Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Vitor Belfort Hand Positioning

Vitor Belfort and Rich Franklin fought recently in UFC 103 in which Belfort knocked out Franklin in the first round. After reading a post on entitled Vitor Belfort keeps Karate Love alive in UFC 103, I came across a picture from there pre fight weigh in.

The first thing that hit me straight away was the difference in the arm positions of each fighter whilst the picture was getting taken.

As you can see, Franklin’s hands are held higher than Belfort’s, just under his chin whilst Belfort has them level with his shoulders which is considered too low by some trainers and fighters. Also what is worth pointing out is how far there lead hands are from there actual bodies. Franklin has his much closer to his body than Belfort does.

Just by looking at the difference in these hand positions one can see how much more relaxed Belfort looks to Franklin.

If you have your hands under your shoulders, yours shoulders tend to be quite relaxed. Raising them so they are higher, not only tenses them slightly but also tenses the trapezius muscles located in the middle upper portion of the back just under the neck muscles. The contraction of Rich Franklins trapezius shows this clearly, and by having his lead hand so close to his body he pulls his elbow back slightly which tenses up his back muscles even more, which is a waste of energy.

Obviously ones guard must not be too low. Dropping your hands to an area level with the lower abdomen as seen by some point karate fighters may protect your body to some degree but leaves your head wide open to attacks. But in the same respect, having your hands held too high will also not enable one to protect against low blows and possible takedowns, and as mentioned above tenses up the muscles.

Belfort has his hand positioning just right. They are not too high so as to tense up the shoulders and upper back which wastes energy. They are not too low so as to leave his head open to shots. They are not too close to his body which would prevent him from parrying, clinching and controlling his opponent and are not to far away from his body which would prevent him from executing strikes with power.

Now this is not to say that what Franklin is doing is wrong, or that he is not a good fighter, because he is and the reality is that during a fight, ones hands are constantly moving especially during the course of throwing punches or feints. But it must be remembered that in general, one must hold there hands in a position that not only offers the best protection to the whole body, whilst allowing for the most successful strikes to be thrown, but that also prevents a fighter from tensing up and using up unnecessary energy.

The best way to practise your hand positioning and relaxation when moving, feinting, striking and defending is through shadow boxing in front of a mirror. Mentioned time and time again on this website, this is the best way to make sure that one is moving correctly whilst staying relaxed, and to check for any bad habits that may crop up.

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Matt "Ikigai" said...

I hadn't noticed that about the hand positions! well analyzed.

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