Sunday 30 August 2020

Kaizen - Constant daily improvement

One of the most important martial arts concepts which can also have a positive impact on your life away from the gym is the Japanese idea of Kaizen or continual daily improvement.

Constant gradual improvement even if only by 1% per day or week is much better than no improvement at all.

Two mistakes that newcomers to martial arts make are firstly believing that they do or don’t have any talent for martial arts or fighting. Secondly, the belief that if they go all out for a short period of time they will get a black belt or become a world champion within three years.

Firstly, there is no such thing as having a ‘talent’ for martial arts. Beginners often mistake having the ability to beat other untrained people as having a natural fighting ability. Being able to beat a trained opponent who is well prepared in a competition is much different from sparring with other beginners.

The skills and mentality to be able to compete and win against good opponents is not something that comes naturally to anyone. It must be developed gradually over months and years of training.

The second problem is with the idea of trying to do too much too soon.

I’ve been a full-time martial arts coach now for over ten years. I've had many students ask me what they need to do to get to the top level.

I explain to them that there are no short cuts. Come in and train every day, don’t take time off after fights, don’t go hard for a few weeks then slack off for two months only to repeat the cycle again and again.

If you stick to the plan you’ll be a top-level fighter competing and winning in the UFC in ten years.

Everyone who tries to take short cuts in their training, Looking for the martial arts equivalent of a get rich quick scheme always ends up quitting and never gets anywhere near their potential.

Forget about talent and shortcuts.

Focus on what you can do every day to make yourself 1% better. One year from now you will be 365% better than you are today. In ten years you will be a world champion.


Thursday 27 August 2020

Interview with MMA Coach Ian Bone

MMA Melbourne

Heres a short video Interview I did with my good friend Coach Ian Bone. Ian is a multiple time Australian MMA champion, BJJ Brown belt and is now heavily involved in the Japanese Karate / MMA hybrid style of KUDO. 

Learn MMA in Melbourne

Sunday 23 August 2020

The Problem with Amateur MMA

I've had a lot of involvement in Amateur MMA over the last twenty years first as a competitor and then as a coach. My first amateur fight was on my coach Fred Rados Pancrase event in London in September 2000. I competed in around 30 amateur matches in events such as Pancrase and KSBO before graduating to pro rules fights.

I competed in MMA to test myself and gauge my progress rather than seeing it as a career. Becoming a professional cage fighter wasn't a viable career option back in the early 2000s, MMA / NHB / Cage Fighting was a freak show sport back then and was still banned in most places.

Over the years MMA has become more and more mainstream. The sport of amateur MMA has also progressed a lot to the point where there are now large international amateur MMA competitions. I think this is great and I would always encourage my fighters to gain experience as an amateur if they are serious about having a successful fight career (I have previously made the point in this article -

However, there are several problems that I see with the sport of amateur MMA which will need to be addressed for the sport to continue to grow:

Amateur MMA as a Pathway to Professional MMA:

The first problem is that it is obviously not really necessary to compete as an amateur to compete at the highest levels in MMA.

Every aspiring fighter wants to fight in the UFC, Bellator or One FC but Amateur MMA isn't always seen as a pathway to the highest level of competition.

It is unheard of in boxing for a fighter to turn pro unless they have had a long and successful amateur career. Almost every top professional Boxer in history was also an amateur champion before turning professional.

If we look at most of the champions or top ten fighters, they didn't compete in amateur tournaments - they came straight from the elite level of other combat sports - wrestling, kickboxing or Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Of the current UFC champions, there are very few that have had any amateur fights before starting their pro career.

Having a lengthy amateur career may lead to the fighter taking excessive unnecessary damage when it could be argued that you would be better just developing elite skills and competing in one of the three areas of wrestling, striking or BJJ and then transferring to MMA. 

There are also arguably even easier entry pathways to make it to the big shows. These include building a  'padded record'. Fights against opponents who are picked specifically to lose so you can get into the big event with an undefeated record or having a flamboyant screen personality and getting there via a reality TV show. 

Obviously, the problem with these last two options is that you will quickly get exposed once you actually fight at the higher levels but nonetheless they do seem like attractive alternatives for the up-and-coming fighter who is trying to fast-track his way to the top.

Not enough fighters to make Amateur MMA worthwhile

As mentioned above many fighters will just go straight to pro or will focus on competing in individual sports such as kickboxing and wrestling so that leaves a smaller talent pool of amateur MMA fighters. This, in turn, makes it difficult to hold worthwhile MMA tournaments or MMA circuits because the best fighters probably aren't competing so even if you win it might be meaningless in the long term.

Another problem is that with amateur MMA, there will never be enough fighters willing to step up and compete. At every 'MMA' Gym there will be members training and even competing in kickboxing or grappling but very few training in both & combining styles and even fewer willing to step up and compete, usually citing the reasons that they haven't been doing enough grappling recently because they've been focusing on their striking or vice versa. Of the few that do compete, they will usually only compete once or twice rather than committing to a longer-term amateur career.

One of the reasons for this may be that there just aren't enough regular amateur events to build up the necessary numbers of fighters. Most amateur fighters are lucky if they get the opportunity to fight three or four times per year compared to sports like amateur boxing where you could conceivably fight every weekend.  

The problem of what is the difference between an amateur and a pro?

In most sports, the term 'Professional' usually has connotations of being a super-elite high-level athlete. This is usually the case in sports such as football or basketball but fighting is a different story. Anyone who has been involved for any length of time knows that being a ‘professional fighter’ is usually a meaningless term. Anyone can get a professional fighter's licence regardless of their skill or ability whereas not everyone can become a professional football player. The reason for this is that in combat sports the focus is less on skill level and more on selling tickets.

It is not uncommon to see amateur fighters who are light years ahead of some 'Professional' fighters in terms of skill and experience. This is something that would usually never happen in other sports and for that reason, it makes the entire concept of Amateur and Professional MMA somewhat meaningless.

I think a useful idea in the future would be that fighters aren't granted a professional fighters licence unless they have a minimum number of legitimate amateur matches with a specific winning ratio or have equivalent high-level experience in another combat sport.

Sunday 16 August 2020

Get the most from your BJJ Training

Get the most from your BJJ Training - White Belt Mentality

BJJ Melbourne

The concept of having a ‘Beginner's mind’ is very important in your long-term success in martial arts training as well as in many other areas of life.

This means constantly treating each session as if you are learning the techniques for the first time even if you have been training for many years. Many intermediate-level martial arts students feel that some skills or techniques are too basic. Everyone learns this technique when you first start training and then once you have learnt them you can forget about them and move on to the advanced stuff.
In my experience, this is not the case. When a beginner is first taught a basic technique they have usually come from no previous training background. They learn a technique such as a kick, punch or arm-lock and from their limited point of view due to their lack of experience, they think they have got the hang of it and now it's time to move on to the next move.
This is compounded in some cases by the fact that they receive verification that they have mastered the technique because they were able to apply it in sparring against another beginner level student.
This is a pattern that is repeated often in martial arts training and it's something that is detrimental in the long term for the student.
The opposite of this is to constantly have a beginner's mind. For example, you may have learned how to do an arm lock on your first day of training three years ago but chances are that on that day your mind wasn't really ready to absorb all the important details of the technique. Even though you ‘think’ you already know how to do it it is very likely there are huge chunks of information that you missed out on or just didn't pay attention to.
I have often come across this lack of ‘beginner's mind’ when visiting other schools or academy's. Students who have been training for a relatively short period who obviously feel like they already have a superior skill level. These students feel like they don't need to waste their time paying attention to what the instructor thinks will be most beneficial for their long term improvement and development. This is illustrated by the huge number of ‘advanced’ students at the average school who don’t feel they need to turn up to classes and instead just come in for open mats or sparring.
I used to think that these types of students were just too arrogant and were un-coachable. I could never imagine myself ignoring the advice or instructions from someone with literally ten times as much experience.
Recently I have come to the conclusion that it isn't really the fault of the student. It is an inherent ‘fault' with martial arts training in general. In a famous interview Helio Gracie, Grandfather of Brazilian JiuJitsu, was asked about his son Rickson who was regarded at that time as the best fighter on the planet. Helio said it's not that Rickson is good but it's that Jiujitsu is good. What he meant is that his son didn't possess any particular talent that made him special. What made him special was that he had spent his life training in Brazilain Jiu-Jitsu.
I think this is an important statement because the majority of people who begin martial arts training usually have little or no natural fighting ability. Even if they consider themselves to be ‘tough’ they would usually only last seconds against someone with actual training. If the beginner trains regularly (in an effective martial art or combat sport) within a few months or years they will find that they go from zero to being able to legitimately control and defeat the vast majority of the non-training population.
Obviously, this will have some effect on their perception of themselves, Many people struggle to get their head around their newfound ability and rather than accepting that it was the training methods, techniques and hard work that led them to develop fighting skills it's easier to believe that it was just down to natural talent.
This inevitably leads to problems because once you start believing in your own talent you will tend to ignore the things that created that ‘talent’ in the first place.
Even as an instructor I think it is very important to have a beginner's mind. There are many techniques which I already ‘know’ and which I feel can teach very well. However, I am still constantly researching better and more effective ways of teaching. If I have a class with twenty beginner students they should all be able to perform the basic techniques correctly after I teach them. That is after all that I am being paid for. It is unacceptable to me that after I teach my favourite technique only three or four of the most talented students are able to perform it. To be a world-class martial arts coach. I need to find the best ways to teach and explain every technique so that all of my students can improve.
I remember speaking to another instructor who said he wasn't interested in learning or researching any of the modern developments in Jiujitsu because he’d already been training for over twenty years and didn't want to change the way he did things. I found this interesting because to me, martial arts and fighting is a science, why would anyone not want to learn or re-learn a better way of doing things if better technology becomes available? Especially if it's your job and if it will help your students to improve.
Keeping beginners or white belt mentality is one of the keys to continual improvement and avoiding hitting the sticking points in your training that ultimately lead most people to quit.

Check out our BJJ Classes at Australian Combat Sports Academy / ACSABJJ

Tuesday 11 August 2020

MMA Striking Class Video

Karate Style Striking for MMA

Key Concepts:
1 - Side on Stance - Presents less of a target for Opponent.
2 - Distance - Bouncing in & out of range to land strikes. Not staying in the pocket.
3 - Single power strikes rather than combinations.
4 - Clearing obstructions - Opponent will have hands up so you need to clear them before you have a target to strike.
5 - Changing Stance - Stepping through on strikes to increase power or landing in a favorable angle.

A - Left Hand Trap to Rt Cross / Right Elbow
B - Left Hook Kick (Ura Mawashi Geri) to clear hand - Rt Cross
C - Step through Rt Cross - Left Body Kick (Mawashi Geri) - Right Spinning Backfist (Uraken)
D - Right Body Kick (Mawashi Geri) then Right Cross while retracting kick
E - Right Front Kick (Mae Geri) - Step through to Southpaw - Rt Jab - L Rear Hook - L Head Kick (Jodan Mawashi Geri)
F - Rt Cross - bring feet together - L Head Kick (Jodan Mawashi Geri)
G - Rt Cross - L Hook (Pivoting to Left) - Rt Head Kick (Jodan Mawashi Geri)
H - Bounce in Jab - Cross - Bounce back - Left Head Kick (Jodan Mawashi Geri) or Left Side Kick (Yoko Geri)
I - Jab - Skipping Left Side Kick (Yoko Geri) - Rt Spin Back Kick (Ushiro Geri)
J - Side step Left vs. Rt Cross - Rt Side Kick (Yoko Geri) land in Southpaw - L Cross - Rt Hook - L Uppercut - L Knee (Hiza Geri)


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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