Three Head Movement Drills for MMA Boxing and Kickboxing

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For many fighters competing in combat sports, head movement is one of the most important things to practice for standup fighting. Sports like Boxing, Kickboxing, and MMA have a high volume of strikes thrown at the head, so it is very important to learn how to avoid punches. While blocking and fading are effective, being able to slip punches and move around your opponents strikes can improve your game overall. Great head movement will help you to avoid being struck and can help you to slip those knockout shots. Once you take off the MMA Head Gear you have to rely  on your head movement to avoid those shots.

The Power of Head Movement

anderson silva - head movement drills for mmaIn a fight, head movement can be used to avoid damage and also help you counter attack. If you’ve ever seen a fighter slip a jab and then fire back with their own shots, you have an idea of the importance of head movement. In many situations head movement is crucial, like if you’re back is up against the cage and you’re trying to avoid punches. Also a great way to counter a taller striker or someone with longer reach is through head movement and counter attacking. Being able to slip a punch and counter can help you to wear your opponent out and take up upper hand.

Head movement is something you should practice a lot if you are into any combat or striking sport. Martial Arts, Boxing, and other strikers will benefit tremendously in practice and in sport from head movement practice. Not only will you help avoid damage, but you can slip a knockout punch and possibly avoid a loss through head movement. If you want to avoid cuts and bruises to your face, keeping your hands up might not be enough. Through head movement you can accomplish a more solid defense and working on your counter attacking.

Head Movement Drills for MMA

When practice head movement for MMA you should use a few different methods of practice which will help you develop different types of skills in different situations. Switching up your drills will not only keep your skills sharp but it will help you to develop new skills. Since MMA has a larger variety of strikes, it is important to be able to adjust your head movement to these situations. While regular boxing head movement drills will build a great foundation, mixing in a variety of techniques that will prepare your for take downs, elbows, knees, and other things MMA will throw at you.

Shadow Sparring Head Movement

One of the very easy ways to practice literal head movement for fight is to practice in a controlled environment. With a partner, put on padding and use a mouth guard as needed and practice a lighter sparring session. Start with one person being a designated striker and throw a variety of punches lightly at your partner. The idea is to slow down a fighting situation and give the person an opportunity to react to the punches and practice proper technique. By slowing down the punches you are able to develop the fundamental movements for when the punches get thrown faster. It is almost hard to master anything in martial arts by starting out going full speed. Your body needs time to learn new patterns of movement so it can retain the information and you turn it into muscle memory.

Try this drill out and speed it up or increase the intensity as you become more comfortable reacting to punches. Have your partner(the person punching) check things like your stance, hands, and posture. It is easy to get focused on moving your head and lost the rest of your training.

Rope Slip Bob and Weave Drill

A very popular drill borrowed from boxing emphasizes on bobbing and weaving. Using a slip rope or any kind of line you can run about shoulder level will do. It pretty simple to set up especially if you have a gym or a workout space. In this drill you should start out in a good fighting stance for MMA, keeping one should in front, your feet pointed forward, and your hands up. Duck under the rope moving to the other side, the bob down and weave back. You can practice this drill standing still and then ad movement when slipping the rope. Practice using a good stance and proper posture when doing this. It is important to have a good posture when slipping a punch in a real fight. If you hunch or bend over you can be really susceptible to uppercuts, knees, etc.

Try moving backwards and forwards with the slip rope and add in striking. Punches, elbows, knees, and even kicks should be practiced with your head movement drills. Why not practice the way you’re gonna play?

 Tennis Ball Head Movement Drills for MMA

One of my personal favorite drills for head movement is practicing with a tennis ball. There are several ways to set this up. Nailing a fishing line to the ceiling with a tennis ball hanging down in your office. Duct Taping a rope or tether to a tennis ball and mounting it from the ceiling of your garage or gym. It is a very cheap tool to set up with many benefits. You can practice your striking, timing, as well as head movement with the tennis ball. A great drill is to try to keep the tennis ball from swing past you with punches and elbows and time a slip when the ball is swinging back at you. This will help you develop your reflex and timing and can be applied directly to a sparring situation.

It is very important to practice this drill from a great stance and try to maintain your posture. You don’t want to create bad habits like dropping your hand and sloppy footwork when you are practicing head movement. If you try to maintain a solid foundation you will be able to improve your overall game.

Head movement can keep you from getting cut, bruised, and even knocked out. Practicing drills that will help you slip punches will increase your entire fight game. You will find you are more comfortable avoiding other attacks like elbows, kicks, and even take downs. Head movement can even help you be more effective with your take downs. Being able to slip a punch or duck under and the go for a single or double leg will help you improve your take down abilities.

There are a lot of things to cover when you want to learn MMA. A lot of these drills can be practiced at the gym or even away from the gym in the comfort of your own home. More and more people are finding ways to practice and even learn MMA online at home.

If you have any questions or want to share any other head movement drills for MMA please feel free to leave a comment!

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Travis Williams

Owner of I am a Certified Personal Trainer who trains Mixed Martial Arts. I review any and everything. I sometimes bet on fights!
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Owner of I am a Certified Personal Trainer who trains Mixed Martial Arts. I review any and everything. I sometimes bet on fights!