Grappling Techniques – Mastering the Throws that Define MMA

March 16, 2023
From: Spartacus
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In MMA, grappling techniques are crucial for taking down an opponent, controlling them on the ground, and submitting them through various holds and locks. There are several types of grappling techniques used in martial arts and MMA. In this article, we will be looking in depth at the grappling technique of Throws.

What are Throws in MMA?

Throws are grappling techniques used in martial arts and combat sports to lift an opponent off the ground and throw them to the ground or another location, such as into a wall or onto a mat. Throws can be used as a form of offence, defence, or to gain a positional advantage. They require a combination of strength, timing, and technique to execute effectively and can be a crucial component of a fighter’s arsenal in MMA or other martial arts. Throws can vary in complexity and style, ranging from simple trips and sweeps to more intricate techniques such as sacrifice throws or aerial throws.

Throws are an important aspect of MMA as they provide a variety of tactical advantages for fighters. Here are some reasons why throws are important in MMA:

  • Control: Throws can be used to control the pace of the fight and gain an advantageous position. By taking an opponent to the ground with a throw, a fighter can control their opponent’s movements and limit their options for offence.
  • Takedowns: Throws can be used as a takedown technique to bring the fight to the ground. Once on the ground, a fighter can use their grappling skills to attempt submissions or maintain control.
  • Offence: Throws can be used as an offensive technique to surprise an opponent and create opportunities for strikes or submissions. A well-executed throw can leave an opponent vulnerable and allow a fighter to capitalise on their opponent’s weakness.
  • Defence: Throws can be used defensively to avoid an opponent’s strikes or takedown attempts. By using a throw to evade an opponent’s attack, a fighter can quickly change the momentum of the fight and regain control.
  • Crowd Appeal: Throws can be visually impressive and crowd-pleasing, making them an effective tool for building a fighter’s reputation and popularity.

Types of Throws in MMA

There are several types of throws that are commonly used in MMA. Here are some of the most common types of throws:

  • Hip Throws: Hip throws are one of the most common types of throws used in MMA. They involve using the hip to lift the opponent and throw them over the hip. Some examples of hip throws include the O Goshi, Harai Goshi, and Uki Goshi.
  • Shoulder Throws: Shoulder throws involve using the shoulder to lift the opponent and throw them over the shoulder. Some examples of shoulder throws include the Seoi Nage, Kata Guruma, and Morote Seoi Nage.
  • Sacrifice Throws: Sacrifice throws involve sacrificing your own balance to throw your opponent to the ground. Some examples of sacrifice throws include the Tomoe Nage, Sumi Gaeshi, and Yoko Tomoe Nage.
  • Foot Sweeps: Foot sweeps involve using your foot to sweep the opponent’s foot out from under them and take them to the ground. Some examples of foot sweeps include the Deashi Harai, Kosoto Gari, and Osoto Gari.
  • Aerial Throws: Aerial throws involve jumping or flying through the air to throw your opponent to the ground. Some examples of aerial throws include the Flying Armbar, Flying Triangle, and Flying Scissor Takedown.
  • Counter Throws: Counter throws involve using an opponent’s attempted throw against them. If an opponent attempts a throw and fails, a fighter can use the opportunity to counter with a throw of their own.

Hip Throws

Hip throws involve using the hip to lift an opponent off the ground and throw them over the hip. The technique of hip throws requires good timing, positioning, and leverage to execute effectively.

 

There are several different hip throws, each with its own unique technique and variations. Here are some examples of hip throws:

O Goshi: The O Goshi (major hip throw) involves stepping in close to the opponent and using the hip to lift and throw them over the hip. The throw can be executed with the arm around the opponent’s waist or by grabbing their belt.

 

Harai Goshi: The Harai Goshi (sweeping hip throw) involves sweeping the opponent’s leg with your foot while using the hip to throw them over the hip. This throw can be executed from different angles and can be particularly effective against an opponent who is moving forward.

 

Uki Goshi: The Uki Goshi (floating hip throw) involves lifting the opponent up with the hip and throwing them in a circular motion. This throw can be executed by grabbing the opponent’s arm or collar and requires good timing and coordination.

 

Koshi Guruma: The Koshi Guruma (hip wheel) is a hip throw that involves lifting the opponent onto your hip and throwing them over your shoulder. This throw requires good timing and coordination to execute effectively.

 

Tsuri Goshi: The Tsuri Goshi (lifting hip throw) is a hip throw that involves lifting the opponent onto your hip and then using your hips to throw them over your shoulder.

Technique and execution of hip throws

Hip throws are an effective way to take an opponent to the ground in MMA. To execute a hip throw effectively, here is a step-by-step guide:

  • Grip: The first step in executing a hip throw is to establish a good grip on your opponent. This can be done by grabbing their wrist, collar, or belt, depending on the specific throw you want to execute.
  • Positioning: Once you have a good grip on your opponent, you need to establish a good position. This involves getting close to your opponent and positioning your body correctly.
  • Footwork: Next, you need to use your footwork to set up the throw. This may involve stepping in and turning your body to create the necessary momentum.
  • Lift: The next step is to use your hip to lift your opponent off the ground. This can be done by pivoting on your foot and using your hip to drive your opponent up and over.
  • Throw: Once your opponent is off the ground, you can execute the throw. This involves using your hips to generate momentum and throwing your opponent over your hip.
  • Control: After executing the throw, it’s important to maintain control of your opponent. You may need to transition to a different position or secure a submission hold.

Hip throws require good timing, positioning, and coordination to execute effectively. It’s important to practise these techniques with a partner and under the supervision of a qualified instructor to ensure safety and proper technique. Additionally, fighters should always be aware of the risks associated with executing throws and take necessary precautions to prevent injury.

Shoulder Throws

Shoulder throws, also known as seoi nage in Japanese, are a type of throwing technique used in various martial arts, including MMA. The basic idea behind a shoulder throw is to lift an opponent onto your back and then throw them over your shoulder while rotating your body.

Technique and execution of shoulder throws

To execute a shoulder throw, the following steps are typically involved:

  • Positioning: You need to be positioned close to your opponent, with your hips and feet properly aligned for the throw. You also need to have a strong grip on your opponent, either by grabbing their gi, neck, or wrist.
  • Lift: Next, you use your legs and hips to lift your opponent onto your back. This can be done by bending your knees and lifting with your legs while simultaneously pulling your opponent towards you.
  • Rotation: Once your opponent is lifted onto your back, you need to rotate your body to generate the necessary momentum for the throw. This involves pivoting on one foot and twisting your upper body.
  • Throw: The final step is to throw your opponent over your shoulder. This is typically done by dropping your body and rotating your hips while simultaneously pulling your opponent over your back.

There are different variations of shoulder throws that can be used in MMA, such as the standard shoulder throw (morote seoi nage), the one-arm shoulder throw (ippon seoi nage), and the jumping shoulder throw (tobi seoi nage). Shoulder throws require good timing, technique, and coordination to execute effectively, and are often used as part of a larger grappling strategy to take an opponent to the ground or gain a dominant position in a fight.

Sacrifice Throws

Sacrifice throws are a type of throwing technique used in various martial arts, including MMA. The basic idea behind a sacrifice throw is to use your own momentum and weight to take your opponent down to the ground. Sacrifice throws involve a fighter essentially sacrificing their own balance and positioning in order to take their opponent down.

 

Sacrifice throws require precise timing, positioning, and technique to execute effectively. They can be a risky technique to attempt in MMA, as they often require a fighter to give up their own positioning and balance in order to take their opponent down. However, when executed correctly, sacrifice throws can be an effective way to quickly take an opponent to the ground and gain control of a fight.

Common sacrifice throws used in MMA

Some of the common sacrifice throws used in MMA include:

Tomoe Nage: This throw involves a fighter falling backwards onto their back, while lifting their opponent up and over them using their legs.

 

Yoko Tomoe Nage: This throw is similar to the Tomoe Nage, but involves a fighter falling to the side instead of backwards.

 

Sumi Gaeshi: This throw involves a fighter pulling their opponent towards them, and then dropping to their back while simultaneously using their legs to flip their opponent over them.

 

Ura Nage: This throw involves a fighter grabbing their opponent around the waist, and then falling backwards while lifting their opponent up and over them using their hips.

 

Tawara Gaeshi: This throw involves a fighter grabbing their opponent’s arm and then dropping to the ground, using their legs to flip their opponent over them.

Technique and execution of sacrifice throws

To execute a sacrifice throw, the following steps are typically involved:

  • Set-up: To set up a sacrifice throw, a fighter will often pull their opponent in close, and wrap their arms around their opponent’s waist or upper body.
  • Weight transfer: The fighter executing the sacrifice throw then shifts their weight and momentum backwards and downwards, while pulling their opponent along with them. This can be done by quickly dropping to their knees, or even all the way down onto their back.
  • Throw: As the fighter executes the weight transfer, they use their body’s momentum and leverage to throw their opponent over them and onto the ground.

Other Throws

In addition to hip throws and sacrifice throws, there are several other types of throws that are commonly used in MMA. Some of these include:

Foot sweeps: Foot sweeps involve using your foot or leg to sweep your opponent’s legs out from under them. This can be done with a variety of techniques, including inside and outside leg sweeps, hook sweeps, and spinning sweeps.

 

Body locks: Body locks involve grabbing your opponent around the waist or upper body and using your own body weight and strength to throw them to the ground. There are several variations of body locks, including the suplex and the bear hug.

 

Head and arm throws: Head and arm throws, also known as kata guruma in judo, involve grabbing your opponent’s head and arm and using your hips to throw them to the ground.

 

Ankle picks: Ankle picks involve grabbing your opponent’s ankle and pulling it towards you, causing them to lose their balance and fall to the ground. This can be done using various techniques, including single-leg and double-leg takedowns.

 

Lateral drops: Lateral drops involve grabbing your opponent’s upper body and using your own momentum and leverage to throw them to the ground to your side. This can be done using various techniques, including the lateral drop and the fireman’s carry.

Each type of throw requires different techniques, timing, and positioning, and can be used in different situations depending on the fighter’s style and strategy. Throws can be used to take an opponent to the ground, gain a dominant position, or create an opening for strikes or submissions. Successful execution of throws requires a combination of technique, strength, and timing, and can be a key part of a fighter’s grappling arsenal in MMA.

Examples of fighters who use these throws in their style

There are many fighters in MMA who use a variety of throws as part of their grappling arsenal. Here are some examples of fighters who are known for their proficiency in specific types of throws:

Fedor Emelianenko: Fedor is a former PRIDE heavyweight champion and one of the greatest fighters of all time. He is known for his expert use of the hip throw, and has used it to devastating effect in many of his fights.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=ScS9RnQwCxE&si=EnSIkaIECMiOmarE

 

Khabib Nurmagomedov: Khabib is a retired UFC lightweight champion and one of the most dominant wrestlers in MMA history. He is known for his expert use of body locks, and has used them to take down and control many of his opponents.

 

Ronda Rousey: Ronda is a former UFC bantamweight champion and Olympic medalist in judo. She is known for her expert use of arm throws, and has used them to throw and submit many of her opponents.

 

Ben Askren: Ben is a retired MMA fighter and Olympic wrestler. He is known for his expert use of ankle picks and other wrestling-based takedowns, and has used them to take down and control many of his opponents.

 

Demian Maia: Demian is a UFC veteran and one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in MMA. He is known for his expert use of body locks and trips, and has used them to take down and submit many of his opponents.

These fighters are just a few examples of the many skilled grapplers in MMA who use a variety of throws to control and defeat their opponents.

Benefits of Using Throws in MMA

Throws can provide several tactical advantages for fighters in MMA, including:

  • Taking the fight to the ground: Throws can be used to take an opponent to the ground, which can be advantageous for a fighter who has a stronger ground game. Once on the ground, the fighter can control their opponent’s movements and position, and look for opportunities to submit or strike.
  • Creating openings for strikes: Throws can also be used to create openings for strikes. By throwing an opponent off balance, a fighter can create an opportunity to land strikes while the opponent is trying to regain their footing.
  • Tiring out the opponent: Throws require a lot of physical strength and can be physically exhausting for the opponent, especially if they are repeatedly taken down. This can tire out the opponent and make them more vulnerable to submissions or strikes.
  • Psychological advantage: Successfully executing a throw can give a fighter a psychological advantage over their opponent. It can be demoralising for the opponent to be taken down repeatedly, and can make them more hesitant to engage in grappling exchanges.
  • Controlling the pace of the fight: By using throws to take down an opponent, a fighter can control the pace of the fight and dictate the terms of engagement. This can be advantageous for a fighter who wants to slow down the pace of the fight or avoid striking exchanges.

Overall, throws can be a valuable tool for fighters in MMA, providing a range of tactical advantages that can help them control the fight and secure victory.

How to Train for Throws in MMA

Training for throws in MMA involves a combination of strength training, technical training, and sparring. Here are some key steps to take when training for throws in MMA:

  • Develop your core strength: Throws require a lot of core strength, so it’s important to incorporate exercises that target your core muscles, such as sit-ups, planks, and Russian twists, into your strength training routine.
  • Practise the basics: Start by learning the basic mechanics of each type of throw and practise them repeatedly. This includes footwork, grip, and timing. Focus on perfecting the form of each throw before adding any speed or power.
  • Drill with a partner: Drilling with a partner is a great way to practise your throws and develop your timing and coordination. Start by practising with a cooperative partner who is willing to work on technique with you, and gradually increase the intensity as you become more proficient.
  • Incorporate throws into your sparring: Once you feel comfortable with the basic mechanics of the throws, start incorporating them into your sparring sessions. This will help you develop your timing and footwork in a more dynamic and realistic setting.
  • Work on setups: Throws are most effective when they are set up properly. Work on developing combinations and setups that allow you to take advantage of your opponent’s movements and reactions.
  • Seek out expert coaching: Finally, seek out coaching from experienced trainers who can help you refine your technique and provide feedback on your progress. They can also provide you with valuable insights into how to incorporate throws into your overall MMA game plan.

Training for throws in MMA requires a lot of practice and dedication, but with consistent effort and the right coaching, you can become a skilled grappler with the ability to take down and control your opponents.

Drills and Exercises for Improving Throws in MMA

Solo drills for technique and balance

While practising with a partner is essential for developing proper technique and timing, there are also several solo drills that you can do to improve your throwing skills in MMA. Here are some solo drills that can help you improve your technique and balance:

  • Shadow throwing: This involves practising your throwing technique without a partner. Stand in front of a mirror and simulate throwing your opponent, focusing on your footwork, grip, and timing. This will help you perfect your form and develop muscle memory for each type of throw.
  • Resistance band drills: Resistance bands can be a great tool for developing explosive power and improving your balance. Attach a resistance band to a sturdy object and practice performing the movements of each throw, while maintaining your balance and stability.
  • Plyometric exercises: Plyometric exercises such as box jumps and jump squats can help you develop explosive power in your legs and improve your balance and coordination.
  • Core strengthening exercises: A strong core is essential for maintaining balance during throws. Incorporate exercises such as planks, sit-ups, and Russian twists into your training routine to strengthen your core muscles.
  • Agility drills: Agility drills such as ladder drills and cone drills can help improve your footwork and balance, making it easier to execute throws with precision and control.

Incorporating these solo drills into your training routine can help you improve your technique and balance, which will translate into more effective throws in live sparring and competition.

Partner drills for timing and control

Partner drills are an important part of training for throws in MMA, as they allow you to practise your technique and timing in a more dynamic and realistic setting. Here are some partner drills that can help you improve your timing and control:

  • Uchikomi drills: Uchikomi is a partner drill where one person repeatedly performs the entry and initial movement of a throw, while the other person provides resistance by maintaining their balance and posture. This drill is great for developing your timing and footwork for each type of throw.
  • Grip fighting drills: Grip fighting is an essential component of throws in MMA, as it allows you to establish control over your opponent’s body. Practice grip fighting drills with your partner, focusing on establishing a dominant grip and breaking your opponent’s grip.
  • Resistance drills: Resistance drills involve practising your throws against a partner who is actively resisting your takedown attempts. This can help you develop your strength and power, as well as your ability to maintain control over your opponent during the throw.
  • Live sparring: Finally, live sparring is the most important drill for developing your timing and control in MMA. Practice executing your throws against a live opponent who is actively trying to defend against your takedowns. This will help you develop your ability to read your opponent’s movements and adjust your technique accordingly.

By incorporating these partner drills into your training routine, you can improve your timing and control in throws, which will make you a more effective grappler in MMA.

Strength and Conditioning Exercises for Power and Explosiveness

To execute throws with power and explosiveness, you need to develop your strength and conditioning. Here are some exercises that can help you develop the strength and explosiveness necessary for effective throws in MMA:

  • Olympic lifts: Olympic lifts such as the clean and jerk and the snatch are excellent exercises for developing power and explosiveness. These exercises involve lifting a barbell from the ground to overhead in one explosive movement, which mimics the explosive movement of a throw.
  • Squats: Squats are one of the most effective exercises for developing lower body strength and power. Incorporate barbell squats, front squats, and single-leg squats into your training routine to develop explosive power in your legs.
  • Deadlifts: Deadlifts are another exercise that can help you develop lower body strength and power. This exercise involves lifting a barbell from the ground to a standing position, which mimics the movement of a throw.
  • Plyometrics: Plyometric exercises such as box jumps, jump squats, and medicine ball throws can help you develop explosive power in your legs and hips, which are essential for executing throws with power and speed.
  • Kettlebell swings: Kettlebell swings are a great exercise for developing explosive power in your hips, which is essential for executing throws with speed and control.
  • Sled pushes/pulls: Sled pushes and pulls are great exercises for developing overall body strength and power. These exercises involve pushing or pulling a weighted sled across a distance, which can help you develop the explosiveness necessary for effective throws in MMA.

Training tips for mastering throws in MMA

Here are some training tips that can help you master throws in MMA:

  • Focus on technique: Proper technique is essential for executing throws with speed and control. Spend time practising the fundamentals of each type of throw, and focus on perfecting your technique before moving on to more advanced techniques.
  • Train with a variety of partners: Training with partners of different sizes and skill levels can help you develop your timing and adapt to different body types. Practise your throws against partners who are smaller, larger, faster, and slower than you, to develop a well-rounded skill set.
  • Incorporate throws into live sparring: Incorporating throws into live sparring is the best way to develop your timing and control in a realistic setting. Practice executing your throws against live opponents who are actively trying to defend against your takedowns.
  • Work on your footwork: Footwork is an essential component of throws in MMA. Spend time practising your footwork, and focus on developing your ability to move quickly and explosively in all directions.
  • Develop your grip strength: Grip strength is essential for establishing control over your opponent’s body. Incorporate grip strengthening exercises into your training routine, such as deadlifts, pull-ups, and farmer’s walks.
  • Train for explosiveness: Throws in MMA require explosive power and speed. Incorporate explosive training exercises such as plyometrics, Olympic lifts, and kettlebell swings into your training routine to develop the explosiveness necessary for effective throws.
  • Be patient: Mastering throws in MMA takes time and practice. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Focus on improving your technique and developing your strength and explosiveness over time, and the results will come.

Throws are a critical component of a well-rounded MMA fighter’s arsenal. They require technique, timing, strength, and explosiveness to execute effectively. To become proficient at throws, it is essential to incorporate a variety of training techniques and exercises into your routine.

Start by focusing on developing your technique, and gradually increase your strength and explosiveness through strength and conditioning exercises. Train with a variety of partners and incorporate throws into live sparring to develop your timing and control.

In addition, consider attending specialised grappling and wrestling classes to learn from experienced coaches and trainers. Joining a wrestling or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym can also provide you with access to sparring partners and specialised training equipment.

Finally, be patient and persistent in your training. Mastering throws in MMA takes time and practice, but with dedication and hard work, you can develop the skills and techniques necessary to become a proficient thrower in MMA.

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