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MMA Striking Techniques for Beginners

Updated on February 25, 2014

What you will need

Boxing or MMA Gloves
$20 to $40
Heavy Bag (optional)
Space to hang bag or stand
$100 +
Focus Mitts/Thai Pads
Partner to train with
$30 to $80
Floor space
$150 +
Jump Rope (optional)
$5 to $20

3 Categories of Training

In MMA training there are three basic aspects to train 1. Striking, 2.Grappling and 3. Clinch. These article will be categorized based on these areas.

1. Striking: Combinations of punches, kicks, elbows and knees.

2. Grappling: Wrestling/Jiu-Jitsu consisting of submission holds (joint manipulation/chokes) and positions to set up striking.

3. Clinch: A combination of categories 1 and 2, grappling while standing or pressed up against the cage.


Punches and Elbows

There are _ basic punches to learn when beginning your striking training.

1. Jab: Jabs are done with your leading hand, and your back hand should always be guarding your face right by your chin/ear. In order to do a proper jab, extend your fist almost fully, and pull it back to your face as fast as possible in order to defend effectively. Jabs should make up about 70% of your total strikes. Use them to set up power shots and combinations.

Great Jab Tutorial

2. Cross: The cross is a power punch from the back hand. Your fist should extend almost fully while you rotate your hips, meanwhile your lead hand should be covering your face. Be sure to rotate your hips as the cross is in motion.

Comprehensive Cross Tutorial

3. Hook: The hook is a close range punch. In order to land a hook you should be sure that you are close to your target. Most of the power in a hook comes from hip rotation. First, place your arm at a 90 degree angle and hold it stiff. Then rotate your hips and connect. This is difficult to describe but is best shown through video. This punch can be thrown from either the lead or back hand, and can connect with either the head or body.

Pro Boxer Showing How to Hook

4. Uppercut: This is a very powerful punch which you've probably seen in movies. It comes from below and lands right under the chin. Landing this one will result in significant damage to your opponent.

The Proper Uppercut

5. Elbows: The elbow is thrown exactly like a hook, except you connect with the blade of your elbow. This is one of the most powerful strikes and should be used with caution as it can do serious damage. To add power to your elbow, hold the back of the opponents head with the none striking hand when connecting.

Anderson Silva Teaches Elbows


These punches should be used in conjunction with one another in a fluid fashion. Typically you should alternate between arms, for example, left jab, right cross, left hook, but this is not a set rule. If you are practicing using punching mitts with a partner, try out these combinations.

1. L Jab, R Cross

2. L Jab, R Cross, L Hook

3. L Jab, R Cross, L Hook, R Hook

4.L Jab, L Jab, R Elbow.

5. L Jab, R uppercut, L Jab

6. R Cross, L Hook, R Cross

Feel free to experiment and see what feels right.

Finally, try to mimic a professional fighters stance but do what feels comfortable for you. And be sure to breath out sharply when you connect a strike, and take deep breaths between combinations.

Focus Mitt Drills for Combinations

Cheapest Mitts on the Market

Leg Strikes

Effectively transitioning from punches to leg strikes (Knees and Kicks) is critical to developing complete striking skills. In general, the back leg, like the back hand, generates more power than the lead.

1. Kicks:In order to throw a powerful kick you must remember to 1. Turn over your hips and 2. Connect with the shin NOT the foot. Bones in the foot break very easily, and connecting with your shin can generate much more power. There are many different kinds of kicks, front kicks, round house kicks, leg kicks, head kicks etc. In my opinion these are more difficult than punches, so use them with caution as they can cause you to lose your balance.

Bas Rutten Teaches Kicks

2. Knees: Knees are highly effective when following punches, or in the clinch position. Remember to keep your hips forward and generate forward momentum (not just upwards) with your knee strikes.

Frank Shamrock Knee Tutorial


What is the Clinch?

Clinch work involves controlling your opponent's posture so that you can either a) take down your opponent and engage in grappling, or b) land powerful short-range strikes.

Basic tips for the clinch:

1. Practice both holding and escaping the clinch.

2. Hold your clinch grip high on the head. Your hand should not be around the persons neck, but high on the head which will allow for greater control.

3. Set up the clinch with strikes such as jabs and crosses.

4. Once in the clinch, some effective strikes are knees, uppercuts and hooks. Jabs and crosses are typically not useful in the clinch.

UFC Ref Teaches Clinch Positioning

Clinch Striking Tutorial

If you enjoyed reading this article, check out my beginners grappling for MMA Hub


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    Post Comment
    • ianjames25 lm profile image

      Ian Tamondong 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Great in-depth presentation. A very effective strike has been the knee-shin kick which was taught in every jeet-kune do school. Of course, this is known as leg kicks in mma.

      This is one of the basic strikes taught in jkd; and as they say,

      "Mike Tyson without legs can't hurt you."

    • MMAbro profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks, glad you found it useful! I'm working on another article focused on grappling which is coming soon!

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 

      6 years ago from California, United States of America

      Very good, sound and thorough information here on MMA striking and also some good strategy covered. Thanks for sharing.


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