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Chris Oth | Knuckle Junkies

On The Mat: Changing levels

By Jerry Chavez | Chavez Photography

This month I would like to address one aspect of wrestling that has a big impact on MMA fights and who comes out the victor, which is a level change.

The first thing is the importance of making a correct level change when making a leg attack, whether that be a single leg or a double leg takedown. A level change occurs when a fighter lowers his body by squatting with his hips and lowering his chest while penetrating the defense of his opponent and securing a takedown. While there are always exceptions to every rule, a takedown puts a fighter in the top position which is usually advantageous to winning the fight.

In wrestling the two opponents have stances which are much more bent over than in MMA. As a result wrestlers will pull on their opponent's head to tire him out. From there the opponent will either start standing up straighter because of being tired or get snapped down and spun around as a result of fatigue. Since MMA fighters have much more upright stances and hold their hands higher it is, in one sense, much easier to get to the opponent's legs.

However, a fighter choosing to shoot a takedown and attempt a level change must contend with his opponent's ability to punch, kick and/or knee him on the way in. That is where the importance of timing comes in. If a fighter can make his level change while his opponent is stepping forward and punching, he usually has a much higher chance of success. On the other hand, if a fighter level changes while his opponent is backing up or waiting for it, he is highly susceptible to not only being sprawled on, but also being punched, kicked and kneed which could lead to losing the fight and taking severe damage. The importance of being able to correctly execute a level change is a crucial skill from wrestling that can help dramatically in MMA.

On a separate note, FILA, the international governing body of amateur wrestling, met with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) May 18th in St Petersburg Russia. Wrestling, along with squash and baseball/softball are the final three sports still in the running to be reinstated for the 2020 Olympics. This was a critical step in our hope of having amateur wrestling permanently reinstated in the Olympics.

I know many of you are helping the cause through emails, Facebook posts, "save Olympic wrestling" T shirt purchases and various other ways. I want to thank all of you for your efforts and I want you to know that our work is not over, it is only just beginning.

Finally, I am proud to announce that I am helping the Adam Muffler Memorial Organization (A.M.M.O.) in their fight against post traumatic stress disorder (P.T.S.D.).

Today, 22 veterans are committing suicide every day. Adam Muffler was a returning veteran student at SLU. He was only 24 years old, with two combat tours served when he decide that "everything was unfixable", and that he "couldn't un-see what he'd seen", and took his own life. With the drawdown in effect, we can anticipate a surplus of soldiers in our academic campuses. With a collaboration of the academic institutions, together with the private and public sectors, this 22 a day count can change. A.M.M.O. will be running a MMA fight on October 26th 2013 at the 11,000 seat Chaifetz Arena as a fundraiser for PTSD awareness. This will be the largest MMA charity fight held in St Louis. They are looking for corporate sponsors, donations, ticket purchases and fighters.

Please take a minute to like their page on facebook at and please send them a message if you are willing to help or contribute. Their website is Tickets will be for sale here as well as apparel for the event and updates on who will be fighting and which celebrities will be attending and participating.

As usual, thank you for taking the time to read this column. Good luck and God Bless.