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Just Joined an MMA Gym!

My only prior experience was from 13-16 where I did traditional Northern Shaolin Fighting Mantis Kung Fu. I loved the sparring but I hated not getting to hit as hard as I wanted or getting hit all that hard. My biggest strength was speed, power, and deception when sparring but I had trouble when people closed in on me.

So this MMA gym seems to emphasize the kickboxing side of striking and the BJJ and submission wrestling side of grappling but I also see movement’s related to Muy Thai, and even a tiny bit from traditional striking arts. There might be some more, but my knowledge is admittedly limited.

The people running the show seem to know what they’re doing and I’m quickly learning from the couple of lessons I’ve had already.

Mainly, I’m wondering how do I practice grappling at home? With striking, shadow boxing and bag work have helped me tremendously with making my striking form something I don’t even think about and reflexive. Is there something I can do like that for grappling?

And for those that are instructors, what qualities would you ideally look for in a student.

And does anyone know some good drills specific to MMA for opening up the hips? With the more squared off kickboxing stance and greater rotational force required and all the PL type training I’ve done, I find my hip rotation gettting cut short due to a lack of internal rotation mobility. My external rotation is great.

Also, my hip flexors are tight. It’s hard for me to move my knee much past my hips without momentum or external force. I have the flexibility, I just lose muscle control past that point and meet resistance.

Um… Sorry for being such a newb. I tried looking through the threads and didn’t quite find what I was looking for. Sorry in advanced if this has been covered ad naseum already.

Hey fletch, welcome to the board!

Regarding grappling at home, you can shadow grapple just like people shadow box, you just string together your grappling techniques into the air the same way you would string together striking techniques into the air of shadow boxing.

The issue that most people have who are new is basically having a very small grappling “vocabulary” (understanding of the feel, flow, and foundational grappling movements), so it’s like trying to write a speech in a language that you barely know how to get the most basic statements across.

My suggestion would be to work on your basic ground mobility (shrimping, bridge and roll, sit out, hip heist, rolling, breakfalls, etc…) first, and try to string things together and just get comfortable and familiar moving your body around on the ground.

Next I would practice any grappling skills sequences/techniques/flows/chains (lots of names for how you string together skills in grappling) that you learn in class, focusing on the important technique cues that your instructor(s) gives you and really try to visualize yourself doing them to an opponent. At first these might be single techniques done repeatedly, but eventually will evolve to a “combination” of techniques geared towards eventually “trapping” your opponent in a submission (or takedown, or Sweep, or guard pass, etc…).

Finally, once you gain enough experience you can just full on shadow grapple like you see boxers shadow box.

As far as the qualities I look for in the ideal student:

  1. Humility/coachability
  2. Character (not interested in teaching bullies how to be better bullies)
  3. Heart (perseverance/noting giving up when things get tough)
  4. Consistency/genuine love for the Martial Arts (people are only usually going to stick with something for the long enough to get really good at it if they enjoy doing it)

Talent is nice of course, as it makes my job easier (as such people tend to pick athletic pursuits like Martial Arts up more easily), but I’ll take a less talented person who embodies the above qualities over a super talented arrogant bully with a chip on their shoulder (even if they show respect to and are friendly with me) any day.

Hope this helps. Good luck.


Thanks a bunch. That is really helpful.

I think I’ll start incorporating the ground drills/mobility as part of an extended warmup before hitting the weights since I don’t have any room at home. It’ll feel goofy as hell, but hey when I started lifting I’m sure I looked goofy as hell then haha. I think it’ll be good for my joints in general. I always find my joints feeling really good after the bjj.

It feels so good to be back into martial arts. I wish I’d have done it way sooner, but better late than never. Again, thanks!

Hey fletch congrats on starting your training. Just want to give you a quick background so you know I know what I’m talking about lol. I wrestled in school for 8 years and did mma for 2 with my focus mainly being submission wrestling, judo and bjj. Practicing grappling without a partner is tough but not impossible. You can work on your stand up grappling by doing shadow wrestling (basically in your wrestling stance sprawling and taking shots, like shadow boxing). Also look up how judokas train their throws with bands. They also train their tosses and throws without a partner at all by simply mimicking the footwork and movement. Grappling dummy’s are expensive, tie your gi pole or post and grap the sleeves and practice moves like uchi mata, harai goshi, and uki goshi. Know that grappling is a strength workout in itself and shouldn’t me underestimated, 1 hard wrestling day a week as a beginner is plenty. I don’t like how most mma/bjj school only emphasize groundwork. Fights start standing up and most street fights you do not want to go on the ground (I can speak from experience working as a security guard and bouncer for 3 years). Judo and bjj are the same art in judo there’s almost a 50 50 split between standing and ground technique in bjj you will learn 0-20% standing technique and all groundwork. Hope this helps you

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Agree with this 110%. My gym had too many guys with egos who would just SQUEEZE with no intentions of advancing or just spaz out and hurt themselves. My coaches always worked with me more to perfect techniques over the spazs


Lmfao sadly this guy wasn’t even that much of a beginner. He’d attempt a sub and even though he wouldn’t have it locked in properly he’d just squeeze until he tired out. I hated rolling with him I learned absolutely nothing

Yeah, a lot of beginners (and strong people, and honestly people from other grappling arts which don’t include submissions like wrestling) tend to attempt to substitute effort/strength for technique when attempting submissions when they start learning them. The same is often true of takedowns, sweeps, holding position and pretty much all things grappling though.

It generally takes a while for people (especially if they are strong, athletic, or come from other disciplines which emphasize attributes) to surrender their pride and really start to grasp the underlying principle of efficiency (emphasis on technique and minimal effort over “winning”) which is when their technical proficiency really starts to develop.

I’ve been picking up on that over the past 4 training sessions/lessons. It’s very humbling when someone 5’6"ish who’s 140 with little muscle can easily submit a guy like me with PL background who’s 55lbs heavier and a 500 pull haha.

Yeah, technique can definitely overcome strength if the disparity is great enough. Take heart though that the superior strength you have built will eventually be an asset to you once your technique catches up.

Grappling is a lot about how to create superior leverage and how to take it away from your opponent; how to use your whole body against the weakest parts of your opponent’s body; redirecting, going around, deflecting, and overextending your opponent’s force/strength. At first strength can be somewhat of a deterrent to developing such skill as strong people can sometimes “force” things based purely on their physical superiority. In a real fight or even MMA match this can sometimes lead to victory, and no doubt it’s an extra “ace” up your sleeve if you have it that you can pull out if need be. But, if relied on too often it actually hinders the development of the more “soft”/“technical” skills which are really what Jujutsu/Judo/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are actually based on which allows those arts the possibility of overcoming physically superior opponents.

Honestly the same could also be said of striking arts to a degree (a guy with just a naturally hard head/good chin, who is tough, aggressive, and who hits hard naturally can oftentimes have success based purely on their aggression and attributes), but since there is often direct and constant “connection” between people in grappling (especially styles that involve the Gi) the affects of strength (which isn’t necessarily correlated to naturally hard striking or a good chin) are generally more noticeable in grappling than in striking arts.

I know this is a slight derail, but I recently had a buyer for my old 100lb bag waffle on me (I got a good boxing day price on a 125lb Muay thai bag) and I figure I might make good use out of it as a grappling dummy. Or so I guess. I realize it is only half the weight of a lot of opponents, but if I perform motions on it like mounting and raining down hammer fists, getting into side control and elbowing it and knees sort of thing, might I be on the right track? I haven’t had a club membership in over a year and don’t know when realistically I will again, so I ask please for ideas. I could also practice doing all that and then randomly picking it up and slamming it and generally moving it around. thoughts?

This man just said his joints feel better AFTER jiu jitsu…your partners aren’t trying to kill you enough :wink:

Lookup gymnasticsonline.com
There strength work isn’t much, and most of their stuff is expensive as shit. But I can honestly say the front split and middle split stretch series have done wonders. I’m stretching LESS and getting more flexible, but I’m also on his whole program.

Having said that, incorporating two hour sessions a week, one for the middle splits and front splits has worked wonders for me (kickboxing and jiu jitsu). Mobility was always a weakness.
One thing iv noticed, is the workouts start with stretching, but it ends up being movements that do require mobility, but your muscle are pulling your joints into position. In a sense you stretch into the flex, and learn how to apply more force with your muscles as your joints loosen. It’s horrible honestly, and I hate it, but the gains have been crazy.
The thoracic bridge series is surprisingly good, and revealed some weaknesses in me. But for your purposes, I’d recommend the middle split and front split series.
It’s by Coach Chris Sommers. He’s been on t-nation before.

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Been following Coach Sommer’s routines exclusively for my strength and mobility/flexibility for for a few years now. Can’t recommend it highly enough. My experience with the stretching courses (also do Thoracic Bridge once a week) has been the same. I’m stretching way less than I had previously been and getting way better results.

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For real!? Iv followed you for so long on this forum XD I wish u had mentioned it more/I had seen it. Finding him has been gold

I also do the TB series. Just didn’t want to make it seem like he needed all, given the expense