I love MMA almost as much as I love holidays. Depending on what your family is like, you can eat a great meal and get punched in the face at the same location.
On the serious side, there is a satisfying juxtaposition of resting and improving, enjoying abundance and giving. I hope you choose to view your holiday celebrations in a way that uplifts you as a person, as well as improves your fighting game. On top of that, I hope you find a way to serve those around you.
I just wanted to throw out a couple of things I’ve been trying to do, and maybe they’ll help you start off the holiday’s right. After reading, give me a holiday shout out – the more guys I train with, the more I realize that everybody has something awesome to teach. I love hearing from you!
Rest and Meditate
If you’re like me, you have a tendency to over-train rather than under-train. This can be a great time to rest from training, heal up from injuries. Physically and mentally, you need to rest in order to rebuild and prevent burn out. I’m reminded of periodization - an idea to construct cycles where loads and workout to get tougher and tougher, but then with a new cycle you back off from your maximums and build up again to new ones.
On a mental note, use the holidays to pause and reflect on life balance, goals and training strategies. Take some time to be a better person. Certainly, train with the “fight to win” mentality some of the time, but now can be a time to “play to learn” (credit SBGi guys). Gain some perspective.
Everything is better with a good attitude. Get in the “I’m celebrating” mood. Loosen up mentally, take yourself less seriously. Chances are, you’ll find different connections between moves and ideas – maybe have a breakthrough.
Also, celebration is about coming together as people. Thank your instructors and teammates. Bury old feuds, forgive your training partner for chipping your tooth (or whatever).
Giving thanks for something is almost paradoxical: the more you are thankful for what you have (no matter how little it is), the more valuable it becomes. The more you respect and treat your Sensei like gold, the more meaningful his instruction gets. Also, your gratitude will probably facilitate your instructor to be better able to serve your individual martial art needs.
Being grateful helps you understand and take to heart things you might be missing.
Maybe you don’t know how lucky you are by global or historic comparisons. Chances are, if you are reading this, you’re on the abundant side of life.
Take the opportunity to give to a food drive, or serve at a homeless shelter.
In terms of MMA, take some time to share insights and techniques with guys at your gym. The knowledge you don’t teach will die with you. The knowledge you teach becomes immortal. When you improve your training partners, you improve your game.
UPDATE: December 1 – This tournament has been canceled.
If you missed the recent throwdown/Utah Champion submission grappling tournament, don’t worry. There’s another competition right around the corner.
MMA training camp Aggressive by Nature is holding a no-gi, no points, no-time limit tournament. The facility is up in the Heber/Park city, and I spoke with one of the head guys and it’s got a ridiculous amount of mat space.
I know it’s short notice for some, but registration before December is $30. The rules will be on the same lines as grapplers quest.
A fun time was had at the Utah Submission Challenge. Here a number of videos of the Gi and no Gi divisions. If you guys have any more that you’d like to put up – or that are already posted – let me know and I’ll update this page.
Just wanted to start spreading the word, so you can put it on your radar. And by “put it on your radar” I mean to start rearranging your life, if necessary. Not only is he 6x world champion, Saulo is one of the most sought after instructors in the world.
Saulo Ribeiro is coming to SLC for a seminar possibly February 26-27, maybe the week after.
I have been teaching, training, and playing with the notion of pressures lately. Essentially, this had led me to conclude that achieving, maintaining and reversing positional dominance is the premier skill in MMA. That’s right. Positional dominance is the hierarchical king to all other concepts in MMA. Sure, I could be wrong. But I challenge you to outline a better one (please do! and then teach me). I dare say that positional dominance is at the root of success in MMA, indeed, it should be the prime directive of mixed martial artists.
Think of it this way – positional dominance is the ability to exert maximum pressure with minimal effort while simultaneously optimizing your mobility and decreasing your opponents.
Take side control for example. The top cross-body position is unquestionable dominant. Gravity allows you to crush your opponent pretty hard, especially when you learn the finer points of posturing for top pressure. You can switch position into scarf hold/kesa gatame, mount, north south, knee on belly, or even stand back up. Your elbows and knee strikes have “umph” and you can force openings to proper strike points. The guy on the bottom has weak control over your posture and mobility, and his pressure (hugging pressures, upa escapes, arm/knee frames) pales in comparison to yours. His hips are often blocked by your knee or arm, his shoulders are pinned to the mat – his mobility is severely restricted. The strikes from the guy on the bottom? Laughable.
Now consider the clinch game, two fighters both having an overhook and an underhook. They both exert pressure that controls movement and limits mobility. However, unless a fighter is skilled at the position, neither fighter has a positional advantage. Many times, over/under control becomes a battle of strength and explosiveness.
One last example – striking. Squaring off against your opponent puts you on an equal position. Cutting an angle behind him opens him up: striking his vitals becomes easier and his counter-strikes are hard to pull off. Often, he has to adjust his position before making any kind of offensive effort or block. Anderson Silva is great at controlling angles and space; see his book Striking for MMA, for more on that.
Positionally Dominant Game Planning
The overall frame work of your technical training can be broken up into two parts. Taking a dominant position and exploiting it. The delivery system differs on your body type, style presence, and martial art. The question is no longer “why is mount better than guard?” but rather, “Am I training in a realistic way that will emphasize my ability to gain positional dominance and exploit it along the way?”.
More and more, when I’m training or teaching, I’m trying to think, “How does this move help the application of positional dominance?” In my personal game, I’m trying to avoid just collecting a bunch of moves and instead try to build cohesive skills to gain dominant position.
Jujitsu escapes aren’t about blocking my opponents submissions – they are about advancing my position. The mantra of “Step every time you strike, strike every time you step” is becoming a way to not only increase punching power, but advance my body position by striking.
I think the overall shift in focus from details-orientation to “big picture” thinking will help my game. Its not that details aren’t important – they are. However, I want my game driven by fundamental principles from a top down approach, not a collection of moves from a bottom up approach. (I see the bottom up approach taught quite a bit)
Get and maintain positional dominance. When you do:
Strikes do more damage. Counter strikes do less.
You have increased control over your opponents movements, strategy and technical options.
You have increased freedom of body movement, more technical options and an more strategy selection.
Your pressure wears down an opponent physically and mentally, without overtaxing your energy.
Submissions become more viable and easier to pull off.
Almost every form of advantage is boosted when in a dominant position.