Following Up In Good Position by Cain Velasquez
One of the most crucial skills for any fighter is being able to keep their body in proper positioning at all times of the fight, from attacking and defending to being outside of your opponent’s range, you have to know where to keep your body at. Cain Velasquez is a retired MMA fighter known for being a 2 time UFC Champion in the Heavyweight division fighting out of American Kickboxing Academy located in San Jose, California.
Here, Cain Velasquez shows how he maintains good positioning, keeping his body protected when attacking, not sacrificing defense for offense or giving any telegraphs when he attacks as well as tips for how to spar to get comfortable in every position!
Coach Cain Velasquez starts off by explaining what your movement should be like from your fighting stance as you approach your opponent. Keeping his body moving, making small shifts in his stance and guard as well as moving his head, Coach Velasquez demonstrates that he wants to stay in constant motion because a moving target is much more difficult to hit than a stationary target as well hiding his movement when he is ready to start attacking.
If you can keep your body moving your opponent will have a harder time telling if you are just moving or throwing something at them, this is one small way you can keep your opponent pressured and constantly guessing about what it is you are trying to do. To stay in constant motion you need to have your feet properly kept apart, that way you do not trip over yourself as well as keeping you in position to attack no matter where you are at.
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Once Coach Velasquez has closed the distance through his movement he will look to explode straight forward from his stance, as Coach Velasquez drives off of his rear leg he steps forward with his lead leg, from here he has closed the distance so he can throw the jab to his opponents head. When throwing the jab Coach Cain showed that his arm needs to be extended, getting the full extension out of his arm he will also maintain a strong defense by keeping his rear hand glued to his. It is important for his guard to be up on his rear hand side so his head is not open to his opponents counter punches. From landing that jab you know you are in position to land your rear hand cross. Coach Cain Velasquez shows that to land your cross he pivots on his rear leg driving his weight forward while throwing that straight right hand through his opponent. While throwing the right hand it is important that your left side stay protected, notice Coach Velasquez keeps that left hand in a tight guard so his head is not unprotected.
Once you have landed your jab, cross you have options Cain Velasquez shows. You choose to exit out of the pocket by rolling back out elusively. To roll out of your rear cross, your lead leg should be bent from throwing the rear hand so you will keep the bend in your knee to push your weight into your rear leg while transferring the weight back you will slightly rotate your torso to the right at the same time. Your other option is to follow up off of the cross, this is important if you did damage with your right hand and opened them up for a follow up strike. To follow up Coach Velasquez gets his feet back into the proper positions so he does not trip or leave himself open and bring his guard up tight to his head, once he regains this positioning Coach Cain can begin pressuring and attacking the opponent again.
Cain Velasquez stresses the point that when you are fighting, you must remain in an athletic position at all times, if you are within your opponents range you must be ready to move and fight. The only caveat to this rule is if you have a lot of distance that the opponent will not be able to cover quickly. Coach Cain explains that when you have that large distance between you and the opponent, that is when you can take a moment to relax and exit that athletic stance and shake out your limbs, roll your neck, blink your eyes and relax your stance placement all things that you cannot be doing when you are in your opponents range. Once Coach Velasquez starts moving forward though or the opponent comes to him he immediately resumes his athletic stance and is ready, his legs are spaced apart, hands are up and his eyes are wide open and glued on the opponent.
To always be in a good position, in constant motion always ready to attack, your eyes must be wide open. Coach Cain Velasquez explains your eyes must be wide open so you can see everything. To train your body to keep your eyes wide open, Coach Velasquez demonstrates an easy drill, he will hit the bag like normal but focus specifically on keeping his eyes open. You are just training on the heavy bag as you normally would but you are consciously keeping special attention on keeping your eyes wide open especially on contact with the bag, you must have open eyes when attacking or defending, it is the shot you do not see coming that does the most damage and you must always be ready to attack as well.
The last tip Coach Cain Velasquez gives for keeping your eyes open and maintaining good positioning is to SPAR LIGHT! So many people think that to get over blinking and flinching you need to spar harder but that is not the way to do it. If you are blinking and flinching and spar harder you will just blink and flinch even more, training your body to keep doing it. Instead you must spar lighter and get acclimated to seeing the strikes come in. Coach Velasquez explains that you and your partner should be sparring so light that you and your partner can be tapping each other and it is not hard. Coach Cain says that if the punches are making you flinch at all or even making you brace for the strike, it is too hard. He says to slow down and lighten the contact even more so you can move through positions fearlessly, teaching you to become comfortable and ready to do what you need to do in each spot.
Coach Cain Velasquez explains that you should do that type of light sparring because it trains your body to not blink or flinch to the point that it is second nature, you no longer need to think about not blinking you are just doing it. Drop the ego he says, Coach Velasquez explains that there is no ego during sparring, you do it to get better, not to win or beat your training partner, it is for both people to improve on specific skills.
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