I hate guard boxing

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by Matt Thornton, Dec 28, 2005.

  1. Matt Thornton

    Matt Thornton Amateur Fighter

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    With a passion. At least MMA has improved and is still improving.

    Guard boxing is the term I have coined to fighters who use the guard, both from the top and bottom, as the end-all position for the fight. This isn't happening so much lately, but my girlfriend got me Prides 6-9 and 11, and I'm sorry, but a lot of these fights just plain suck. And I'm a big MMA fan, with a huge appreciation for the ground game.

    In almost every one of these fights I've watched so far, the formula for the fight was almost universal. One way or another the fight ended up in the guard, and from here, the two fighters thought they were basically the Mike Tysons of ground fighting. The fighter on the bottom would grab an overhook and throw weak punches from the bottom while laying on his back and doing nothing. The fighter on the top would lay and pray, occasionally throwing some weak shots to the ribs. This would continue for 10 minutes at a time, and in well over half the fights, they had to go to an extra round, because neither of the fighters did anything.

    Luckily for us, No Gi grappling is advancing, and we're seeing more exciting ground fights. But even in Pride 6, exciting grappling was possible. It's no wonder to me now why Sakuraba got as popular as he did. He wasn't just good, he DID SOMETHING! He postured up and at least tried to pass guard. Carlos Newton and Daijiro Matsui were also two guys who were making the ground game exciting.

    But let me just make it clear. I cannot stand when guys use the guard to set up striking opportunities. The guard is a neutral position! The guy on top, you're not in an offensive position. Stop trying to GnP him from there unless it's a set-up for a guard pass. You need to get past his legs. Guy on the bottom, if you want to be offensive, your weak-ass shots are not going to do anything but annoy him. Move your freaking hips and use the legs that God gave you. Guard boxing is ineffective, it shows a complete lack of ability in grappling, and it's just plain boring. If you absolutely must stand back up, please don't stall to get the fight back on the feet. Learn some escapes. This is Mixed Martial Arts.

    The two fighters I'll use as exemplary grapplers are Sakuraba and Nogueira. These guys play the ground game the way it should be played. Sakuraba does strike from the top guard, but he does that more for distraction and to please the crowd (after all, he does crazy stuff like Mongolian chops). He passes the guard and moves. Nogueira makes the guard offensive with MOVEMENT, not those lame punches. He controls his opponent's wrists, moves his hips, climbs his guard, fakes sweeps, sets up submissions... if you're going to use your guard, use it offensively. Otherwise find a way to stand back up and either strike or get back on the ground with a better position.

    Marc Laimon made an excellent point when he said the next step in MMA is going to be passing the guard more. I hope he's right.

    Understandably, not all fighters can be the greatest grapplers. To fight like Saku or Nog takes years and years of dedicated training, combined with a great deal of natural talent. But honestly, I'd rather lose a fight knowing that I got caught by a better fighter than lay there because I'm afraid I'll lose. MMA is a combat sport, and so is grappling. Look at it any way you want, but it's a fight. If I'm a better stand-up fighter than someone, and I get taken down, I would rather be caught in an ankle lock trying to kick him away than spend 2 rounds holding him down with an overhook. If you're just laying there, you're not fighting, meaning you're stalling and avoiding the inevitable: you're outclassed. Sorry, better luck next time, train harder in the gym.

    If you need to hold him down once you gain position, by all means, do it. Pinning is an important aspect of groundfighting, and people are just going to need to deal with that. But the top guard is not about pinning, and the bottom guard is not about holding him down. It's a neutral position, just like the free-movement phase of stand up fighting, or the over-under clinch. Have you ever watched a boxing match where one fighter is gassed and outclassed, so he just spends the rest of the fight trying to grab on a clinch and avoid boxing? He deserves every boo he gets! Stalling in the guard is the grappling equivalent to that.

    There's a difference between holding someone down and hitting them as a set-up, and holding them down and hitting them as a game plan. The first is a legitimate strategy, while the latter is an indication of an utter lack of conditioning, skill, and training.

    End rant. Sorry to all of you who had to read this post. I just finished watching several hours of guard boxing and almost threw something at my T.V. while screaming "F*@#$%#@&* DO SOMETHING!!!!!!!!!!!!" I almost cried (o.k., maybe not that extreme) when I saw guys like Sakuraba and Newton who actually fought when they got on the ground.
     
  2. b0b

    b0b Banned Banned

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    The guy on top in guard IS in a good position when striking. Don't let the Gracie's propaganda brainwash you. Look what Fedor did to Nog while sitting in his guard.

    Eddie Bravo has said some of the things you have said about being on guard bottom.
     
  3. randomg1t

    randomg1t EVERYTIME CHAMPION

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    if the guy on top actually has gnp capabilities, than it is not a neutral position. this isn't grappling, its mma. if it was neutral then i guess you'd love to be under someone like fedor/sergei.

    it's neutral when there are no strikes. and why would i bother trying to pass the guard risking to get subbed when i can unload in the guys face and knock him out cold?
     
  4. Matt Thornton

    Matt Thornton Amateur Fighter

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    Well, he is on top, and has gravity on his side. But he's not pinning the guy on bottom. My point is I think that Ground and Pound should be used in conjunction with a pin of some sort.

    The best analogy I can come up with is the reason I think Leben lost to Florian (sorry to bring in TUF). Leben is a skilled fighter who can hit really hard, but he thought he could win by just "throwing bolos." Kenny put his hands up and defended. Yeah, there have been plenty of knockouts when guys have their hands up like that (refer to Bob Sapp), but a much more methodical and effective way of getting the knockout is setting your shots up and timing them so that you get past his defense.

    I feel the same way about striking in the guard. Yes, there are lots of guys out there like Sudo and Emelianenko who can get vicious knockouts while in the guard. But when you try to slug it out in the guard like that, you're still in danger of being reversed or being submitted. Because of that, you see a lot of fighters who want to strike in the guard but don't want to leave themselves open, so they turn into a human blanket, only to come out of dormancy every once in a while to throw a shot. Compare that to an actual pin, like the modified Kesa Gatame with an underhook instead of the head, or an S-Mount. From there, the top fighter can actually unload without worrying about being reversed. The possibility still exists, but is very low, especially in S-Mount.
     
  5. b0b

    b0b Banned Banned

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    I don't really agree. Nog is one of the best sub artists in the game, and he didn't really get close to subbing Fedor at all. Fedor just stood up when he had to. He has a much higher percentage of NOT getting subbed if he just lands bombs, stands when needed. His chances of getting subbed go UP when he tries to engage the guard and pass it.
     
  6. Matt Thornton

    Matt Thornton Amateur Fighter

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    Again, I still feel it's neutral. IMO, bottom guard is offensive if anything for the bottom man in straight grappling, but neutral in MMA.

    The reason I feel that way is because in straight grappling, the only option the top man has is to get past the legs somehow. Even if he wants to go for a leg lock, he has to find a way to break open the legs. Even in the bottom side mount, it's possible to get an armbar. What do you have in top guard? A can opener? Anyone who's halfway decent at guard will give you an armbar for your troubles. Meanwhile, the guy on the bottom can choose to improve his position or set up submissions. To me, the guy on the bottom has a slightly offensive advantage.

    In MMA, I think the guard is neutral, because the bottom man still has his submission and sweep opportunities, but now the top man has an offensive option: striking.
     
  7. Matt Thornton

    Matt Thornton Amateur Fighter

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    Even so, from what I saw of the Fedor-Nog fight, Fedor was moving. He was getting up, he was standing, and wasn't the KO from more of an open guard? He was being offensive, and using body movement.

    Still, though, I won't try to weasel my way out of this. I said too much and overlooked Fedor. You definitely have a point; he effectively punches while in guard.

    What I had in mind was guys who just lay and pray like a human blanket, because they try to use the guard as a pin.

    Genki Sudo vs. Royler Gracie was an example of effective punching in the guard. Akira Shoji vs. Larry Parker was not.
     
  8. b0b

    b0b Banned Banned

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    That shit has no place in MMA. I think the new fad in MMA is to learn to punch effectively in the guard like Fedor does so well. Coleman and others did it in the past, but not against the caliber of fighters they have today.

    Karo is also pretty good at punching through guard.

    Orgs like Cage Rage disallow closed guard to keep the action and pace going. I think this is a good move.
     
  9. Matt Thornton

    Matt Thornton Amateur Fighter

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    Ah, see, now we agree. When I was talking about guard boxing from the top, that's what I meant. Guard boxing from the bottom, to me, is holding on to an overhook for dear life and hoping that a hook punch from the bottom is going to knock him out. No hip movement, no leg movement. Just laying there.
     
  10. Soid

    Soid Renegade of Funk

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    Had to stop reading there. Sounds like the average fat ass fan who watches TV and feels the need to express his jargon. You're basically saying fighters like Fedor, Tito Ortiz, Arona, etc. Have a lack of ability in grappling? I know watching Pride is fun and all but I'm sure it's easier said then done. I don't mind the "guard boxers" because well.. it works for them. If you wanna be entertained stick to watching ADCC tapes and WWE. This is MMA, don't expect the same rules that apply in BJJ to apply there.
     
  11. Matt Thornton

    Matt Thornton Amateur Fighter

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    Well the reason you make that judgement about me is because you stopped reading there.

    I said guys like Fedor effectively punch in the guard. I'm talking about early Prides and some current fights where guys just lay down in the guard, or if they're on bottom, holding onto an overhook for dear life.

    I also said I know it's not possible to always be moving. But some guys don't even make an attempt to improve position.

    Watch Pride 6 or 7. That's what I'm talking about. Calm down Soid, lol, I'm not talking about a lot of the guard punchers today.
     
  12. triso

    triso Green Belt

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    I agree with Iceman5592. It is very irritating to watch to fighters throw punches from the guard (be it top or bottom) if they are NOT effectively damaging your opponent.

    It
     
  13. b0b

    b0b Banned Banned

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    Well, it is only this part that didn't make much sense, and which was what I was refuting.

    Other than that, yes, the early Prides (and UFCs around Fry's time) consisted of people laying in guard not doing much.
     
  14. Zankou

    Zankou Muscle and Hate Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    I agree that ineffectual gnp attempts from guard is the bane of MMA. At least they have faster and faster standups now to avoid it.

    That said, the future (hopefully) consists both of passing the guard and better striking from guard. It is possible to strike effectively from guard, and guys like Fedor and (imo) Shogun are using the newer and more effective approach, constantly attacking from guard, lots of lunging strikes, things like that.

    But still, Fedor is one thing, the god of G&P, the other 95% of fighters are really boring and ineffectual in striking from guard. They need to learn how to either pass or to strike, not just hopelessly stall each other.
     
  15. knoxpk

    knoxpk Black Belt

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    Fedor and tito disagree with you!
    Nuetral position?
    Isnt both men standing a neutral position?
    I have seen many great shots connect in a neutral position. Of course having a DOMINANT position is better, hence the term dominant!
    But if you cannot sub a guy from your guard and the man on top can hit you hard why would he try to pass?
    Its like backing yourself into a corner hoping to catch him with a bomb but in the process he is picking you apart while you are somewhat immobile.
     
  16. Matt Thornton

    Matt Thornton Amateur Fighter

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    If the two fighters are equally skilled, I really feel it's a neutral position.

    The man on top has gravity on his side, so his strikes will be more powerful. His disadvantage is that he has no submissions available, and cannot effectively pin him while throwing his hardest shots.

    The man on the bottom has lots of submissions and sweeps available to him. His disadvantage is that gravity is working against him, so he really has no strikes, except to annoy his opponent or maybe work a cut.

    I feel the problem with "guard boxing" isn't guys like Fedor. Fedor is moving and making distance and throwing hard shots. The problem is that some guys on top try to pin the bottom man while throwing punches. If you pin someone in guard, you really cannot throw power shots. You need to work to a position like knee on belly or mount (I prefer S-Mount) to pin him while throwing full power shots. Laying on top of someone in their guard and throwing weak punches is boring and IMO, has no place in MMA.

    The other problem, which I don't think is as common these days, is somone who thinks they can KO the guy from the bottom, instead of using submissions and positioning from the guard. This problem existed more in the earlier Prides.

    Again, my problem isn't with effective guard punchers. It's with people who think they're in a dominant position just because they're on top, and with people on the bottom who would rather hold on to an overhook and throw weak punches.
     
  17. triso

    triso Green Belt

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    How anyone can argue against what Iceman is saying is beyond me.

    Being in Guard IS a neutral position. There are some people who can truly strike from the guard, ala Fedor, but for the most part, fighters striking from the guard top position, are NOT going to end a fight. Using Fedor or the Crow in this example does not stand, because they are exceptions, and are obviously doing damage to their opponent with the strikes they throw.

    I truly believe the refs need to stop accepting weak punches from the guard top position as
     
  18. Matt Thornton

    Matt Thornton Amateur Fighter

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    Because you CAN submit someone from your guard. That's the idea of the position.

    The entire idea of the guard is

    A) Your hips and shoulders are still free to move around, and are not pinned by the top man
    B) You have submissions available, while he has little to none

    Hate to bring in TUF again, but look at Koscheck-Leben. What'd Josh do in that fight? Nothing! He laid down on top of Leben. He constantly had to be reminded to work to improve his position.

    Now, if you have a position like Fedor has, and you're landing bombs, then no, at the moment, there's no need for you to improve your position, but you still need to be wary of submissions. Nogueira had the possibility of submitting Fedor, it's just Fedor's skill and technique that helped him avoid it. It wasn't his position, it was his skill in MMA.

    My biggest problem with guard boxing is when it's mutual. Again, refer to earlier Prides. Sometimes one guy wants to strike from the top, and the other one wants to work for a submission. That's fine, as long as the guy actually tries to throw real shots, and doesn't just lay down like a human blanket. But sometimes you'll get these fights where NOBODY does anything, both of them just sit there and trade weak shots. You sit there thinking "Okay, one of them is going to explode at any moment to set something up." And they don't. They just lay there and do nothing.

    I understand only a portion of MMA is entertainment. I'm not just a fan, I do train, moreso than I watch the sport, and I will be fighting when I turn 18 in August. But I don't think having exciting fights is important just for the fans. I think it just makes the competition better and makes for better fights. While you should train and fight to win, eventually, you need to ask yourself, at what cost? Laying on top of someone and doing nothing, or holding onto someone and doing nothing, except for weak punches, shows that you're afraid of what he'll do if you try to actually fight him. You're going to spend all those long hours in the gym, bleeding and sweating, to see who can hug longer?

    A lot of you are misunderstanding what I mean by guard boxing. By all means, punch in the guard, but at least either try to set something up or position yourself so that you can hit harder. My problem is with people who don't advance past those weak distraction shots.
     
  19. Matt Thornton

    Matt Thornton Amateur Fighter

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  20. 2om30

    2om30 Red Belt

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    Guard boxing? I call it GNP. GNP is used when you don't know how to pass guard.
     

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