Chuck Liddell’s Step Back Cross – TECHNIQUE BREAKDOWN


How Chuck Liddell Knocked Out His Opponents While Backpedalling

Chuck Liddell is one of the most brutal strikers in MMA History. 


Dominating the UFC Light Heavyweight Devision, he was known for his unique ability to deliver knockout blows while retreating backwards.

chuck liddel-knocks-out-randy

Like most of Liddell’s techniques, the step back rear cross looks simple, but is actually very complex. Lets take it step by step and break down exactly how the Ice Man stopped his opponents cold.

Step One: Jab to find your distance.

Chuck Liddell-punching-power

Knocking someone out while they rush in should be easy in theory, as they are adding power to your strike with their own momentum. However, the rapidly changing distance makes it difficult.

That is why Liddell usually began by jabbing with his lead hand. The intention is not to damage, but instead to gauge distance, block your opponents site, and better protect yourself.

Step Two: Drive Your Front Leg Back and Square Up


By stepping backwards and to the side, Liddell changes his momentum. He uses his hips and lead leg as the fulcrum point for the rest of his body to swing around. This is similar to how the Superman Punch uses the rear leg to turn the hip and drive the upper body forward.

George St. Pier-superman-punch

Chucks wider stance also allows for more stability, and he is grounded while his opponent is still rushing forward.

Step 3 Wind Up and Throw

By the time Chuck finishes his step, his hand has looped around and wound up in a position to throw. Like in the Bruce Lee article, this is an example of rotational momentum being turned into linear power. Be aware, however, that loading up for a punch like this leaves you very open.

Randy Couture-knockout-chuck liddel

From here, Liddell is almost throwing a conventional rear cross. He moves his body to his left to generate power and avoid his opponents counter, he twists his hips, he shifts his weight, and follows through. The only difference is that he is far more squared up, sometimes with his left leg far behind him.

Throwing The Punch


Throw a jab to get your distance, step back and to the side with your lead leg. At the same time, wind up with you rear hand. Ground yourself, and then let loose.

You can also practice a step back hook by turning your body more sideways. 


Or a step back uppercut. 


Chuck Liddell’s contribution to MMA cannot be understated. He is one of the main reasons that the UFC is so popular today, and he was one of the very first to figure out how to adapt power strikes into a cohesive MMA fighting method. 

Until next time, this has been David Christian from the Modern Martial Artist, wishing you happy training.

Books by David Christian of The Modern Martial Artist

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