As you can see, just standing and trying to block doesn't work all that well. But neither does just backing out of range.
Yes, if you backpeddel, you may escape some blows. But ultimately, you're either being forced backwards or end up in the same situation as before your opponent had done anything. Optimally, you want to continuously advance your position.
And, as you seem to know, the best way to do that is to work angles. So, let's analize some basic strikes and how they are best evaded.
There are essentially three types of strikes. Those that are linear and move forward (jab, cross, frontkick); there are are those, which are nonlinear and move on a horizontal plane (hooks, backhands, roundhouse kicks); and those, which both move forward and curve (uppercuts, overhands). Everything falls into one of these three categories, including techniques that have not been listed here.
Jabs and Cross Punches
- These are linear strikes. Because they move towards you in a straight line, you can most easily evade them by placing yourself off of that line. So, if your opponent throws a jab at your face, stepping off to the side can rend favorable results. The same goes for the cross punch.
But there remains a question: does it matter which side you step to? Yes, yes it does. If you step to the inside to evade a straight punch, while you've dodged one blow, you also position yourself in reach of your opponent's opposite hand. Does this mean that stepping to the inside is not a viable option? Of course not. However, if you don't counter attack immediately, doing this will probably get you hit. On the other hand, by stepping to the outside of your opponent's straight punch, you place yourself where he cannot properly strike you. That is, unless he first takes the time to reposition himself. Consequently, this type of evasion will leave you plenty of time to deliver a counter attack.
Also, it is a feasible idea to evade an attack by leaning rather than stepping. The idea is the same, though. You are placing the target beside the line of attack. It is important, however, to do so only by a small margin. Otherwise, you'll be off balance and vulnerable to follow up strikes.
As you become more comfortable doing this, you'll be able to evade diagonally as well, creating a different set of options for counter attacks.
- Another option for evading straight punches is to change levels. Put simply, if someone is aiming at your head, drop into a crouch. If your timing is correct, your will be below the blow and in position to retaliate.
Hook Punches, Backhands, and Roundhouse Kicks
- Aside from blocking and retreating, the only way to defend against hook punches and backhands is a level change. Drop below the strike, and you'll be in position to strike back or shoot for a takedown.
- For roundhouse kicks aimed at the legs, sometimes stepping backwards is the best choice. If it is aimed above the waist, however, appropriate sidestepping can greatly mitigate the power of the blow. So, as a roundhouse comes towards you, step sideways or diagonally forward. In a lateral sense, you should be stepping away from the kick. Make no mistake, though, this footwork should be used alongside a block. It cannot replace blocking, however, it will allow you to advance against an oncoming roundhouse with relative impunity.
Uppercuts and Overhands
- Similar to straight punches, you should seek to evade laterally and to the outside. However, there is a key difference between evading an uppercut and an overhand. That difference is the range, at which each punch can be thrown. An uppercut is short ranged strike, and is best evaded with leaning and shifting. The same cannot necessarily be said about the overhand.
- The overhand is a punch, which moves forward and diagonally downward simultaneously. It is a very sound assumption to say that it will be thrown exclusively at your face. Consequently, changing levels and leaning to the outside of the punch will guarantee evasion. And, as is the pattern with a good dodge, you will have a window of opportunity in which your opponent is at the mercy of your counter attack.
In conclusion, I would like to make three final notes. One is that you should seek to counter ASAP and simultaneous to your defense (be it a dodge or block) as often as possible. This will decrease your chances of being hit, as you'll be on the offensive. Also, blocking/parrying is good, evasions are good, but utilizing them in tandem is best. And finally, if you're training standup for MMA, be careful when leaning to evade. You can definitely get away with it, as long as you don't overuse that technique. However, sometimes when people duck and lean in MMA, they pay for it with a kick/knee to the face.
Anyways, good luck.
Highly opinionated but out of touch with the current MMA scene.
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