“Bigtyme Is My Career Goal” Grabriel Vasquez Interview

BIGTYME VASQUEZ

A few words with Professional Mixed Martial Artist Gabriel Vasquez fighting out of Martial Arts and Athletic Center in Amarillo, TX.  He will have his biggest test yet as he travels to South Texas on March 23rd for ROCKS XTREME MMA / Title fight against local fighter and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Blackbelt / Hector Munoz (9-4). Here we go!!

sPidA: How’s your training going for this fight?

BIGTYME: My training has been excellent! Big step up from the rest of my fights.

sPidA: You have held a Title and have fought for others, any pressure going into this bout?

BIGTYME: I held the 155 SCS Title last year. This will be my 4th title fight in a row so no pressure on me plus its not my home town so no pressure at all.

sPidA: With the nickname “BIGTYME” is that a sign of things to come 2013?

BIGTYME: BIGTYME is my career goal, to make it to the big time shows. That’s why I got that name. (Thanks sis in law)

FightLabel.com

sPidA: What do you know about your opponent? Have you changed your training up coming into this title fight?

BIGTYME: He is 9-4 with great ground game which most of my opponents are but by far his is the best. Training changed a little diet wise, as well as for my strength and conditioning. Other than that just stepped it up a notch in the gym.

sPidA: Thank you for the time bro and best of luck come March 23rd!  Anyone you would like to thank for supporting you for this Title bout?

BIGTYME: My family first, they wait up long hours of the night for me to get home, Master Lister head trainer, Dena Lister Fitness and Cardio coach, Coach Leon/Boxing coach, Triton Fight Center BJJ Coach/instructor, Coach Klein wrestling coach, everyone in the MAAC FIGHT TEAM, sponsors, JD TIRES & WHEELS, TASTE OF THAI and all my family, friends and fans! BIGTYME

Rocks xtreme mma 2

Strength and Conditioning in Competitive Martial Arts: Part 2

Monolith Grappling Arts

I apologize that it has been a while since my last installment on Soviet training methods. It’s been a shitstorm of events for me over the last month or so, and the sambo team has been pretty active, as well. We competed in the first ever NOLA Sambo Invitational and took first and second in the 74kg weight class, along with a great performance at the collegiate judo national qualifiers, and then the San Antonio Open. One of our young guys is days away from making a trip to Iowa to compete in the collegiate judo nationals. I am definitely bragging here, no doubt about it.

We left off last time talking about hours spent training, and the importance of general physical preparedness, which began our segue into sport specificity. As American athletes, we have heard quite a bit about sport specificity in the last 6 to 7 years, as this has become a vital part of all NCAA and professional strength training programs. There are scores of articles on unilateral resistance training for boxers, in order to develop a stronger right cross, or parachute training for sprinters, as a method to improve off-the-block explosion. Are these new methods? Absolutely not. They have, however, become more and more mainstream in the strength and conditioning world.

Rather than think about what physical activities we should do for our sport, though (we’ll talk about that soon), let’s look at specificity in another way: in the entire spectrum of human physical attributes, which are most likely to create success in your chosen sport? Then, similarly, what characteristics do you have that could play a role in your personal success? Arguably, basketball players have an advantage if they are tall. Anderson Silva has long limbs and a short torso. These things matter.

In the Soviet Union, athletes were selected at a young age for special training, based on physical characteristics that were conducive to success in particular sports. This is an early and very basic form of sport specificity, as certain characteristics are clearly better for certain sports. An example might be a large amount of hip and glute development at an early age, which could easily be tailored to achieve success in strength sports like weightlifting. A combat athlete might show more prowess in local muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, or speed during fine motor skills.

American sambo coach Gregg Humphreys (Dynamo Combat Club in Bettendorf, IA; sambo instructor for Miletich Fighting Systems) described this process to me last fall, as he received a physical evaluation from Soviet coaches during his first trips overseas for training. Coach Aaron Fields from Seatown Sambo in Seattle underwent a similar process, as well, during his time training with the national sambo and wrestling teams in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Aaron is fairly tall, fairly lean, and has a background in judo and wrestling. Therefore, his evaluators determined that his focus should be on foot sweeps. These ideas were based on scientific, repeatable data, mined from hours and hours of research on athletes. From there, they were able to develop real, tangible numbers that applied to specific movements performed during specific sports. Judo athletes under a certain height are mathematically handicapped, because of their body type, in a certain group of techniques. They are advised to focus on dropping arm throws, for example, as opposed to techniques like the hiza guruma, or the “knee wheel”.

Think about your body type, and the things that you do well in your chosen combat sport. If you have long, lean legs, maybe the triangle choke should be your go-to. Or perhaps, if you are short and stocky like myself, sambo groundwork may suit you better: staying off your back, working for pinning techniques, and focusing more on top control than submissions. The same can be applied to striking, in principle. While taller guys tend to have a well-developed jab, designed to keep the opponent at a comfortable distance, there are shorter guys that have great jabs, also, like Miguel Cotto. The shorter guys have to apply it differently, though, and certainly cannot use it to keep a taller opponent on the outside. Rather, it is used for disrupting the opponent’s rhythm, or setting up a lunging hook.

This is all about efficiency, which is a huge component of the Soviet model. How can I make my skills as advanced as possible in the shortest amount of time? Take your natural attributes and exploit them. This is not to say that you should ignore certain aspects of the game; on the contrary, learn everything, but focus on developing those things that will take you to the top quickly, and use your training time wisely.

Training Philosophy: Physical vs Technical

Russian Sambo courtesy of SystemaSpetsnaz.com
[Russian Sambo image courtesy of SystemaSpetsnaz.com]
If you read my first article, “Strength and Conditioning in Competitive Martial Arts” then this next installment should help to elucidate those concepts even further. If you did not read that article, I hope that this one can stand on its own. Rather than outline specific exercises or routines, I want to continue to lay the conceptual groundwork for a solid training philosophy.

One of the ideas that I encounter in martial arts frequently, specifically among practitioners in the US, is the idea that strength training is somehow anathema to fighting, or even counterproductive. Hardly a BJJ class goes by without someone complaining that their partner “just used his strength”, and has “no technique”. To a certain extent, I am sure that this is an extension of Helio Gracie’s idea that strength is not the only component of combat, and that strength can be overcome by superior technique. Everyone can agree on that. It is incorrect, however, to take this to its extreme and make the claim that strength does not matter. This is something that you are much, much less likely to hear in a top collegiate wrestling program, or at a sports club in Russia, and that is because it is an empirically proven fact that stronger athletes perform better. If your opponent is stronger than you, your appropriate response to the problem should be developing your own strength. If they are larger than you, then you should consider bulking up or cutting down. It really is that cut-and-dry.

Every time I begin to work with a new athlete, especially fighters, I find myself burdened with the task of convincing them that strength and conditioning work is of equal importance to skills. Udo Quellmalz, one of the best competitive judoka of all time, was a product of the Soviet model, as he competed for East Germany before the Wall fell. He continued to train, of course, after the USSR dissolved, and was quoted as saying that “the East German approach was much more professional than that of the West. The volume and intensity of training was so much higher” . He also described his preparation for the 1995 World Championships as a single “ten-day conditioning camp in the Austrian alps. We hardly did any judo, it was just endurance and strength training”.

The government-subsidized coaches and scientists that oversaw his training recorded the empirical data of these sessions in great detail, including lactate levels, VO2 max, recovery time, etc. The modalities that worked were kept and developed, while the others were scrapped. One of the bits of data that piqued my interest the most, however, was the simple recording of hours spent training. Quellmalz spent 20+ hours a week training, as opposed to the average 10 hours spent by elite Western athletes. The volume of training is impressive, sure, but the detail that I am focusing on here is that there is not a distinction made between the hours spent on physical preparation, and those spent on skills work. It was one and the same.

I challenge you, the readers, to record how much time you spend on physical preparation vs skills work over the next week. Then, add the two numbers together. This should give you a real, tangible representation of how much time you are spending on becoming better at your respective disciplines. We will pick up again next week with training specificity under the Soviet model, as an extension of the ideas expressed in this article.

References:
1. Mark Law, Falling Hard: A Journey into the World of Judo (Boston: Trumpeter Books, 2007), 173.
2. Mark Law, Falling Hard: A Journey into the World of Judo (Boston: Trumpeter Books, 2007), 174.

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.

“My parents didn’t raise a quitter!” Dale A. Mitchell interview by: sPidA Garay

Interview with Dale Mitchell,representing the Silverback Fight Club, Bound IMKF going down Saturday June 18th in Spring,TX, Check out www.mmaimmortalkombat.com for more info! Here we go!!!

Dale A. Mitchell

sPidA: You started your Pro Mixed Martial Arts career win unfortunate losses,what kept you motivated to keep competing in Mixed Martial Arts?

Dale: There really wasn’t an exact focal point other than my parents didn’t raise a quitter! I have a very competitive spirit and fell in love with the 1 on 1 aspect of the sport. Other motivational points included the haters, it bothered me when people would say that I could not do this and I was cut out for the sport and here I am back at the top of my game. I was always felt as though I had a point to prove and I think i have proven that exceptionally well as of now.

sPidA: Your a big guy and that being said, what type of cardio workouts do you train in to make sure you don’t gas out during your bouts?

Dale: I never really followed a real serious cardio or strength and conditioning program until now. For this fight i found some of the best strength & conditioning coaches out there at Meltdown Houston with Jimmy and Todd adding hardcore Metabolic Conditioning workouts as well as Crossfit MMA. We really focused on targeting the body’s different energy systems. This is the best shape I have ever been in period and I have never looked or felt like this for a fight in my career. These guys have really gotten me in top notch physical and mental shape for this bout while coach Tony Orozco and the rest of my gorillas at Silverback Fight Club have prepared me on the technical and skill side of things for this fight.

sPidA: I’ve see you fight live in two separate promotions, BELLATOR and Element Fighting Championship, out of these 2 which did you learn more from?

Dale: I really have to thank the guys at EFC for giving me the opportunity to fight for them and earn a victory in their first show but I definitely learned a lot from BELLATOR because  I had the chance to see how things worked behind the scenes of a major promotion. Having fought for such a league gave me the experience I need for when I return to the main stage.

sPidA: Tell us a bit about the gym you train out of and what is it that makes this place feel like home?

Dale: Everyone knows that I train out of Silverback Fight Club and have been a gorilla for a few years now. Anyone who has ever trained out of there or has stopped by for a lil cross training knows why its more of a family and a home than just a gym. There is a tough stable of fighters who put in the work and it shows. Most of the guys call Tony dad or pops and we all call each other brother.

sPidA:  Coming into your next bout for IMKF, you coming in  on a 3 fight win streak ,with a title on the line, how important is this fight for you?

Dale: This fight is extremely important for my career especially with a title up for grabs. I intend on making it 4 in row on June 16th and progressing my career to the next stage. every fight is in important in my books but this one just has an attachment to it.

sPidA: A  former UFC Heavyweight Champion (Tim Silva )has been making it known he wants another shot in what many have called the Super Bowl of MMA ,  If given this fight,would you take it and what would your game plan be?
Dale: There would be no reason for me not to take a fight like that. We really don’t believe in backing down from opponents so that fight wouldn’t be any different. As far as a game plan it would be the same as usual, go in there and fight. Fighting is usually the game plan for all bouts. Come on now, I would never give away secrets! (sorry Tim: LoL  sPidA)

sPidA: Your given an opt to star in a reality tv show,which would you pick: Dancing with the Stars , SURVIVOR , Amazing Race or Hells Kitchen.

Dale: To be honest I really don’t follow any of these, but 3 out of 4 have cool names and i would have to go with SURVIVOR because it sounds tough and seems like it would involve some sort of fighting.

sPidA: You have a son,say one day he wants to compete in Mixed Martial Arts , would you in courage and support his goals?

Dale: Of course i would support his goals and dreams. What father wouldn’t want to see their son show interest in what he does for a living. My son already mimics me when goes to the gym with me and he is the loudest person in the arena at my fights. He always has a permanent cage side seat.

sPidA: What do you know about your opponent coming into your next bout, do you train specifically  for each fighter?

Dale: I don’t know much about Tony Melton other than he supposedly more on the stand up side of fighting. I really don’t like to focus on or train for a fighter specifically because I find that I tend to focus mainly on their strengths and forget that anything goes. So for every fight we train to win and that’s it. I watch a lil’ film on my opponent to see how they move and their body language.

sPidA: Thank you for your time Dale, any last words or comments before we call it a  wrap?

Dale: Not much else but I would like to thank the following: coach Tony Orozco and my gorillas and the rest of the Silverback Fight Club family, Jimmy and Todd of MELTDOWN Houston, the great people at Blue Label Vodka, my family and friends for being supportive and understanding during this camp (putting up with me hasn’t been easy), all the people who helped me out through this camp and being there to lend a helping hand, my son and his mother for keeping me grounded and being patient as this fight approaches, last but not least all of my fans and any one who has and does love me, I love you back.