Start Using The Long Guard Effectively With Firas Zahabi
When it comes to defending strikes, many practitioners face the same problem. They either use the wrong defense or use the same guard repeatedly, making it easy for the opponent to capitalize and find the correct shot to beat their guard.
Having a good defense is critical for a good attacker because as long as you are confident that you are safe, you will throw more strikes and take more risks, leading you to finish the fight and not just survive it.
One strike that many find hard to defend, especially on the lower levels, is the hook; the hook is a cleaner version of the swing that everyone can throw with no actual practice. The swing can be very effective against the natural human reaction, the “Oh Shit!” reaction, where we throw our hands in front of our face blocking anything thrown directly at us. Still, as you know, the hooks are not thrown directly at us. They come around and over our guard, making it a deadly weapon against untrained opponents.
To deal with the hooks effectively, we need to play between 2 guards :
- High guard - having our hands glued to our face and rolling with or under punches to deny openings.
- Long guard - having our hands extended fully, stopping our opponent in his tracks, and using high shoulders to cover our chin from being hit.
Who Is Firas Zahabi?
Firas Zahabi is known for being one of the most brilliant coaches the MMA world has ever seen. Firas has made a name for himself, coaching GSP considered by many as the greatest ever; nowadays, Firas is constantly working with more and more upcoming fighters bringing a lot of new talent to the scene.
The Long Guard Vs Hooks
Firas starts the video by showing us how the long guard looks; we have one arm glued to my face while we extend the other arm; this position allows us to stay safe although we extend our arms far from our face.
The extended arm is not just floating in the air; it is actively shoving our opponent’s shoulder back, like a strike. We always aim for the shoulder, throwing the punch, blocking it, and cutting off its power before it can get to us.
When we use the long guard, I never want to use a “cross-block” where I cross my hands together elbow to elbow, blocking any straight punches coming; we are dealing with hooks, so we want to defend against attacks to the side of our head.
One fighter who uses the long guard constantly is Buakaw Banchamek, and you can see how he can be aggressive against his opponents, knowing his defense is good enough to deal with any attack coming his way.
Notice, when using the long guard against a punch on the parallel side, I aim to block the bicep and not the shoulder; this is important to understand as the shoulder block can allow slippage and let the punch go over our extended arm.
Firas tells us that after we blocked the hook, the opponent’s defense has a hole in it, and we are already loaded in an “archer’s pose” where we can follow up with strikes to land counters.
To sum up the usage of the long guard, let’s look at the steps:
- Use it against hooks as this is its purpose
- Have one hand high and the other extended
- Block the hand throwing the punch
- Aim for the opponent cross shoulder or parallel bicep
- Follow up with strikes where an opening has been created
Learn More From Firas Zahabi
If you liked this technique breakdown by Firas Zahabi, you have much more to see. You can get the entire series “CORE STRIKING COMBINATIONS AND TRICKY ATTACKS BY FIRAS ZAHABI” available exclusively on Dynamic Striking.