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A guide for fighters & those who love them

Emotions make great servants & terrible masters.

- Anon

Even though MMA is one of the most complex sports & fighters have to be among the fittest athletes on the planet , the consensus is that it is 90% mental. No matter how hard we train, how many techniques we are proficient in nor how many tactics we can implement our mindset is what matters most. Almost as challenging is watching someone we love step into the cage.

...continue reading "Psyched to Fight"

Analytics is the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data. Especially valuable in areas rich with recorded information, analytics relies on the simultaneous application of statistics, computer programming and operations research to quantify performance. -- Wikipedia

Just around the time my career as a quantitative analyst in the financial markets was drawing to an end, the movie Moneyball raised the public's awareness of the use of analytics in the sport arena. Sport analytics has been around for a very long time, HowzStat for example contains data for every international cricket player / match since 1877 & FightMetric has been providing MMA stats & analysis since 2007. ...continue reading "Analytics in the Fray"

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Sport injury warning sign

We are all, I hope, aware of the benefits of an active lifestyle, however there are also risks associated with participation. Female & young athletes are at the highest risk. Sports injuries are the leading cause of adolescent visits to emergency rooms. Injuries delay or even derail athletic progress & may impact on other areas of the athlete's life. Some injuries including brain damage & osteoarthritis may only manifest years later. While it is impossible to completely avoid injury a large percentage can be predicted & prevented. The US CDC claims that over 50% of sports injuries in children & adolescents are preventable. In order to develop strategies to prevent the injuries we first need to understand the causes & look at the special cases of female & young athletes. ...continue reading "Attention to Prevention: Sport Injuries"

Pratiquante de CrossFit, faisant l'exercice de frappe sur pneu

"Lifting weights & being strong doesn't win fights. Having great timing & being very intelligent wins fights." - Floyd Mayweather Jr

Mayweather is simply the latest of the greats to apparently dismiss weight / strength training. Bruce Lee, Mohamed Ali, Rocky Marciano & many others have said similar things & even refused to do weight training. Many claim that it will slow you down or reduce your endurance. Yet it's obvious that to be a fighter you do need strength along with the speed, endurance & timing (& intelligence) & of course they all did strength training even if it was 'just callisthenics & heavy bag work'. So why the apparent contradiction? There are 2 answers to that. The first & the reason I chose the Mayweather quote is, fighting is a very technical sport where posture, leverage & timing through good technique generates maximum power. Particularly in MMA where the athlete needs to be well rounded & possess the skills of multiple disciplines, by far the majority of a fighter's training time should be dedicated to skills acquisition. Conditioning, vital as it is, must always play a supporting role. The second, which we will look at in more detail later, is there is a big difference between 'body building' (which is / was for most synonymous with weight training) & functional sport specific strength / power training.

...continue reading "Fighting Fit"

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posters

"It’s still the old patriarchal fear, or doubt, that women can do outstanding athletic performances. If they do, they can’t be real women. It’s that clear, it’s that prejudicial..." Bruce Kidd talking about the IAAF  & IOC's 'gender policing'.

In a previous post I spoke about how our immersion in a patriarchal society makes us blind to the existence of the biases that surround us, define our world view & even ourselves. Gender roles dominate our lives from the moment we are born. We are welcomed into the world with an "It's a boy/girl!" & from that moment forth that's the role we are assigned. Boys are wrapped in blue blankets, girls in pink & of course given 'suitable' names. His & hers toys & attitudes are bought & trained. Dirty, sweaty & bruised boys are praised while a girl in a similar condition is at best a 'tomboy'. This binary stereo typing leaves little room for the spectrum that is gender.

Female athletes face many hurdles on their way to the top that few male athletes are even aware of. It is seldom if ever enough to be excellent or even the best; you have to look good doing it too, in a stereotypical feminine way of course (certainly can't have them coming across as 'dykes'). Even then there is little chance of earning the same reward or even achieving the same fame as their male counterparts. It's difficult to achieve stardom when the media barely covers women's sports events & when they do it's often biased & sexualised. ...continue reading "Trivialising Female Athletic Performance"

US Navy 070723-N-6138R-001 U.S. Navy SEAL, Petty Officer 1st Class David Goggins runs 135 miles through Death Valley, California in the Kiehl's Badwater Ultra Marathon

"A gym gotta be hot..." - Floyd Mayweather

You don't have to be a championship fighter or an ultrarunner preparing for Badwater to benefit from heat training. Even if you don't specifically need to acclimate to exercise in the heat there are benefits to be had:

  • Weight Management
  • Cutting Weight
  • Enhanced Aerobic & Anaerobic Endurance
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Anti-Catabolic
  • Improved Immune Function including Anti-Cancer
  • Psychological

...continue reading "Beat the Heat"

(370-365) Ghost fight (6326423113)

We have already defined self-defence, but what about martial arts? Like self-defence the definition will vary depending on who you ask. Most will agree that they are systems for combat (life & death - war & self-defence) or fighting (domination, victory). System implies more than a collection of techniques or methods, it includes overarching strategies along with the tactics. Additionally many systems also address discipline, physical health  & 'spiritual' aspects. Here I use spiritual to mean a mix of 2 things:

  • the mental & emotional calm that is required to deal with violent situations & the aftermath
  • the spirit with which one lives e.g. respect & honour.

Put like that martial arts sound like the perfect match for self-defence & of course that is how they are often sold. There is as always however more to the story. ...continue reading "Martial Arts for Self-Defence?"

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at DeWalt event

"There's nothing cool about taking punishment" - Floyd Mayweather Jr

Floyd Mayweather Jr is arguably the greatest boxer ever. 44-0 as a professional (at the time of writing) & champion in 5 weight classes. Known for his incredible defence & strategy (of course his coaches & camp play a large role too) he makes the best look amateurish. He exemplifies everything it takes to be a great fighter, supremely intelligent & a masterful innovator. In one round he shows more skill than many can comprehend, yet he is often seen as boring... As he often points out in interviews, he wants to remain healthy & continue enjoying life with his family. ...continue reading "Excellence vs. Excitement"

I read 2 articles recently that analyse the finish rate per weight division in MMA. The first (not the order I read them in, btw) was an article on Fightnomics. The author, Reed Kuhn, looked at all the UFC fights for 2006 - 2012. As was expected, the number of KOs, TKOs & stoppages as a proportion of fights increases with the weight of the fighters. Simple physics right? The graph below is a simplification of the data presented by Kuhn to make it more comparable to that presented by Sampson (see the next analysis):

Finish Rate per Weight Division - UFC Total
As expected a positive correlation between weight & knock-out power... simple physics.

...continue reading "MMA: Physics vs Technique?"

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Learning to crawl can help people with dyslexia & other learning difficulties, stuttering, ADHD, PSD, coordination issues, clumsiness (& more) & at the same time promote healing, reduce stress, increase energy, increase focus &  prevent (& even reverse) brain ageing. How could all of this possibly be true? Is it because movement is...

...the Real Reason for Brains?

So there you have it, we have brains so that we can move. All brain function is ultimately tied to movement. Looking at infant development we can see how closely brain development & movement development are. ...continue reading "Emphasising Movement"