MMA Techniques: Fighting from the Ground

A fighter is very vulnerable when they are on the ground and their opponent is still standing. They must therefore get back on to their feet as quickly as possible, but also ensure that when on the ground their opponent does not take control of their legs.

Shell

The shell position is created by lying on the back and bringing the elbows and knees together and the hands up to the face. This creates a line of defence down both sides of the body and helps protect against strikes or kicks to the body or face. From this position it is also possible to apply upward kicks, ideally with the sole of the foot directly towards the opponent.

The fighter in the shell position is capable defending and Blocking punches with their hands and also defending and blocking kicks mainly with the shin. The fighter in the shell position can also kick. Although the shell is a defensive position, it is still possible for an attacking kick to be applied.

STOMP KICK TO THE UPPER KNEE

When the fighter is in the shell position defending. He can deliver counter-attacks with a stomp kick to just above the opponent’s knee to hyperextend it. Very painful and often a fight finisher due to TKO.

KICK TO THE HEAD

This can be done whenever the opponent closes the gap with the fighter on the ground. The fighter waits for the opponent’s head to come closer and prepares for the move by placing their elbows on the ground.

The fighter uses their elbows to push off the ground while thrusting their leg upwards to make contact with their opponent’s head with their heel. This move can result in a knockout.

HEEL KICK

While on the floor, the fighter places one leg on the ground pushing on this leg and rolling back on to their shoulders. The fighter raises their hips off the ground.

The fighter’s other leg swings towards their head for extra momentum, then comes down to place a strike with the heel on the opponent’s thigh. If the opponents head is low enough the kick can also be applied there.

PUSH KICK

This is a good technique to use if the opponent has gained control of the feet, which is a very vulnerable position for the fighter to be in.

  • The fighter pulls their leg away.
  • The fighter thrusts their leg into the midsection of their opponent using a push kick.

De La Riva

MMA Techniques, fighting from the ground

Another option to use when on the ground is the De La Riva. This involves wrapping one leg around the opponent’s lead leg and pressing the foot of the other leg into their midsection. Further stability is gained by gripping the heel of the opponent’s lead foot with the hand. The benefits for the fighter are increased control over their opponent and management of distance between them.

  • Can be used when the opponent has the advantage because they are controlling the fighter’s legs.
  • The fighter escapes the grip.
  • The fighter presses one foot into the opponent’s midsection while the other leg wraps around the outside of their lead leg, and the fighter’s right hand is placed on the opponent’s lead leg.
  • The fighter in the De La Riva position now has more control over the opponent.

Kicking while in the De La Riva

If when in the De La Riva position the opponent tries to attack with a punch, the foot placed in the midsection can be used to keep them away or to place a kick. How it works:

  • When the opponent is secured in the De La Riva postion and attempts an overhand throw.
  • The fighter moves their foot from the opponent’s midsection and chambers their leg.
  • The opponent leans forwards to deliver the punch as the fighter counter-attacks with a kick to their face. During the move the fighter maintains the guard to their face in case the punch makes it through.

De La Riva sweep

If the captured opponent moves forwards to throw an overhand, the fighter can curl up into a half shell to protect themselves from the blow and use the momentum of the opponent to bring them to the ground. The fighter also takes control of the opponent’s head to maximise the effect. Steps:

  • The fighter is in the De La Riva position.
  • The opponent pulls the fighter’s foot away from their midsection. The opponent’s other hand is preparing for an overhand throw.
  • The fighter’s displaced leg curls into their body to protect against the attack. The elbow on the same side is brought to the knee to form the half shell, but with the hand raised to catch the strike.
  • The opponent’s overhand passes the fighter and their momentum brings them down. The fighter grabs the back of the opponent’s head and keeps their leg wrapped around the opponent’s.
  • The leg wrapped around the opponent’s is used to pull them towards the ground, while the foot of the other leg is placed on their hip.
  • The opponent’s body is pushed over and to the side of the fighter’s.
  • The grip on the opponents head is maintained throughout.
  • The fighter uses this grip to pull themselves up on to their knees.
  • The fighter punches the opponent.

De La Riva to closed guard

The fighter performing a De La Riva can initially protec themselves from an overhand throw by curling up into the shell. The fighter can then counter-attack by controlling the opponent’s head and either applying a sweep if there is enough momentum, or a full guard.

  • The opponent pulls the fighter’s foot away from their midsection with one hand and throws an overhand with the other.
  • The fighter’s displaced leg curls into their body to protect against the attack. The elbow on the same side is brought to the knee to form the half shell, but with their hand raised to catch the strike.
  • The opponent’s overhand passes the fighter and their momentum brings them down. The fighter grabs the back of the opponent’s head and keeps their leg wrapped around the opponent’s.
  • If there is not enough momentum to sweep the opponent, the fighter holds them in a closed guard where the fighter’s head is controlled and the legs are gripped around their torso.

De La Riva to guard

Transition between the De La Riva and the goes guard is straightforward. However, it should only be held for a short period as it is relatively easy to defend against by the opponent either whipping away the foot placed on their hip or stepping backwards with the back leg. When used correctly, it is an important lead into sweeping an opponent. Steps:

  • The opponent is held in the close guard.
  • The fighter’s foot is placed on the hip of the opponent’s leading leg, with the heel of the same leg being held by the fighter’s hand. The fighter’s other foot hooks the back of the knee of the opponent’s other leg.
  • A successful sweep is accomplished by the fighter completing three simultaneous moves: pushing the opponent back with the foot placed on the hip; collapsing the knee of the opponent’s back leg by pulling the knee with the foot; and pulling the opponent’s heel with the hand.
  • The opponent falls backwards and is forced to the ground.
  • The fighter takes the opportunity to get back on to their feet.

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