What is more important, speed or power? For me, it's speed. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you can be weak and prevail. And I don't consider myself exceptionally fast. I have a relaxed method of movement and contract the muscles at the moment of impact and then relax. I was talking with a student about body language and I explained that if you look closely at an opponent, you can see tension in the body before it attacks. I have spent countless rounds of shadow boxing in the mirror to study my body, so that I don't have this give away. How effective is it to be able to punch through a brick wall if you can't hit somebody? The human body is delicate and doesn't require much to hurt it if you hit it right. People think that you have hit people hard and you don't.
Yesterday, I talked about the best way to train for your sport. I said that the most sport specific method of preparation is to do that particular sport. Now, how long should you train? Should your workout be 5 hours or 6? A lot of fighters say they train 3x day for 2 hours at a time. If you train with intensity and purpose, your workout shouldn't take more than 90 minutes or 2 hours max. If you go through the motions, you can workout all day long. If you are getting ready for a 10 round bout, you should practice training 10 rounds as hard as you can. This would be better than you half training for 20 rounds (because you would slow the pace to accomodate that time frame). You will pace your self for what you are going to do. It's like trying to improve your mile run by training for 3 miles. You have get on that track and hump 1 mile and time it and work on increasing your speed by practicing running 1 mile.
I always hear Karate guys saying gloved fighting is so different than without in that Boxers will injure their hands easier than the Karate guy. First of all, Boxing is a speciality art that specializes in "Punching". The object is to use the hands to do damage. The hands hit things 95% of the time (except in shadow boxing). The hands are wrapped for support and different types of gloves are used for training (bag, sparring, etc.). Daily bag work and sparring means you throw a lot of punches. And these punches are thrown with power. So, the hands are actually developed and are strong. Boxers usually have big knuckles. The Karateka will condition his/her hands by knuckle push ups (Boxers do them too) and hitting makiwara boards. But let me tell you this, they can still injure their hands like any boxer. It is a misconception that their hands are better prepared for bare knuckle fighting.
What is more important, technique or strength? Technique is. Now, don't think that you can't lose to strength. Using boxing for example, a strong puncher can win against a more technical boxer (who is weaker) if he can impose his power early. If the technical fighter uses good defense (from better footwork and head movement), the stronger fighter's strength will quickly fade and then it will boil down to the technique and skill. With that being said, you will want to develop your technique first because strength is easier to build upon. Don't think that if you can't knock a guy out now, you will be able to after a few months of strength training. The naturally powerful knockout artists do so because of genetics. I have never known a fighter to able to bulk up and then start knocking guys out by getting stronger. Getting stronger may help them withstand more punishment to the body, but it doesn't make them faster (which is what the weaker guy has to improve on for KOs). Improvement in technique benefits all types of fighter.
Is winning the most important thing to you? For some people it is. Is winning at all costs important? Is it how you play that's most important. I think that doing all that you can to prepare and giving an event your full effort is most important. Winning feels good but not if you didn't do your best. And many times you can find accept a loss with your head up if you know that you did you you could possibly do. Always remember than when one wins, the other has to lose.
In today's martial arts and fitness worlds, people are always looking for the next best or great thing. We all want somebody else's secrets to make us better. If the Champ does it this way, then I should is the thought. In many cases we can learn from the success of others. What we must remember is that our individual success requires us to travel on our own unique journey. We must apply ourselves and work hard to accomplish our goals. Many people look at the goals attained by others and get frustrated when they have the same right off the bat. They don't see the dues that one has to pay to get to the next level. We always what it right now, or we think we do. I do believe that if you really want something you will get it. Think about things that you didn't get and I'm sure if you take an honest look deep inside, you will find reasons why you didn't get it. Maybe you missed practice, didn't study enough, didn't rehearse your lines, etc. Now look at things you accomplished (not easily) and you will see that you paid the price to get it. Keep it simple folks, just work hard and never give up.
In todays times MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is very popular. On TV you can find MMA and Boxing fights all the time. You don't see Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Judo, BJJ, etc. In the U.S., the main combat sports shown on Pay-Per-View and cable are Boxing and MMA. Every once in a while you can find some kickboxing bouts. Now every time I drive around town though, I see Tae Kwon Do and Karate schools every couple of miles. There are abundance of them. In looking for MMA, Boxing, Kickboxing schools, you will have to look harder. Most MMA gyms will have Grappling, Boxing, and Kickboxing on their schedule. MMA appeals to young athletic guys (and a few gals). Even at MMA gyms, most of the members come for fitness classes. A lot young guys will do the grappling and striking classes, but few will become fighters. For the TMA (Traditional Martial Arts) schools, most of the members will be kids and they will also get adults (parents of the kids they teach). TMA will have more people because everybody can participate. MMA is primarily for fighting. Don't get me wrong. There are fitness and stress release benefits, but it is about fighting.
In listening to different fighters talk, I see many turning down fight opportunities because they don't think they're ready. They want to avoid the top fighters in their weight class because the time is not right. A trainer once said, "If a new fighter walks into his gym and doesn't believe he will be champion from day one, then he never will". Of course everyone can't attain the top spot, but I think that if you want to be a fighter you have develop that mindset of taking on all comers. Test yourself against top opposition. If you lose, you know where you stand. You can evaluate what you are capable of and go from their. You can possibly win against your perception of another. We see upsets in all sports. No matter what, be a winner in your mind.
Can competition help you prepare for a real self defense encounter? Absolutely. Why? Look at a boxer. He practices 4 punches (jab, cross, hook and uppercut) and puts those 4 punches together in multiple combinations against a non-compliant opponent. He runs, spars, does bag and pad work and competes against trained opponents. Sure he fights under a set of rules and isn't allowed to kick or eye gouge, but he is deadly. Look at the guy who grew up grappling (i.e. judo, wrestling, etc.). He has been taking opponents down to ground, controlling them with positions/submissions. He does this against in shape, well trained, resisting opponents. These athletes are strong mentally and physically and impose their wills on strong opponents. These attributes translate over to one's self defense skills. These individuals deal with fear, anger, adrenaline, pressure, pain and fatigue. They are able to push themselves past the limits of non-competitors. Guys who fight in the cage have to fend off punches, elbows, take downs, knees, holds, submissions, etc. against trained fighters who specialize in some form of delivering pain. So, next time you hear somebody say that competition isn't suitable for preparing one for real situations, ask them how many fights they have.
World Champion Richard Trammell shares his experiences, views and thoughts on fitness, martial arts and fighting.