MMA Training ain’t easy.
Here are 3 Things you can do and learn before you even step foot in the gym…These tips will help you progress faster and go further than those who haven’t got a clue on training MMA—the right way. Here are “the most bang for your buck” tips you should know (other than the high quality stuff I’ve already talked about of course):
1) Get The Range/Movement
MOBILITY IS KING. Strength is Queen. Stability is Prince. They are all important for the formation of the kingdom, but without the king–things get weak. You can’t get the strength, stability, and control of a certain range if you don’t even HAVE the range of motion to USE it. I see a lot of people at the gym focusing on speed and power, but can’t even perform a simple head kick because they lack the mobility to do so. That’s reverse engineering, and in my eyes, a fundamental movement problem. Sure, weakness can be limiting, but range even more so. Once you are flexible then get strong, once you are strong, then get stable. Look for your area to improve. FTF: Get the Range!
“No Range = No movement” – Ido Portal
In his Solo Drills instructional video, John Danaher mentions that, “if you have the underlined dexterity and ease of movement you will progress faster in the sport than someone who lacks it.” Meaning that the people who move better learn faster. His main point behind this is that he believes, “You’ll never be able to control an opponent until you first learn how to control the movements of your own body.” I remember the first time watching the Solo Drills, there were simple movements that I couldn’t even do because my back was in pain, therefore my movement suffered, thus my range was lacking. I thought I was gonna be able to push myself through the pain, but I was only making it worse. So before anything else, take care of your injuries, work around the pain, get the Range, then have control over your own body.
If you want to progress faster in MMA add mobility training to your schedule. Remember, it is all preparation to MOVE. You mobilize your joints to use them! So take it seriously, and work on mobility to supplement your skillset. I suggest checking out Ido Portal’s Online Coaching and research his Corset Method if you have any injuries or mobility issues that you want to resolve.
2) Train MMA Like A Generalist
Ido is very unique in a way that he’s acquired a huge variety of skills throughout his life. His skillset revolves around movement. ALL kinds of movement. Starting from capoeira, to gymnastics, acrobatics, weightlifting, rock climbing, boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, various martial arts, and the list goes on and on…This guy is the epitome of what a generalist looks like. And like I said before, ALL Mixed Martial Artists are generalists, at it’s core. In Ido’s words, he believes, “We are all HUMAN first, MOVERS second, and only then SPECIALISTS.”
In the MMA world, I’d say we are all Practitioners first, Generalists second, and only then Specialized Generalists.
So, How Should A Generalist Train in MMA?
Here’s an important tip for the generalist from Ido. He explains that you should,
“Learn to constantly shift stuff into maintenance and find the most efficient maintenance protocols for each thing. Aspire to push further one element and one element ONLY. 99% of the time you will find me just maintaining most of my stuff while developing one element and inserting a lot of frequency, repetition and effort into that element.
That is how I developed my skill set, believe it or not.
Over years – if you are smart about it, you can become quite an impressive generalist with a bit of consistency and hard work.”
How to apply it in MMA Training: Got a good jab? Great, don’t be too greedy and push it into maintenance. Go after your double leg takedown next. Got that takedown? Minimal work to maintain that and work on your rear naked choke. Got that? Back to your jab, it’s time to get your jab quicker this time, etc, etc…
“You will find once you go back to goals that were on maintenance mode for a while- bursting through old plateaus will be easier. Overall – you will stay fresher, away from injuries and on a deeper level will further De-centralize your system and make yourself more resistant to what Nassim Taleb calls ‘a Black Swan’ – or rather the ‘oh shit moment’,” Ido says.
The Variety of Practice allows you to do a lot More…
3) Focus on The Fundamentals
“You lose along the lines of your weakest skillsets. So, if you’re weak in the fundamentals you tend to lose a lot, because that gets exposed very quickly.” – John Danaher
A lot of people get sidetracked with all the flashy moves they see on UFC. They tend to lose focus on what needs to be learned first. You’ll eventually get to those advanced techniques but if you lack the fundamentals then you won’t get an opportunity to use those higher skills in the first place.
One of the biggest fight fundamentals that even a few MMA Greats still lack today is
No joke, even Firas Zahabi would agree. I’ve talked about the importance of an “MMA stance” in my earlier post. Basically, you want to have a stance that allows for easy in-n-out movement, supports good head movement, allows you to sprawl quickly, good balance, a strong base, etc. etc. I think that fighting stance should be the FIRST thing a pure beginner should learn when starting MMA. Personally, it was the first thing I learned when I started my journey at AKA in San Jose.
As always, a good fighting stance should be complemented with good
I notice that a lot of people are very stationary during their MMA training sessions. As a result, they struggle with attacking on the move and defending on the move. Footwork is what allows you to do this. To close the distance for attack you need footwork. To evade punches with your angle changes you need footwork. Look at Dominick Cruz, Stephen Thompson, & Demetrious Johnson. They all have incredible footwork. The way they move plays a big role to their success. Movement is the Key in just about any sport. And with proper footwork fundamentals you can progress your MMA journey much faster than the people who lack it.
Michael Jai White on Footwork when hitting the heavy bag.
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with a good fighting stance and learned how to move well enough within it you can start to implement some basic skillsets. Most often then not, I realized that people start off with learning the basic offensive moves, like the jab, cross, & hook. From a beginner standpoint, this doesn’t make sense.
What they should really should focus on first is
I was watching Vol. 1 of the first Go Further Faster Fundamentals series from John Danaher, and he gave me one the most important lessons that I think every beginner should follow in all combat sport. He said, “Your capacity to go out and boldly attack your opponent is directly correlated to your confidence in your defense.” In other words, if you don’t have confidence in your defense you wont have confidence in your offense.
Your long time goal in MMA is to become a highly offensive fighter who can attack his opponent at will. The only path that gets you to that goal is through a strong defense. Why?
Because any form of offense in combat sports include a large amount of risk. If I miss a punch I take the risk of getting knocked out. So, if I lack the confidence to get out of bad situations I WON’T take risks. You might have a great cross. But when the time comes to pull the trigger in an actual fight you’ll hold back. Because you’re afraid of the risk. Knowing that your defense is weak.
And so the only path to an offensive spirit in MMA is through defensive skill. That’s why, for beginners, DEFENSE should be emphasized more so than offense.
Do these 3 Tips to get ahead of the learning curve and watch your MMA Training progress faster than Usain Bolt driving a Tesla with cheetah print.
BONUS TIP: Principles > Techniques
Yet, another very important tip I learned from Movement Teacher, Ido. You’ll find it in his blog, titled “Movement in MMA.”
“I’ve always viewed principles as ‘master keys’ vs techniques which are simply A key. (a concept I borrowed from my martial artist friend and teacher Strider Clark) When you encounter a specific scenario, most fighters start to browse through their set of keys but the best of the best use these ‘master keys’ to resolve anything and immediately. No wasted effort, versatile and immediate solution. In essence – principles MANUFACTURE instant, scenario perfect and original techniques but techniques without principles are guns without ammunition.”
Coincidently, this is exactly how John Danaher teaches BJJ fundamentals to his students. His use of “concepts” over the fundamental moves themselves play a major role in his students’ success. No wonder why these two coaches are among the best of their own field. Great minds think alike, but that goes without saying.
On A Final Note
Use these tips to help speed up your MMA Training Progress. Get the mobility, train like a generalist, focus on the fundamentals, and have a full grasp of the principles. As a beginner, MMA can seem like an impossible riddle to solve. It’s too confusing, it’s too hard, it’s too tiring, it’s too much…Chill out man. When shit hits the fan, just keep goin’…
I’ll end it with this dope quote.
“After your biggest creation
After the height of your career
After the orgasm of a lifetime
After escaping the jaws of death
After achieving enlightenment
After changing the world
After the ecstasy…
Shoshin. Beginner Mindset.
So, enough of all the Talk. It’s time to Walk the Walk. Let’s get into Training.