How to Practice Pummeling for MMA

Pummeling is an invaluable skill for mixed martial arts. Understanding how to pummel effectively is important because it helps a fighter defend against an opponent’s upper-body grappling techniques, while also allowing him to initiate an offense of his own. Simply put, all fighters should know how to use pummeling to their advantage. Keep reading to learn a drill that will take your pummeling to the next level.

1. Start With an Over-under Tie

To start this drill, engage your partner in an over-under tie. At the intermediate level, you should be familiar with this type of tie (essentially controlling an overhook on one side of your partner’s body and an underhook on the other). If you’re unfamiliar with this position, or pummeling in general, check out our guide, How to Do the Basic Pummeling Drill for MMA, before continuing.

2. Begin Pummeling

From the over-under tie, begin pummeling with your partner. It’s important to note that this is essentially an active drill; in other words, you and your partner will be actively working to gain control of each other (similar to sparring). The intensity in which you perform this drill will depend on many factors; however, this drill is best used when both fighters are working at about 50-75 percent of their maximum intensity.

The ultimate goal of this drill is to secure a body lock on your partner. Once you do so, you can release the body lock and continue pummeling.

Hot Tip: Using the Drill

If this drill is being implemented into your practice, be conscious of when you have to do it. If it’s called at the beginning or end of practice as a warm-up or warm-down, your intensity should be fairly low (below 50 percent). This will give you a chance to feel out the positions and play around with different techniques. If you are warmed up properly, you can increase your intensity to simulate an actual match.

3. Switch Partners

After roughly 30 to 60 seconds of pummeling, the coach should signal for you to find another partner outside of your weight class. Pummeling against lighter and heavier partners will give you ample experience against opponents who are quicker, stronger, etc.

If this drill is being used in place of sparring, though, your coach should have you switch partners until you’ve performed the drill with everyone in the room. However, if this drill is used as a warm-up or warm-down, switching partners three to five times is sufficient.

Tips: Using the Position

Aside from simply attempting to secure a body lock on an opponent, the main purpose of this drill is to get fighters familiar with the act of pummeling, and the various positions that result from it. Essentially, a fighter can attempt nearly any grappling technique on his partner while performing this drill, so he needs to be creative and play around with different positions.

For example, if you can’t get secure a body lock on your partner, use an underhook to move him into position for a single-leg takedown. Once you have successfully achieved control of your partner’s leg, release it and continue to pummel.

Here are a few other tips on the finer points of pummeling:

  • Hips back: Bend your knees and keep your hips back, away from your partner. The closer your hips are to your partner, the easier it will be for him to secure a body lock on you, as well as other types of techniques, including upper-body throws.
  • Tight elbows: Keep your elbows in tight towards your body as you pummel; this will prevent your partner from gaining inside control.
  • Circle: Staying in one place makes it easier for your opponent to gain control of you; so move your feet and circle as you pummel.

Reap the Benefits

This basic drill is one of the single-most important wrestling drills for fighting. Keep in mind that you will eventually need to know how to strike from the clinch, as well. Implement this drill into your training on a regular basis to ensure that you are prepared to pummel in a fight. Good luck!

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