In Coaching, MMA, Videos

May 17, 2012

Video Article

Every heard of Striking Helen?

Everything’s the same except the 12 pull-ups become 12 full-strike combinations: one-two, one-two, then repeat.

Welcome to CrossFit Striking.

“Combinations have an amazing transference to athletics and life because in sports and in life you need to be able to rotate,” says George Ryan of CrossFit Striking, who is assisted by pro MMA fighter Neal Abrams. “And by performing striking combinations at a high frequency and high intensity, it’s (going to) to really, really develop your core strength, rotational speed and power.”

Ryan notes that Abrams twists on each strike, engages his hips and moves his hands back to his face after each one-two punch.

Next, Ryan adds the hook.

“It’s a great, great rotational strike,” he explains.

Using the core, Ryan says, makes for maximum speed and power.

8min 1sec

Additional reading: Got Striking? by George Ryan, published Dec. 29, 2010.

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15 Comments on “CrossFit Striking: Combinations ”


wrote …

George - so all of a sudden, Crossfit has revolutionized 100+ years of boxing technique? So Sugar Ray should have planted his feet instead of pivoting on the front foot to lay a hook?

Look, I'll try it with an open mind. But honestly, I "mastered" the left hook having been taught the old "crush the peanut shells" technique with the front foot - I have 5 in-the-ring knockouts to my name from that punch, 20-some years ago in my kickboxing days, it worked for me. The thing about the hook is speed of delivery - not "pushing" power. I'm not looking to brace myself and push you over by planting my feet - I'm looking for speed in the pivot for a sweetly-timed blow to your jaw.

I'm also curious because I thought that the point about pivoting the front foot in the "old" technique was that it ensures that the front leg was initiating the power in the right right, rotational, direction. Without the foot rotating, it just seems like an upper body swing. I will have to try it out on the heavy bag, for both speed and power.

Love to get a K-Star analysis on the bio-mechanics of this one!


wrote …

Hello Mathew!

Many Thanks for your post.

In short, give the technique a try and pressure test it on a heavy bag and pads. After a couple of weeks, let me know your thoughts. I trust that you’ll experience an increase in power and you’ll see it’s more repeatable when you double up on the strike.

It’s important to mention here that we’re teaching striking as a part of increasing fitness. I’m not trying to change anybody’s in-ring tactics. It may be appropriate to pivot while throwing the hook in order to step off line, etc.

By the way, I’m not the only trainer that teaches the left hook in this fashion. As a matter of fact, Bas Rutten teaches it the same way. He actually shared a YouTube video with me titled Top 5 Greatest Left Hooks Ever. There, you’ll see five legendary boxers throwing their signature left hook. What you won’t see is any of them pivoting, i.e., crushing the peanut shells. Check it out!

Also, I’ve had this same discussion with many fighters, including some close friends. What I ask them to do is to view their old fight tapes where they throw their left hook. I ask them to see if they actually pivot like they do in the gym when their coach is watching. The findings are the same…No Pivot.

Thank you for giving it a try with an open mind. I truly believe that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by watching the above mentioned YouTube video, your old fight tapes and pressure testing the technique for yourself.

Have a great day and Godspeed!


wrote …

So not that I ever need encouragement to watch old boxing videos... But you're right. Even the classic hook from Sugar Ray Robinson against Gene Fullmer - he doesn't pivot. Damn. And you're dead right about it being easier to double up on the hook if you plant your feet.

Just another case of coaching orthodoxy prevailing over efficiency and effectiveness, I guess. I'm not in the fight game anymore, but I noted that some of the coaching videos I watched, e.g. Freddie Roach, are still coaching and using the front foot pivot. Looking forward to giving it a try on the heavy bag this morning.


wrote …

I am in law enforcement,an 8 year Crossfiter, and a lover of all of your videos. Quick question, do you have any plans to release a video or article about how you program WOD's, utilizing your striking principles, for military/LEO? I've been trying to implement striking into metcons for myself, and a couple guys I work with, a couple times a week, but find that any pure strength work that follows is pretty much shot for most of us. I would be eager to see how you would program workouts for people whose jobs require a fighting proficiency, while still pursuing Crossfit's brand of fitness. I'm sure I could figure it out on my own with a little trial and error, but it might be easier to see how the master does it. Thanks for what you do!


wrote …

George, I also really love your videos and learn something new every time. You have a great way of explaining the fundamentals that always makes sense to me and gives me new insight into techniques. I agree with the previous comment -- I'd love to get more ideas from you for incorporating striking into WODs. Thanks, and please keep the videos coming!


wrote …

Great video, we are taught to hook like that in muay thai, i suppose its because we have to get back into defense quickly to check any kicks that might come our way. cheers


Frank DiMeo wrote …

George, your strategy makes sense and we use it.
I have three people who box at the gym next door to ours who also train with me.
The pivot is pretty ingrained in them, but when they adapt to the CF Striking more they find it quite effective.


wrote …

Thanks George for all your work and dedication, both inside and outside the gym! I KNOW the power of my strikes immensely increased after your instruction. To this day, "Striking Helen" has been one of the most challenging workouts I've ever done!!! BA BOOM!!! - Greg Amundson.


wrote …

Hello Matthew!
Thank you for taking the time to watch the videos and to write your follow up e-mail. Very Cool!

Hello Blue!
First of all, Thank You for what you do. It’s great that you’re taking the lead by training your teammates at work.

Yes!!! We will have a video published in the future that touches on the programming aspect of the CrossFit Striking Trainer Course. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions about implementing striking workouts for your teammates.

As for strength training, it’s best to do it before your striking skill and drill work. If you do it the other way around, you won’t be as fresh and you’ll risk injury. Make sense? The strength training “before” skill work concept has been adopted and has worked for some world class fight camps. In addition, Jeff Martone (CrossFit Kettlebell SME) has been a consultant to some notable MMA pro fighters and advocates this same philosophy during his courses.

I hope this helps.

Hello Bill and Mao!
Many Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad that you enjoyed the video. More to follow!

As for the checking the kicks, you’re right because you’re in a better position. In addition, the MMA fighter will be in a more favorable position in case they have to sprawl.

Hello Frank!
As always, thank you for your support and spreading the word about CrossFit. Your athletes are lucky to have a coach like you.

Be Safe and Godspeed!


wrote …

Hey Greg!

Thank You for the kind words. You are too kind. BTW, you still hold the record in the Striking Helen workout.




replied to comment from Matthew Parsons

I remember having to unlearn some boxing lessons when I started MMA training, but there's some differences between the mindset behind MMA-style and boxing-style striking. MMA style has to factor in a few other styles of attack including takedown attempts and kicks -- and seems to place greater reliance on power over the mobility that boxers favor. MMA striking stances also tend to be a bit more straight-on, exposing more of the body than the more shoulder-forward boxing stance I recall. I seem to recall watching a Bas Rutten video long ago where he discussed this...


wrote …

Myself and other Bas Rutten Systems instructors have been teaching that (hook without the pivot) for a long time now and I am glad to see you give Bas some credit!



wrote …

Great video. -Torque is the word you're looking for.


wrote …

Many Thanks for the kind words, Eugene!!!


wrote …

Mat, I felt the same way you did when I first heard George say "dont turn the knee on the hook". Ive always been taught to "Squish the bug". But, I have also had the luxury of being taught by George in Swat, Defensive Tactics and now Crossfit Striking. One thing I've learned, is that as a instructor, he never says anything to his students without first researchig it to death, and then testing it over and over in his Garage, in the gym and on the Street. He then says "dont believe anything I say, go pressure test it for yourself". So, knowing that about George, I kept a open mind and tried it. And like everyone else I saw that it works better.

Being a Pro MMA fighter, I was curious to see what Crossfit Striking had to offer. Yes, it is programmed for the Crossfitter who has no striking experience but it is also very beneficial for Professional Fighters and Marial Artist. Not turning the knee on the hook is just one of a dozen techniques I learned to help generate more power and speed in my strikes.

Ive spoken to dozens of Crossfitters who have attended the "Crossfit Striking" cert. Everyone from Military, Law Enforcement, MMA fighters to school teachers that never threw a punch in their life. All LOVE it and rave about how they got so much out of it.

George, great videos, please keep them coming! For myself who has been through your cert. and I'm now Im teaching the Striking WODS at a couple of boxes in my area, they are great tools for me to review before a Striking WOD.

Blue and Bill, FYI day 2 of the "Crossfit Striking" Cert. mostly focus's on incorporating the combo's into WODS. Besides that their is a manual George gives that shows you how to program and gives many WODS. Its awesome ! Crossfitters at the boxes I teach at in MASS cant get enought! Good luck.

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