The Blueprint 12.20.12: Agony of the Feet
Posted by Patrick Mullin on 12.20.2012
Bad footwork was out in full force during the last two UFC events aired on FX this past weekend. Its part of an alarming trend that appears to be omnipresent in mixed martial arts at the moment. This week we’ll show you examples of how footwork alone failed fighters and what proper technique for movement in the octagon is. Welcome to Combat Podiatry!
Hello once again everyone and welcome back to our last Blueprint before Christmas. 2012 has been an up and down year in mixed martial arts with constant surprises and letdowns. We at 411Mania hope to have given you the best MMA coverage possible and strive to continue this example in 2013 and beyond. Following that pattern of thought part of what I strive for here in The Blueprint is to help make fans more aware of things going on in the cage that the lay person won't always pay attention to or realize the importance of as its happening.
On the 411 Ground and Pound Radio Show this weekend one of the fights we talked about was Pat Barry's brutal knockout of Shane del Rosario during TUF 16's finale. Jeffrey Harris of MMA's 3R's and various other coverage on the site chalked SDR's performance up to a cardio issue and asked if I had anything to add to it. Jeff works very hard at what he does but not having a combat sports background there are certain things he won't pick up on. What cost SDR that fight was poor footwork while holding his chin high.
The Shortest Distance between Victory and Defeat is a Straight Line - Shane del Rosario enjoyed a pretty good first round against Pat Barry. He won the striking battle with his hands and then secured a takedown and nearly had an omoplata before he gave up dominant position and the round ended. When he came out for the second round he made an absolutely stupid mistake. He walked right at Pat Barry in a straight line with his chin up. He didn't move his head or upper body. He didn't raise his guard. He didn't even throw any strikes coming forward.
Walking straight forward without anything to force your opponent to defend himself or adjust your own defense is boneheaded. You're giving your opponent a risk free shot at throwing the best strike they can at you by moving that way and Pat Barry showed what happens in that situation. He threw an overhand left that Stevie Wonder saw coming and still connected with it to badly hurt SDR and set up the finish. If Shane adjusts his movement at all, if he tucks his chin just a tad, holds his gloves a little higher, even throws a kick or a punch on the way in its very likely that strike doesn't land.
After the strike landed is where his straight line movement really cost him though. There are ways to buy time and recover after being hurt. The best is to clinch with the opponent and stall against the cage. Your legs aren't sturdy at that point so movement is option B, but that movement needs to be lateral. When Shane del Rosario was hit with that left hand his reaction while hurt was to move in a straight line backwards right into the cage where he became a sitting duck. With nowhere for Shane to run, Barry took full advantage and wound up with a pair of crushing right hands that finished the job and got him the win.
Let the Rear Take the Lead - One of the worst habits I tend to see from fighters is that they're thrown off balance constantly. One of the reasons is because they don't know how to advance position when attacking. When they move toward an opponent who has been hurt they make two big mistakes. One of them is that they always move their front foot forward and wind up making a skipping motion that keeps them off balance and unable to make sudden cuts if their opponent throws back at them. Now even if they get hit and dropped without being hurt at that point because of poor balance, they've not only given their opponent ample recovery time but also if they happen to be facing a ground specialist have taken the fight to the opponent's advantage.
The other big mistake I see when fighters advance is that they do so by moving one foot in front of the other constantly. They take walking paces where they end up crossed up and not only off balance, but they also present a completely square target making themselves easy prey to be hit in return. The biggest example of a guy who constantly did this was Chuck Liddell. Now Liddell was fortunate in that he fought in an era of MMA where combatants were largely unskilled on their feet. Liddell was so complacent in this movement because no one was good enough to take advantage of it.
Once Liddell faced a better class of stand up fighters we saw him knocked down and hurt more often, and eventually getting knocked out and beaten regularly. The easiest pick up of this mistake is his fight with Rich Franklin. Liddell was clearly on the slide at this point but had trained hard and stopped drinking and abusing himself(allegedly) and didn't look bad during the short duration of this fight. However in the penultimate moment Liddell again was advancing rapidly toward Franklin and crossed his feet up and propelled himself into a jab that knocked him out.
Its actually very similar to how Manny Pacquiao was recently knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez. He propelled himself into a powerful shot he never saw and wound up face down. This is a tendency of a lot of Freddie Roach trained fighters and something for the mixed martial artists who seek Roach's aid to improve their boxing to keep in mind. I've always been an advocate of the rear foot moving first and the front foot following its lead. Generally the rear foot is where the majority of your weight is situated and so that should be the guide of movement.
King Mo is proof that generally anyone can accomplish learning how to move properly. Mo comes from a wrestling background where certain principles of footwork in that sport are extremely detrimental to combat sports where striking comes into play. Mo actually possesses some of the best footwork in MMA and its why he's not only usually in position to land a devastating strike, but also makes himself more difficult to hit. The same can be said of Daniel Cormier who has also been working hard to master upper body movement to supplement it.
Feet First - Speaking of wrestlers and movement they make a glaring mistake that costs them fights. When you see a wrestler load up for a big punch its usually an overhand right or left depending on if the fighter is in an orthodox(right) or southpaw(left) stance. The problem is that when they throw this punch they extend their upper body past where their lead foot is situated. By doing that you again throw yourself off balance and set yourself up to be hit with short counter shots, usually knees or uppercuts. I vividly remember seeing Roy Nelson doing this against Junior dos Santos and eating some horrific short punches and knees as a result of it.
Any good boxing or kickboxing or even karate trainer will teach someone how to stand first. Then they'll teach them how to move. Learning how to strike is pointless if you don't learn how to stand and move first. Without learning how to move you will never be balanced and if you can't control your balance the only way you'll win a fight is via dumb luck.
That'll do it for this week's edition of The Blueprint. I'd like to wish a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Happy whatever non-denominational holiday you may be celebrating and remind you to join us on Sunday for another edition of the 411 Ground and Pound Radio Show. Call in at (323) 657-0901, listen in on Blogtalk Radio, and enjoy our preview extravaganza of UFC 155: Dos Santos-Velasquez II: The Quickening!