After watching TUF's Tyson exclusive clip where Tyson was giving advice to the current season of The Ultimate Fighter. It gave me an idea for writting the first article for my blog. But i figure i'd post it here first to get some feed back from others and maybe help some guys who are lurking and new to boxing or stand up combat sports. I havent seen any article like this yet, so i figured id write this for everybody here first and post it if people like it.
Note: I'll spell check it and fix grammer soon, i gotta get going and im out of time. Comments and suggestions welcomed!
BEGINNER Striking Theory: 10 Simple Points to help people new to stand up sparring.
One thing ive found after lacing the gloves again, is the high number of guys who come in and then disappear either after the first day of training or after their first sparring session. The root cause more often then not is honestly attitude. Martial arts at its very core is about self improvement. From Boxing to classical styles of Kung fu. The spirit of always getting better both mental and physically is often over looked. UFC has us believe that being a fighter is about who has the biggest balls and who is the toughest mofo on earth wins fights - That BS sells tickets. For those of us who put on the gloves either to put our skills to the test or just to better our selves. We know thats the furthest thing from the truth.
Too often i see tap out shirt wearing "tough guys" come in, thinking they'll stand toe to toe with a guy who's been training for years and ko them with their mystical strength and gods gifted power. They come in with offence in mind and go in there to impress everybody with their "big heart" and "tough as nails grit" (fighters can roll eyes here). The end result often is a one sided ass kicking. Not many people go into their first few sessions with the proper mind set or strategy. They bought into the pre-fight hypes and dont understand or know fight theory. They're stuck playing checkers when the rest are playing chess. Fighting is a thinking mans game. Anything less is simply brawling.
Here is 10 simple points for guys new to sparring to know.
Defence wins championships. The old saying that offence might win you a game here and there, but defence wins championships is true. Until you get it down. Defence is the most important thing to keep in mind. Offence is what's celebrated by the public, but for real fighters we recognize the value of defence. Fighting isnt fun. Hitting and not getting hit is fun. When your starting out, focus on defence. Dont get off first. Throw jabs or leg kicks to find your range, but let them come to you. When your not attacking, hands up because your defending - NEVER forget this!
You have 2-3 minutes to win your round. The biggest mistake everybody makes is blowing their load in the first minute and then spending the rest of the round as a highlight reel. After you gas, your slow and become predictable. Your also desperate and stop thinking because there isnt enough oxygen in your brain to formulate strategies. Pace your self for the full round, starting off have somebody call out each full minute. Learn your gas tank and learn how to gauge it. You want to run out at the very last second, so when the round ends your on the final 10% of what you have. Your tired but your not flopping on the ground sucking air.
Relax and stay loose. The hardest thing to learn unless you sparr is to stay loose. You can be loose, kicking the bag, hitting the pads etc but the moment you get hit hard or hurt - everything changes. People panic and tense up. The more tense you are, the slower you become and the faster you gas. Thats why i say defence first. If you constantly defending, you wont get hit as hard or as often as you would if your offensively minded. The more relaxed and loose you are, the slower the fight feels. The easier to defend and more confident you become. The more confident you are, the more loose and relaxed you are. The more loose and relaxed you are, the more gas you have. The more gas you have the more you can think on your feet. The end result is a thinking fighter who sees the fight in slow motion, who has a seemingly advanced gas tank and hard to hit.
Dont stay still- heels off the ground! Ok so now your, slipping, parrying, catching and blocking punches. Checking and shuffling off kicks. But now your just short of being an annoying punching bag. In order to counter and to attack you have to create openings. The way you do that against a person with a solid guard or even a poor guard is by creating angles. Get in the habit now that once you defended the attack, you slip a counter - immediately move! Always limit your counters when you start with singles. If your consistently landing singles then throw doubles. But still do it defensively. Your guard should always be solid and keeping your self protected in your guard. Whatever happens, move right after. The opponent will need to change positions and reset. It also makes you hard to predict. Keep the heels off the ground and you'll stay light. Think of it like you having crazy glue on your heels, if your heels stay on the ground for more then a few seconds you'll be glued to the ground (Oddly you will, i cant explain it, but once you heels get grounded, you'll stay flat footed usually for the rest of the round). Also always move toward their blind side. Dont move into their open side where their power punch will be, always move towards their back. They'll need to reposition them selves to defend leg kicks or hooks to the kidneys.
Act, dont just react - the purpose of outlining such a conservative game plan is to develop the discipline to be hit and not automatically react. Instinctively people attack the moment they get hit. If you are doing the above 4, then your acting and not reacting. Your not letting the other guy dictate the fight. what you'll notice if your new and fighting another new fighter is, when you hit them, they'll hit back. You hit targets that are open - Not because somebody hit you.
Not every hit has to hurt - i see guys wanting to throw knock out jabs or leading with wide hooks or getting flustered because they keep missing punches. Over time you realize not every punch or kick has to hurt. The jab for example is like the can opener, the big right is like the spoon. You have to make a opening before you can scoop it out. Learn to set up attacks. A light leg kick might be enough to make them drop their guard opening them to a punch. Or they tend to brace for body kicks leaving their legs wide open and planted. Think... think... think... think... think! Fight smarter not harder.
Its just a series of exchanges- a fight is made up of rounds. Rounds at its very core is made up of exchanges. Since your new, i always suggest working off the counter. Each exchange is like a move in chess. Ultimately checkmate is a KO. Each exchange is going to move you towards a checkmate. So always think like that. When you strike them, what is your ultimate goal? Get their range? learn their speed? their style of fighting? prefered hits? do they tap their foreheads before they jab? what flaws do they have? Be smart, fight smart and get to keep your brain at the end. Dont do anything unless it has a purpose. Ko'ing somebody isnt a purpose - its your goal for the bigger picture. Each exchange should ultimately lead up to your goal. Think like this...
Exchange 1 - Throw a 1 and 2 to make him attack and then i counter - goal: am i fast enough to catch him, does he drop his guard in exchanges?
Answer: he drops his guard and i can counter successfully.
Exchange 2: he moves in to throw a 1 and 2. I counter off it with a jab, he hits back and leaving him open for my big right cross.
Everything just leads to the big right cross. its just a series of moves that gives you a window to land your big hit. First to get a feel, second to excute your game plan. When you learn that theres a opening you just build towards it and only then do you throw hard. Because you've create a high percentage hit.
Spar to get better - check your ego, your going to get your ass kicked! Even with such a defensive style, new people will be down on them selves. instead of feeling sorry for your self and quitting, break down the round and look at what worked and didnt work and go back to improve those areas. Each session after your first you should focus on a area where you need to get better and keep working on that area until your good at it. If your in a good club, you should be able to ask them to do things over and over again so you can practice what you are weak at. Master it and move on. Soon your weakness will be your strengths.
The more you sweat during peace time, the less you bleed during war time- fights arent always won or lost in the ring. A lot of times it's about how hard you prepared. Sparring is the test, training is studying. The more you study the better you'll do on the test.
HAVE FUN! People forget this sometimes. Going in to train shouldn't feel like a job! Your doing it because it's fun! Never loose sight of that. Your there to help your self and others get better.
I hope this helped somebody out there, these will often will be covered by a very good coach. But often with large classes and a variety of students, it hard to give a guy/girl new to sparring these tips and advice. So i have outlined them here as a resource for guys new to striking combat sports. By fighting smart and defensively, you'll impress you club mates and instructors much more then you ever will with a bull rushing brawler style of sparring any day!
Thanks for the valuable feedback from my peers, im progressively updating this article. You guys have been great with your feedback, im new to this so every bit has helped me! As much as i hope this article can help people new to stand up striking arts. Spelling and grammer is coming... apologies its a busy weekend for me. the article will be posted on MMAgrindhouse.com once its been finalized.