Monday, December 28, 2015

You Have To Spar

The most important training tool in learning a martial art is sparring. You can do all the drills, exercises, etc., but you have to spar. When we look at athletes in any sport, we see all the training and sport science philosophies put out in the magazines. We want the same supplements and training equipment they use to take them to the next level. All that is cool, but nothing is more important than doing the activity that you aspire to be good at. Everything is supplemental. Professional sports team scrimmage to prepare for games. Fighters have to spar to prepare for fights.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Can You Teach Without Ever Competing?

In martial arts businesses there are a lot of coaches who teach boxing and kickboxing. There are black belt instructors who teach, but have never competed. Are these coaches credible? For the most part no. When I was 12, my Dad coached my soccer team. He never played soccer. He got a book and coached as best he could. Having started playing soccer in Ft. Bragg, NC at a young age I acquired a good level of skill. My family moved back to Atlanta GA and when I started playing soccer, I was a Pele as the development was low in Atlanta during this time. My team had great success, but it was not because my Pops was an awesome coach. He had me as a good center forward who scored a lot of goals and my brother, the goalie who prevented others from scoring. I give this story as an example of how I see a lot of gyms run by guys who don't know a right cross from a kick in the butt, but through marketing or getting decent athletes to work for them, they can fool the public. So, if you really want to learn a martial art, research the instructors credentials to make sure that they are valid. Would you let a surgeon who has never operated on anyone operate on you?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Punch Skills in Martial Arts

There is a saying that anything can happen in sports. This past weekend, Conor McGregor stopped Jose Aldo shortly after the starting bell of round 1. We also saw Luke Rockhold stop Chris Weidman. Both fights ended by knockouts. What I starting to see in MMA is that the better punchers are dominating. Many have the idea that MMA is a grappling based sport. The better wrestler determines the outcome. What we've seen lately is that a fighter with good boxing and some understanding of grappling is deadly. Going back to the Rousey and Holm fight, we know that Rousey is the better pure grappler. In looking at the McGregor and Aldo Fight, we know that Aldo was a world champ in BJJ. We know that Weidman is a more accomplished wrestler than Rockhold. In all three situations, The better punchers seemed to prevail. In many instances the the better grappler/wreslter isn't dominating. On paper Jon Jones is not a better wrestler than Cormeir. Gustafason is not a better wrestler than Jones (took Jones down). Anderson Sila took Dan Henderson down (Dan is an Olympian). GSP took several NCAA wrestlers down. In the striking department, in many cases the fighters mentioned were dominate in their punching and kicking skills, with boxing being the most important attribute in the striking department. Boxing skills include, timing, range control, footwork, accuracy. Those who have experience with the sweet science are even more dangerous because punching is used more than and other weapon. In the 80s during the American Kickboxing explosion, Karate tournament fighters (light contact) entered the ring for full contact. Those who developed better boxing techniques seem to do better. So, as difficult as the concept of hitting somebody with the hands sounds easy, it seems that this is one of the hardest abilities to master. Of course there are others things to factor in (i.e. genetic disposition to taking punishment), but it seems that those who improve their boxing do better when other things (i.e. kicking, grappling) are close. Like mentioned before, in MMA we see kick boxers (like Donald Cerrone) take down wrestlers, we see grapplers head kick KO kick boxers (Gabriel Conzales kicking Crocop for a KO), etc., which means that MMA is mixing of martial arts techniques and fighters have to be multi-dimensional. And looking at the recent examples mentioned earlier, it is the hands that was the determining factor in the outcome. If you can out kick or wrestler a better boxer then you have to rely on your hands. If that opponent is better in that department and you have nothing else to rely on, you are going to have a rough day.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Would You Fight For Free?

In looking at how people perceive combat sports today, they think fighters make a lot of money. Boxers make the most money (guys like Pacquiao, Mayweather, etc.) Top fighters in the UFC make good money. A few kick boxers can make decent money if they are a top fighter in a promotion like Glory. Anyway, if money is your motivation to fight, then don't. Most high level, highly paid boxers start boxing as children. They develop their skills and accolades in the amateurs. Those that make it to the Olympics will most likely earn more in their first pro fight than others fighting their 20th pro fights (who've had to work their way up). There are journeyman fighters who make their living taking punishment and are just good enough to hang in their with promising fighters, sometimes pulling off upsets. Growing up watching boxing and kickboxing, I got into competitive side as an extension of my training in traditional martial arts. I wanted to experience some realism of combat. Through kickboxing, I trained with a lot of good boxers and developed decent hands. As an amateur you made no money. You did it for fun and develop your skills should you turn pro. I fought my first kickboxing fight in 1985. After 3 amateur fights, I turned pro. Back then martial artist go their amateur experience competition in Karate tournaments. To be a good kick boxer, you went to a boxing gym to get your hands right and fought a few amateur fights and turned pro. Very few fighters were ever able to compete for a living. I knew of less than a handful who trained and fought full time. And they weren't able to do that but for a short time. I could make a couple of hundred dollars for 4 or 5 round fight. When I started boxing professional in the early 90s I could make a $75-$100 a round. Like kickboxing, I turned pro after 3 matches. Because I had fought as a pro kick boxer, I could not box amateur, even though they are 2 different sports. But, in the amateurs, if you participated in any sport were you got paid as a pro, you were ineligible to compete in amateur boxing. Anyway, my lack of amateur experience was made up for by the experience I gained working out with top amateur and pro fighters. This was the case for me in kickboxing and boxing, as I was always around a lot of talent. Over the years I would fight and the money was never an issue to me. I fought a boxing match that paid $400 bucks once and ended up getting stitches that cost almost the same. I fought a kickboxing match for $250 against a 2X World Champion and got a torn ACL that required surgery. Luckily, I had a job with health insurance. Later in my career, when I got a couple of titles, I as able to get some sponsorship that allowed me to travel and compete for a little more money. I could make from $2000 up to $12,000 in some instances. Keep in mind, you don't get to keep all of that. I still got some more stitches and another torn ACL. But, I never fought for any big money anyway. I competed for the thrill and challenge. I just liked to fight. So, to the young fighters reading this, fight for fun and train for the sake of training. If the opportunity comes for you to make a lot of money, by all means for it (know that you will have to pay your dues first), but don't base you existence in the game on it. There are a lot of easier ways to money. Money was never the motivator for me as a competitor. Let's say, that there was never money to made from you competing, so the thought of money never entered your mind. Guess what? You'd do it for free.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Dirty Fighters

In competition you will often encounter opponents who will cheat (within the rules) to win. What I mean is that they will sneak in fouls and take a warning or two to hurt you or get under your skin. They will do this for two reasons: 1) They don't respect you, or 2) You haven't shown them that you are the boss. You must impose your will and show that you no matter what they do, they can't make you lose your focus. Don't show them that you are upset, angry, or afraid. Project strength and give them their air of invincibility. Let them know that you are going to defeat them.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Judo Ippon Highlight

If you have every sparred with a good Judoka you will feel incredible strength in their grip and a cat like balance. This video clip will give you an idea of what world class Judo players can do. The acrobatic twisting and turning, turning an opponents attack in their attack, takes years to develop. Judo is really popular internationally. You will some some of the top athletes in world in this video. Look closely, because this is some impressive stuff.