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.
One of my favorite body parts to attack is the liver. Wearing an opponent down with body work helps you in many ways. It takes energy out of your opponent and you can finish your opponent with a good shot to the body. Here's a clip of me doing some old school kickboxing (above the waist rules) with the late Larry Jarrett (who was a pro boxer and a champion kickboxer) back in the 90s.
It's funny how fight fans talk bad about a fighter once he loses. He can win for 10 years and as soon as he loses, many will say he doesn't have it anymore. For the simple fact that he's in there doing it, means he still has it. As a fighter, he loves to fight. He seeks competition and wants to be challenged. He walks that fine line between winner and loser. Just like he can win, he knows he can lose. I respect anyone who will get and there and just do it. Beyond our selfish wants to see our favorite fighters win all the time, we have to remain loyal fans to them even in defeat and be thankful that they have given us the entertainment and excitement that got us to watch them in the first place.
The last Blog featured how to deal with a bigger opponent. One of the readers (Robbie Adams) noticed that my opponent in the video threw a lot of lead right hands. Since the Shidokan World Open is a tournament, I had the opportunity to see him use that right hand on his first opponent. He KO'd his opponent, so I knew I had to watch out for that right club. Robbie asked would I deal with a fighter who used the left hook. So, I looked through some of our Youtube videos to find a fight and I found one from the 2002 World Open. This is the finals against Ryo Sakai. This clip is the kickboxing rounds of the Triathlon (karate, kickboxing, grappling). This clip shows Sakai using the hook to set up his combinations. I use movement and throw a lot of right leads to thwart his hook. When I see him set to throw it, I move.
In 2004, I came out of retirement (after 2 years out) and fought in the Shidokan World Open 8 Man Welterweight (170 lbs) tournament. In the semi and final matches I fought fighters who were physically bigger and stronger (fighters who fight as heavy as 185 lbs). I want to share some strategies that I use when fighting a larger opponent. In this clip you will see me cutting off my opponent's power by getting inside of his reach. I use movement to stay out of harms way when he presses forward. You will see jamming techniques to get a clinch.
There is a saying that anything can happen in sports. This past weekend, Conor McGregor stopped Jose Aldo shortly after the starting bell of round 1. We also saw Luke Rockhold stop Chris Weidman. Both fights ended by knockouts. What I starting to see in MMA is that the better punchers are dominating. Many have the idea that MMA is a grappling based sport. The better wrestler determines the outcome. What we've seen lately is that a fighter with good boxing and some understanding of grappling is deadly. Going back to the Rousey and Holm fight, we know that Rousey is the better pure grappler. In looking at the McGregor and Aldo Fight, we know that Aldo was a world champ in BJJ. We know that Weidman is a more accomplished wrestler than Rockhold. In all three situations, The better punchers seemed to prevail. In many instances the the better grappler/wreslter isn't dominating. On paper Jon Jones is not a better wrestler than Cormeir. Gustafason is not a better wrestler than Jones (took Jones down). Anderson Sila took Dan Henderson down (Dan is an Olympian). GSP took several NCAA wrestlers down. In the striking department, in many cases the fighters mentioned were dominate in their punching and kicking skills, with boxing being the most important attribute in the striking department. Boxing skills include, timing, range control, footwork, accuracy. Those who have experience with the sweet science are even more dangerous because punching is used more than and other weapon. In the 80s during the American Kickboxing explosion, Karate tournament fighters (light contact) entered the ring for full contact. Those who developed better boxing techniques seem to do better. So, as difficult as the concept of hitting somebody with the hands sounds easy, it seems that this is one of the hardest abilities to master. Of course there are others things to factor in (i.e. genetic disposition to taking punishment), but it seems that those who improve their boxing do better when other things (i.e. kicking, grappling) are close. Like mentioned before, in MMA we see kick boxers (like Donald Cerrone) take down wrestlers, we see grapplers head kick KO kick boxers (Gabriel Conzales kicking Crocop for a KO), etc., which means that MMA is mixing of martial arts techniques and fighters have to be multi-dimensional. And looking at the recent examples mentioned earlier, it is the hands that was the determining factor in the outcome. If you can out kick or wrestler a better boxer then you have to rely on your hands. If that opponent is better in that department and you have nothing else to rely on, you are going to have a rough day.
10,000 Hours To ExpertisePeople often ask how long does it take to get a black belt? Studies say that it takes 10,000 hours to become proficient at something. When a new student spars for the first time they are sometimes frustrated that they get hit a lot or get tired. I can spar with someone and that person can over analyze the whys and why nots of the sparring session. They wonder why I landed a particular technique over and over again or why was able to read what they were doing before they could get off with a technique. I tell them that from ages 18 to 36 (16 of those years almost non stop) I was for most part in a boxing or martial arts gym training 5 to 6 days a week anywhere from 1 to 4 hours a day (1 hour some days due to a year and a 1/2 period for a job). Since 1999 I've worked in the gym business. But prior to that I would train early mornings before work or during lunch time for supplementary work and my evenings were spent working on my craft (martial arts). Using rough numbers (3 hours a day x 6 days week = 18 hours a week x 52 weeks = 936 hours a year x 16 years = 14,976 hours. This is a conservative number not including the hours of training and practice since age 8 (as training during those formative years would be less). At age 14, I new I wanted to become a world kickboxing champion. By age 18 I focused on that goal. Now with hours of practice estimated, I can't imagine the numbers of hours I put in studying. After training in the gym, I would watch the advanced fighters train. For over a 15 year, there was no fight show that took place in town that I didn't go watch. I knew the stats and ranking for the sport of kickboxing like a baseball fanatic knows baseball cards.
So, when a new student gets frustrated I ask them their favorite sport or hobby growing up. When the guestimate the hours put in researching, practicing, studying, etc. then it makes since to them. Imagine how many shots Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan shot before they made it to the NBA.
"1,000 times, a beginner. 10,000 times, a Master" Mas Oyama.
World Champion Richard Trammell shares his experiences, views and thoughts on fitness, martial arts and fighting.