Thursday, 21 July 2022

Bushido Fight Night 3 - Full Fight Card

Live MMA Action in Melbourne

Just over a week to go.

Bushido 3 - The Last Samurai will be back at @thornburytheatre

Saturday, 2 July 2022

The Key to Success in BJJ Training

The Key to Success in BJJ Training

BJJ Melbourne

An old training partner of mine once jokingly told me that one of his pet peeves about JiuJitsu is that you cannot buy anything to make yourself appear legit. It doesn't matter if you're not very good at other sports, such as cycling, you can buy an expensive bike and gain instant respect and credibility.

BJJ was much tougher. It wasn’t possible to make yourself seem more credible by spending money on JiuJitsu. The mats don’t lie. You can buy an expensive GI or name-drop all the legends you trained but if you are lacking in actual jiujitsu skills you will be found out and exposed as soon as you start rolling. This happened quite a few times at my old gym. A new visitor with a questionable rank would turn up and get destroyed on the mats by the competitive blue belts and purple belts.
Our gym, The Carlson Gracie Boiler Room, was small and basic. Sometimes up to ten people from all over the world from Brazil & Eastern Europe lived and slept there. The training was very intense, and the majority of people who tried a class almost never returned. We just wore cheap judo gis. It didn't matter how you looked - what mattered was how many times you got tapped out on the mats and how you did in the last tournament.
Inevitably, this would change. Any sport that becomes more mainstream will always attract different types of people. In the past, BJJ was only for people who really wanted to fight. Sparring sessions at my old gym were the closest you could get to having a street fight without getting seriously injured or arrested, which is why people turned up night after night.
In some ways, I miss this type of culture in BJJ and MMA. In the past, it was about who could actually fight and about testing yourself rather than fancy gyms, sponsorships, and social media influencers.
Even if you're fighting and competing, you still need to be aware of all these new developments, but I always encourage my fighters not to be distracted by the bright lights and to concentrate on the hard work on the mats.
‘It's tough to get out of bed to do roadwork at 5 am when you've been sleeping in silk pyjamas’
Marvin Hagler

Come train with us at Australian Combat Sports Academy BJJ - 325A Darebin Road, Thornbury, Melbourne.

Friday, 1 July 2022

My BJJ grading criteria


BJJ Melbourne

After my last article, I have been asked what I would consider the criteria & benchmarks for progression through the ranks to black belt in BJJ. Obviously as previously discussed there are no standard grading criteria across the board in BJJ. The requirements can vary greatly from school to school. But here are some of the things which I consider most important and useful when deciding if a student is ready for promotion:
Consistent attendance:
I only grade students who train regularly and consistently. Jiu-Jitsu isn't something you do every day for two months and then take six months off. Promoting students who train like this would send the wrong message to the consistent students. Ultimately this would damage everyone's chances of progressing. Regular attendance is important, but the student must also be improving.
However, if they are regularly attending training and still aren't improving, then it implies my coaching is ineffective. Those who come to class regularly will improve, and it has nothing to do with how talented they are or even how good I am at coaching, it has more to do with Jiujitsu being such an effective system that practically anyone can develop the skills with dedicated practice.
Success in Competition:
Competition is one of the easiest and most reliable indicators of your ability. If you win your division in a decent-sized competition. (Ie. you won several matches to get to the final) then in my opinion you deserve to get promoted to your next belt.
I don’t see any point in holding students back so they can keep winning white belt divisions again and again.
Sparring Performance at the gym:
The majority of BJJ students have very little interest in competition. Most just want to learn and develop the skills. Sparring in class is how they gauge their improvement.
Rolling in the gym isn’t the same as competing in a tournament. There isn’t the same level of intensity or pressure. Instead of trying to win at all costs, the best competitor in the gym might be working on his weak areas or trying out new strategies. If a non-competitor student can consistently hold their own against students with a higher belt, then it is obvious they should also be promoted to the next belt.
Technical Ability:
Some students can do well in competition at the lower belt levels or do well in sparring at the gym but if they rely more on their strength and athleticism rather than really understanding techniques then in my opinion they aren’t ready to progress to the next belt. Demonstrating and executing JiuJitsu techniques correctly rather than just muscling through them is essential. i
How you Roll:
Being able to roll or spar properly is important for progression in most styles of martial arts but especially in Jiujitsu. There are very few advanced techniques in BJJ. In other martial arts, you don't learn certain advanced techniques until you reach a certain belt or rank. In BJJ you generally learn everything at the same time, but what changes is the way you roll.
Beginners often roll in an uncoordinated way and hurt their training partners with accidental elbows and headbutts. Experienced grapplers roll in a smooth and controlled manner avoiding erratic unpredictable movements and without cranking on submissions. They know how to apply as much or as little pressure and energy as it takes to achieve the objective. They don't try to bully or dominate the lower belts.
Being a good fit for the Gym:
It could be argued that this may be a selfish motive for the coach to promote students, for after all, what difference does it make what the student's attitude is, so long as they are winning medals and can beat everyone at training?
As mentioned previously the majority of BJJ students don’t care about competition. Very few could tell you who the current world champions are let alone the champions from five years ago. In order to learn BJJ, you'll need to surround yourself with a supportive team. Establishing the right team culture is crucial. If one student has the wrong attitude, it can bring the entire team down, so having the right attitude and mentality is more important than talent or medals.
Fitting in with the culture of our school is a very important factor for me. Having students who win competitions is important, but it is not important enough to spend hours every night with people you do not like because of their attitude or because they are competing or training for the wrong reasons. In addition, I've found that these types of people result in the gym losing more members.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Bushido Fight Night 3 - The Last Samurai : Melbourne MMA


Bushido Fight Night 3 - The Last Samurai

Saturday 30th July at Thornbury Theatre.

Confirmed matches so far:
  • Tom Andrews vs Sam Marles
  • James Andrews vs Mark Furnari
  • Jaiven Callander vs Jokota Franks
  • Laurance Lockington vs Ben Sayer
  • Dariean Menchini vs Titus O’Donnell
  • Toby Montfroy vs Jake Bradley
  • Liam Gusti vs Tom Hardwick
  • Ashley Rodgers vs Tom Pratt
More matches to be announced soon.
If you would like to fight on one of our future events contact us via our website here:

Bushido Amateur MMA Melbourne

Next Bushido Contenders amateur mma event is coming up on Saturday 9th July.
This is undoubtedly the best first step for any aspiring MMA fighter or for any martial artist wishing to test their skills and training under a safe modified MMA rule set.
Bushido Contenders is the perfect first step for any aspiring MMA athlete and many of the fighters who have gone on to have success on the local fight scene began their fight careers on this event.

Rule Changes for Teens MMA.
The next Bushido Contenders Amateur MMA Competition is coming up on Saturday 9th July at Australian Combat Sports Academy.
After consulting with some of the coaches who have been supporting our events over the last few years we have decided to make the following rule changes for the under 18 year olds division.
All matches will be 70% contact. Referees will give a warning for excessive contact and second warning will lead to disqualification.
All matches will still be 2 x 3 minute rounds however a submission will end the round but not the match. Ie. if one fighter gets subbed in the first round, we have one minute round break then another round.
As with adult matches all takedowns and Submissions must be applied in a controlled manner to avoid injuring the opponent.
We hope that by bringing in these rules we can encourage more teens to take part and also make it a more useful experience for everyone.

Sign up via this Link:

How to get your BJJ Black Belt.


BJJ differs from other martial arts in that there are no clear requirements for getting your black belt or if there are, they vary from school to school.

Other traditional martial arts, on the other hand, usually have very clear-cut criteria about what you need to do to achieve each belt on the way to becoming a black belt. In karate, for example, there are certain techniques you have to be able to demonstrate and katas you have to perform before you can move up a belt. Even in Judo, which is the closest thing to BJJ, there is a progression path used all over the world for accumulating competition points, demonstrating certain techniques, and then performing the Nage no Kata to obtain a black belt.
Grading requirements can vary greatly from place to place in BJJ. Some schools measure belt advancement solely by the amount of time served and classes attended, while others focus on the number of techniques demonstrated for each belt. Others, such as my original academy (Carlson Gracie London), based belt progression on performance in competition. If you didn’t win a tournament at your current belt then you don’t progress to your next belt.
Your instructors will pick the best grading criteria that work for them, and your school will probably have its own variant, but in general, there are several keys to making progress in BJJ.
Don't focus on the belt.
Instead, focus on improving and learning. It usually takes 8-10 years of consistent training to achieve black belt status. Some people get it faster if they train full-time. Others, like myself, will take longer. (12 years in my case). If you enjoy the training and it becomes a part of your life, you won't care if it takes 3 years or 25 years. The journey is more important than the destination.
Avoid Burn-Out
Aim to train consistently rather than overdo it at the start. Don’t train 7 days a week for 3 months and then quit. Train 3 times a week for 7 years and then you’ll achieve your goals.
I’ve been training in BJJ for approximately 22 years. The people who compete always make more progress and stick with their training. You don’t have to be a full-time competitor or quit your job to focus on BJJ competition but my advice would be to compete at least a few times at each belt level along the way to get accurate feedback on your strengths and weaknesses. 5 to 10 minutes in real competition can be the same as 6 months of relaxed training in terms of your development.
Real Training
Be clear about what counts as training time. If you’ve been training in BJJ for 8 years but have had several 6-month breaks or periods where you only trained once a fortnight then that doesn’t count as 8 years of training. Also, if your training session consists of you trying to overpower and tap out the new white belts rather than focusing on your learning and development then that also doesn’t count as real training.
Be a good training partner.
Your coach has your best interests at heart. They want you to make progress and eventually get your black belt because it reaffirms to them that they are doing a good job as a coach. However, they also want what’s best for the other nineteen students on the mat. If you’re a crappy training partner or even worse a dangerous training partner who risks injuring the other students there’s a good chance the coach doesn’t want you on the mats and won’t promote you. Learning how to be a good training partner is perhaps the most important BJJ skill you can learn.

Come try out my BJJ classes at Australian Combat Sports Academy in Thornbury, Melbourne.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Why we created Bushido Fight Night : Melbourne MMA

Originally, we started out as a no headshots inter club competition at our gym. The no headshots format gave aspiring fighters an opportunity to test their skills. The inspiration came from the amateur Pancrase and KSBO competitions I competed in the UK over twenty years ago.

We ran eight of these tournaments, and the coaches and fighters involved gave great feedback about the professionalism and organization of the events. It was suggested that we do a full pro-am fight night and try to bring fighters on the card who had already been successful in our no-headshot events.
The event planning and organization for our first ever Bushido Fight Night took a lot of time and effort. The hardest part of putting together the card was contacting coaches and gyms since we were in the middle of a four-month lockdown. Several of the fighters on the card had participated in our amateur events and were familiar with the level of professionalism we would bring to the event.
Following months of preparation and one postponement, the show finally took place on Saturday 27th November, and it was a huge success in terms of organization, quality of fights, and attendance. All the teams and fighters involved provided us with great feedback.
The reason I decided to promote an MMA event was that I wanted to bring a fresh perspective to the sport. I’ve been involved in the sport of MMA for a very long time and have been on the other side of the cage as a fighter and coach. In September 2000, I had my first amateur fight and had been training in martial arts for seven years at the time. Throughout the years, I had many amateur and professional MMA fights and had my last professional fight 2009. In the years that followed, I became a full-time coach and have trained many successful fighters who have competed all around the world
I've seen many fighters, gyms, and MMA promotions come and go during that time. As a result, I learned a lot about what works and what doesn't, and I felt that my unique experience and perspective would be of great value when I run my promotion.
In addition, I wanted to portray a legitimate sport instead of glorifying violence for its own sake. Our changes included red or blue uniforms so amateur fighters could be distinguished from professionals. To prevent mismatches, we also make sure that the fighters who are matched on the show have the appropriate skill level and training. For all matched fighters, we provided discounted access to physiotherapy and diet and weight-cutting programs in order to ensure a level playing field. We wanted the fights to be evenly matched in order to give all fighters and teams a positive experience.
Last but not least, we wanted to emphasize the martial arts aspect of MMA. It should be about martial artists and combat sports athletes testing their skills and their training in the cage. There shouldn't just be wannabe tough guys trash talking and swinging for the fences and trying to impress their friends with how tough they are. The goal of Bushido Fight Night is to focus on skill, honor, and respect for the opponent while still putting on a great display of martial arts fighting.
Bushido Fight Night 2 is coming up on Sunday 13th

Saturday, 24 July 2021

GSP - The Blueprint for MMA Success

Georges St Pierre is arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time. It is difficult to compare MMA to more established sports like boxing or wrestling. However, GSP achieved milestones that can be regarded as characteristics of the greatest athletes. During his time, he became the champion of the dominant organization winning the UFC Welterweight & Middleweight Titles. He had Nine title defenses. His final record was 26 wins and 2 losses 

What makes GSP so impressive is his continual improvement from one fight to the next. Whereas most fighters eventually stagnate & decline in performance as their career goes on GSP actually kept improving. Additionally, he retired at the top. He won the middleweight title in his retirement fight against Michael Bisping, probably one of his most impressive performances.

GSP also had many disadvantages. Canada had a strong combat sports culture, but it was not known for MMA in the early days. The USA, Brazil, Russia, and Japan dominated MMA. As most of the champions of major organizations came from these countries, anyone else competing in UFC was not considered to have much of a chance. 

In addition, he did not train with one of the major fight teams, such as Brazilian Top Team, Team Quest or Chute Boxe. He was not deterred, however. He worked relentlessly to refine his skills in the individual styles, learning from the best wrestlers, strikers and jiujitsu teachers he could find, and then he worked even harder to combine them.

Additionally, GSP was not a full-time athlete during the early stages of his career, working several other jobs to pay the bills and only becoming a fulltime fighter after several fights with the UFC.

What was it that separates GSP from the rest and made him so great? There is a trend to imitate what successful fighters are doing right now in the hope of replicating their results. Watch the UFC countdown and see what they are doing to prepare for their upcoming title fight. The focus should be on what the top fighters were doing at the beginning of their careers. 

A great fighter must lay the foundation for future success during the early stages of training and fighting. If they had done things wrong early on, they would never have achieved their full potential and we would never have heard of them.

Don't look at what the successful fighters are doing right now. Find out what he did early on in his career that helped him succeed.

Fortunately, I have a good resource for accurate information on GSP’s early days. My friend and former training partner Oliver Jones. Oliver and I trained, sparred and competed together for many years in the UK BJJ & MMA scene. Oliver is a life long martial artist who has trained and competed extensively in Karate, Amateur boxing, BJJ, Freestyle Wrestling and MMA. He has trained and competed all over the world including Brazil, Japan & the UK.

He also studied in Canada for one year and trained with GSP almost every day. This was just before GSP made his UFC debut.

I recently spoke to Oliver to get a better understanding of what made GSP so great and what he was doing back then that laid the foundation for his career as one of the greatest fighters of all time.

A life long martial artist, not just a Fighter

Just like Oliver, GSP was a life-long martial artist. He didnt just train for fights he was constantly training and improving all the way through his life. Unlike the majority of fighters who just train when they have a fight coming up and then lose motivation between fights.

Those who are introduced to martial arts early in life often display this characteristic. It becomes more than just learning the techniques or getting in shape, but gaining the confidence and mentality that will last for a lifetime. This is why people who started training in their youth tend to stay in the sport for a longer than those who start as adults.

As a child, GSP was introduced to Kyokushin Karate by his father, who believed that it would help him deal with bullying. He trained in Karate until he was a teenager, when he became fascinated by the fast-growing sport of MMA. He dreamed of one day stepping into the cage and testing himself, but realized he needed grappling skills to be successful. During his late teens, he began training in BJJ and wrestling.

This background in traditional martial arts as well as a commitment to continuous daily improvement no doubt set GSP on the right path for future success.

The Professionalization of Mixed Martial Arts

GSP was among the first generation of fighters to treat MMA as a serious professional sport. Unlike previous champions, he wasn't fighting simply to showcase his martial arts skills or promote his school or style. He seemed to understand how big MMA was going to be in the future, so he prepared accordingly.

MMA (then known as No Holds Barred or Cage Fighting) was considered a freak show sport in its early days. No one could have predicted how popular & mainstream it would eventually become. In particular, that one day GSP would be named Canada's sportperson of the year. 

My conversations with Oliver indicate that GSP had an intuitive understanding of the future of the sport. Knowing it would keep growing and evolving, he knew it was worth dedicating his life to. For this reason GSP had a big advantage over other fighters at the time who mostly viewed it as a niche sport, which had already reached its peak. They were more focused on short-term success and relatively small paydays than thinking long-term.

Focus on becoming a well-rounded fighter

Previous generations of MMA champions were experts in one area, like striking or groundwork, but lacking in others. Champions in individual sports such as wrestling or BJJ knew that if they could reach their preferred range, they would have a huge advantage, but if they couldn't, they would be defeated.

George was determined to become skilled in all areas, according to Oliver. Even after many years of martial arts training, he recognized he still had holes in his game and room for improvement. He knew that he would need to follow a disciplined schedule to acquire all the necessary skills in wrestling, BJJ, boxing, and combine them in MMA. 

GSPs greatest strength was this ability to build upon their weaknesses. While many fighters are happy to just stay in their comfort zone. GSP showed the true white belt mentality. He put in the effort to become one of the most well-rounded fighters in MMA history. He was dangerous at every range and had perhaps the largest arsenal of weapons of any fighter in UFC history. He was an effective puncher, kicker, in the clinch, he had explosive takedowns, dangerous ground and pound and also submissions. On top of this he also had great defence in every area, phenomenal fight IQ and mindset.

Even though he wasn't the first fighter to blend and use the techniques of all the different styles, GSP took this to a higher level and was able to execute this seamless blend of styles in battle better than anyone before him.

This set GSP apart from other fighters and also created the blue print for future MMA fighters to follow.  

Commitment to constant improvement 

At the time they started training together, GSP already had an impressive MMA record and had won the title belt in Canada's biggest MMA promotion. Many would be happy just to rest on their laurels and rely on their fight experience & natural talent instead of continuing to improve. GSP had a true white belt mentality. In the year spent training with Oliver, he was constantly training, learning and improving. 

They first met Gelinas Martial Arts Academy, a traditional martial arts club which had several BJJ classes per week.  The BJJ instructor was Ahmad Zahabi, who was a purple belt at that time. and the brother of Firas Zahabi, who eventually became GSP's head coach. GSP worked hard to develop his Jiujitsu skills in both Gi & Nogi which would go on to serve him well in future years.

Oliver and George also trained three days a week at the Montreal Wrestling Club. The club's head coaches were Victor Silberman and his son David Silberman. In each three hour training session, the format was the same. Drilling the same basic high percentage takedowns followed by lots of rounds of sparring.

GSP also began training & competing in amateur boxing around the same time that Oliver was leaving Canada. In addition, they often traveled to other gyms on weekends to train, compete, or coach.  

Fighers often lack this dedication to learning new skills and fixing holes in their games. Fighters need a certain amount of ego. Often, however, this ego works against the fighter. GSP did not let his ego prevent him from doing the hard work he needed to do to become one of the greatest fighters ever.

Attitude & Work Ethic

In between fights GSP & Oliver would develop everything in isolation, then put it all together during training camp for an upcoming fight.. 

GSP didnt have particular special attributes or talent At least not compared to any other high level figheter but his coaches and training partners could see his potential and how far he would go due to his consistent hard work. He had an aura of achievement, positivity, and friendliness. He always seemed positive about everything and never complained. GSP was never late for training and was always the hardest working athlete on the mats staying right to the end of class and doing extra reps of techniques.

Georges was getting beaten in the training room by specialists in each style, but he was making incremental progress. He was gradually improving as a fighter, and eventually combining everything into MMA training. Many strong wrestlers were better than him in pure wrestling training, many BJJ specialists would tap him out on the mats but gradually there were less and less training partners & opponents who could combine the skills as well as he could. The vast majority of fighters won't go through the process of losing a lot in practice to eventually win.

Oliver was very impressed with GSPs work ethic,he described the typical Sunday of training with GSP. They would go to wrestling practice for three hours, eat a large lunch at a buffet, then GSP would head off to go swimming for two hours. The next morning, GSP would be up early to go to work as a garbage collector. In addition to his busy training schedule he also managed to find time to study at college, and also work as a nightclub bouncer several nights a week.

The correct mentality 

Oliver & GSP often discussed being nervous before fights. GSP was very honest about it. He would not sleep the night before, but he managed to turn all that nervous energy into hyperfocus. What impressed Oliver most was Georges ability to hold together his game plan.

GSP was very methodical with his career plans. He turned down some fights early in his career because he felt he wasn't yet ready for them. He never allowed himself to be pressured into accepting fights which he felt wouldnt ultimately benefit his long term career aspirations. He didnt feel the need to prove a point to anyone or to build his own ego. He made very conscious decisions about his career path. He gradually fought tougher and tougher opponents while working hard to build his skillset. His breakthrough fight was against Pete Spratt. This was GSPs 5th MMA fight compared to Spratt who had 18 fights including 3 fights in the UFC and was coming off a UFC win against Robbie Lawler. This was the fight which earned him a shot in the UFC.

He made his UFC debut by beating Karo Parisyan, followed by one of the most successful fight careers in the history of MMA. But as we can see, all of that is a result of the years of preparation leading up to this moment.

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

What I love about MMA



Like most MMA fans in the early days, I wanted to see which techniques would work in a real fight against someone who wasn’t playing by the same rules as me.

Which karate techniques or judo techniques will I be able to use if I’m in a fight against someone who doesn’t understand or respect the rules of karate or judo? 

There is a tendency in Martial Arts to believe exaggerated incredible tales. People who are otherwise critical thinkers are willing to suspend their disbelief when it comes to martial arts and believe the stories of mystical grand masters who could defeat hundreds of opponents at once using their mystical pressure point techniques. 

MMA has shown what will generally work and what won’t in a real fight. Of course, there have to be rules so it will never be 100% accurate but it's as close as we can legally & ethically get 

The growth of MMA has encouraged Martial Artists to become more realistic and honest in their training. Rather than believing that certain styles, techniques or strategies will work in a real fight when there is overwhelming evidence that they probably won’t work. 

The Evolution of martial arts

Sinec the early days of the modern era of MMA we have witnessed a constant evolution and improvement of Techniques, Tactics & training methods. In the early days if you knew how do a takedown and apply a rear naked choke you had a serious advantage over 99% of the other fighters you were likely to come up against. 

Since then the game has evolved in cycles every few years. Starting with BJJ strategy of clinch to takedown to mount to back control to submission. This was followed by wrestling era of takedown to ground & pound popularised by Dan Severn, Mark Coleman, & Mark Kerr. Then came the sprawl and and brawl era of fighters like Chuck Lidell.

The game has been continually evolving and building on the what came before. The tactics and strategies that worked ten years ago won’t work now. 

There are also so many techniques that are commonplace nowadays that were previously written off. For example the use of high kicks. 

Prior to the modern MMA era,Jean Claude van Damme was the biggest star of martial arts. Everyone was training to do the splits and land spinning heel kicks. 

When the ufc arrived many martial arts fans came to the conclusion that high kicks looked good in movies but were too risky for real fights and will leave you vulnerable to takedowns. 

One of the first things that changed people’s minds about this was Maurice Smith knocking out Brazilian Jiujitsu expert Conan Silvera. Followed soon after by Pete Williams knocking out UFC champion and elite wrestler Mark Coleman with a head kick. 

After that head kicks came back into fashion again as a legitimate weapon in real fighting. 

The purity of the sport

Fighting is the purest expression of a competition between two athletes. Unlike many other professional Sports, Fighting has been around for as long as human beings have existed. Physical Combat was always necessary in order to protect yourself , your family or your tribe from enemies. 

Over the centuries as societies became more civilized the need fro physical fighting became less and less necessary. however its clear that human beings still recognised the value of the ability to fight and defend yourself. This led to the development of martial arts & combat sports in every country and culture around the world. 

Mixed Martila Arts is the ultimate expression of this human need to fight & defend yourself and the ultimate test of the martial artists ability to apply his skills and techniques against an equally skilled and equally trained opponnet. after all what is the point in training for years if you cant apply the techniques under the pressure of a real fight?

MMA sums up the idea of one person against another equal matched opponent. Sometimes people will try to gain an unfair advantage through steroids or other methods but most fighters are doing for the right reason. To test themselves and their training and push themselves beyond their limits.

Podcast Interview with Sonny Brown

Here is a new interview I did on my friend Sonny Browns Podcast.

Sonny is a great martial artist and experienced MMA fighter but also a very successful and talented  Podcast host. He has had some huge names in the BJJ & MMA community as guests on his show over the last few years so I was very honoured to be invited.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

What I hate about MMA

MMA Melbourne

Weight Cutting

Too many fighters try to win by being heavier than their opponents rather than putting in the time to master the fundamental skills of fighting. They focus on how much weight they can cut but dont spend learning how to throw a straight punch without dropping their hands. 

Weight divisions are necessary so fighters can be matched with opponents of  similar size however weight cutting is one of the prime examples of how far MMA has gotten away from its roots. 

The first UFC was won by the lightest fighter in the tournament, Royce Gracie. Shortly after that at UFC 5, he also went on to beat Dan Severn who outweighed him by 32 kg. The sport has evolved a lot since then but the clear lesson is that if you spend your time focusing on proper training then the extra few kgs of weight probably won’t make a big difference to the outcome of a fight especially in the early stages of the fighters career. 
It is also fundamentally opposed to what martial arts training is all about. The idea of trying to gain an advantage by being bigger and heavier is very impractical in the real world. You can't choose to be attacked in the street by someone only of your weight. 

There’s an attitude that if you’re not cheating you’re not trying. All the top professionals take steroids and figure out clever ways to avoid getting caught so if you aren’t willing to do the same you’re naive and should find another sport. 
I don't really have a problem with taking them for bodybuilding or even for grappling only where you are unlikely to do long term damage to an opponent but in MMA, fighters risk brain damage or even death, therefore, I think I it’s unacceptable to turn a blind eye to this type of cheating. 
There is often the argument that you still have to train just as hard even if you are on steroids or that everyone else is taking them so there’s no point being at a disadvantage. Cheating is cheating no matter how you try to justify it and it goes against the spirit of what martial arts should be about. 

Trash Talking. 
Trash talking to promote fights usually just looks embarrassing and juvenile. Very few fighters such as Muhammad Ali & Conor McGregor genuinely have the skill to do this type of promotion well. Everyone else tries to imitate them and does a really bad job. 
Trained athletes getting into the cage to fight under very limited rules should be enough to generate interest from fans without the need to turn it onto the Jerry Springer show with storylines about why this fighter hates that fighter. 
I think it shows a lack of faith in their product that fight promoters feel the need to sell the sport with these manufactured storyline’s. The general public is perfectly willing to watch football, cricket, cycling, athletics and every other sport but for some reason, we won’t watch mixed martial arts unless we believe the fighters hate each other. 
Of course, there is evidence that the fights with the most hype and trash-talking lead to the biggest pay per view numbers but this is usually a short-sighted strategy whereby these new ‘fans’ get all excited about one fight but are then left disappointed when a high level mixed martial arts championship fight turns out to be not what they expected and so they go back to watching professional wrestling. 
Once again it also goes against what martial arts should be about. Honour, humility and respect. 

Dangerous Training Methods
MMA is generally a safe sport in terms of what goes on in the cage. This is due to regulation, monitoring, strict rules and guidelines for professional promotions. However, what goes on in the gyms in the lead up to fights is the real risk area. 
Anyone can claim to be an MMA coach without any actual experience or credentials. These coaches have no idea about how to train fighters safely and effectively and so instead just encourage young aspiring fighters to bash each other in the gym every day. While this can sometimes bring good results in the short term it will invariably lead to most of the fighters accumulating injuries which will derail their career or even worse to develop less visible but much more serious concussion-related problems which they will not begin to see the effects of until later in life. 
Sparring never needs to be full contact. My team practice many different forms of specific sparring drills which simulate what will actually happen in the fight. There is no reason to practice getting hit with full-power strikes to the head. As someone who has fought extensively, I can tell you that being hit in a real fight is not the same as being hit by your training partners in sparring. The fighters and teams that spar too hard and boast online about how tough their training sessions are invariably all end up dropping off the scene within a few years rather than having any long-term success. 

Bandwagon Jumpers
Mixed martial arts has become hugely popular in recent years. As the sport increased in popularity I've seen more and more people try to get involved and jump on the bandwagon. Sometimes this can be a great thing because it brings new blood and new ideas to the sport but more often than not it leads to flashy con men trying to exploit the impressionable next generation of up-and-coming fighters with big promises that seldom live up to the hype.
This is especially a problem for young fighters who don't yet fully understand how the sport works. They get to experience some success early in their career and then suddenly the new coaches or managers appear out of the woodwork and promise the world.
Obviously its not practical to force every coach, manager, promoter or gym owner to fight in MMA a few times in order to get some genuine experience. But, It makes a huge difference to have people with legitimate experience and background in the sport making the decisions that will affect those fighting in the cage.

Monday, 26 October 2020

How to make the most of your BJJ Training

What is the best way to learn and improve in martial arts training?


The usual advice is to just keep turning up, train hard and eventually you'll get better. There's a big difference between ‘training’ and ‘good training’. What qualifies as good training?
What an up and coming fighter may consider ‘good training’ may actually be doing them more harm than good in the long term.
Are you actually learning anything & improving? Are you fixing the holes in your game and correcting mistakes or just going through the motions hoping everything will fall into place? Do you actually have a clear plan of what you are trying to achieve with each training session or are you just spending all your training time mindlessly rolling, sparring and hitting pads without any specific objectives?
A famous study of chess players found the keys to what separated the best players from the rest and the same principles can be applied to martial arts training. Most people assume that the sparring and competing are the keys to success in combat sports and that the fighters who spar and compete the most are the ones who will improve faster.
The chess study compared between players who played lots of tournaments and those who spent more time doing ‘Deliberate Practice’ rather than just playing. They spent their time studying the game, building key skills and fixing their weaknesses. Obviously, this training was less fun and can also be frustrating as you will often feel like you aren't making progress but over time it adds up to a huge & insurmountable difference over your competitors.
Why can you not get the same results from just sparring all the time and then competing or fighting?
For the same reason that the chess players did not improve as much. Many of your rounds of sparring would be against more experienced training partners. During these rounds, you would spend most of your time defending and probably unable to successfully execute your own techniques.
Other training partners would be of a lower skill level. During those rounds, you probably aren't being tested and would therefore get away with incorrect technique or tactics.
It is possible that you may gain some benefit from sparring against higher or lower skill level training partners but the real question is do the benefits outweigh the costs in terms of time. Could those same rounds of sparring be spent on a different activity which would lead to greatly improved results over the course of your training career?
These small differences don't seem like much at the time especially since due to selective memory a student is likely to only remember the good parts of each training session. However, everyone only has a limited number of hours in their day so it's vital that you squeeze as much benefit out of every training hour as possible if you want to reach the highest levels in your sport.
Here is a summary of Deliberate Practice also known as Progressive Mastery. Which I adapted from the book High-Performance Habits.
  • Determine the skills you need to master - For example, Choose a combination technique, one specific type of guard pass or a takedown. Your coach should be able to assist you with choosing which skills you need to master to achieve your goals.
  • Set specific goals related to mastering that skill - For example, your goal is to consistently use this technique in sparring against experienced training partners. The type of goal you choose is very important. It must not be too easy but also not impossible. It should be what is known as a “Stretch” Goal - something that is achievable but will stretch your ability in order to achieve it.
  • Understand the meaning of achieving this goal and mastering this skill in your journey - Understand what it will mean to your overall development if you are able to successfully master this key skill. Being world class at this technique will allow you to reach your competition goals.
  • Understand the key success factors that will make or break this technique and develop your strengths in those areas. For example, grip strength, balance, mobility. Work to develop these specific attributes in order to achieve your goal. Do this while simultaneously correcting the weaknesses in your technique.
  • Get a clear visualized idea of what the technique or skill should look like if applied successfully by carefully observing your coach, training partners or videos of experts then compare to video of yourself practicing the skill or using it in sparring or competition.
  • Schedule challenging practices developed by your coaches - for example, your goal could be to use the chosen technique in each round of sparring against a line up of fresh opponents.
  • Measure your progress and get feedback - Keep track of your training, write it down, what worked and what didn't work, video your sparring sessions to get accurate feedback of exactly what you did right and wrong. Ask your coach for specific feedback about exactly which part of which technique you need to improve or work on.
  • Socialise your learning by practicing or competing with others - This is usually the easy part in terms of martial arts training because you will mostly be in classes alongside others.
  • Continue setting higher-level goals so you keep improving - Once you have mastered the skill or are able to consistently apply it against resistance then set higher-level goals so you can keep improving and avoid stagnating.
Teach your training partners what you are learning - When you attempt to teach the skill to other training partners it will force you to think about and understand it more deeply which will ultimately help in your own skill development.

Bushido Fight Night 3 - Full Fight Card

Live MMA Action in Melbourne Just over a week to go. Bushido 3 - The Last Samurai will be back at @thornburytheatre Tickets: www. acsabushid...

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