Boxing for MMA: Building the Fistic Edge in Competition & Self-Defense for Men & Women

Boxing for MMA: Building the Fistic Edge in Competition & Self-Defense for Men & Women

by Mark Hatmaker


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Boxing for MMA: Building the Fistic Edge in Competition & Self-Defense for Men & Women by Mark Hatmaker

Although dramatic head kicks and garrote-tight submissions may get most of the airplay in highlight reels, the stats show that punching combinations and knockouts reap more MMA victories than any other fighting technique. This boxing primer not only covers the basics, including stance, footwork, punches, and combinations, it takes these boxing skills and views them through an MMA prism that addresses the realities of the mixed martial arts game. While there are some must-know fistic skills for MMA, there are also more than a few boxing tactics that will get you smashed in MMA. Boxing for MMA builds on the good and tosses the bad, discussing the differences in strategy and tactics when it comes to facing likely MMA scenarios. Matchups covered include Boxing vs. Wrestling, Boxing vs. Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing vs. Muay Thai, Boxing vs. the Slugger, Dirty Boxing Inside the Clinch, and Boxing off of the Fence. All the techniques are illustrated in hundreds of action-sequence images, making this guide the go-to resource for blending boxing skills into your fighting arsenal.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781935937623
Publisher: Tracks Publishing
Publication date: 11/15/2014
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 789,777
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Mark Hatmaker is the bestselling author of the MMA Mastery series, the No Holds Barred Fighting series, Boxer's Bible of Counterpunching, Boxer's Book of Conditioning & Drilling, Boxing Mastery, No Second Chance, and She’s Tough. He has produced more than 40 instructional videos and he has extensive experience in the combat arts including boxing, wrestling, Jiu-jitsu, and Muay Thai. A highly regarded coach of professional and amateur fighters, law enforcement officials, and security personnel, he is also the founder of Extreme Self Protection, a research body that compiles, analyzes, and teaches the most effective Western combat methods known. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Read an Excerpt

Boxing for MMA

Building the Fistic Edge in Competition & Self-Defense for Men & Women

By Mark Hatmaker, Doug Werner

Tracks Publishing

Copyright © 2014 Mark Hatmaker and Doug Werner
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-935937-71-5


"You've got to walk before you can run, but you've got to stand before you can walk"

Any discussion of stance worth its salt has to use Good Athletic Position (GAP) as the default starting base. For the uninitiated, GAP is the fundamentally sound mechanical position that the body assumes when it is expected to perform optimally across a variety of stressors. These stressors can be a sudden vertical jump, a quick explosive lift, a preparation to move to either direction laterally, a transition to back-pedaling, et cetera. The key to GAP is that it is a preparation for variety — a start point for options if you will.

Task Specific Positions (TSP) begin with the end in mind. That is, the sprinter knows which direction the body must move, the batter knows the approximate plane he must swing into, the fighter setting up the spin kick knows where and how she must set the hips to facilitate the smooth pirouette. Still, even with TSP there are, usually, only minor adjustments from GAP, and this close adherence is for good reason.

GAP wisely adheres to an equal distribution of weight so that movement in any cardinal direction can be smoothly transitioned into. Too much weight over any given foot slows the transition into that direction.

GAP's equal distribution of weight not only optimizes mobility, it increases access to power. Full body commitment is already realized by having both feet underneath the hips. GAP allows for quick power access to any given side by this same equal distribution of weight. If I am running a 70/30 stance (70 percent of weight over the rear foot and 30 percent over the lead) I've got to make up that distribution when I go for lead-side strikes. In my 50/50 GAP position, a flex of the rear calf and a pelvic torque loads me for power.

OK, I've rhapsodized GAP as the way to go with stance, but I want to stretch this idea further. There is a tendency in some combat disciplines to pay a lot of attention to stance as if it were an isolated element. That is, "OK, here is our stance, got it? Looks good. Now, here is some other stuff to learn." I'm pleading a case for not thinking of stance as a stock-still element, but rather an athletic position that informs all of your movement. After all, what good is a stance if it no longer supports your offense or defense as soon as you take your first step? Fights happen on the move. MMA is not some Karate Kid crane stance adolescent fantasy.

With every step you take, with every punch you throw, with every takedown you stuff, with every move you make, in an ideal world, you should be analyzing it for GAP and making adjustments whenever and wherever possible to adhere as closely as you can manage to perfection. Always be asking questions about GAP in your training.

Are you falling into your punches rather than stepping into them? If the answer is falling, I smell an easily countered fighter and/or a weighted lead leg rife for leg-kick punishment.

Is your lateral movement overloaded when you move? A leg kick or a Lyoto Machida-style foot sweep will bring that foolishness to the mat.

Is the lead foot light? Sounds like someone is inviting the takedown.

Is the stance too high? Again, takedown city.

Any deviation from GAP acts either as a situation to be countered or information about your intentions.

Stance, although similar to the word stand, is not really about how you stand.

Stance is an athletic start point that travels with you wherever you go. Stance is every step you take. Stance is every punch you throw.

Modified Boxing Plus stance

The Boxing for MMA or Boxing Plus stance needs to be altered a bit from the standard boxing stance as the MMA competitor has more concerns than the straight boxer. Let's get to it.

• Take one natural step forward with your lead foot (the foot that you prefer to have up front when you fight).

• Feel the weight through the balls of your feet. You won't necessarily raise the heels off the mat, but you don't want to be a flat-footed fighter. Flat feet are slow feet.

• Pivot ever so slightly on the balls of your feet toward your inside — that is toward your chest side. The Boxing Plus stance is a little more forward facing than a standard boxing stance, but we don't want to be so square that we invite unobstructed front kicks.

• Give a slight bend to the knees. This leg coiling will supply us with mobility speed and preload our punches for power.

• Adhere to a 50/50 GAP weight distribution.

• Keep your feet under your hips.

Upper body positioning

• Forearms parallel. A common error (perhaps as common as drifting the hands low) is creating an inverted V, where the forearms move apart toward the elbows. This invites shots to the liver.

• Keep your rear hand on your jaw.

• Your lead hand will be held forward of your lead shoulder at the same level as your lead shoulder.

• The lead shoulder is carried a bit high to protect your jaw. Think holding a phone hands-free, pinched between your lead shoulder and chin.

Head Positioning

• Tuck your chin toward your chest. It will not rest directly on it. Simply tuck it toward the chest an inch or two.

• When you have your eyes on your opponent, there should always be a little of your brow or upper orbital socket in your sightline.


Footwork concepts

We labored footwork to death in Boxing Mastery. Here we will educate a stripped down Boxing Plus footwork approach in our focus pad drills, but there are a few broad concepts to keep in mind in all Boxing Plus movement.

Step & drag

Forget bouncing, shuffling, staying up on the toes and shoe-shining with your footwork. Such light, high-base work will work against you in MMA.

Too high in your stance and movement? You're welcoming the takedown.

Too bouncy and light on the toes? Hello, again, to the takedown.

We need you solid, but solid does not mean stiff and immobile. Far from it. To keep you in solid contact with the planet earth, we need to adhere to the step & drag protocol that is essentially ...

• Any direction you want to move, you will step the foot nearest to that direction first.

• This is immediately followed by dragging/sliding the trail foot back into GAP stance position.

To reiterate:

• If you want to advance, move the lead foot first, then drag the rear foot.

• To retreat, the rear foot steps first and then the lead foot is dragged into position.

• To move right, the right foot moves first,

• And to move left, the left foot moves first.

OK, the next little bit of footwork advice may be the most important advice in this book — so pay attention. Read it twice, or once a week, whatever it takes to sink this lesson in.

Fundamental locomotion

The best boxers of the "sweet science" variety as opposed to the slugger breed are noted for their nimble footwork to maneuver themselves into firing position and then to glide out of harm's way. As a matter of fact, the "sweet" in "sweet science" refers to "sweet" movement. That is, the apparent ability to dance, glide, shift, bob, weave, duck and pivot out of danger with apparent ease. Referring to a fighter "as sweet as sugar" (as in Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Shane Mosely) is not a comment on their table manners. A sweet fighter or a sugary fighter has got smooth, efficient footwork.

Boxing has approximately 14 distinct footwork maneuvers that the sweetest of fighters have under their belts. The fewer of these steps a boxer knows and utilizes, the less sweet he or she may be. Of these 14 steps, about half of them call for an upright posture that won't work for MMA. This is good news for the MMA fighter as that means we have halved the skill set allowing us to get to mastery in less time.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking more is better and that if you go ahead and train all 14 you'll have an advantage. Maybe, maybe not. The approximate half of the 14 steps we will ignore are movements that evolved in a sport that never had to worry about the leg kick or the takedown or a clinch that was used for anything more than tying up or to rest. We have culled the herd for good reason.

If there is only one bit of footwork/positional wisdom that you pick up from this manual it would be this:

Circle Away From The Power Side.

The lightness of MMA gloves has equalized the power in both hands to some degree (mainly by raising the power of the lead hand and doing nothing to minimize the rear hand.) But this equalization of power in no way overturns the laws of physics. The rear hand and rear leg have a greater distance to travel. Rear shots come with more wind up and muscular torque than lead punches.

With the truth of physics in mind, we should observe the following rules:

When fighting an opponent who fights with the left side forward, you would be wise to emphasize moving to your right.

When fighting an opponent who fights with the right side forward, flip this advice and move to your left. As in grappling, move toward your opponent's back whenever and wherever possible.

A little case study to bring this lesson home.

UFC 166, the bout between Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez.

These two warriors are tough as they come, willing to bang like nobody's business (as they do in this bout.) Go ahead and queue it up if you don't mind. Before you view it, here's what I want you to keep your eyes on. Mr. Sanchez moves away from Mr. Melendez's power side approximately once of his own accord. Once.

As the fight moves into its final round, freeze frame any shot where you have only the right side of Diego's face showing. It'll look good, like he's not even been in a fight. Next, freeze-frame the left side. What does that open maw of a cut tell you? That puffed cheek?

It tells you that either Melendez is slick as can be with that rear hand (and he's no slouch), or that Diego has been walking into the power side all night long. It's the latter.

I find this tragic because Diego is undeniably an excellent fighter with grit to spare, but only once in this bout does he take steps (literally, steps) to minimize the damage being done. What's all the more tragic is that his celebrated corner does not mention the obvious. By all means, watch the corner talk and tell me if you hear one bit of advice about this most basic bit of boxing knowledge — walk away from the power.

Melendez wins this fight and rightfully so, but the outcome may have been different if someone in Diego's corner had simply told him to circle right.

Keep your feet under you

This subheading should be about as obvious a piece of advice as you're ever going to hear, but the longer you play this game, the more you'll realize it is not adhered to as often as you would think.

Some of the best boxing trainers know that a good fighter is built from the feet up. As a good rule of thumb, when first evaluating a fighter/opponent, observe the feet when they are working drills (particularly pad drills). No matter how loud the bang is on the pad, if the feet are awry, you've got a fighter that can be exploited.

The Boxing Plus stance is not quite as relaxed as it looks. In an effort to keep your weight distribution as close to perfect GAP as possible, let's approach our stance and movement in the following manner.

• Imagine yourself standing in your sock feet on a freshly waxed floor.

• Pull with your lead foot as if you could slide the ball of the foot toward the heel of the rear foot.

• Pull with your rear foot aiming the ball of the foot toward the toes of the lead foot.

Of course, not being in our socks on a waxed floor there will be no movement. But feel the tension — that's what I want you to feel through every stance iteration and every step you take.

Tension ... step ... drag ... tension.

This may seem like a small tip, but if you follow this scrupulously, particularly in your focus mitt drills, this is a game changer for speed, balance and power.


3. Boxing Plus arsenal

Let's get down to the primary tools in the Boxing Plus arsenal and how to throw them with malicious intent. Make sure you use GAP — feet underneath throughout to optimize performance.

Jab to the head

• Fire the punch straight from the on-guard position turning the fist over so that on contact the palm is facing downward.

• You will rotate the hips and pivot on the balls of the feet toward your inside/chest.

• Return the punch (the negative aspect) along the same path.

Cross / rear straight to the head

• Fire the punch from the on-guard position straight toward your target, turning your fist over to face downward on contact.

• Your lead fist retracts to touch your jaw as the cross is extended.

• Pivot on the balls of your feet to turn toward your outside/back.

• The rear heel will raise slightly, but you will not neglect the slide/squeeze between your feet.

• Retract along the same path.

Lead hook to the head

• Raise your lead elbow until it is approximately horizontal with your target.

• You will have a 90-degree angle in the punching arm.

• Pivot toward your inside punching with the arm as a single fused limb. Don't extend the arm.

• The palm can be facing downward or toward you upon impact.

Rear hook to the head

• The same mechanics as the lead hook, but here we pull the lead hand to the jaw as we fire.

Lead uppercut

• Your arm is a 90-degree fused piece of bone like the hooks.

• Dip and lean your lead shoulder toward your target.

• Fire the punch from the knees first, followed by a hip extension and finally the shoulder punching the fused arm along a vertical plane.

• As with the hook, there is no need to extend the arm or exaggerate the motion. The legs and hips really are doing the job here.

The mechanics for firing uppercuts to the jaw or body are the same.

Rear uppercut

• The same mechanics as the lead uppercut. The shoulder aim is just slightly exaggerated to compensate for firing from the rear side.

Punching to the body

The mechanics for firing to the body are the same as firing to the head with one big difference. Use a bend of the knees (not a bend at the waist or you'll eat a knee) to take your punch into a horizontal plane with your target. And don't punch downhill (standing tall and punching in a downward trajectory). Punching downhill leaves your jaw completely exposed.

Jab to the body — good form

Jab to the body — not so much

Cross / rear straight to the body

Lead hook to the body

Rear hook to the body

Boxing Plus elbows

With all elbows we strike with the tip to cut, not to slam the forearm into the target. Elbows are not a power tool (although they do have power).They are precision cutting tools. Think of them as scalpels.

If you are close enough to throw an elbow, you are close enough to receive one. You must be defensively covered against an elbow when you throw your own. You can do this in one of two ways. Pick the one that feels right to you.

Cover elbow defense

• The on-guard arm is raised higher and held tighter to the head.

Palm cover elbow defense

• The on-guard hand is raised and the palm is turned to face your opponent, with the back of the hand placed on your head.

Palm cover in action next page.

Lead elbow

• With a relaxed loose hand, swing the elbow toward your target in a horizontal plane. No need to add waist torque to this.

Rear elbow

• The same mechanics.

Lead up elbow

• Use the standard elbow mechanics, but fire along the vertical plane.

Rear up elbow

• The same as the lead up elbow.

Lead scoop elbow

• The scoop elbow attempts to remove your opponent's on-guard hand on the way in.

• Throw your lead hand as if jabbing. You are actually attempting to land on the back of your opponent's hand or wrist.

• Pull/slap his hand/wrist away from his face and follow this pull/slap movement with your elbow in one simultaneous motion.

Rear scoop elbow

• The same mechanics.


4. Boxing Plus defensive vocabulary

This is a stripped down boxing defensive vocabulary, but in my opinion, it is not stripped down enough. Every defense offered below is completely viable and useful, but the vocabulary is a bit wider than needed.

Look at this way: Boxing Plus is basically six punches and four elbows. There is no need to make our defensive vocabulary more complex than the weapon coming to you.

There will be some defenses that work great for you and a little less for others. I would put each of these defenses through their paces in the focus mitt drills that we prescribe and allow your own reflexes and experience garnered in those rounds to make the decision as to what defenses to keep and what to throw away.


Excerpted from Boxing for MMA by Mark Hatmaker, Doug Werner. Copyright © 2014 Mark Hatmaker and Doug Werner. Excerpted by permission of Tracks Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

How to use the MMA Mastery manuels 7

Intro: Boxing for MMA 9

1 "You've got to walk before you can run, but you've got to stand before you can walk" 17

2 Footwork concepts 22

3 Boxing Plus arsenal 29

4 Boxing Plus defensive vocabulary 40

5 Appetite for destruction 68

6 Punch, don't paw 74

7 Pyramid build 77

8 Let's stay focused 82

9 No hitting below the belt… why not? 111

10 Sunday punch as cut-kick 118

11 Boxing Plus sprawl & get-up 127

12 Combination menus 129

13 Prescription for scrimmage drills 133

Resources 138

Index 139

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