The Problem with UKMMA Coaching Today?

The growing poularity of mixed martial arts has led to a large demand for mma coaching. Unfortunatly the number of high level or even competent coaches is nowhere near to matching this demand. The scary part is that anyone can call themselves a Mixed Martial Arts coach its not like there is a governing body to regulate.This regularly happens when someone looks around and sees there is no mma in an area and decides to give it a go.

They convince a small cult like following that they are the shit and strut around in the head coaches shirt teaching utter nonsense.  Beyond tarnishing the good name of the sport this is all harmless fun. That is until these coaches decide they want some fighters and throw a few of their most talented guys in the cage with a professionally trained athlete. This problem is compounded when traditional martial artists market themselves as running MMA programs with no relevent backgrounds. They simply do what theyve always done but replace the karate gi for some venum shorts.

This all comes down to paying your dues. With any other sport or industry an athlete is coached themselves. Then when that coach decides they are ready they get to coach on a limited basis. As they develop the athlete gains more responsibilities and after a while they may be adept enough to run their own gym. The problem is that a lot of us OG mma guys are self trained and the guys who had coaches often had bad ones. This first generation of coaches has a responsibility to constantly strive for better practices.

Even a successful career in Mixed Martial Arts is not sufficient, in my eyes, to warrant the title Coach. This sport evolves so fast, the requirements for success change all the time. I began competing at a time that if all you had was a good overhook triangle you were a total bad ass. You could amasss an undefeated record just with that skillset. You’d also get a lot of guys killed if thats all you brought to the coaches role today. A few years ago no one in the UK had any wrestling, now they do. Do you know how to use the cage as a tool? If not then it will cost you as this is where fights are lost and won in modern mixed martial arts.

The distinction must be made between the informal training group and the mixed martial arts business. A group of guys working among themselves to get better is a very cool thing, it is how a lot of us got started. But when someone decides to make money from the enterprise without having put the time in thats upsetting. If you are coaching MMA you have a duty to continually improve your coaching skills. This is not a job where you clock in and clock out. When you are not coaching, you are training to improve your own skill set, when you have done that you are watching fights and instructionals, but then again you can’t slack on your strength and conditioning knowledge, but theres that book on sports psychology to read and before it all you have to update the weight cutting and reconstitution stuff.

What Makes a Good MMA Coach?

Technical Knowledge

You dont need to have won the Mundials, an Olympic Gold Medal and a belt at Lumpinee Stadium to justify a coaches role, but a high degree of technical competence is a prerequiste. You need to know the fundamental principles in each of MMA component sports before you can coach mma as a whole. Can you imagine a jits coach glossing over stuff like posture and weight distribution or a striking coach not starting with balance and stance? The more proficient you are in the technical aspect of the component sports the more of an asset you will be to your fighters.

The better you are technically the better you will be at reading a fight and the gameplanning aspect of the coaches role. Last year at the Superior Challenge event in Sweden I was lucky enough to watch a UFC card with a bunch of guys like Urijah Faber, Pedro Rizzo, Thales Leites, Rich Clementi and Kyacey Uscola. Listening to these guys talking about fighting was eye opening. They were experts at reading a bout, they understood fighting. At times I thought big Pedro was playing a Jose Aldo videogame, he would say what Aldo should try and seconds later it was happening.

If there are technical areas you are lacking in make sure you have access to someone who can plug these holes and having multiple sport coaches is great for differing perspective. This is one of the reasons the griphouse has on last count  16 different coaches, 10 of which work directly with the pro team.

Having a coach who has competed in a lot of different combat sports is uusally a good sign.

Communication skills.

There is more to coaching than being a bad ass. No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. If its evident by their actions that a coach does not give a crap the guys will pick up on it and their compliance with the system will suffer. The role of a coach is to bring a positive learning atmosphere to every session. The coach is the guy that has to make a room of people battering each other way more enjoyable than it could ever be.  I met Martin Rooney recently and he’s a master of this aspect of coaching, I was literally working my ass of during glute activation drills that I had done a million times and rarely paid much attention to anymore. That intensity continued throughout the workout as the level of coaching was so high.

Being a great motivator is not something anyone is born with and can be trained just like any other skill. A great coach will read up on different learning models and constantly be trying out new techniques to get people to do what they want. If fighters does not buy into the system the coach cannot do his job.

Project Management

I spoke about this in the previous blog post and its probably the aspect of coaching thats done least well. Rest assured you will need a black belt in excel, an never ending to do list app to work from and a calender which might as well replace sat and sunday with the words @ a fight show.

This is still the weakest part of my coach game but it is something I am working to improve upon all the time. For a guy who gets punched in the head a lot my organisational skills have improved despite the impact related damage to short term memory.

If your coach is covering all these bases congrats you have a keeper.

On Sunday I picked up my 19th career win at Cagewarriors 40. My opponent Andreas Bernhard had been mauling boys in Germany and was a great opponent to find after David Arranda was unfortunately injured.

I have been fighting on CW shows since my career began. It’s kinda freaky to think that I fought on CW3 and this was CW 40. The promotion was excellent, everything from the venue to the hotel to the commentators to the runners. The fights were pretty awesome too.

When you compete on a show that is this slick and professional you almost feel that you have to step up your game.

The fight itself panned out pretty much as expected and I was able to follow the gameplan well. I’ll outline the specific planning we did in a subsequent blog post.

What was significant about this fight for me was the change in clarity. In the past I’ve had a tendency to spass out and react to whatevers happening as opposed to implementing my own game. This time with a solid gameplan behind me I was able to take my time and pick the techniques that were appropriate.

If you are fighting without a gameplan you really are doing yourself a disservice. When Rosi was warming up for her bout with Roxy I saw at least five different things she used during the fight.

If you have analysed the opponent, trained appropriately and have the correct mind set the fight itself should be the easy part.

Obviously no plan will survive contact with the opponent 100% but it’s way better than winging it and hoping for the best.

Thanks to Graham, Ian and Clare at Cagewarriors.

Ez sports and sports therapy Scotland for all the help.

And Danny Mitchell as if it wasn’t for him I’d be fighting in a baw guard.

Dammit pressed publish instead of save I’ll do the editing later.

I am one of those curious people who seems to multi task (read procrastinate) like I had a fully developed vagina. At any one time I’m usually Reading 3-4 books. Here’s a quick list of the books I’m Reading at the moment. This is also a quick experiment on using the iPhones wordpress app so bear with me

Currently Reading
Assess and correct manual- Mike Robertson, Eric Cressey and BIll Hartman

This came as a PDF download when I bought the A and C product. It’s a great resource for improving your assesment skills and correct any problems you find. A lot of the corrections I was aware of from their previous products but having it all in one place and in more detail is coolio.

Drop Dead Gorgeous- Wayne simmons

A high school friend made me aware of this one. If there’s one thing I like more than zombies it NOTHING. Zombies rock all. The fact that this paticular apocylypse is based in Belfast with all the sectarian undertones I have missed since moving to Glasgow (eh hang on a minute) and that only super stunning chicks are turning into zombies makes this a really fun read.

The greatest show on earth- Richard Dawkins

Sometimes I which I could adopt father figures. My ole man is cool and all but it would be nice if you could tell people “oh yeah well randy couture is my dad”. Dawkins is up there on that hallowed list that includes Richard Attenborugh, johnathon frakes and batman.

The book acts as a compelling evidence for the already compelling FACT of evolution. It covers everything from fossil records, to breeding control in plants and animals, to the so called missing links (there are tonnes of them) and much more irrefutable evidence supporting the theory.

The fact that 40% of people in the US and a growing number in Europe are sceptical of this theory would be hilarious if it wasn’t so frigging tragic

Music I’m listening too.

On the eve of war-Jedi Mind Tricks and the RZA

Ace song improves boxing footwork 27% factoid

New album-Biffy clyro
Ever listened to the lyrics of a biffy song, proper madness nonsense, great tunage though.

Abagail- King Diamond
Can only listen to about 3 king diamond tracks before I want to staple my scroat to a chair due to his high pitched warbling. But for those first two tracks I’m all over it.

So this app is a bit wank I can’t embed YouTube and it capitalises the world Reading. Good first try though see you tomorrow.

This will be my attempt to breakdown the multi faceted world of facial melting. Over the years due to sucking at stand up striking I spent a lot of time on ground and pound and have developed a system that has been working well for our athletes.

Due to the dynamic nature of the sport these principles are not set it stone. There will be exceptions to every rule. However in the beginning of your journey towards being the next Fedor you should incorporate these principles and then with experience you can break the rules. I hope to give you a system that will allow you to wail away on your opponents head and avoid all those pesky arm bars and triangles

This is a huge topic with very little information; you can pick up a DVD instructional on every aspect of your favourite obscure guard variation but will struggle to find anything on one of the most fundamental aspects of mixed martial arts competition.

We will start the journey with Top Guard and give an overview of the program from there.

Basic Postures

There are 3 identifiable stages when striking from within an opponents guard. They are

Stage 1

Stage 1 Safety Position

Stage 2 High Postures and Hip Drive

Stage 2 High Postures and Hip Drive

Stage 3 Standing postures

Stage 3 Standing postures

The damage that can be inflicted tends to increases as you progress through the stages but unfortunately so to do the risks of reversals, submissions and scrambles.

Stage 1 The Safety Position

Stage 1 is your bedrock and the safest position you can adopt. Anytime someone even sniffs a submission on me this is where I go to. Its offers you safety, a reset and a recovery.

Follow these rules and you will be a complete arsehole to submit or move from guard:

  • Hand Position

By keeping the hands on the shoulder or biceps you limit your opponent’s offense. To do anything to you he needs an attachment; an over hook, head control, a foot on the hip. With this posture you control the attachment.

The forearm choke position is a variation on this position and designed for those who like dropping hellbows (scary elbows). You are increasing the possibility of a back take or an arm bar but so long as you control the bicep, do not put to much pressure on the neck and are aware of these dangers you should be golden.

  • Never put hand on mat

If you touch the floor you will have problems. I have worked with too many guys who, if they get an over hook ,will ruin me. Keep hand position correct.

  • Keep toes tucked

One of the things that I found while attacking one of my training partners was their desire to demonstrate his 420kg leg press on my 67kg frame. With the toes flat I went arse surfing across the mat with toes tucked I kept hold of an ankle and ended up in Stage 3 which is way preferable. Keep the toes tucked it will make your life easier.

  • Follow hips

This is huge. Your opponent has very limited offensive options if you mirror his hip position. Think about it; nearly every single offensive technique that can be utilized against you requires an angle. Take that angle away and you will have much more fun.

  • Head to chin contact.

Ok so spike elbowing your brain repeatedly does not require an angle. To avoid this keep head to chin contact thus negating this space and avoid a scar that could make your shaved head look like a Willy.

  • Clear attachments

If an opponent does manage to get hold of you; get rid of the attachment. It only takes a second to get rid of the attachment then your back to your game plan. The videos below show the best way to clear some common attachments safely.

Seeing somebody trying to strike will being in a deep over hook is tragic to watch and usually ends with that person getting nailed with a triangle pretty soon afterwards.

A good saying that has stuck around in the gym is “break the grip then break then face” I have always liked it.

  • Basic combinations

And finally we get round to actually punching people. Again develop your own combinations based on your body type, preferences and game plans. Body body head is a pretty safe place to start then working on tying up wrists can be fun. If the principles are in place youll figure this bit out yourself. Ill post some videos of ground and pound sparring when i get a chance.

See you next time.

this is what you get if you type hotness into google

This is a quick one folks. When I was a personal trainer in a normal gym people would often tell me that my meal plans and eating schedules were unfeasible.

The food was too expensive, tasted crap, took too long to prepare, blah blah whine. The bottom line is that if you are a interested in fat loss, nutrition should be your main focus. Learn what you can about it and start doing things right. If that means finding some extra time for food prep you just do it.

As I am a total dick i used to love to make people do horrible metabolic circuits or interval training only to tell them that they burned about the equivalent of the Powerade they drank during the session. Its a great reminder of the importance of nutrition.

Nutrition doesn’t just apply to those trying to lose weight. If i eat well my performance in training is much better. Its just a happy coincidence that it helps make me totally jacked and tanned.

“Not now chief I’m in the fucking zone” I love guidos.

I am a big fan of the whole Precision Nutrition program and the Gourmet Nutrition cookbook was one of the best things I have ever bought. However with fight training I have been getting shit lazy with everyday activities like cleaning up, preparing food and maintaining basic standards of personal hygiene.

What i have gotten good at is making sure I get decent nutrition with virtual no preparation or cooking. Heres an example from today.

  • 8am 4 egg omelette- 4 eggs, half an onion, skank load of tomatos, peppers and mangetout. I chopped everything up the night before. Prep time about 3 mins
  • 11am protein shake- 2 scoops, big whack of raspberries, banana, flax meal. Prep time about 1 min
  • 2pm- Cottage cheese blueberries and some almonds. Prep time about the time it took to take of a lid.
  • 5pm- Pre packed Chicken breast with no mu spice stuff, green beans and red pepper. Prep time about 1 min
  • 8.30pm- John West no drain tuna, balsamic vinegar spray, sugar snap peas. Prep time about 10 seconds
  • 11.00pm- 100g herb ham. Prep time it took me a while to find it in the fridge.

Apart from the omellette (i use the name in the loosest sense it was scrambled eggs with vegtables really) nothing required much more prep than using a tin opener. I do like to cook but if im short on time its cool to know that i can get great nutrition without eating crap.

If I do eat something thats a bit shit its because ive chosen to do so not because im forced too by circumstance.

Now get some Famke Jansen

Later

1. Are you an elite level Jiu jits guy? Have you only got rudimentary striking and takedown ability? Want to be successful in MMA?

If you answered yes to these questions, wow thanks for reading my blog, your much better than me and I probably would give a nut to have your game. Anyhoo, I have seen a big half guard trend in mma of late. Cant take a guy down no problem pull half guard and sweep him.

Just this week we have seen great half guard work from the likes of Martin Kampmann, Andre Galvao, Shoalin and Jeff Curran.

Half Guard has gone from being a position where you get melted to an offensive position for sweeps or for standing back up. I have been playing with it for a while now and im much more comfortable in half than in full guard when mma sparring.

2. Miguel Torres vs Takeya Mizugaki gave me a massive chubby. Both Guys leathered each other for 5 rounds and had great conditioning. For me this was fight of the year so far. One day i hope to get to the level these guys are at. Bantam and Featherweight bouts are always amazing.

3. My Winnings Gloves are winging there way to me from Japan. These are supposed to be the best gloves in the world and are great for guys like me whos hands decide to periodically disintegrate. Either that or ive been suckered by marketting. Great service from the site as well.

Winning-usa

4. Great article on teaching power cleans here by Tom Oberhue.

Power Cleans of Doom

5. Special thanks to Will Smith for helping me with my Hill Sprints (VIA iPod) “Getting jiggy wit it nah nah nah”

Later

Ok I know i claimed that there would be a veritable treasure trove of strength and conditioning information for you guys to feast on when i started this blog. Instead you made do with drunken antics, random waffling and scantily clad ladies.

I appreciate you for still being here and in return here is the first part of the putting it all together series. Soft Tissue Work.

As a full time coach i end up doing a lot of stuff. I honestly believe that without foam rolling, stretching and EQI’s id probably be dead by now. OK maybe not dead but I would definitly be carrying around a lot more injuries and my quality of movement would suck the big one.

In my first brain draft of this article i wanted to write about awesome stuff like Golgi tendon organs and autogenic inhibition. But I have come to relise there is a definate correlation between me dropping knowl(edge) bombs and being called a fag by the Firestarter and No Love. So heres the dumbed down version.

Physical activity will effect your musculoskeletal system. If you pick up heavy stuff you will get stronger. If you dont move around much you will get adaptive shortening.

If you are alive chances are you have certain muscles that are riddled with adhesions and scar tissue. These muscles are commonly shortened, hypertonic and not preforming optimally.

Foam rolling and the like can reduce the amount of these adhesions and scar tissue and improve the muscles tone.

Leading too:

  • Improved Mobility and Range of Motion
  • Improved Quality of movement.

No longer will you have to look like a goon doing the overhead lunges during line drills and if your moving better its less likely  Gazz will kick off on you during one of his inverted guard classes.

Sample Routine

I use 3 pieces of kit for my soft tissue work.

1. A roller/the video below features my home made one. This video was made with guys pulling faces and exposing their wangs off camera, i feel my professionalism shone through . Heres what I am looking to hit in each position.

  • Calves- Gastocnemius
  • Calves outside- peroneals
  • Thigh Front- Quadriceps (rectus femoris) and a bit of Tensor fascia lata
  • Thigh Side- Illiotibial band and vastus lateralis
  • Thigh inner- Adductors
  • Upper Body- Latissimus Dorsi

2. The next piece of equipment I am using is a soft ball. Its smaller and the pressure is more focal making it useful for getting at certain muscles.

What we are looking for here is:

  • Sole of foot- plantar fascia
  • Arse- Gluteals and piriformis
  • Armpit- Infraspinatus and teres minor
  • Chest- Pec Minor
  • Hip- Tensor fascia lata

Ill add the last piece of equipment in tomorrow or whenever i have time.

This is an example of pretty decent soft tissue management program. Obviously do both sides of the body and the durations will depend on what you find in the muscle. Spend longer on areas that make you want to cry and less time on areas that are not so bad.

Initially i would recommend trying to get this done everyday. Over time as your soft tissue quality improves you will need to spend less and less time on the movements.

Heres a request from the G-Unit

This should be an awesome weekend, Loveys fighting thai, sportfight is on and the afterparty is shaping up to be carnage.

Later

P  Nice

Ive been having a great time of late. Training has been bad ass, placed on offer on a flat, seen Metallica and celebrated Guys 40th Birthday. Here is some things that occurred during this time ill let you guess at what event each took place.

  • Lovey destroyed a mosh pit full of teenagers like Godzilla
  • Jason and Garry “firestarter” Christie got barred for life from the strip joint mentioned in a previous post.
  • Paddy O’Brien (i hate how he’s significantly more Irish than me) got twisted drunk and sang the “gay bar” song at Karaoke. Only to forget all but two of the words  (see the title) and make animal noises throughout the rest of the track.  The sexy dance interlude  with bam bam was amazing though.
  • I used a devastating spider guard sweep to drop brick on his head and compact his spine a few inches in a sumo suit battle. He countered with a dropkick and was declared the overall winner.
  • I got caught saying “this flat is fucking shite and looks like a tramps arsehole has been living here” by the owner.

1. As i sit here my legs feel like they have been run over by a bus and my arse is so taut (like a tiger) i could use it as a snare drum. Here is why

Death sprints

Apologies for the stalker breathing and the use of the word “rapey”.

Bottom of the hill

I think its important to have a few aspects of training that you literally dread. The act of overcoming something physically demanding is great for a fighter and breeds mental toughness. In sparring if your the best guy (I really don’t have this problem) you can slack off and coast. Unfortunately theres no hiding behind a superior skill set here its simply a matter of pointing your balls (or ovaries sorry Jo) up a hill and going as fast as you possibly can.

I woke this morning and spent about 20minutes thinking up excuses for why i didn’t need to do it, “I trained six hours yesterday feck that hill”,”my legs are jacked form weights”, “I am already fit, I dont want to its too fucking hard” and the best one “i think I have sand in my vagina”.

Did it anyway and feel like a king now…… A really sore, immobile king that cant stand but a king none the less.

Outstanding achievement award

2. John West no drain tuna is my new favourite thing.

Its a handy 36.7g of protein and its dolphin friendly if that makes you happy. Personally i feel that meat tastes better when you know a large range of animals have suffered but that’s just me….. goes out to make sure PETA haven’t kicked in my door.

3. I made a new foam roller out of a drain pipe i had lying around the gym. I thought i was being resourceful everyone else things im being a c-unit.

4. Ok my secrets out. Im pretty much immune to the wily charms of the opposite sex. I dont read nuts magazine and use words such as phwoar. Nor would i follow a girl in the street just to see where she lives, then set up camp in some nearby bushes with duct tape and cable ties. I know i am losing man points but i cant seem to care. I have been out of the game for 10 years with the one-gina condition and perving requires way too much effort.

So if anyone can recommend some decent blog birds for me to litter round this page ill appreciate it.  In the mean time ill play it safe with a picture of Jessica Alba’s arse.

Stay classy guys.