T Nation

Ratios MMA Training


#1

I always wondered.
What ratios of wrestling, boxing, muay thai, BJJ, integrational MMA, whatever is needed, should be used when training for mma.
Well, a cop-out for the ‘train your worst discipline first’ (if a boxing champ would be willing to make the switch to MMA, I understand boxing isn’t priority).

My first guess was: most gyms I know, have 2 sessions a day, 6 days a week. That makes up for 12 training sessions a week. If you wanted to create a rounded fighter, that would be 3 sessions a week for BJJ, wrestling, striking (boxing/muay thai/karate) and MMA.
Is that too much MMA training, and not enough training per discipline, or vice versa?
Should some discipline by its nature be treated differently?
My body is ready for your insights.


#2

It’s kind of a cop out answer, but I feel that the best combination is going to be dependent on the individual and the goals of the individual. A BJJ guy trying to compete in MMA isn’t going to put a ton of focus on BJJ (probably enough to stay sharp and develop), but will try to focus on bringing up their striking. The type of striking is going to be dependent on the individual (Diaz brothers with boxing, Cerrone and Aldo with Muay Thai). However, I think it’s rare to see someone well-versed in a discipline (BJJ) to train fully in another discipline of the same archetype (wrestling) outside of developing specific aspects that would improve their game (double leg takedown).

Obviously the MMA training is going to throw it all together, but fighters may train in a discipline that focuses on a particular aspect they need to strengthen. That being said, I think the most straightforward approach when choosing between multiple disciplines and MMA is to focus on one striking discipline, one grappling discipline, and to use MMA sessions to develop fluidity. Just like anything else in life though there’s no simple cookie cutter approach that works across the board.


#3

I think you touched a interesting point there! How much of a discipline does someone needs to learn? Pretty large components of each discipline have a less-than-awesome return of investment for MMA, as far as I know.

Would you see wrestling as the same archetype as BJJ? I always figured (non-folkstyle) wresling was far more about takedowns, and BJJ was far more focused on positioning and subbing.


#4

Wrestling is actually very focused on positioning and control. I would say that of all of the modern incarnations of grappling arts, that Judo would be the most heavily focused on takedowns, then wrestling, then BJJ (not as familiar with the rules of Sambo or less mainstream grappling arts like Mongolian Wrestling/Dumog, or even Sumo). Wrestling would be the most focused on control/position of the group; BJJ the most focused on submission of the group.

To be honest, if I were to rate the disciplines in order of importance for MMA in a general sense I would:

Place Wrestling and striking as the two most important skill sets. The ability to dictate where the fight takes place and the ability to fight where all MMA fights begin (on the feet) are critical for MMA success.

I would place bottom ground survival/escape, ground and pound skills, and submission defense skills next in order of priority.

And I would place submission skills last in priority. That’s not to say that I don’t think they are important or worth training, but you can certainly go far and win a lot of fights without the need to sub someone.

So if I had to split up those 12 hours on a beginner I would probably have them do :slight_smile:
-4 hours a week of MMA focused wrestling
-4 hours a week of striking
-2 hours a week of MMA training (learning to blend their skills)
-2 hours a week of submission grappling/BJJ

Of course individual strengths and weaknesses might alter these ratios though.

Just my opinion though.


#5

That is a VERY motivated and elaborate answer!
I always have doubt, if wrestling is the most important part of MMA because it dictates the fight, or the least important part since wrestling hardly can finish fights on itself.

BTW, do you mean folkstyle or greco-roman/freestyle?


#6

Well, technically wrestling can finish a fight (a takedown can result in a KO), but it is admittedly rare inside the cage/ring. It can however allow you to gain a position from which you can finish a fight (utilize submission or grounded striking skills) or allow you to nullify your opponent’s ability to do so.

I wouldn’t say it is above striking in importance, but on equal ground. The fastest way to finish a fight is still with a strike and all MMA fights begin standing at striking distance.

As far as the specific style of wrestling, I would probably say that folkstyle has the best control while on the ground; Greco has the best upper body takedowns; freestyle might be just slightly less good for control on the ground but still pretty much on par with Folkstyle, however with higher potential for competition (international comps like the Olympics); and Catch obviously has the best finishing options.

Honestly though, what matters more than the type is the quality of instructor. I’d rather train with an Olympic Freestyle coach over a high school folkstyle coach any day, even if I think folkstyle as a “style” has better carryover to MMA.


#7

I’ve been thinking about the ratios here…
http://mmajunkie.com/2015/12/ufc-in-2015-a-ridiculously-robust-look-at-stats-streaks-skids-and-record-setters This article has a section in it with the number of fights, submissions, K-O’s and decisions. It stands out to me that as a general rule, ‘lower weight means more decisions’ (understandable, there is less weight ergo less force, less guys gassing out). But also, the lower the weight, the more submissions happen relatively. Do the little guys have better BJJ on avarage?

But indeed, striking and wrestling seem more important. If you can survive on the ground, and can get up, you a fighter has a good chance in winning without too much BJJ skill.

If talking about BJJ, would you think the highly technical next level stuff we see from is relevant in MMA? Stuff like 50/50’s, berimbolo’s, Rubber guard, De La Rivera guard. Or would sticking to the basics, and the advanced basics would work better (solid positioning, stand ups, a shitload of tricks for arm bars, knee bars, triangle chokes, key locks, RNC’s, omoplatas, guillotines)?


#8

Smaller people have better technique in general as a result of not possessing the raw mass and power that larger people do and thus realizing very early on in their training careers that they must maximize their efficiency if they are to succeed. You have the occasional freaks that have both size, power, and technique, but as a general rule the smaller people are superior in that regard. The other big difference is regarding conditioning; less mass means less effort to move which means that smaller people’s expression of their skill will continue to remain higher longer than larger people.

Regarding “advanced” BJJ stuff like berimbolo, 50/50, etc…yes as a rule many of those types of skills are fairly impractical for MMA, while the “basic” stuff (closed guard, armbars, triangles, RNC, etc…) are higher percentage. What is really more important than whether it’s considered “basic” or “advanced” though is:

-what arena of application was it developed in/for

-can the individual fighter make it work

For instance, even though many might consider Rubber Guard “advanced” (or at least not a “foundational skill”) Bravo developed it specifically with MMA/strikes in mind and should someone have the attributes to utilize it effectively it can be a very effective position in MMA (look at BJ Penn as a good example).


#9

Good points.
Wouldn’t ease of the move play a role in MMA: I understand some things work great in pure grappling competitions, because you just have to worry about the submissions and sweeps. Getting pounded in your face is not productive to a calm and concentrated gameplan.


#10

“Ease” of a move is going to be dependent on so many factors (timing, “energy”, judgement, set ups, individual attributes/proportions, fatigue, slipperiness, etc…) that it’s somewhat difficult to associate it with a given arena of application.

Like you said though, control (or lack of) and “openness” for being struck will drastically affect the likelihood of success with certain grappling techniques. That’s why Rubber Guard is a fairly high percentage and safe position (if you have the attributes to use it) in MMA while something like De La Riva or 50/50 guard are not.


#11

All great answers. If you were to train some newbies 18 hours a week (6 days, 3 hours), would you still keep the ratios the same. Or would there be a point of diminishing returns for wrestling, making it a smarter move to shift a bit of the focus to submission skills (both offensive and defensive) or to integration?

Man, I truly start believing there isn’t a greater puzzle in fighting than developing a great mma fighter. Every time you focus in on 1 thing, the next thing suffers in attention.

And I’m kinda sherdogging here…wouldn’t be striking and wrestling combined with some disciplined BJJ basics the most potent style for self defense AKA the streets? From the load of street fights I’ve seen online (and a few in real life), people either get smacked in the head or slammed on their head, and that is the fight ender 99/100 times. I’ve seen a RNC somewhere I recall. Not getting socked in the jab, and denying the takedown seem a pretty legit plan.

And now I’m just summing up whatever pops up in my mind. Does it matter that much which sports are en vogue in a place, or is grabbing someone’s hips and punching face basic instinct? Down here, we barely wrestle, BJJ is very slowly rising, however judo and kickboxing are world class level. Most boys did some judo, and later tried there luck in kickboxing for a week. So… chances are a trip or high kick is common?


#12

Well, coming from a purely mixed background where I learned everything at the same time (and didn’t really “differentiate” between say wrestling, bjj, judo, Small Circle, Chin Na, etc… but instead pretty much just learned “grappling;” or boxing, Muay Thai, Karate, Muay Boran, etc…but instead pretty much just learned “striking”), I would say that a beginner would do well to learn all aspects of MMA right from the get go.

I reject (and have seen plenty of examples that support my position) the notion that someone cannot become highly skilled while learning all aspects of combat sports at the same time and feel that specialization in the initial stages of learning is not required to reach a high level as an MMA fighter. However, again, once a fighter builds a solid base in each area they may require (or even just prefer depending on the opponent) to focus more on certain aspects than others. Some people are “natural” strikers, and some are “natural” grapplers.

So, to answer your first question I would probably split up the hours evenly between “striking,” “clinch fighting” (which would include both stand up grappling/takedown/positional work and striking skills like “dirty boxing” and Thai clinch work), and “ground fighting” (which would include positional work, submissions and sub defense, and striking/striking defense skills). This schedule may wind up reaching a “point of diminishing returns” as you said though depending on the fighter/athlete and of course their scheduled opponent (if they choose to compete).

As far as the best “street fighting” mix… First there is a difference between a “street fight” (which is essentially mutual unsanctioned “fighting”) and “self defense” (which is a more morally/legally conscious endeavor and ranges from everything from avoiding bad situations altogether to situations where the goal is survival and much more commonly includes the presence of weapons, cerebral/verbal/postural self-defense skills, multiple attackers, and dire consequences). For “street fighting” a mix of boxing, stand up grappling skills (takedown and takedown defense), and quick finish or quick get up skills if it does hit the ground is a very practical skill set. For “self defense” a much more inclusive and skill set is needed.

Finally, yes, certainly cultural realities need to be taken into account. This reality is pretty clear when you look at Martial Arts from different times and cultures throughout history. For instance Jujutsu’s unarmed techniques were based mostly on attacking the joints because the opponent would likely be wearing armor, thus making striking largely ineffective. On the other hand Philipino Martial Arts like Kali, Arnis, etc…are largely based around edged weapon combat because blades are so common and such a prevalent part of those cultures.