The Striking of Igor Vovchanchyn: Part 1 - Backstep Punching
With no major UFC or Strikeforce event on the cards for a couple of weeks, those of us uninterested in The Ultimate Fighter will have to find other ways to entertain ourselves. One of my personal favorite activities at a time like this is to dust off the videos of legendary Ukrainian mixed martial artist, Igor Vovchanchyn. Igor's power was paralyzing, his style inspired tension until the match's conclusion, and his ability to leave bigger men in crumpled heaps gave birth to fear and admiration in equal measure.
One of the most fascinating features of Igor Vovchanchyn's life is that he was essentially a kickboxer when he entered mixed martial arts. Despite this being thought at the time to be a handicap, Igor went on an unparallaled winning streak against bigger, stronger, wrestlers and grapplers - becoming the single consistent exception to the "grappler beats striker" rule of early MMA.
Vovchanchyn is always given the credit he deserves as a terrifying power puncher, but he is rarely celebrated, as he should be, for his technical ability. Many observers simply see the wide swings and assume that Igor was a barn-burning brawler and no more. But brawlers had never had results knocking out grapplers - striking wide was an invitation for a clinch or takedown. Limited in the number of punches or combinations he threw, Igor had means of dragging grapplers into exchanges wherein he could knock them out nonethless. In this series we shall examine a few of Vovchanchyn's slickest tricks.
Anderson Silva has famously said that any man alive can fight well going forwards, it is fighting while going backwards that separates the men from the boys, and this is certainly true. Chuck Liddell, Anderson Silva and even the not so hard puncher, Muhammad Ali shared the ability to drop a man to his knees while they themselves were on the retreat. Igor Vovchanchyn pioneered this technique in mixed martial arts and it has caught on with top level strikers since. In the "Mister Powerman" tournament's final round, a young, trim Igor Vovchanchyn knocked his opponent out cold with the first punch he landed by drawing him in and punching him while on the retreat.
See all the details after the jump.
Just as when you are walking it is natural to swing your right arm forward with your left foot, when stepping backward and punching, the right hand should punch as the right foot touches down and twists the right hip forwards. Punching while going backward is generally frowned upon as it is believed that one cannot get his weight behind his punches if he is moving away from them. The secrets of this back-step punching are manifold:
- One is moving away from his opponent's strikes, meaning one is unlikely to get hurt even if the strikes connect.
- The opponent is moving onto one's own strikes. Meaning that even a partial punch does not need weight behind it because the opponent's weight is behind it.
- Even experienced strikers tend to flail when they are chasing - watch Shogun Rua chasing down Lyoto Machida to witness this fault even at the highest level.
Jack Slack's first ebook - "Advanced Striking: Tactics of Kickboxing, Boxing and MMA Masters" will feature in depth breakdowns of the techniques and gameplans of 20 of the world's top fighters with demonstrative photography, and will be available around Easter.
Jack Slack breaks down striking strategy and technique at his websitewww.fightsgoneby.com
He can also be found on Twitter @JackSlackMMA
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