In Part 2 of our three-part analysis of Lyoto Machida’s fighting techniques, we look at his grappling, timing, striking and counterfighting. (Be sure to read Part 1 of our analysis!)
The shotokan karate stylist has made it work for him in the octagon. Read on to see how you can incorporate Lyoto Machida’s tactics and shotokan techniques into your traditional or mixed-martial arts training. Lito Angeles, author of Fight Night! The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Mixed Martial Arts, serves as your guide.
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Lyoto Machida’s Grappling Skills
Observation: “Machida is a seasoned grappler. He received his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in 2007. However, he doesn’t choose to focus on ground skills in the octagon,” Lito Angeles says.
Action for Your MMA Training: Be like Lyoto Machida and take up Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Don’t forget to work on your clinch-fighting skills. Then you’ll know that if you lock up with your opponent and go to the ground, you’ll be OK.
“Even if you don’t like grappling, learn enough to thwart takedown attempts — which is what Machida does,” Lito Angeles says. “Also learn how to get back up quickly if you are taken down. And if you get stuck on the ground, be able to defend against the most common submissions until you can get up. You don’t have to focus on submissions — I don’t recall any fights in which Machida [used one to win] — but you need to be able to stop them.”
Lyoto Machida’s Counterfighting Skills
Observation: Lyoto Machida is a consummate counterfighter.
Explanation: “He obviously has the patience to wait for his opponent to make the first move,” Lito Angeles says. “That makes him very hard to beat unless his opponent has the patience to out-wait him. He makes you fight according to his rhythm, and once you do, he pulls you in.”
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Action for Your MMA Training: When you spar, work on the patient approach. Don’t jump in and attack. Wait for or encourage your opponent to leave you an opening, then exploit it.
Lyoto Machida’s Quick Strikes
Observation: Lyoto Machida seems to be able to read his opponents’ intentions and often uses a quick strike to stop them from finishing their attack.
Explanation: It’s one of the benefits of having a background in a traditional martial art. You learn about telegraphing — both how to take advantage of your opponent when he does it and how to avoid doing it yourself.
Action for Your MMA Training: Study Bruce Lee’s fighting methods along with shotokan. “Jeet kune do teaches you to attack your opponent before he can complete his attack,” Lito Angeles says. “That’s why it’s called the ‘way of the intercepting fist.’”
Lyoto Machida’s Timing
Observation: “Machida’s timing is impeccable,” Lito Angeles says. “When he decides to attack, he makes every shot count. He’s a very efficient fighter.”
Explanation: The champ knows that taking a few shots is a great way to save energy without sacrificing effectiveness — as long as you land them.
Action for Your MMA Training: Even if you’re not one of the most powerful strikers out there, you can enhance your effectiveness by using the principle of addition of velocities, Lito Angeles says. “When two cars meet head-on, their speeds are added together. That’s why Machida tries to time his techniques to catch his opponents while they’re coming in — it makes the impact more powerful.”
To apply that concept to your martial arts training, you’ll need a partner who likes to go on the offensive. Play the counterfighter against him and concentrate on your timing. A great place to do that is at your local point tournament, Lito Angeles says. “If nothing else, point karate teaches you timing.”
To be continued in “Improve Your MMA Training With Lyoto Machida’s Shotokan Karate Techniques and Tactics (Part 3).”