In the last article Lyoto Machida 101 – Fighting Style, I gave a background as to the origins of Shotokan Karate, and its different aspects. For this article I will walk through Lyoto Machida’s trademarks; his stance, his movements, and his strikes.
In Muay Thai and in Boxing, the traditional stance for a fighter is a squared stance; the body is generally faced to the fighter, legs are generally shoulder length apart, lead leg is out which generally represents the jab hand, chin is tucked and protected by both the lead and back hand. This type of stance is traditional in the world of MMA and there are very few fighter before 2006 that deviated from this type of stance. When Lyoto Machida came to UFC he changed everything and it began with the stance, which though was not familiar in the world of MMA, in traditional Karate it is the primarily used stance in Kumite competitions which Machida excelled in. The stance as I know it is called a ‘Dachi’ or ‘stance’, which can be said to be a forward stance. The exact ‘dachi’ that Lyoto employs is called ‘Zenkutsu Dachi’ forward stance, but others called it ‘Kumite Dachi’. In this type of stance, Machida’s weight is planted on his back leg, and he generally stand on a side angle instead of turning his body forward like a Muay Thai Fighter. This type of stance is idea as it given Lyoto Machida the option to move forward if the opportunity presents itself, or vacate if he feels his opponent is set to attack. To me the whole idea of fighting is inflicting as much damage without receiving damage, Lyoto is the best in the world an implementing this strategy.
His movement is very basic yet seemingly complex due to the fact that many of opponents he has faced were not familiar with Karate. He will generally move forward when he’s set to attack, back when he want to evade an attack, yet the for the most part his movements are side-to-side and diagonally in order to find angles that will confuse the opponent; as well as expose opening. In his earlier fights he such as the one against Sokoudjou, he primarily moved in-and-out, and to the side in the case he was evading a kick. As the years have gone by and with the time he has adapted his style to MMA, he started moving diagonally a little more fluently and showing angles; this was best displayed in his fight against Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture in 2011 which resulted in a KO victory for Machida.
The key to Lyoto Machida striking derives from his stance. With most Muay Thai fighter, they will generally kick employ little hip and foot rotation on the back leg; as well after a kick they will generally step forward as taught in Muay Thai. Lyoto Machida on the other hand uses perfect hip movement and rotation using the ball of his foot to kick, and when he has executed his kick, he will rotated it back instead of forwards; it is my point of view the reason for this is to anticipate an attack that may come following the kick, as well to set up a following technique which I call a ‘double technique’. An example of this was the fight against Jon Jones where Machida executed a beautiful Mai geri (front kick), and followed it up with an ‘Oi zuki’ (lunge punch).
But perhaps Lyoto Machida’s trademark strike in my opinion, is the same one he used to knockout Ryan Bader last month, and the one he caught Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson in the 3rd round of their fight in 2010; it’s called the ‘Gyaku tsuki’ (reverse punch). The reason why this strike never fails is due to the fact that opponents make the mistake of attacking Machida coming forward. In Kumite a more knowledgeable Karate fighter would know to attack at an angle, but it is my belief UFC fighters see Machida’s backwards movement as retreating, when it actuality he’s luring you in for an attack. It’s this type of strategy that makes Lyoto Machida a very unique fighter and my personal favorite.
If you haven’t already read part 1 you catch up here – Lyoto Machida 101 – Fighting Style
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