Strength and Conditioning in Competitive Martial Arts

Richard Crenwelge
Photo taken from Mikhail Kozitskiy FB page

It is sometimes difficult to advise fighters, and “hobbyist” combat athletes, about the importance of strength and conditioning training, usually because of preconceived notions that they have on the subject. Therefore, in this first article, I just want to skim the surface, and provide a cursory introduction to the relationship between modern competitive martial arts and how we must prepare for them. This, of course, will be done through the lens of my own experiences. I feel that this could (hopefully) clear the air between me and my audience.

My primary martial art is SAMBO, which many of you have become familiar with through Fedor Emelianenko and his brother Aleksander, or Sergei Kharitonov, or perhaps even the Diaz brothers, as they have been singing the praises of SAMBO all throughout 2012. Although I am certainly not anywhere close to the best SAMBO athlete out there, I have an incredible passion for the sport, and have competed here in the States, as well as in Russia. I mention this not to pat myself on the back, but to segue into the subject of strength and conditioning in competitive martial arts. What is it that I have learned, through my experience in SAMBO, and how does the US compare to Russia in the areas of skill and physical preparation? What can I share with you guys that could have a positive effect on your training?

First and foremost, I have never in my life received as humbling of an ass-kicking as I did in Moscow, in March of 2012. Not only was my opponent supremely skilled, he was also incredibly strong, fast, and proprioceptively aware. Out of all the amazing fighters and grapplers I have trained with over the years, there hasn’t been a single BJJ or judo black belt, D1 wrestler, or Golden Gloves champ that felt as inhuman as this guy did. The difference is in emphasis and mentality.

In the Soviet Union, many of these athletes were sent to sporting clubs when they were very young, and they trained in their respective disciplines for hours a day, month after month, over a course of many years. This is a testament to their cumulative experience and skill, which reached a phenomenal level very early in their career, as opposed to many BJJ athletes here, who did not begin training until they were “out of the house”, or were never afforded the luxury to train the requisite 5+ hours a day. A very large part of the Soviet training model, however, revolved around physical preparation, as opposed to the very common 10min warm-up, 20min skills work, and 30min sparring sessions that you see in your local grappling gyms. In fact, one former Soviet strength coach has been quoted, and this is paraphrased, that 75% of athletic training, regardless of discipline, was purely general physical preparation. Only 25% was reserved for skills. It was under this model, also, that Soviet athletes dominated the sporting world so consistently for so long. That is not to say that they always won, or that they were always the best, but their overall performance in the sporting world was inarguably unprecedented.

The previous paragraph, here, is crucial. Visualize one typical day of your own grappling or MMA training and what it involves. Then, if you also lift weights or train for cardiovascular endurance, sandwich the two together. This is, roughly, what the Soviet model entailed. They did not lift weights, go for a jog, and then wrestle, in neatly separated packages, with a modicum of crossover among the three. All of these training methods were an inseparable part of the whole. A wrestler wrestled, a gymnast tumbled, the hockey player played hockey. Thus, the lines of distinction were blurred, and training was simply training.

Absorb that for the next week, and I will elaborate on this more in my next article. Thank you for reading.

5 Reasons to Add Seminars to Your MMA Training [Fighter Tips]

“5 Reasons to Add Seminars to Your MMA Training”
By Dan Corvino

Muay Thai Techniques
Courtesy of Muay Thai Techniques

As a Martial Artist I am a big advocate of Fight Seminar training. There are many reasons that attending seminars and workshops will help you quickly develop your training as a Martial Artist. You would be amazed how many instructors discourage you from attending seminars, while others will only encourage you to attend ones at your school or from your discipline. Seminar training can be beneficial to strengthen your training within your discipline as well as add new elements to your game. Here are the reasons I feel that Seminars are essential for an aspiring Mixed Martial Artist.

Community College of MMA Training

Whether or not you have ever been to community college, you will most likely understand the concept of it. Community College is a way for you to test the waters and try different classes to figure out what you like the most. It’s a smorgesh board of different curriculum options if you will. Martial Arts Seminars are the same way. In particularly, if you train in one style, you may not have the opportunity to train in different arts and see if there is something about that style that you like or could add to your development. For example, if you train at a Karate school, you may not do much boxing, or if you train at a Muay Thai school, you may do much grappling. Training in seminars will give you the opportunity to test the waters with different styles without having to make a major commitment.

Learn New Skills

Many times the instructors who are hosting the seminar are certified under the person giving the seminar. For example, if your instructor runs a Combat Submission Wrestling school, then he or she is certified under Erik Paulson. Assuming the seminar is given by Erik Paulson, he will usually use that as an opportunity to pass along more new techniques or curriculum to your instructor and his/her student body, as well as refine current techniques and skills being practiced. If you are taking the seminar at the school that train at, you will be learning the same tricks, tips and techniques as everyone else. However, if you are going outside of your school, most likely you will be bringing new techniques back to your current school or training location. You can use this as an opportunity to pass along your newfound knowledge, or surprise your friends with the techniques during sparring sessions, which is what I like to do.

Barometer

Judging how you are advancing in your training is sometimes difficult. Many times when you join up at a school, you can never really judge how good you are getting. The reason is that everyone at your school is usually continuing to advance at the same time you are. As new people come in, you recognize you are better at certain skills than they are, but you usually dismiss it at “well, they are a noobie”. Going to seminars is a good way to evaluate your skill. You can evaluate how quickly you are able to pick up new techniques and skills. Also, many times not everyone attending the seminar is from the place where you train. Because of that you see how you compare to other from different places. Seminars are one of the best ways to evaluate your skills aside from competition.

Social Networking

No I am not talking about Twitter or Facebook or Myspace or whatever other Social Networking craze takes place in the future. I am talking about real life social networking. Going to seminars is a great way to contact and meet like minded people from all over the world. I have met and made friends in places like Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Delaware, Austrailia, England and more. It’s great because as I travel, I find that I usually have a place to train at. This is even more of a reason why I suggest you don’t just look for seminars in your area, but that you expand yourself and travel to different areas for your seminar training. I have taken seminars in Connetticut, Georgia, Las Vegas and of course Thailand. Get out of your bubble and meet some new people. You will tank me later.

Rejuvenation

Many times with my training I start to hit a rut. It’s usually around that time where I decide to head out for a seminar. After a seminar or some other training excursion I usually feel completely rejuvenated and refocused on my training. Sometimes it’s as simple as having someone point out the basics and fundementals again. Other times, it’s the feeling of learning something new which inspires you to be refocused. Either way, without fail whenever I come back from a seminar or camp training I always feel reinspired about my training. If you are starting to feel that your training is becoming dull and boring, you don’t need to look for another place to train, just search out a seminar and trust me you will come back refreshed and full of life.

I hope this article inspires you to attend a seminar to further your training.

Please feel free to visit my Seminars page to find out if there are any upcoming Seminars in your area.

Article Source: 5 Reasons to Add Seminars to Your MMA Training