'clock and 8 o'clock foot position wider than usually observed in straight boxing. Use a mirror to check position. Fall into the stance naturally and make sure that all elements are present so that you will be working from maximum offensive and defensive advantage. Once you feel comfortable falling into position naturally, turn the page and we'll get moving.
Now, let's learn to move within that stance. Here are some basics pertinent to all movement on the feet. Always keep feet in contact with the mat. No hopping, skipping or Ali shuffle footwork is recommended for NHB movement.
Step and drag
In all stepping motions, use a step and drag that allows you to keep at least one foot in contact with the mat at all times.
Step and drag in the direction you intend traveling by moving the foot closest to that direction first. In other words, if you want to step forward, step the forward foot first and drag the rear foot behind it. To go back, step with the rear foot first and drag the lead foot. To go right, move the right foot first and drag the left. To go left, move the left foot first and drag the right.
There are eight directions to step. Imagine you are standing on a clock face. Work the step and drag in each direction to refine the movement. Don't cross your feet or place them closer together than shoulder width, otherwise base is compromised and you become an easy target.
A pivot is a defensive step executed by putting all weight on the ball of your lead foot and swinging the other foot 90 degrees right or left. The pivot is used to deflect a rushing opponent. Work the pivot assiduously in both directions.
The shift step is another useful offensive and defensive footwork pattern. The shift step calls for a change in your stance lead. It is used while retreating or advancing. To perform, step your lead foot to the rear and assume the formerly rear hand as the lead guard. You can also shift step forward by stepping the rear side forward into a new lead. Work several rounds with the shift step making sure to fall into proper stance each time. Combine the shift step and the pivot - shift step back from a rush and then pivot to cut yourself out of an opponent's line of attack.
Maintain the structural integrity of the stance while using the above permutations. It is very common to lose the upper-body position when moving in the beginning. You are so busy concentrating on your feet that the upper body goes to hell. Work this movement in front of a mirror so that you can catch any errors and make corrections.
I suggest six rounds of footwork in the mirror and then another six rounds with a partner. Have a partner dictate direction and pace while you follow his movement for a round and then switch roles. Be diligent about adhering to precise technique and attempt to stump one another with variations.
Movement on the feet is one of the least developed attributes for NHB fights. Train it well to move higher in your game. Next we look at a few upper-body maneuvers to add to the defensive arsenal.
Upper body mobility
Mobility acquired by intelligent footwork is extremely important. Footwork is how a fighter maneuvers himself into offensive and defensive ranges. But the subject of mobility, with the steps learned in the previous chapter, is not complete without adding the following upper-body evasions.
The pull is merely leaning the upper body away from an incoming strike. The pull does not need an extreme angle. That calls for loading too much weight onto the rear foot, leaving the lead leg essentially weightless and susceptible to an easy takedown shot.
Be careful not to execute lazy pulls in which you pull from an opponent's strike but return too slowly. Pulls are meant to be executed in rapid style in both the positive and the negative portions of the movement. Snap the torso back in a ballistic manner and return it to its previous upright posture just as quickly, preferably while returning an offensive salvo of your own.
A slip could be defined as a lateral pull to either the left or right. This is correct in a broad sense, but a simple lateral motion with the torso upsets the base too much to be of value for the NHB athlete. There is a more efficient manner in which to laterally evade incoming blows and that allows you to stay properly weighted while bringing you closer to an opponent in order to launch counters at open targets.
The true slip is accomplished by bending at the knees and remembering the opposite shoulder/opposite knee rule: To slip left, bend the knees and turn your upper body so that the right shoulder points toward your left knee. To slip right, bend knees and point left shoulder toward right knee.
It is important to realize that you will be bending only a little at the waist. The body's descent is accomplished by bending the knees and pointing the shoulder to the opposite knee. It is acceptable in boxing to execute extreme bends at the waist because the boxer has only the uppercut to fear in this position. In NHB we must fear the knee, descending strikes to the back of the head, neck and upper back, and of course, the snap-down.
Bob and weave
Because of the above considerations, I do not advocate the upper-body maneuver commonly known as the bob and weave. Although effective in straight boxing matches, it poses too many offensive opportunities for an opponent. It is not recommended.
This final upper-body maneuver is accomplished almost solely by the legs. Bend at the knees, not the waist. Bending at the waist puts you in the same danger from attacks as bobbing and weaving.
There is a precise technique to use that will place you in range for follow-up offense. Imagine that there is a large capital letter V between you and your opponent. The top stroke of each end of the V ends at each of your jaw lines. To execute a proper duck, step forward with the lead foot and bend at the knees to descend at a downward angle along your half of the V. At the bottom of the motion, as the attacker's strike bites air, stand up into your opponent. Come up at an angle along his side of the V. This maneuver puts you almost directly on top of an opponent.
Drill each of these movements in isolation for several rounds and then in tandem with each footwork pattern for several more rounds. Think of footwork and maneuverability analogous to armed transport. Striking weapons are your armory but without the delivery and evasion systems of footwork and upper-body maneuvers, you may have little opportunity to launch them.
With maneuvering concepts in place, it's time to consider the complete NHB arsenal.
Yeah, I know ... making a fist. Basic stuff. Been there, done that. Well, let's make sure we know what we're doing. Modern 16-ounce gloves and hand wraps have changed the science of making a fist. NHB gloves are close in size and weight to the "mufflers" from the early days of the gloved era when fist-rolling was practiced as it was in the bare-knuckle days.
If you are involved in Eastern martial arts in any shape, form or fashion you've heard "strike with the first two knuckles of the fist" (index and middle finger knuckles). This supposedly has the twofold benefit of aligning the bones of your fist perfectly with the forearm bones that allows a more structurally sound striking weapon. Utter BS. The second myth bandied about is the idea that one can sight between these two knuckles like a gun sight to better aim punches. BS cubed and served cold.
Here's how the old-timers did it when they were punching hard through more than 70 rounds. Roll the fist by closing from the outside fingers in (little finger followed by the ring finger, middle finger and then the index finger.) Fold the thumb over the middle joints of the index and middle fingers. You have now fist-rolled into a solid block. Look at the striking surface. Strike with the outside three knuckles (the middle, ring and little fingers), not the first two. Moreover, do not strike with just the top knuckles but with the entire three-finger area.
Striking with the outside three knuckles puts you in proper skeletal alignment. All strikes will line up naturally with the forearm's radius and ulna bones and will prevent rolling and spraining the wrist. The Eastern method is a prescription for sprained wrists from repeated punching against hard, live opponents. Compare the two alignments by rolling a fist and placing each version against a wall. Then push through with all your weight. This simple experiment shows instantly which version provides more stability. Feel the wobble in the Eastern method? You do not want that.
Gun-sighting has nothing to do with how the body works. You don't need to sight down the hands to reach forward and pick up a pencil. Kinesthetic perception takes care of that. Precision punching is gained through drilling, not sighting down an imaginary barrel. Such notions will hamstring progress.
That's it. Now that you can roll a proper fist, let's throw some leather.
Here are the weapons shown with proper execution. I suggest working each in isolation rounds before using them in combinations (see Combinations).CHAPTER 2
Straight boxing arsenal
The king of weapons is addressed first.
Step forward while firing the punch directly from your lead-ready position.
Rotate the fist to palm down position upon impact.
Time the impact to coincide with the exact moment your lead foot plants with the step you take for maximum power.
At the end of the jab, your lead shoulder will be hunched high to protect your lead jaw line from incoming attacks.
Return the jab along the same path - no deviation.
Cross / rear straight
This is primarily a follow-up strike that is seldom used as a lead. Many fighters consider this their Sunday punch.
To execute, take a step forward with the lead foot while turning your torso so the rear shoulder points at the target.
Fire the punch straight from its guard position rotating the fist palm down upon impact.
Time the step and punch impact as in the previous technique.
At the end of the punch, your lead fist pulls to your lead cheek for cover, and the rear shoulder is hunched over your rear jaw line.
Return the punch along the same path.
To fire a proper hook, you must keep a 90 degree bend in your striking arm. Lock that elbow and do not allow it to extend upon impact.
The punch will travel in a horizontal plane with the palm facing down for tight (inside) hooks and palm facing you for medium and long-range hooks.
The punch is best executed by using the "door slamming" method.
Think of your rear foot as a door hinge and the upper body as the door itself.
Practice slamming the door without firing the hook to get used to the ballistic feel of the entire body that is needed for a powerful punch.
Once the door slamming coordination has been acquired, add the hook. Concentrate on a horizontal path and maintaining a 90-degree arm angle.
Upon impact, return the lead arm to cover position.
Use the same considerations as the lead hook, but move the door hinge to your lead foot.
Keep in mind that rear hooks should be used in combinations and preferably as the third link because they are fairly easy to read and counterpunch.
The 90-degree angle rule applies to uppercuts, too. Any extension of the arm is wasted movement and will pull you out of position against a sharp puncher.
To execute, dip approximately 8-10 inches with the lead knee and shoulder while angling your lead shoulder toward the opponent.
At the same time drop your lead hand approximately six inches from shoulder level and turn your palm toward you.
Stand up through the punch, snapping the lead hip forward and allowing your lead hand to travel no more than six inches above lead shoulder level.
Return to position immediately.
Bend at the knees to dip your stance and turn the rear shoulder toward the opponent.
To execute, follow the guidelines for the lead uppercut.
The rear hand shot from the standard boxing repertoire is rarely used, but definitely has its applications.
The punch travels in a minor looping arc over an opponent's jab (or over his cross/rear straight if his lead does not match yours).
To execute, use the body mechanics described for the cross, but as you fire the rear hand, visualize pitching a softball into the floor approximately six inches in front of your lead foot.
Your hand is palm down.
Return to position quickly because this punch opens you up as you throw it.
Body punching considerations
You can and should fire all these punches to the body except for the rear overhand.
Always lower your stance to the target level when throwing body shots. This allows you to put body mass into each shot (otherwise you are firing only arm punches) and gives you more reach than allowed when punching at a downward angle.
Keep in mind that if you stay upright while throwing body shots, you will leave your head wide open for counterpunching.CHAPTER 3
Insertion shots are strikes that are fired not as initial or primary blows but happen in either accidental or incidental avenues. By training them in an intentional manner, you will open up your "straight boxing" arsenal radically transforming it into an unpredictable and formidable NHB arsenal.
This is a back forearm shot fired after your missed hooks.
To execute, fire a lead (or rear) hook and upon missing (or after making contact) allow the forearm to whip out at a horizontal angle while returning to position.
It is important to "whip" with the forearm and not "club."
A variant of the Louisville slugger.
You are fighting inside and to make room you merely drive the outside edge of the lead forearm up and into your opponent's jaw.
Excerpted from No Holds Barred Fighting: Savage Strikes by Mark Hatmaker, Doug Werner. Copyright © 2004 Doug Werner. Excerpted by permission of Tracks Publishing.
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