How to Shoot a Takedown in MMA

Learning to shoot is critical for success in mixed martial arts, where leg attacks are the most common and effective takedowns in the standing position. The penetration step is a basic component of the takedown and should be drilled by fighters at every level of experience — even the most decorated grapplers practice the basic penetration step as a warm up in their training. Here is an easy, step-by-step guide to help you with basic leg attack technique.

Step 1: Start Your Staggered Stance

 Shooting from a square stance is possible, but will take you more time to get your feet into correct position since your lead (front) leg is the leg used to penetrate.

Do not make the mistake of taking your penetration step with your trail or back leg. This takes up valuable time and smart opponents will be able to read your movements to know exactly when you are about to shoot. You want your shot to be as quick and undetectable as possible—save the time and use your lead leg.

Step 2: Set Your Feet & Change Elevation

The power of your shot is generated from your trail (back) leg. Make sure your trail leg is firmly planted slightly behind before you take your penetration step.

To lower your elevation, simply bend your knees and lower your body while keeping your upper body in good position—head up and back straight. This will ensure that you are low and in good position in order to penetrate your opponent’s defense.

Step 3: Take a Deep Step

 Push off of your back foot and take a deep penetration step, roughly two-three feet in front of you.

You shouldn’t step so far that you lose balance, but you do want a large enough step to gain enough momentum to penetrate your opponent’s defense and get to his or her legs.

Step 4: Drop to Your Knee

Roll over your front toe, dropping the knee of your lead leg to the mat in front of you.

Do not make the mistake of dropping to the knee of your trail leg or let the knee of your trail leg rest on the mat at any time. It is alright if your trail leg grazes the mat as you shoot, but anytime you drop both of your knees in front of your opponent, he or she can easily defend and possibly take you to your back.

This step is the most difficult for beginning fighters, but once mastered it becomes as natural as walking.

Step 5: Step Up with Your Trail Leg

While your front knee is still on the mat, bring your trail leg from behind and step up.

This sets you up in the right position to return to your feet.

Step 6: Return to Your Feet

Once you bring the trail leg forward, bring your back knee off the mat and step up.

Complete this motion by stepping up and returning to your stance. This will help you to get into the habit of returning your feet in order to finish the takedown on your opponent.

Make sure you keep your arms tight to the side of your body with your head up during these steps.

You must also maintain a good stance throughout the process: knees bent, back straight, head up and hands out.

Hot Tip: Duckwalk Everyday

The shot is a basic, but essential technique for beginning fighters to master and one that you can easily practice without a partner.

The most common way of practicing is called “duckwalking.” Duckwalk is the term used for practicing the motion of the penetration step by continuously taking shot after shot, using both legs:

  1. Start by taking the penetration step with your lead leg and drop to your front knee.
  2. While you are still on your front knee, take another penetration step forward with your back leg, dropping to the opposite knee.
  3. Duckwalks should be done daily as a warm up at every level as a way to drill good shot technique. For more takedown drills, check out the Video page.

Take the Basics Seriously

Learning the penetration step is so important to the process of shooting a takedown, that most coaches teach their fighters these steps long before they actually get to practice the skill on a partner. These steps will be crucial to any of the takedowns that you will learn in the future, so take them seriously—the better you master the basics, the better you will be against tough opponents.

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