Whether you are new to mixed martial arts (MMA) or have been enjoying the sport since combatants first stepped foot into the octagon, you may have undoubtedly heard words, terms, positions and techniques being yelled out by commentators like Joe Rogan, Mike Goldberg (from the Ultimate Fighting Championship) and Jimmy Smith (from Bellator).

Now depending on your martial arts experience you may or may not be familiar with all the terminology being thrown your way. Fortunately, and as you will soon see, the names of the majority of these techniques are intuitively named and closely reflect their activities.

Arm Bar

A form of submission in which the attacker pinches the defenders biceps with their thighs or knees and then proceeds to hyperextend the defenders arm by pulling on the wrist of the arm in danger and thrusting up with their hip. In essence, the attacker is trying to create a lever with the defenders arm and turning the defenders elbow into a fulcrum.

Back Control

One of the three main forms of control positions (the others being mount and side control). Back control, also known as “taking the back”, means that the attacker has moved into a position in which the defenders back is flat against their chest. This opens up many possibilities of attack and is considered a difficult spot to defend from.



A form of attack or submission in which the goal of the attacker is to either cut off the blood flow to the defenders brain (vascular choke) or to cause the windpipe to collapse (tracheal choke). There are a variety of chokes including the guillotine and the rear naked chokes. In the early days of MMA the number of chokes that can be performed in competition was greater due to the possibility of wearing a gi to a fight.


A way to control an opponent by grabbing them. This can take the form of grabbing the opponent by the neck, as in a typical muay thai plum clinch, or in various wrestling clinches which can include holding the opponents arms or waist.


A type of punch that uses the non-jabbing arm and is usually a stronger or more powerful punch than a jab.

Dirty Boxing

A form of fighting or boxing that takes place in very close proximity. Utilizing short punches, uppercuts and even elbows.

Elbow Strike

It is exactly as it sounds. It is a strike that utilizes the attacker’s elbow.


Ground and Pound

A form of fighting whose aim is getting the opponent to the ground using some sort of takedown and then landing strikes using punches and/or elbows.


A defence utilized by the fighter whose back is on the mat. Typically, the guard means that the defender (who is on their back) wraps his legs around the attacker’s waist (who is usually on their knees). The guard aims to help in defence by controlling the movements of the attacker.


A form of choke. This submission can be a vascular or tracheal choke in which the attacker typically wraps their arms around the defender’s neck (with both opponents facing each other but with the defender downward facing). The attacker will then sink in the choke by wrapping their legs around the defender and then contract their arm and chest muscles.


A punch that uses a rotating motion whose aim is to hit the target by going around the defences used for jabs and crosses.


Not to be confused with hook punch, Hooks refers to the act of interlacing your limbs with that of your opponent. For example, if the attacker takes the back of the defender they can then proceed to secure and lock in the position by hooking their legs in between their opponents.


A fundamental punch in which the attacker uses their lead hand to punch their opponent with quick speed.


Leg Kick

A kick that targets the opponent’s legs, usually the thigh.

Leg Lock

A family if submissions that target the joints and muscles of the legs, such as the heel hook, calf crush and Achilles lock.


Along with Back Control and Side Control, the Mount is one of the three primary forms of positional control in which the attacker straddles the chest, stomach or hips of the defender.

Rear Naked Choke

A form of choke in which the attackers attempts to perform a vascular choke on a defender from back control.

Side Control

Along with Mount and Back Control, Side Control is one of three primary forms of positional control in which the attacker presses his sternum onto the defender’s sternum while both his knees are on the ground on the same side of the defender.


A technique to defend against a takedown (usually a single or double leg takedown) in which the defender will push down the forward moving attackers neck and/or head into the ground while shooting their legs backwards and pushing their own pelvis as close to the floor as possible.


A family of techniques whose purpose is to get the defender out of an unfavourable position and into a position of attack.

Swing for the Fences

MMA jargon that refers to the attacker throwing wild but powerful punches, in large and looping arcs.

A takedown being demonstrated


References a family of techniques whose aim is to force the defender to the ground in some shape or form.

Tap Out

A way to let the attacker, referee and judges know that the defender is submitting to the attacker. The defender will repeatedly tap their hand or foot on the mat or on the attacker’s body. “Tapping out” signifies defeat.


A form of submission in which the attacker performs a vascular choke using their legs.


A type of punch that can be thought of as an upward hook whose aim is to hit the defender under the chin. The punch will usually cause the head to snap backwards mimicking the trauma usually inflicted by whiplash.

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