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post #40 of (permalink) Old 05-28-2008, 05:07 PM
Outta My Head
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Sorry for the wait, Dempsey Roll. Now I'll cover the sprawl. Let me give you a basic step-by-step with a minor variation on the initial contact. The reason why the variation has to be pointed out is that one version is all well and fine for pure grappling contests, but can get you knocked out in a MMA bout. So let me go over the grappling only version first.

The Sprawl With Cowcatcher:
1) When your opponent changes levels, lower your level to match theirs.
2) While lowering your level bring your lead hand down to your lead knee (palm up), and your rear hand to your rear knee (palm up or down does not matter). This will allow you to sink at least 1 underhook with your lead hand if your opponent is shooting a single (usually to your lead leg) and has your other hand ready to shoot in for the other underhook if they shoot a double.
3) While the opponent makes contact with you, shoot your hips and your feet back. Many times new guys make the mistake of shooting one back, but not the other. If you shoot your hips back and not your feet, your legs will be right there for your opponent to suck in and they will drive through you. If you shoot your feet back and not your hips, they will still be able to wrap a body lock up, drive and take you down. So hips and feet back at the same time.
4) At this time, gravity will be working for you. Your opponent's body will still be moving forward under you and your body will be coming down into a prone position on top of them. While coming down, shoot your hips down toward the ground and let your feet land down insteps first. It should feel like your driving their head into the ground with your groin. Make sure to keep your insteps to the ground when you land as it will allow your body to slide forward with their drive. If you land toes down, your toes will dig into the mat, lifting your center of gravity as they drive. This will allow them to suck you into a takedown.
5) Your finished position should be you on top, your hips/groin arched through the back of your opponent's neck head (no higher than the back of their shoulders), insteps down, with both underhooks in the classic "cowcatcher" position. From there fight for separation, turn your opponent, or float over to their side or back.

That is your classic sprawl with cowcatcher/double underhooks. It is the go-to technique when someone shoots in pure grappling competition. However, when you are in a MMA setting where striking is allowed dropping your hands in preparation for underhooks is a bad, bad idea. If your opponent notices or anticipates it, you can get laid out. They can simply drop levels (baiting you to drop your hands) and then explode out from the crouching position with a strike. For a prime example of this, see Randleman vs CroCop I. Obviously this is a place you don't want to end at.

To allow for that same level of control with contact on a sprawl, you would want to use a "bull-post" or "forearm crash" version of the sprawl. In fact, Forrest Griffin covered the forearm crash when he went over the sprawl on the MMA episode of Human Weapon. Here is how these work.

The Sprawl With Bull Post:
1) When your opponent changes levels to shoot, lower yours to match.
2) While the come forward, reach out and post both your hands on the opponent's shoulders, head or combination of the two.
3) As the opponent drives forward, use your arms to drive their upper body down and to the side of you while you sprawl.

From that point, everything is the same as the Sprawl above. I've seen Eugene Jackson and Chuck Liddell use this a few times, usually followed up with an uppercut or hook to the head. With this, you have to make sure that you lower your level to match theirs or your opponent's drive will crash right through your posting arms. Also, lower your chin and head while shrugging your shoulders up so that they act like a barrier to keep your head protected.

The Sprawl with Forearm Crash:
1) When your opponent changes levels to shoot, lower yours to match.
2) While the opponent comes forward, drop your elbows and forearms so that they are between you and your opponent. Some folks like this as this does not bring them completely out of their normal standing gaurd.
3) When your opponent crashes into your forearms, go into your sprawl and shoot your hips and feet back.
4) While coming down into contact with the mat, use your elbows and forearms to drive your opponent down underneath you, or to the side. Drive them face first into the mat.

From that point, finish the sprawl like you would normally. This is also a good one to use for MMA, as it doesn't take you completely out of gaurd while you are standing. The drawback to it is you don't have the same control as the cowcatcher, neither do you have the same distance afforded to you as the bull post. The upside is that you are less likely to be caught off gaurd and knocked out.

Notice how the rules of changing levels and re-directing your opponent's force apply to the sprawl? In fact, watching Lyoto Machida shut down Tito's shots in the last UFC event was a beautiful demonstration of controlling range, matching level and re-directing your opponent when they try to shoot. It was all a lot of basic stuff executed perfectly. When you have a mastery of the basic principles and techniques, you end up making things look easy and everything else becomes more effective because of that.

I hope this helps.

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