"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.
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.
Very few people would start a journey without knowing where they are going, how to get there, measure progress & tell when they arrive. True, we've had some awesome holidays by picking a direction & seeing where we end up, but even there, we knew what we were looking for (a place to enjoy) & a direction. A bit like learning a skill / art for its own sake rather than to achieve a particular goal. An approach to life & learning which I do enjoy, you end up doing things in places you never imagined, but I digress... Most people start a fitness / nutrition programme with specific goals in mind. The questions are: How do you gauge progress in order to make adjustments along the way? & How do you know you've arrived?
Continuing with the travel analogy, before you can plan a route to your destination you need to know your starting point (the initial assessment). Once you know where you are & where you'd like to go, you can plan your route (the programme). You will need gauges in your vehicle & signs along the way to tell you where you are & how you are doing (regular follow up assessments). In addition you will need your travelog (training / food diary), so that you know how you got from A to P & at each stage along the way. ...continue reading "Keeping Track to Stay on Track"
I thought I would contribute my 2c worth on an endless debate. MMA is in parenthesise because the underlying principles apply irrespective of the rules. Fighting arts are defined by the rules under which they are contested. Boxing rules disallow kicks, knees, elbows, etc. while current MMA rules allow those & more but generally / currently disallow head-butts & on the street there are no rules. Irrespective of the tools / techniques at the striker's disposal it's the aptitude & application that I am concerned with here.
Fighting is as much science as art. Once the fundamental postures & movements are mastered a fighter needs to understand the principles that allow them to work. For some that understanding isn't intellectual, it's 'instinctive' (intuitive / subconscious maybe?). Instead of learning thousands of techniques & combinations the really good striker applies the principle to the situation. Great strikers are those that take it a step further & innovate. Essentially if a fighter is focused on getting in & out safely and not simply relying on reactions, speed, reach, power & a good chin, he is already a good striker (think black belt) in my opinion. By that definition at least 50% of pro boxers & closer to 80% of MMA pros aren't good let alone great (true masters). True greats are very rare...