Friday, August 26, 2016

Fast Way To Learn How To Fight. Box!

What is the fast way to learn how to fight? Fighting! I'm not saying go out and start picking fights, but let's look at good fighters. Most people consider boxers to be tough guys. When you look at the best of the best, they usually come from tough upbringing. They usually have an aggressive nature. They tend to not be shy or timid. They are usually confident, arrogant, and cocky (sometimes in a good way and some times in a bad way). So, let's say you don't have any of what I just described, how do you learn to fight? I recommend putting yourself in an environment that breeds what I mentioned above. For example, go to a good boxing gym. You will feel the air of confidence and egos. You will see hard training and see what separates the lion from the sheep. The reason I say boxing, because it is a sport where you can get in the ring and go at it with the emotions, intensity, and get the feel of a real fight. You have protection and a coach to keep you from getting hurt (badly).  You get to be macho and cocky and it's OK, because there will probably be somebody there to humble you. With boxing you have fast learning curve. You learn how to be tough and build confidence.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Perfect MMA Fighter

When looking at Mixed Martial Arts we see a combination of combat disciplines mixed together. Fighters usually come from one specific martial art and add techniques from others. There are different schools of thought as to what is the dominate art for MMA. Some say BJJ, some say wrestling. Some take a different approach by taking strikers and having them focus on takedown and ground defense. Some feel that all you need to do is take a good athlete and show them a little from each area and you will get a decent fighter. All of the above are probably correct. We've seen champions from all the schools of thought. Of course it boils down to the fighter. As a fighter one must be exposed to all of the possibilities that can't happen in their sport. In my opinion to create an awesome MMA fighter, I would approach it like school. In school you have several subjects (math, science, art, english, etc.). So, in MMA school, you would have several disciplines (boxing, kicking, grappling, conditioning, etc.). If you could get a high GPA in all of your subjects, you would have a great fighter.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Olympic Tae Kwon Do

I started out in the Korean style of Tang Soo Do as a kid in Ft. Bragg, NC. When my family moved back to GA I eventually started training Tae Kwon Do. Tang Soo Do ("Chinese Hand") was the Korean version of Shotokan and Tae Kwon Do came about after Korea was liberated from Japanese control. So, over time different schools joined together under Tae Kwon Do. Those who did not stayed Tang Soo Do (Chung Do Kwan, Moo Do Kwan, etc.). Anyway, I like to just use the term Karate (will elaborate on that later).

So, as I starte competing in tournament, WTF (World Tae Kwon Do Federation) became popular and eventfully became an Olympic Sport. It was continuous, allowed contact and emphasized kicking. Since there was nothing more fun than kickboxing somebody in the head, I really enjoyed it. I competed in the sport for a long time. I won Silver in the  1994 US Nationals. Due to an injury I was not able to compete in the US Team trials that year. I also had the opportunity to compete in the 1994 US Olympics Sports Festival (Bronze). In 1988 Tae Kwon Do was included in the Olympics as a spectator sport. In was also in the 1992 Games. With hopes of being able to compete in the Olympics, every Tae Kwon Do player was working hard and the sport was huge. As part of the process to become an official Olympic sport, it didn't come back until 2000. So, the 1996 Games (right in my home city of ATL) did not have have. Since I was Kickboxing during this time, I decided to let the Olympic dream go (also, I tore my first ACL which changed my kicking game).

When looking at the sport of WTF Tae Kwon Do, many martial artists are critical of it and see any value in it. Look at it like boxing with the feet. It is difficult because all the kicks are above the waist and because one has to wear a Hogu (chest protector), punching is hard to be effective with. One must exhibit trembling shock and to kick for 3 rounds for several bouts requires incredible endurance. I will sometimes take fighters from whatever style and have them spar under this style. There are blow away at how difficult it is. The timing, distancing, and reaction are unique to the style. What I've been able to bring away from my experience with Tae Kwon Do, is the ability to control range and set up kicks (jump, spinning, etc.). It is also my secret to reading kicks from other styles (the move slower to me).

So as Tae Kwon Do is shown this week, look at it with an open mind. Imagine what it takes to fight primarily with your kicks. The competitors have crazy cardio, coordination, flexibility and reflexes to kick like they do. It is not easy. If you think it is, try it.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Olympic Boxing

As I am writing this post, the US Boxing Team is 6-1 in the Rio Games. This is awesome as we should see some medals coming out of the Games. It's been 2004 since America got a gold medal in Boxing (Andre Ward). Growing up I got to see Sugar Ray Leonard and the incredible '76 Team, and throughout the '80s some of boxing biggest stars came through the Olympics. In the 90s and early 2000s, the world surpassed us (Cuba, Russian, etc.) in the amateurs. Looking at the current team, it looks like they will have good results.

Now on to my experiences training with Olympics boxers. I had that opportunity to spar with 1988 Bronze Medalist Romalis Ellis and 1996 Bronze Medalist, Rhoshi Wells along with other talented fighters trying to make Olympic teams between '88 and '96. During the Atlanta '96 Games, our boxing club (Doraville Boxing) hosted training for teams competing. We sparred with fighters as they stayed sharp for the games. Working out with Romalis was incredible. He was a lightweight south paw who utilized the basics of the Jab Cross (one two). He would work that jab like a piston until he positioned himself to deliver a hard left. For several years he would give me the same answer after sparring. I would ask for advice and suggestions and he would give me the same answer, "Throw more punches." When I met Rhoshii, he was 15 and could beat most men. He won Bronze at the age of 18. He was always smiling and was technician. Both would go on to become top ranked professionals. Rhoshii was unfortunately killed several years ago in Vegas (shot by a punk).

In my last post I talked about what it felt like to have an Olympic Judo player put his hands on you. Well, you can't imagine what it's like to have an Olympic Boxer lay his hands on you in the square circle. You get hit over and over again and can't stop it. Because these athletes start so young and compete at the highest levels growing up, they are like professionals even as amateurs. They train with world class fighters all along.

In the mid 90s I had the privilege of fighting 1988 Olympic Bronze Medalist, Ray Downey of Canada. I took a fight on 2 days notice and went to Biloxi, MS. The fight was on the undercard of Kennedy McKinney (another Olympian). I did know who I was going to fight until press conference when the took a moment to recognize Ray for his accomplishment. I looked at my trainer who told me to take this fight without telling me who I was fighting (mistake #1). Anyway I survived a hard 6 round fight, but couldn't keep this guy from hitting me. What I learned is that it's hard to fight a guy who boxes for a living when you do it as a hobby (mistake #2). If you go into pro boxing you should fight a lot of amateur bouts and get the experience and never take a fight against a Olympian on 2 days notice (mistake #3).

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Olympic Judo

I hope you have been watching the Olympic Judo this week. The sport has gotten some good TV coverage. The better US athletes perform, the better for the sport in America. The IJF has done a great job in marketing the sport internationally. American Travis Stevens won a Silver Medal. As of right now we are waiting to see how Carlton Brown and Kayla Harrison (defending Gold Medalist) perform. It would be cool to see 3 medals for the USA. If you ever get the chance to train with an Olympic level Judoka or top ranked national level player (the guys in the top 5 are world class), please do. I've been fortunate to train Judo with world class Judoka. My current coach is  Leo White (2x Olympian and the US commentator for the Olympics). Over the years I've had the privilege to train experienced international players. Trying to get a grip on these guys is difficult and getting grabbed by these guys is unreal (you won't get their grips off). Their timing and reaction time is unbelievable. There ability to effortlessly defend your throws and submissions is mind boggling. To appreciate what you see when watching the Olympic athletes compete, imagine doing a clean and jerk over with your bodyweight every 10 to 20 seconds for 5 minutes. 

Over the next couple of blogs I will tell you about my experiences training with Olympic level athletes in Boxing and Taekwondo. They will humble you. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Martial Arts In The Olympics

With the Olympics going on presently, there is a lot of discussion about the martial arts that are included. All of the combat sports in Olympics have gone through changes since their inclusion. Modifications to wrestling were made to stay in the games. Boxing now takes away the headgear (which they didn't start wearing until the 80s). Changes in the sports of Judo and Taekwondo have been made over the years to make them more appealing to spectators. Some question the effectiveness of the combat sports and criticize them. First of all, one should not be negative about something they've never tried. Next they must remember that these sports are huge in popularity around the world. Then you have to consider that these competitors are world class athletes. Those criticizing them would probably get the bottoms kicked if they went up against a lot of these guys (for sure if they tried to do their sport and probably outside of the sport).

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Conditioning For Your Sport

What's the best way to get in shape for a specific sport? Doing that sport. Everything is supplemental. I have worked out with guys that I could bench more than and felt stronger than from a push and pull stand point. But when punched or kicked by them, it felt like getting kicked by a mule. I once saw a boxer in his 40s who hadn't been in a ring in 10 years, walk in the gym and spar with an active fighter and handle him with ease. Now I'm not saying to do all your cool exercises and conditioning routines. What I would like to say is that once you perfect your sport you develop a way of delivering power that goes beyond how much you can run or lift. By mastering the basics of your craft, your body develops the most efficient method for you do what you do. Athletes learn to transfer energy without pure force. It adapts to the duration of the activity and learns how to preserve enough energy to do the task. So, keep this in mind when you go to do the latest conditioning routine that the sports scientist suggest. Listen to that old guy in the gym who's been doing what your trying to do for a lifetime.