T Nation

Tips for Guys Who Train in Combat Sports?


Hey guys, i started a little blog to share with my club mates who train with me.

I'm trying to fill it full of useful training advice and information for new guys to help them out. I've been trying to figure what are the top things people would want to know when they were starting out.

Or better yet, for people who do train what are the top things they wish they learned?

So far ive covered a bunch of things at www.mmagrindhouse.com but i figure its best to ask others who train and what they think would be a big help.

i'm sorry if this is in the wrong section, im just trying to get ideas from people who would actually train and what they would think.

thanks in advance for your time.



not my blog, but very important stuff


i dig this post, as i've been thinking about this stuff lately a lot, as i'm slowly getting myself back into shape.... XenNova started a new Year's post similar tot his, but i always like reading other guys' input on this stuff.

MMA related stuff:
-learn wrestling from wrestlers, kickboxing from kickboxers, etc....but train with MMA guys to integrate it properly.
-endurance/conditioning goes quicker than strength as you get older....
-technique is more important than strength
-figure out what you hope to accomplish from training.....this has been a huge deal for me. i would like to have a MMA fight soon, but my schedule doesn't permit me to train very often. so i've shifted focus, and am pushing some fellow soldiers i know to enter a pseudo-MMA tournement for the Army.
-learn how to train....by this, i know some guys (and i used to be one of them) that try to win every sparring session, match, etc, all the time. however, i've learned to work soley on one specific technique...i.e i'm really good at side control, however, if i get someone there now, i transition out, or even stand up. i don't really need the work there (at this time), but i do need it while mounted, and in passing someone's guard. i guess i finally learned to whatch my ego....

-doing a short, mini-workout when you're pressed for time is better than hoping to get a really kick-ass workout in later (maybe). this has helped me drop about 20 lbs this summer...
-eat right, most of the time. if you life priorities aren't to be 5% bdft, then don't freak out about it all the time, and enjoy life. it keeps you from getting burned out, IMO
-stretch, warmup, etc every session....also, go to a physical therapist and learn how to do rehab excersies correctly. i did this recently, and have figured out a couple things that i was doing wrong, and causing pain. also learn some cool stretches to warm up my shoulders...

anyway, just my .02 for now....


Technique is only more important once strength is sufficient. There is a baseline of strength below which no degree of technique will make up for an inability to harm your opponent.

This one is huge. I'm really good at standup, especially my inside punches (ie hooks and uppercuts). So now I'm working on what happens when they fail (outside striking and takedown defense). I still work the technique in, but it's not the focus of my training and I continue past it into my weaker areas.

+1. Doing something is always better than doing nothing.

Let me also add:

  • Roll/spar with guys who are better than you. You don't get better beating on tomato cans, you might as well be doing pad work. You get better by pushing yourself.

  • Get a coach, get a coach, get a coach. I know, this advice sounds simple to all of the guys who train under someone, but there are a lot of guys who want to compete but are stuck being one of 35 guys in some mcdojo group class. If you're serious about wanting to fight, drop the money on an individual coach who knows the fight scene in your area. He can tell you when you're ready, and connect you with the right promotion (preferably one that's above board, insured, and not going to get you hurt). God forbid you try to compete because you did a video training series or read a book, but I know there are guys who will try it. Don't be one of them. Your dentist will thank you.

  • Don't let your ego get you seriously injured. I'm just getting to the point where my BJJ will not get me killed in MMA. I recognize this, and my coach selects my fights accordingly (so far no full MMA rules bouts, but it's coming). I see a bunch of BJJ guys who think they can do MMA with a 2-week cardio boxing course. Don't be that guy. You'll draw some guy like me, and the only time you'll be going to the ground is backwards with your eyes closed.

Most of this advice is obvious, and boils down to "don't be dumb."


Are females training, too, or is it just guys?


miss parker, my personal club has a few girls who train and would like to compete. But for womens its often very hard to find people who fight in the proper weight classes. But my blog is basically for people who are training and are looking for tips. I find its very hard to find people who train who also spend the time posting resources for people.

I guess a good question is, if you were to click to mmagrindhouse.com what content would you want to see, even if your doing martial arts for fitness, fun and discipline?

As for the strength vs technique: when you develop your technique, the strength will come. A good example is guys who push punches and THINK they hit hard. Speed kills in stand up. The only way to develop your speed is by training and a by product is that you become stronger and more fit.

Other wise good points to think about.

i need to start writting some articles. ive just been posting videos that show tutorials and tips at my blog. guys check out the vid of frank mir i found... he gives some good advice.


A good piece of advice I received is to not let my emotions get cranked up when I get hit in sparring. You are going to get hit, so getting mad, frustrated, or whatever will only hinder your performance. An amateur boxer friend of mine recently disregarded this advice & started swinging angrily & wildly when he took a few good hits. As a result, he was knocked out.

One article that would be nice is something that discusses the secondary benefits we gain by training. The fitness, camraderie, confidence, etc. Something we could point to when people think we do this because we must be violent, angry, or maladjusted.

Regarding strength vs. technique, while I agree with devildog that you must have a certain baseline level of strength to participate successfully in combat sports, that level is fairly low. I'm nowhere near as strong as most of the guys I train with, but I'm able to hit harder than the most beginner guys because my technique is better. As their technique improves they can all hit harder than me, relative to their size & strength.


This is so true. Last night I spent the better part of 30 minutes explaining to the guys I train with that sparring isnt about winning and losing. It's about applying skills against a resistive opponent and to leave emotions out of it. 10 minutes later, my first sparring partner got mad when I caught him with a few punches and started swinging wildly.


Sometimes it can be good to spar against crazy noobs though. I think sometimes it can be easy to get used to people doing things "the right way" that you can get caught on some noob stuff by just not expecting it. A buddy of mine who I've lifted with for years said he's been hitting the heavy bag at his gym and wanted me to show him some stuff. I gave him some pad work and showed him how to hold them and then we did some sparring. He comes right out and bullrushes me with wild rock-em-sock-em robot punches and rung my bell a little before I circled out, re-set myself and just snapped out straight punches ahead of his wild hooks.

Same thing when we were rolling, he didn't know a lot of technique, but he had about 50 pounds on me and he was just smashed me flat and squeezed me in a headlock. I was never in any danger of tapping out, but it took a good 2 minutes for me to get out of that position and swing my hips around to take my back. I was so used to going against guys who were better technically but weaker and who didn't really use a lot of strength going against me that it was a big adjustment just going up against somebody who was just trying to hulk smash me the whole time. It's very possible that in an amateur MMA fight, he could have, at the very least, stolen the first round by landing a few early punches, getting a takedown and then just headlocking me from the top. I have since adjusted, but it's never a good feeling to be taken by surprise.

So I guess one piece of advice (from a noob myself) would be to practice against lots of different guys. I've trained at three different gyms and each one was a definite adjustment. For instance, with standup, one gym taught a style that was all based on left punch-right kick or right punch-left kick, etc. One gym stressed going left jab-right cross-right low kick. I notice that often times when sparring, students who only train at that one gym are caught off guard if I used the style from the other gym.


some really interesting ideas.

I think my frist original post will be on what newbs should consider when starting training. I really like miss parkers advice.

thanks guys for food for thought and i agree with what jtrinsey said, training and sparring too much with guys in your club creates routines and you need original stuff... often it comes from people who arent trained or atleast trained in your style.


Don't underestimate the power of conditioning, and no I dont mean bodybuilding conditioning.


This reminded me of what Freddie Roach says in one of his training videos- why go to war in sparring? There's no glory, you're not getting paid. Work on getting better instead


As somewhat of an mma newb myself I'll toss in what I quickly learned was important to me.

  • Conditioning. You are never as well conditioned as you think you are. Don't learn this mid spar.
  • Pace. If you come out guns blazing for a 3-5 minute round you WILL gas. Losing quickly follows. Learn to pace.
  • Defense. In the beginning its best to learn how to avoid getting subbed/knocked out because chances are you won't be subbing/knocking anyone else out anyway.
  • Basics. Practice the basics until you can do them drunk with your eyes closed. This is the foundation of your house, make it strong.
  • Simplicity. Don't try to learn too many things at once and don't worry about looking cool or learning fancy moves. Keep it clean and simple.
  • Grace. If you're using raw power you probably aren't performing the technique correctly. Good technique should be look and feel graceful.
  • Humility. Understand that you are a cub among lions. Ask questions. Learn. Grow. Be respectful and you will earn respect.

I've thought of some more but I'll leave it at that for now.


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