One of the most important components of being a successful Mixed Martial Arts fighter is having powerful takedown abilities. Top fighters such as UFC champ Matt Hughes and UFC light-heavy weight champ Randy Couture have exceptional takedown abilities that frustrate respective opponents to no end. These champions take their opponents down with pure confidence and you can tell that their opponents never new what hit them.
If you cannot take an opponent down you are at an extreme disadvantage. Of course, knowing what to do after you take an opponent down is critical as well. However, that is a topic for another article. In this article, I am going to go over three exercises to enhance your takedown strength.
Kettlebell Duck Walk - View
The Kettlebell Duck Walk is modeled after the exact move that wrestlers use to take down opponents. Many MMA fighters and grapplers such as five time UFC champion Frank Shamrock already do bodyweight duck walks as part of their conditioning program. However, when you are in the ring you will be working against an opponent so why not add some resistance to the duck walk to develop more power and strength.
Start the Kettlebell Duck Walk by cleaning a kettlebell with one arm. From there take a step forward with the leg that is on the same side as the kettlebell. Let the leading leg's knee drop down to the ground and slide the other leg forward. Now drop that leg's knee and repeat. A key point for the proper execution of the Kettlebell Duck Walk is to always look forward. Once you get in motion stay in motion. This is not a super slow exercise. It needs to be executed quickly and forcefully.
Imagine that you are driving through an opponent and finish what you start. Take a breath before you start the Duck Walk and then breathe out forcefully as you drive forward. Also, to avoid scrapping your knees, make sure to practice Kettlebell Duck Walks on soft grass or preferably a wrestling mat. Work your way across the mat, switch arms, and work your way back to the starting position. Ten reps per side will get the job done.
Kettlebell Split Snatch - View
Kettlebell Split Snatches will build tremendous explosive power for takedowns. Start with one kettlebell between your feet. Push your butt back as if you are trying to sit down in a chair to get into the proper starting position. Look straight ahead at all times. Explosively rip the kettlebell off of the ground as if you are trying to start a lawn mower. At the same time jump into a lunge position in order to get under the kettlebell. Once the kettlebell is locked out overhead, hold the position for a second and then stand up with the kettlebell locked out overhead at all times. The kettlebell should go from the ground to a locked out position in one uninterrupted move.
After the move is completed, lower the kettlebell back to the starting position and repeat. Regarding breathing, breathe in as you rip the kettlebell off of the ground and out as you lower it back to the starting position. Imagine that you are trying to get under the kettlebell rather than drive it overhead. Due to the fact that technique is a tremendous factor with Kettlebell Split Snatches, a rep range of three to five will work well for Kettlebell Split Snatches. The key here is to develop tremendous explosive power rather than burning yourself out with high reps. Never let your form deteriorate in a set of Kettlebell Split Snatches. Every rep of the Kettlebell Split Snatch should be executed with perfect form.
Kettlebell Split Jerk - View
The Kettlebell Split Jerk is another excellent exercise for building explosive power for takedowns. Clean a kettlebell to your shoulder. Dip down a few inches, pop the kettlebell up and immediately jump into a lunge to get under the kettlebell and lock it out overhead. Stand up to complete the movement with the kettlebell locked out at all times. From there, lower the kettlebell to your shoulder and repeat.
Again, focus on getting under the weight rather than pressing it overhead. Many people make the mistake of pressing the weight overhead and then jumping into a lunge when the weight is locked out overhead. Just pop the kettlebell up to your forehead and explosively drive right under it. The point of this exercise is to develop strength for takedowns, not to fatigue the shoulders. Similar to the Kettlebell Split Snatch, the Kettlebell Split Jerk does not lend itself well to high repetitions.
Nevertheless, it is not as technical as the Kettlebell Split Snatch and does not require as much effort. Thus, a rep range of three to six reps per set is a good range to use. Just make sure that each rep is completed with perfect form. The key here again is to develop explosive power. There are much better exercises to use for muscular endurance.
There are several ways that you can incorporate the above exercises into your current regimen. I recommend that you do one of the takedown drills in each workout. For example, if you workout three times a week using a M-W-F schedule, do a few sets of Kettlebell Duck Walks on Monday, a few sets of Kettlebell Split Snatches on Wednesday, and several sets of Kettlebell Split Jerks On Friday. Do the takedown exercises towards the beginning of your workouts when you are fresh. Definitely avoid doing them when fatigue reaches a peak in your workouts. Practice these takedown strength exercises for a month and you will be amazed at the difference it makes.
About The Author
Mike Mahler is a strength coach and a certified kettlebell instructor based in Santa Monica, California. For more information on Mike's new DVD "Mahler's Aggressive Strength For The Mixed Martial Arts", go to http://www.mikemahler.com/store/.
NOTE: This is part two, click here for part one!