Monday 16 October 2017

Gym Culture

I've trained at lots of gyms all around the world. I've trained all over Europe, in the USA, Brazil, Japan and Thailand  I have tried to pick up all the best elements of each place i've trained while avoiding the things I felt didn't work.

My dream was to create a gym with high level training in striking, grappling and MMA. I'd been to many places that had excellent BJJ but non existent or very limited striking, or MMA gyms which had fighters but no real technical BJJ or Striking training.
The things that I've tried to do which I believe will lead us to being one of the best teams in the world include the following.

Train Smart

Smart Training methods - Not just everyone smashing each other in every session. Using progressive resistance and trying to learn and improve with each round of sparring or rolling rather than treating every round like a fight.


Focus on important fundamental techniques - We work on high percentage techniques 99% of the time. If you get those working well then its easy to add the rubber guards, berimbolos and flying heel hooks to your game. If you start with the fancy flavour of the month techniques you'll never get them to work.

Keep Getting Better

Focus on continual improvement - working on getting better every session, improving your game by 1% every day and after a year you'll be 365% better. This is a long slow process but you get better results than just training hard for 4 weeks leading up to a fight and then slacking off.

Team Culture

We have a culture of more experienced members helping the new guys and turning them into better training partners - This benefits everyone, New people get better quicker and experienced people have more quality training partners. The opposite to this is gyms where the people who've been training for 6 months consider themselves too good to waste their time on the new people.

The Right Atmosphere

We have a friendly atmosphere - Theres no need to convince people that you're a tough guy if you actually have the fights, wins and belts to prove it. Toughness is how you train and fight not how you act.
We still maintain the atmosphere of a martial arts academy. Everyone lines up, follows the rules, shows respect to their training partners, keeps the place clean and hygienic.


We don't disrespect other gyms or teams. I think if you spend all your time talking about how bad other gyms or teams are it shows insecurity, we focus on making ourselves and our students the best that they can be in every session rather than worrying about what others are doing.

Check out this Documentary about our Team and our BJJ Program:

Monday 9 October 2017

Becoming a Fighter

Long Term Athlete Development in Combat Sports

Since the beginning of our fight team we have consistently followed a long-term development program for our fighters. The Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) Program is commonly found in elite level sports but is often ignored in the world of Fight Sports.

Stages in Fighter Development

The first stage in our system is to make sure the students have a solid foundation in the fundamental skills before progressing onto sparring in the gym. If they train consistently they can then progress to local inter-club/novice sparring events. After that they can move on to amateur fights and then finally onto Professional fights. 

Why do we follow this structure? 

We want to produce world-class competitors not just fighters who can win at local level events. Some coaches don't believe its necessary to follow a long term system like this. They believe their fighters are already good enough to go straight to Professional fights. In my opinion taking short-cuts in this area may seem like a good idea in the short term but can seriously damage the long term prospects and growth of a fighter.

Learning about your fighters

One of the reasons we follow this Fighter Development Program is because we learn just as much from the novice level events as the fighters do. Coaches can learn the strengths and weaknesses of their fighter, how they perform under pressure, how they respond to coaching and instructions during the fight and what areas they need to work on and improve upon as a team before the next event.

Improving your coaching

Becoming an effective coach takes constant learning, practice and evolution. Novice fights are a great opportunity for the coach learn how to best warm up the fighters, what instructions to give before and during the fight, how to adjust strategy during the fight and learning about how the fighter copes with and responds to the stress and pressure of competition.

Development of the Fighter

Becoming a great fighter is a long process. Novice fighters need to make mistakes and learn from them. They need to try new things in an arena where there is less risk if it goes wrong. Mistakes in Novice fights are no big deal. They are actually beneficial because they highlight areas of you game that will need improvement before you step up to professional fighting.

The Cost of Making Mistakes

If you make those same mistakes in professional fights there is usually an additional risk of serious injury as you will be up against much better opponents. There's also a risk to your career as a professional fighter of losing your fight contract, losing your motivation and confidence and ultimately derailing your career before its even started.

Taking time to develop as a fighter

Novices are not ready to jump into Professional fights straightaway. Not everyone is cut out to be a fighter. Novices need the opportunity to figure out if the sport is actually for them. They need to gradually experience the fear, stress and adrenaline dump in a safer environment. The fighter can then begin to figure out how to deal with the pressure of competing, managing the stress, fatigue and fear and learn to not let these factors affect his performance in the fight.

Better for the sport

I believe it's detrimental to combat sports to have first timers fighting on professional events. The public shouldn't have to pay to watch fighters who haven't yet mastered the basics skills of the sport. Seeing first timers with no amateur experience fighting on professional fight shows makes fighting sports look amateurish. Fighters should have a minimum of 10 matches away from the public eye before stepping into the ring in front of paying spectators. 

No shortcuts

I believe taking short-cuts may seem like a good idea to some young up and coming fighters who want to make a name for themselves but will ultimately cost them a lot in terms of their long term development and future prospects in the sport.

Here's another Article I wrote on how to Prepare for your first MMA Fight:

'I've found that taking shortcuts will get you to the place you don't want to be much quicker than they get you to the place you want to be.'
Lennox Lewis

Sunday 1 October 2017

Tough on your Team.

Popularity Versus Performance

One of the great lessons we learned from sports coaching expert Wayne Goldsmith earlier this year was that 'popularity is the enemy of performance'. 

Popularity is easy; performance requires honesty. If you want your teammates to perform at their best you need to be honest with them even if this will make you less popular. You need to be tougher on your team than their opponents will be.

This does'nt mean trying to knock them out or cranking on arm locks in every sparring session. That would actually be counterproductive, it will not allow them to improve and may lead to injuries, which could derail their progress. 

Being Honest with your Team-Mates

If you care about your teammate’s progress and success then you need to be honest with them about their training. If your training partner is on a losing streak and you don’t want to see them get knocked out in their next fight you need to be honest with them and tell them that training two hours a week then going for a run on Saturday isn’t going to get the job done.

Wayne’s point was that most people would not be honest. They don't want to offend their training partner so instead they just say ‘good job bro’, give them a high five and tell them we'll get them next time. 

The Reality 

The reality is that your next opponent doesn't care whether you are a nice person and doesn't worry about offending you. He is going to be brutally honest with you over the course of three five-minute rounds and will highlight the areas of your training where you took shortcuts

Popularity is easy; Performance requires honesty. The more you care about each other the harder you will be on each other.

Tough Coaching

The same is also true when it comes to coaching. Most fighters early in their career are open to advice and constructive criticism. They want to be told where they are going wrong and what they need to improve on. They realise that there will be a huge price to pay if they don't fix up the holes in their game. The job of the coach is to identify these holes and fix them before they can be exploited by a future opponent.

Coaches Versus 'Yes-Men'

If the fighter follows the advice of the coach he will usually experience initial success early on in his career. But this is when something interesting starts to happen. Often the fighters early success will cause him to develop an overblown ego, he decides he no longer needs to be told what he's doing wrong and instead surrounds himself with people who will constantly feed his ego by telling him what he's doing right and how great he is.

This is always a recipe for disaster. The new 'coach' will either not be knowledgeable and experienced enough to highlight the mistakes of the fighter or will just refuse to criticise him for fear of losing his meal ticket. Either way, it will lead to fighter going on a downward spiral of worse and worse results.

“A coach is someone who tells you what you don't want to hear, who has you see what you don't want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.”

Strength in Depth

The best part of coaching is witnessing the improvement and development of the students who can't train full time due to family, work, school and life commitments but who still make the effort to turn up and train hard two or three sessions a week every week.
I never wanted a team where there are just a few star athletes and everyone else is there to pay the bills and make up the numbers. I pride myself on the fact that everyone who commits to training regularly at my classes will learn to fight and grapple well. This in turn will be a huge benefit to the full time competitors as they have more quality partners to train with.

Long Term BJJ Training

Eleven years ago since I got my black belt and I thought this would be useful advice for anyone who is in the earlier stages of their JiuJi...

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