To me, controlling the octagon serves the purpose of helping hit your opponent in the face without repercussion. As a added bonus, it can add points to your judges scorecard. Today, I give a few of my thoughts about cutting off the cage, or fencing in your opponent.
In essence, it is just removing your opponent’s ability to escape your danger zone. Let me explain by way of pictures.
Between your feet, looking down at the mat, you have a light-bulb shaped area where your strikes have power. If your opponent is on the outside of it, you’ll find its difficult to hit him/her with power, if at all.
Above, a common scenario – you and your opponent both have strikes that are in range (standing inside/on the edge of the pocket). Both of you are at more or less equal turf to strike one another. For sake of argument, lets say that your opponent doesn’t want to continue trading strikes with you and feels it too dangerous to press forward; there are only a few options to get out of your danger zone.
If they retreat straight back, they get closer to the cage wall and more fenced in. The lateral escapes are more interesting, and cutting off the cage involves making these two options either impassible or very dangerous.
Pretending you and your opponent are orthodox stance fighters, if they move to your left you can beat them with your footwork – getting your left foot on the outside of their right foot-and can shut down that particular escape path. This will more or less guarantee they’ll try to escape towards your right … directly into your power punches AKA the hammer. A lot of fighters will try to avoid getting hammered by circling to your left, so cutting them off as shown above is a good thing to get good at.
Remark: I’m aware that to side-stepping to your left potentially exposes you to your opponent’s power hand. However, we’re looking to cut off the cage and that comes with risks and rewards.
More often than not, your left hand will be the fence, your right hand will be the hammer. Your jab, left hook, and stepping to the outside (cutting them off) fences them in. Your right cross, overhand right, and right kick or knee are collectively, “the hammer”. Occasionally, a right uppercut or hook can also work. While you can pick any target on your opponent, I know many boxers like to keep an enemy on the ropes via body shots. The premise is that if your headshot is dodged, your opponent escapes to freedom (and is no longer fenced in). Body blows, on the other hand, keep escape routes shut down even if they are blocked. See this video on cutting off the ring for a little more about that.
There are a few variations of note. You can fence opponents in either with actual strikes or fakes; if you’ve pounded a guy with a solid back-leg knee, they’ll fear the fake and react to it (see Lyoto Machida vs Randy Couture).
You can cut off the cage to your right side too – it just means your hammer will have to be the front leg karate style kick (no wind up, as a thai kick would be too slow to keep them fenced in) and the leaping left hook.
I’ll leave you with this video that shows Frankie Edgar keeping an opponent on the cage wall.
Let me know your thoughts, tips and tricks in the comment section below.
The ABC’s of MMA has been a pet project of mine for quite some time. The idea was to construct a manageable curriculum for my students up at the U to be able to quickly gain their bearing in the sea of mixed martial arts techniques. I worked with my instructors and friends to narrow down what I felt were the most basic and useful techniques in MMA. To accompany these techniques, I wanted to codify a variety of warmups and drills I used over the years that help condition the body and strengthen ability to do the moves.
Next, I wanted to systematize it in such a way that it was easy to remember, teach to and track progress on. In essence, the ABC’s of MMA are to help someone develop a workable vocabulary of fighting techniques and training drills. It’s not meant to be everything to everyone; I’m not a guru and don’t know all mastery points for the moves contained therein. However, I think you’ll find it a slick way to organize teaching and learning.
The format of the program defines the three main areas of MMA (striking, grapling and conditioning) and has 3 levels of difficultly for each area. If a coach thinks X is more important to Y, it’s easy to adapt or insert parts into the 9-cell program.
Below are two PDFs that define the curriculum and help you keep track of your personal progress. The intent of the checkoff list is for your instructor/coach/mentor to initial each block after you show proficiency.
I’m currently working on fleshing out instructions for each individual move inside the ABCs. I hope you find the approach laid out here to be useful. If you have any ideas or would like to help, let me know.
Dieting is tough – and you know what makes it harder? Being next to broke. A buddy of mine called me and asked me if knew how to eating well on a budget, and it turns out, I only know a little bit about nutrition but I know loads about being broke.
Get Your Mind Right
The first thing you need to do about eating like a fighter (on a budget) is leave the fear-based scavenger mindsets behind. You have abandon some of the comforts of emotional eating and eating for pleasure. Logic must prevail.
You know the urge right after you get satisfied at dinner, but there is a little bit left on the plate? Why not finish it off? You don’t want it to go to waste, right? Aren’t you poor? That’s the scarcity mindset. Free samples at Costco or the boss is bringing in some fatty lunch for the crew? Should you pass up a food source, you’re light in the cash department, right? That’s the scavenger mindset. Someone offers you a cupcake and you can’t say no? You’re afraid someone won’t like you if you don’t eat a cookie? That’s probably just lack of will power or you can’t stand up to social pressures – either way, grow a pair.
Anyway you slice it, you have to design a plan of attack for eating and stick to it. You can’t let these weird emotions in to wreck the course of your diet-ship. Again, you must steel your mind and kick out emotional eating.
Remember Classical Dieting
What I mean by “classical dieting” is the nuts and bolts of a disciplined, thought out eating plan. Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can forget the basics. You should keep a food journal, shop with lists that come directly from your meal plans. If you’re trying to lose weight, you should be making sure you’re in a calorie deficit when you take into account your activity level; likewise, putting on weight requires that you are giving your self some surplus.
These kind of things are the basics of a sound nutrition plan. I don’t want to spend much time developing them; rather, I want to discuss how to make it work as a pauper.
Not only is the Boy Scout’s motto, it should be yours too.
Prepare many meals ahead of time. Divvy out the goods and package them up for a no-brainer eating experience later.
Prepare to buy, and cook, in bulk. However, don’t buy more than you can eat and store before it goes bad. Having a meal-plan centered shopping list helps this out – you know when you’ll next be having X or Y food.
Prepare to spend money on food storage devices. You need to be able to save and store the grub you produce. If you don’t have the space to store it, it’s going to get thrown out or go bad. You don’t have a deep chest freezer? Enough Tupperware? If your place of employment doesn’t have a fridge – you’ll need a lunchbox cooler. Plan for that stuff in your budget.
Prepare your fridge for the food you’ll be buying. You probably don’t think about it, but your fridge is club where all your foods have their pre-party (before they party in your mouth). Bouncers are employed at regular clubs for a variety of reasons; one of which is to control overcrowding. Overcrowding can cause foods to spoil – creating uneven cooling, sometimes freezing stuff. Remove stuff that doesn’t need to be in there (vinegars, onions, potatoes). I really can’t extend the metaphor to all I need to say – but you get the idea.
Prep snacks/emergency meal replacements. Maybe you’ll forget to bring lunch or the school bully steals it – you want a back up option that doesn’t force you to eat out.
Prepare a list of things you can eat at the restaurants you’re most likely to visit. When you do eventually go out to eat, you’ll be able to keep in line with your diet and budget.
Be prepared to buy things you’re not crazy about; foods that are in season are generally cheaper, and wait to buy stuff you really like until its on sale or in season and then save it in your deep freezer.
Be prepared to get your hands dirty – buying foods in their raw, least unprocessed states is much cheaper. I’ll take the skin off my own chicken breasts for $1/lb less, or stir in fruit to my yogurt and partition it off in a small container for single servings.
Time = Money
A lot of “dieting on a budget” resources don’t account for the money value of time. Cooking at home and buying foods like a shrewd business man makes sense on the balance sheet, but if you’ve ever gone to Costco you know that something that saves you cash can become an spirit-crushing ordeal.
Consider vegetable chopping; it can be pretty time intensive for you to make all the carrot sticks you’ll need for snacks for the next decade (or whatever). My solution? Cut corners! or don’t, I mean. Save chopping up a green bell pepper – just wash it and eat it when you have lunch at work. Its not hard to eat it like an apple. Same goes with celery, apples, etc. If you must chop, ask yourself, “Can I reasonable do this at work without undue burden?” I do partial prep on several meals and then construct them at lunch.
When selecting recipes that fill out your daily nutrition needs, choose the ones with the least time-intensive preparation.
Behold, the crock-pot
The crock-pot deserves it own section, nay, its own post! They are glorious; you get to save time and money. Once you figure out how to make crock-pot meals, it becomes super-easy to do.
You can probably find everything you need, knowledge-wise, either on the net for free or at your (gasp) public library. Here are a few suggestions:
The great thing about crock-pot dishes is they tend to be a good match for nutrition and budget. Veggies, dried legumes, cheap cuts of protein, little mess, no or little cooking fats needed, easy to use and clean, non-time intensive.
Ground turkey replaces ground beef. Generally cheaper and better for you.
Plain low-fat yogurt replaces sour cream and mayo. Combined with stuff like balsamic vinegar, it replaces fattier salad dressings. The plain variety is much more versatile than it’s pre-flavored brethern (or sisteren? who knows).
Buy the plainer, larger version of pretty much anything. Individual servings of yogurt, oatmeal packets, etc.
Corn tortillas replace flour; less fat and calories, more fiber.
Gonna have a candy bar? At least pick the lesser of the evils. York peppermint patties, 3 Musketeer mint, dark chocolate.
Water replaces (name virtually any beverage here).
Parsley, cilantro, and cumber salad replaces the more expensive, less nutritious bag mixes. At least where I shop, the parsley/cilantro bunches and cumbers are 50 cents a unit. Plus, these greens last longer in the fridge before going bad. And even one MORE plus; salads made from the parsley type green matter can be stored with the dressing on them without wilting. So its a boon all the way around.
Unsweetened soymilk can replace regular milk; one of the main benefits of it is that you can store it without refrigeration. Don’t get me wrong, I think the cows milk (casein) superior, but soymilk has its place. IMO, I don’t think it should be a main source of your protein intake – liquid or the protein powder – but again, its got is place.
The Old Standbys
Two excellent, cheap sources of protein are eggs and low fat cottage cheese. Boiled eggs are super portable, making them an easy snack or part.
Oatmeal – the less instant, the better. And don’t goober it up with sugars, syrups, cream, etc. For many on nutrition plans, oatmeal is their go-to carb. Its slow burning nature, protein content, and fiber (soluble and insoluble) make it one a hard carbohydrate to beat. True, they have made some leaps in the whole wheat pasta world, but price-wise it may not fit into the budget.
Legumes of all kinds. Pinto, Black, Navy, Mung, Garbanzo, Lima, Kidney, etc. Using the slow cooker, buying the dried ones
Brown rice. Goes with the beans to complete the proteins.
Whey protein; ahh… a staple of those who pump iron. My advice is to use it when it’s portability really matters, like after the gym session you hit on your lunch break.
Fish: Tuna, shrimp, talapia. Of course, breaded is a no-no.
Broccoli. Plentiful, fairly cheap, and good for you. I’ve known some bodybuilders who have this green stuff 15 out of every 30 days.
Bananas; cheap, chock full of potassium, and a solid carb to boot. Mixes well with protein powders and dairy products.
Invest in spices that make boring, nutritionally sound foods, more exciting. You’re a lot more likely to carry out a diet plan if tastes and flavors are good, and periodically change.
WARNING NOTE – I AM NOT A DOCTOR. I AM NOT A PHYSICAL THERAPIST. IF YOU ARE INJURED, GO SEE A PROFESSIONAL.
Kneeling on the mats for hours, slamming someone’s face into your knee from the Thai Clinch, heelhooks and knee-bars – fight sports can be tough on the knees. Many fight cards have been changed due to knee injuries, so much so, that it’s almost common.
I injured my knee a while back and have since done some research to help me understand the subject. Boy, there is a lot to know. Here’s what I found out.
To See A Doctor Or Not To See A Doctor, That Is The Question
“I’m I really hurt bad enough to go see a doc? Can I afford it?”
If you had an unlimited pile of money, sure, if it hurts – why not go see a doctor and check it out? Or maybe you’re on a team of some kind and lucky to have a a sports medicine specialist on staff- then the check up is free. Of course, there’s the chance that there’s nothing the doc can do to make you heal faster and all you need weeks of rest and relaxation.
To me, there are two major distinctions in terms of knee pain.
1. You just had a sudden pain hit while you training – caused by a distinct injury.
2. A nagging pain that develops as you train, over time.
For the second type of pain, go see a professional, because it may not get any better if you don’t do something different.
For the first type, I think Medline Plus gives some good advice:
Call your doctor if:
You cannot bear weight on your knee
You have severe pain, even when not bearing weight
Your knee buckles, clicks, or locks
Your knee is deformed or misshapen
You have a fever, redness or warmth around the knee, or significant swelling
You have pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, or bluish discoloration in the calf below the sore knee
You still have pain after 3 days of home treatment
Maybe you’ve decided to go see doc, maybe you’re going it alone. Either way, before you know how to fix the problem, you have to know what the real problem is.
If you want a professional, get a doctor, orthopedic specialist or sports medicine doc to check out your knee. If you’re not sure who to go to in your area, see if you can find who your local college football, basketball, or wrestling team uses.
I understand, there are considerations. I’m not rich and I don’t have great insurance. Plus, I’m a “do-it-yourself” kind of guy. If you are going to wait it out and try self-diagnosis and home care, you might try checking out this knee problem page at www.webmd.com or this knee symptom page at www.jointhealing.com to see if you’re on the right track of identifying the problem. It’s important.
For instance, if you tear the the ligaments on the sides of your knee (the extracapsular ligaments, the MCL/ LCL), there is a good chance of the injury healing on its own. However, the other ligaments (intracapsular ligaments) have “have limited potential for spontaneous healing and frequently requiresurgical reconstruction” (source).
Common Problems and Solutions
In terms of injuries, some of the most common are (in no particular order):
There is a great ACL Injury FAQ posted on grapplearts.com with some awesome specific info, and if you have one, check it out.
One good thing about knee injuries it one simple formula solves a lot of problems.
R. Rest. You know, not working out.
I. Ice – Cryotherapy. From the above textbook, the general procedure is to ice your knee 4 times a day, for 20 minutes a session, each session 2 hours apart.
I’ve heard some guys say 10 minutes on, 10 off is good, but I’ve had good success with the textbook version.
Another tip from the text – when you make an ice bag, make sure you squish out all the air in the bag before you seal it. You’ll get better cold coverage on your knee.
Also, make sure you ice the top part of your knee, not popliteal fossa – the soft underside. It’s got a network of capillaries, veins and nerves. Icing can damage the stuff back there.
C. Compression. Apply gentle pressure to the knee – a knee brace or knee sleeve will do the trick. Make sure there is a “snug” feeling without being too tight. Maybe something like this:
E. Elevation – get that knee lifted up and try to stay off it.
Here’s what I’ve been told by a nurse. Taking some medicine will serve two main purposes: pain-relief and swelling reduction.
You want to take a full dose of an anti-inflammatory – Ibuprofen, Naproxin, Aspirin. It seems logical, if you have minor pain just take a minor dose, right? In terms of controlling swelling, you really need the full (as directed) dose to get the anti-inflammatory effect you’re looking for.
The thing is that some inflammation can help, bringing in some good body chemicals, but too much inflammation is bad. Many injuries are serious enough that the body overcompensates with it’s swelling so taking some Ibuprofen for the first day or so after the injury is a good thing. As the swelling goes down and you don’t need pain management, you don’t need them. However, your mileage may vary. People react differently to drugs, even over the counter ones. You know the drill – use common sense and seek medical advice when needed.
I’ve never been a big user past my weekly multivitamin, but some people swear by the them. Glucosamine, shark cartilage, omega 3 fatty acids/DHA/EPA complex (like highly the ever popular supplement Flameout ), calcium, vitamin C – there is a wacky, wild world out there pimping supplements to helps your joints. You can read about some of them here.
I think there is some value to a few, and if you’re training hard I’d make sure you’re taking enough of the most important sports supplement: food. There are many guys who are over-training or have symptoms of over-training because they aren’t getting proper nutrition from well balanced meals.
If you have to lay off the knee for a while, you’ll need to be extra careful when getting back into training. When it comes to specific knee rehab exercises for you, I’ll leave it to your physical therapist. In general, here is a decent list of knee rehab exercises. The list includes stuff like step-ups, calf raises, squats (you can do just the first 1/4 if you need). Another list with some different options can be found here. It talks a bit about stretches, coordination, and usage of the stretch-bands.
In this article, there is a more structured, “back to full function” approach, as well as an outlined workout program.
Of course, these are just examples and may not suit your injury. However, whatever the game plan is to heal your knee, you have to see it to the end.
When you’re sick and the doctor gives you a set of anti-biotics, you need to continue taking them as the prescription dictates until they run out, even if you’re feeling better – if you don’t you risk re-infection with a now resistant bacteria. In this context, we get that. But when it comes to training, we just like to jump the gun. If the doc says, 6 weeks, no training – take six weeks off. If the doc out lines 12 weeks of recovery exercises, do them.
If you’re passionate about your sport, take extra care not to push too hard. When you have a weak link, you’re more likely to injure yourself again. You’re still at risk of re-injuring the knee, or even injuring another body part. While protecting the bum knee, you can put other parts in danger -that’s what happened to me, I was nursing a hamstring tear on one leg, then I hurt the knee on the other leg.
In the majority of texts I read, when things aren’t too serious, you can exercise with weights as long as your knee tolerates. Just take it slow and easy.
If you’re looking for a simple book to supplement your knee knowledge, you might want to pick up “Treat your knees” by physical therapist, Jim Johnson. It’s short, to the point, and solid scientifically.
There are times when things are serious enough that no amount of rest and exercise will fix the problem. It’s time to consider surgery. Can you put it off? Sometimes. From the stories I’ve heard, most people said that they wished they had gotten it done sooner. Many people can continue walking around, living and training, but remember, there are injuries that absolutely cannot be undone with ice and TLC. If one of your cruciate ligaments are ripped to shreds, it’s only a matter of time before re-injury.
If it’s come to surgery, a book you may want to consider is “Heal your knees” by orthopedic surgeon Robert Klapper and water therapy expert Lynda Huey. They show a bunch of exercises like pool walking, underwater bicycle kicks and quad extensions. This book talks about x-rays, MRI’s, surgery, post-hospital advice, etc. To me, it would be more useful if you think you’re going to have to go under the knife than the above “Treat your knees” – which is more pragmatic and abbreviated.
If you’re training smart and the people around you are trying to help – not hurt you – that’s important. I think most people get injured when their teammates are trying to take their head off. You can be competitive without trying to blow each other out of the water. So you need a cooperative competitive dichotomy and you’ve got to skirt that line. Most injuries I know come through people getting a little overzealous, rather than just the freak injuries.
I think this is spot on for knee injuries. Good training partners both push protect you. The first line of defense for your knees is a safe, quality training environment.
Know when to tap, when to stop. One of the defining attributes of adulthood is knowing when to stop. There is a difference between discomfort pain and injury pain. Don’t let machismo mess up the next few months of your training.
If you’re knees are sore, give them time and protect them.
You can also do specific exercises to prevent knee problems. Here’s a page about specific ACL injury prevention – their program includes warm ups, stretches, agility drills, etc. If that’s too much, make sure you read the article “What squatters Knee’d to know“, by Frederick C. Hatfield, aka Dr. Squat. Hatfield goes over proper lifting shoes, knee wraps, and proper squatting technique.
Talking with a friend of mine who does some flexibility and strength coaching at the U of U, he gave me the tip to make sure you’re adjust the angles of your feet when stretching. He also mentioned that you don’t want to hit the same exercise the same way every time. For example, you will want to pick different variations of the squat, such as the sumo squat where your feet and knees pointing slightly out, squatting with a wider stance. Making sure you’re getting strength and life with those different joint angles is important to keep the knee stable and strong.
Note: This article was written by one of my students, Garland Hummel. In my MMA class up at the University of Utah, I asked my students to write a short paper, and his is excellent. He used a number of books at videos as reference (some of which I’ve interspersed in the post), along with his Muay Thai training. He goes over some basic and advanced clinch work and considerations. With his express permission, I present,