Let’s talk about a few concepts and principles that apply to in-fighting, and inside game. In part one we talked about the why’s so now let’s talk about the how’s.

The key to successfully landing shots inside while stopping our opponent from landing shots is connection. Weird right? Just like in grappling the easiest way for us to know, and control the direction of our opponent is to be connected to them. Think of this as standing grappling with strikes involved. There really are more similarities than differences. If you’ve spent time grappling, particularly standing grappling, you are well ahead of the average trainee when it comes to learning how to read, and react to an opponent when working inside. I could type a thousand words to describe it but this one minute clip of Roberto Duran coaching in-fighting will teach us more about connection, angles, contouring, and hitting in the spaces then any amount of words.

Pure mastery. Connection using forearms, elbows, and shoulders to monitor, and control the opponents arms. Notice how Duran’s position, and posture create pressure which causes the opponent’s arms to open or look for other ways around Duran’s arms. In so doing he opens himself to strikes. Don’t force openings inside, time them, wait for them, and then strike in the breaks. The breaks are those moments when the opponent pulls away or tries to go outside or around our arms. When you feel that space, throw your shot. We never want to wait, we want to throw first, and when there is space we’ve lost that connection. The fastest way to re-connect is to land a solid shot.

Where are we looking to make this connection? The top of our opponents forearms, inside biceps are optimal. If we can’t get there we can take the outside of the arm however we never sacrifice good technique which would mean our elbows are still against our ribs, hands are up with our knuckles touching the skin under our eyes or our eyebrows. Our body position is almost identical to everything else we do since we can’t forget we’re multi-disciplinary athletes.

Spend a few rounds each day isolating the inside game. Glove up, bite down on your mouthguard, set the timer, start from a point of connection, and do your best to not break connection. If you lose connection stop throwing punches, and go back to the drill, get connected again. Work a few rounds with one side on offense, and one side on defense. Then work a few rounds with both sides able to throw however, keep it light. We’re working here so there is no need to try to take anyone’s head off. There are no win/loss records in the gym so let’s act like it. Practice to learn, to discover what works, what doesn’t. Now is the time to put together combos that flow easily for you, and how to best set those combos up. If you’re getting your bell rung when you get hit you’re going to hard. However, if you’re not a little concerned about shutting them down, and avoiding any shots you need to go a little harder. We need to spend a lot of time in here to master the inside game so we can’t get knocked silly every round however, we also need to remember how dangerous it really is in here, and treat it with the required respect. This is the area where headbutts, elbows, knees, sweeps, throws, and assorted mayhem happens. Everything is a weapon in here, and it all has knockout potential. We have to master it, or it will eat us alive.

Fortunately the way is pretty simple, there’s nothing to it but to do it. Glove up, and do work.