Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Warming Up the Mind for Martial Arts

One of the most basic but often heavily neglected parts of martial arts training is the warm up. It should be a time when one is preparing there bodies physically but also there minds mentally to do battle with themselves. After all, it is during training that one develops there skills and tries to surpass the plateau they are currently on.

Some people may be thinking to themselves now, that a warm up is simply a way to heat up there joints and muscles etc so as to not cause injury to themselves. Although they are correct in thinking this, a warm up can be so much more. Whilst performing physical movements like stretches and light callisthenics, one should be thinking about what they are about to undertake, the level they are currently on, and ways in which to improve it.

Before a fight, many fighters try and picture ways in which the fight could possibly progress. They have studied there opponents style of fighting, they have trained in order to capitalise on there weaknesses, and during the warm up prior to partaking in combat with them, they think about all of this and try to form some sort of strategy in order to be successful.

This type of mental preparation or “warm up” should also be used by each and every martial artist prior to training. Although they may not be training for competition, hopefully everyone plans on bettering themselves during training. During the time taken to physically prepare themselves, they can also mentally prepare by thinking about what there focus should be placed on during the training session. Using more body movements on punches, keeping the guard higher, twisting the head more with throws, trying to gain more leverage with each submission etc.

These, plus much more are all general things which martial artists train to improve with each and every session, and having a mental picture of them can help improvement greatly.

Thinking about all of these things helps the martial artist warm up the mind as well as the body and should be carried out by all. By taking the time during physical warm ups (usually about 10-15 mins) to think about ones abilities and ways in which to improve them, one shall find that there mind and body shall be better connected and prepared to learn and improve from the training session. They shall find that by thinking more, they are able to move better and overall, will be able to train much smoother.

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Monday, 26 October 2009

Karate's Grappling Methods Book

With the boom of the UFC and now Lyoto Machida, a lot of karate ka are trying to learn grappling techniques so as to be able to fight in MMA. While this is a good thing, some do not go about the correct way of doing it.

The priority of all at this stage is for them to enrol in a grappling school so as to learn from a proper qualified professional, the correct way. However, should they totally abandon there karate? No, they should not, they should still keep training it hard as they will eventually find, that karate and grappling can go hand in hand.

One of the best books that demonstrate this and one which all should think about purchasing is Karate’s Grappling Methods, by Iain Abernethy.

It is all about grappling techniques, and how kata bunkai incorporate them. Buy reading this book and training at an actual grappling school, there karate shall also improve, there kata will become much more alive as they shall start to see applicable bunkai for themselves and there fighting as a whole will be much more complete.

Here is a few other reasons for purchasing the book,

It is one of the best books to give grappling applications to kata techniques -With sometimes slight adjustments to how the techniques are actually performed in the kata, the bunkai shown are all good grappling techniques that can be practised and drilled in class time.

Each grappling phase is broken down – There are whole chapters devoted to all the different phases of grappling, included, arm bars, leg and ankle locks, finger locks, fighting dirty, throws and much more. What Abernethy also does, is show examples of all of these phases in katas.

Shows positions – Most of the time, when karate ka who are new to grappling start, they are eager to learn submissions only. While this is a big part of grappling, the other big part of it is positioning. Positions always come before submissions and the book demonstrates the basic positions in detail.

Gives sparring examples – The book gives great sparring examples of how to practise grappling, and how to slowly incorporate strikes in order to make, for an overall effective form of fighting.

Along with training at a grappling school the book is a great start for karate ka wanting to learn the basics of grappling and it should be on the bookshelf of all.

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Friday, 23 October 2009

Rolling Knee Bar from the Ankle Pick

Today’s video is a sweet transition from a failed ankle pick into a rolling knee bar. The knee bar is one of my favourite submissions and almost always, when I find myself under my opponent’s chest, it is the first technique I check to see if it is available.

By the opponent pulling his ankle back in order to defend the takedown he leaves himself wide open for the rolling knee bar and with a quick hip rotation in order to gain the correct position for it, it is one of the best takedown/submissions from this position. Obviously, other initial techniques other than an ankle pick can be used to draw your opponent into making the pull back with his ankle, such as ko ouchi gari, however by using a low ankle pick you put yourself in a better position to transition into the rolling knee bar.

People have commented weather this technique would work without the use of the belt /gi to hold. Although it may be harder to pull off, over hooking near the top of the arm close to the shoulder or holding around the head, (e.g. from the clinch) could allow for possible no gi alternatives.

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Wednesday, 21 October 2009

REPOST: Street Fighting and MMA Style Fighting

This article was written over two years ago. It created quite a bit of a debate with some visitors to this site (you can check out the original comments here). I may have put the point across that MMA training is useless for street fighting, which was not the intention. MMA training is very effective for street fighting, however I do feel that in order for an MMA fighter to become a more competent street fighter he/she will have to slightly tweak there training a little.

Now two years on I would like to see what peoples views on the subject are.

Over the last few years we have seen UFC, Pride and others bring out the most advanced fighters the world has ever seen. They are able to punch, kick, grapple, ground fight and submit. Also the level of fitness they attain for each fight makes them some of most well conditioned athletes alive. Does this mean that they are also great street fighters?

Firstly let me point out that when i say MMA fighter for this topic i am referring to MMA sport fighters who train under rules and regulations. And this is just what i mean. RULES AND REGULATIONS. In a street fight there is no ref, so no one will stop you gouging eyes and pulling inside of cheeks, (fish hooking) if there are weapons around (sticks, bottles, walls to be thrown into) you wont get disqualified by using them to your advantage, and most importantly IN TODAY'S DAY AND AGE YOU DON'T FIGHT JUST ONE PERSON.

This is the most important point. If your rolling around on the floor looking for a submission or clinched up trying to deliver knees and elbows his/her friend will probably creep behind you and do all sorts of damage. You have to be able to finish one guy off quickly so you can either worry about the next or run like hell!

Now don't get me wrong, i love watching and training MMA and a lot of techniques they use are very practical and useful, but you must realise that street fighting is a completely different thing. Theres loads of good books that give more information on this and the best techniques to use and avoid in a street fight so i wont bore you with them. All I'm saying is sometimes when training, think what would be the best strategy if your were out on the streets with no RULES!!!

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Monday, 19 October 2009

How to Fatigue your Opponent

“People are irritable when they are fatigued”. This is one of the strategies written in Sun Tzu’s “People are irritable when they are fatigued”. This is one of the strategies written in Sun Tzu’s Art of War (a series on this book is coming soon by the way). When a fighter is tired they get irritated which leads to mistakes, sloppiness and flaws in there fighting system. This is when the patient, strategic fighter knows that it is one of the best times to capitalize.

Below are a few ways in which one can fatigue there opponent,

Keep them on there toes – Moving in and out, always keeping out of range until its time to strike is one of Lyoto Machida’s strategies in his style of fighting. He is an undefeated MMA fighter with 15 wins under his belt as well as the UFC light Heavyweight Champion. This strategy which he uses keeps his opponents on there toes, which fatigues them and makes them very irritable which usually leads to mistakes on which Lyoto, has many times countered on.

Use hard kicks – A lot of people throw kicks without the intent on making them hurt there opponents. This is ok when concerned with feints or set ups but if your kick is an actual true strike, make sure that it is hard. Hard kicks, especially to the legs quickly wear down opponents. Marco Ruas vs Paul Varelans is one of the best examples of this. Ruas’s hard kicks quickly tired out his opponent in which he started to drop his guard, make mistakes and was doomed.

Clinch non clinch fighters – If someone does not know the first thing about the clinch, make sure, that you always aim to get them in it. Usually people who are not familiar with the clinch expend lots of energy trying to get out of it. It is a great way to quickly and easily fatigue an opponent.

On the ground, always try to be on top – A lot of people when ground fighting prefer to fight from the guard position. This is ok as submissions are far and wide from here, but in order to fatigue your opponent it is always best to be on top. Side control, scarf hold and the mount allow for short sharp strikes which wear down your opponent and also force HIM to try and get out from underneath as it looks bad with points. Because of this he will expend more energy and will tire quicker, possibly leaving way for a quick submission or harder strikes.

Build your cardio – This is not so much a way on how to wear down your opponent, but how to make sure that he tires first. By building your cardiovascular system to the maximum hopefully it will be your opponent that tires first.

By fighting a fatigued irritable opponent one will quickly start to see openings, and chances to win the fight. Study these and other ways which you can figure out for yourself, if you simply do a little research through slow controlled sparring. It is always the brains that make the best fighter, never the bulging biceps, something we could all do with remembering at times.

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Friday, 16 October 2009

How to Fight?

No introduction to this video. Please leave your comments below on weather you agree or disagree. This should be interesting.

Is fighting a 90% mental situation rather than a physical one? Let people know what YOU think by adding your comments below.

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Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Judo Throw Variation from the Clinch

Takedowns without a gi are slightly different to ones with a gi. By being able to grip certain places on ones jacket or trousers, there are much more ways in which a person can be taken down.

One of the best examples of a throw in which a gi comes in more than handy is sasae tsurikomi ashi.

It is a throw in which a strong pull is needed in order to take the opponent off balance and because of this, it is used mostly with a gi where this kind of pull can be achieved. However, with a slight alteration in grips, this can be one of the best kind of throws for anyone involved in no gi combat sports and is great for MMA fighters to include in there arsenal.

Since a gi is not worn and a pull of the clothing can not be achieved, the next best grip to have or possibly, an even better grip, in order to perform the technique is the half clinch. (picture on the right) Although the throw can be achieved via a full clinch (where both hands are behind the opponents head), the half clinch is best to use for this throw as it enables one to secure there opponents arm when they go down, which would allow for more options when on the ground.

To perform the throw, looking at the picture, the fighter on the left, from this position would simply move his opponent in a clockwise motion in order to break his balance while simultaneously blocking his opponents left ankle with his right foot. (As in the sasae tsurikomi ashi fashion) Using his hands, again in a simultaneous fashion, he would push his opponents head sideways with his left arm and pull strongly on his opponents arm, just inside the crook of the elbow, to take down his opponent.

When performing the Judo version with the gi, it is common for the person performing the throw to let go of there opponents gi with one arm and to hold them with just one, however it is important when performing this no gi variation, to not let go of the opponents arm or back of the head until they are on the floor. This is so you can maintain control of them and it is easier to move into positions such as knee onto belly, side mount of even an arm bar.

As mentioned, the throw can be performed from the full clinch position, but it is harder to control your opponent once they are on the floor and even more importantly, it is much harder to control your own balance. It is very easy to fall or be pulled down by your opponent with a full clinch, whereas by having only one arm tied up as in the half clinch one is able to control there own balance much better, as well as there opponents movements.

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Monday, 12 October 2009

Counter Attacking or Pre-Emptive Striking

Street fights are something that most do not want to be involved in. Im sure most have heard of the incident last week in which a very patient martial artist took a lot of abuse from a thug for more than long enough before flooring him! If you have not, check it out here at the Urban Samurai website. (It is the top video, but the bottom one is also worth watching) The question is though, how much abuse should one take before deciding that it is justified to defend oneself physically.

Principle No: 1
Some people believe in the principle that one should only defend themselves once a physical attack has been made by there opponent. In other words, they can be shouted out, swore at, and even spat at, but are not justified to defend themselves until an actual technique is thrown at them.

Principle No: 2
Then there others who state that the pre emptive principle is necessary, meaning that if you are 100% sure that you know you are about to be attacked, be it with a punch, a weapon or by having your opponents buddies creep up behind you with the intent on doing some damage, then you are justified to retaliate there and then. You pre-empt your opponents attack by performing one of your own.

There are good and bad points with both principles here.

The first one definitely labels the person defending the attack in the self defence group. They have physically been attacked and have defended and countered, striking back just enough to stop there opponent/s in there tracks without unnecessarily hurting them. This is the good part in the sense that they have defended themselves all legally and above board. However, the bad thing here is that it does not usually work out so easily. The block and counter approach is a very basic form of training self defence techniques and against a real opponent, when adrenaline is pumping, weapons are probably lingering, and multiple opponents are in most cases waiting, it is very hard, if not impossible to counter your opponents attack/s, without coming out of the situation unharmed. Even if one has performed realistic self defence training, there is always a big chance that one will not come out, the way they went in. Because of this, it is always better to pre-empt the attack and get in there first, so as to be better off.

Here is a situation involving pre-emptive principles. You have pre empted your opponents attack. He was swearing at you, calling you every bad name under the sun and you where sure he was about to get physical, in which you struck him first, cleanly and solidly. He went down and you moved on, however, later in the day, you get a knock on the door. It is the police who have come to arrest you for grievous bodily harm (GBH). Now, you are in more trouble than you started in. You say to the police that you were sure that he was going to attack you and you attacked first, acting in self defence. However, how can anyone be completely sure that an attack was going to be made. Taking the video at Urban Samurai for instance. The thug was rude and stupid, but was the victim actually ever going to be attacked? Maybe the thug was all hot air and no action and the victim could have easily just walked away.

It seems to be a no win situation. Either you attack first, but possibly face bad consequences later, or you wait until an attack is made, but maybe it could be too late then to defend adequaltly, in which you could end up being hurt.

What do you do? Comments and opinions are more than welcome on this topic below.

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Friday, 9 October 2009

Kashiwazaki Ne Waza Technique

Today’s video is another simple ne waza (ground fighting technique) that is not only very effective but full of possible variations and follow on techniques.

It is a sweep from when your opponent is in front of you as opposed to in your guard. Although it is possible to use the technique when you have someone in your guard or butterfly guard, it is best used when your opponent is in front of you as the momentum you generate when falling backwards helps in flipping your opponent over.

The technique plus a simple variation is demonstrated here by one of Judo’s greatest ever ground fighters Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki. For Judo purposes, the sweep is great is one as able to gain a tight osae komi hold down after it and for BJJ/submission fighters it opens up various possibilities for arm bars and chokes. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Sparring, Winning and Losing

The aim when one spars to be the best. Everyone wants to win without ever getting overpowered and everyone wants to be able to dominate whoever it is they spar with. It is a great feeling to be able to spar with everyone in your dojo/gym and have no worries about being dominated by anyone.

The problem is though, if you are always getting the upper hand of your sparring partners and do not face difficulties or pressure during your sparring, firstly you may become over confident in your abilities thinking you are able to beat everyone, (which is never the case) and secondly you may never work on your weaknesses to improve them.

The following are ways in which you can be easily dominated by your sparring partners, with the purposes of working your defences more, bring up your weaknesses and become a better overall fighter. (For these exercises, it is best to spar with someone who not only understands to control his techniques but also someone who is the same or of similar ability to yourself)

Spar with a handicap – This type of sparring is great for bringing up any weaknesses in your fighting as well as putting yourself at a disadvantage to your opponent who should dominate you. For instance say you are a great kicker but your punches are not so good. You then agree to use just your hands to spar maybe even limiting it to a few punches only, excluding elbows, clinching etc, while your opponent is free to use any technique. Simply because they are able to use more techniques they should dominate you, forcing you to work harder to bring up any weaknesses.

Start from a bad position – No one likes having a good grappler behind them as most likely they shall fall prey to rear naked chokes or other submissions or strikes. In a nutshell, it is a bad position, but one which one can be of use. Starting your sparring from this position or other similar ones which provide your opponent the upper hand are great so as you can get used to them and provide you with the ability to work defences to them. Another good one is to start your sparring with your opponent gaining a full double handed tight clinch, in which you must break free or reverse the position whilst defending close range strikes.

Spar against two or more opponents – When one spars against two or more people the tables soon turn if it is you who are always in control of a single opponent. Having the disadvantage of having to fight multiple opponents will not only put you on the defensive more, forcing you to train areas you do not usually train but is also a great way to practise for real life street scenarios.

Perform drills which go wrong – Drills are used to work techniques over and over again repeatedly, so as they become second nature. However, one practises drill with a (most of the time) compliant partner who will go with the movement and allow you to perform the techniques correctly. (Which is the correct thing to do). A variation to this though, is for your partner to sometimes resist the technique and try to defend it slightly. This will then force you to flow with the nature of the defence into another completely different technique. This will help one to develop awareness to when things go wrong and how to flow from technique to technique, something you may not be doing if you are always dominating your sparring partners.

Regarding submissions, since you will be at a disadvantage to your opponent, chances are they shall catch you in them. If you do find yourself on the receiving end of them don’t try and fight them if they are locked on tightly and don’t let pride get in the way. Simply tap out and continue with the exercise. Similarly, with striking you shall also be caught in bad positions where hard strikes would end the fight. This is where your “good” sparring partner recognises this and does not strike hard to hurt, but just enough to let you know that you are in a bad situation which you must get out of quickly.

These exercises and other similar ones which you can easily create for yourselves are great in order to work areas you do not usually work, but most importantly, they help in bringing ones pride and cockiness down which can easily become out of control, especially if one is always beating up there sparring partners.

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Monday, 5 October 2009

Kevin Rooney on Mike Tyson

The following is an interview taken from WWW.TYSONTALK.COM with Kevin Rooney, one of the legendary Cus D’Amatos trainee’s. Rooney answers questions about Mike Tyson. Although the interview was conducted in 2004 it still is very interesting to hear the thoughts and opinions of one of the very few men who ever really knew Mike Tyson. Although it is a long interview, for Tyson fans it is definitely worth reading to the end.
(WARNING: does contain some bad language)

Over the years, 'Iron' Mike Tyson's legion of devoted fans have firmly held on to a tattered thread of hope: To see their beloved fighter resurrect his desire and regain the heavyweight championship for a third time. Along with that hope are the unwavering contentions: 'Mike should return to his roots... If Mike would only take his training seriously... Mike should go back to Kevin Rooney...'

Kevin Rooney. The man who was coached as a fighter and then as a trainer by the legendary Cus D'Amato at his fabled training camp in the Catskill Mountains of New York - and the one who picked up where D'Amato left off in sculpting a young Tyson into one of the most devastating fighters the sport has ever seen.

After D'Amato's death in November 1985, Tyson won his first championship a year later at the age of 20 by annihilating WBC champ Trevor Berbick in 2 rounds. The win made Tyson the youngest heavyweight champ in history and Rooney (at 27 years old), the youngest trainer to have lead a fighter to a world title. Under Rooney's guidance, Tyson earned a record of 24-0; 20 KO's and a unification of the WBA, WBC and IBF titles by blasting his way through such opponents as: James 'Bonecrusher' Smith, Tony Tucker, Larry Holmes, Tony Tubbs and Michael Spinks.

Immediately after Tyson's brutal first round knockout of Spinks in 1988, Rooney was fired. So began Tyson's turbulent and scandalous life both in and out of the ring.

In recent days, there have been confirmed reports that Tyson (50-4; 44 KO's) has resumed light training on his own in Phoenix, Arizona and is expected to fight in the coming months. Currently, Tyson has yet to announce who will be training him.

In this exclusive interview, Fightnews spoke to Rooney to get his perspective on Tyson:

Mike has gone less than one full round in a span of nearly two years (against Clifford Etienne). How difficult will it be for him to shake off the ring rust?
It won't be that difficult. If he's been running and keeping in shape, it won't be a problem. He's been doing this for so long, that it's almost like turning on a light switch. Mike's not going to be as good as he was when he was 20 or 21, but if he gets into shape and gets prepared mentally, he'll still be a very dangerous fighter.

Has Mike ever talked to you about training him again?
No. We've really had no communication. I talked to him on the phone once, you know...'how ya doin,' blah, blah, blah. Last summer, I heard he came up here (Catskill) looking for me. But he knows where I live. My house is still the same. For him not to come to my house... uh, I don't know. You know, I've always believed that you just don't leave people, you stay with the person who brought you to the dance. Mike and I have a long history together and we accomplished a lot in this sport. That's something you just don't walk away from.

If Mike were to ask you to train him again, would you?
If he were to ask me... sure I would. Just so I could try and bring him back to where he once was.

It's been 15 years since you've worked with Mike. Is it too late to pick up where you left off?
No. I don't think so. If he concentrated and really trained hard, it can be done. When we were at the peak, I had Mike sparring 10 rounds everyday... 5 days a week! It was an all out war EVERYDAY. There was none of that one day on and one day off crap. To be a great fighter... you have to spar. You gotta spar everyday, day in and day out, week after week. With Mike, I would spar him up until two or three days before a fight.

One time in Atlantic City, Mike had gotten a bloody nose and Jimmy (Jacobs) wanted me to stop the sparring. I told Jimmy 'What the fuck? If he gets a bloody nose in the fight, you want me to stop the fight then too?!' Then, Jimmy understood exactly what I meant. Another time in Vegas, Mike got a little cut over his eye a few days before a fight. But, the cut didn't re-open because he would move his head.

Another thing, ever since he left me, Mike stopped moving his head. All of his trainers after me, weren't in his mind like I was in his mind. I was raised by Cus and I think Mike had respect for me and he knew what I was telling him, was the right thing. The average person doesn't know what it takes to become a great fighter. It takes constant discipline and repetition. Boxing is 80% mental and 20% physical. Anyone can get in physical shape.

Since your departure as Mike's coach in 1988, very few trainers have been able to motivate him and keep him in the gym. Why do you think that is?
Mike didn't respect those guys. He knows more than them... and he knows it too. Those trainers that he's had, they don't know anything! Mike couldn't pull that shit with me. When it came to style, technique and all that, he couldn't go head to head with me. When he had those other guys, they didn't know what to tell him! My work with Mike had made the phrase 'Move your head' common now. But, there is much more to it than someone just saying 'Move your head.' When I say 'Move your head', there's a system. There's a secret behind that. Cus was very secretive. He always wanted to keep things secret for his own fighters.

Could Mike be so confident in his abilities that it just makes him lazy?
No. All fighters have a tendency to be lazy. Because Mike has had no guidance since he left me, he just does what he wants! His mind set is 'I'm the man.' But, a lot of fighters get like that. They forget the training that was there when they were just a little pup. Mike won't listen to anybody! If he felt he was in shape and needed to take off 5 or 10 pounds, he would just dry out. When I had Mike, he worked out. There was no need to dry out! He work out hard! That's what made him the best fighter and youngest heavyweight champion in the world.

Two weeks before his fight with Etienne, Mike got a tattoo on his face. What did you think about that?
That's just Mike being impulsive... and silly.

In June, Mike turns 38 years old. Since he's not a beat up fighter, how many more years do you think he has left?
Maybe one or two. Mike should get out because I think he lost his desire to fight. Once you lose your desire, you should get out. Right now, he's just fighting for the money. But on the other hand, there really is no one out there. The heavyweight division is wide open for him. Mike still has punching power and when you still have power, you're always dangerous.

What is your opinion of the heavyweight division and the future of boxing in general?
The future of boxing doesn't look good. When was the last time the American's really did something in the Olympics? It was in 1976! All those boys were kickin' ass back then! Now, we've got nothing coming out of the Olympics. And, you know something... part of that problem is because we're the only major league sport, whose minor league has a different set of rules. Baseball, Football, Basketball... you name it. They all have the same rules in their amateur and pro leagues! Boxing is the only sport who does things differently! But, nothing is coming out of the amateurs and that's why we're in the tailspin that we're in right now. It's THAT, and the greedy promoters who've ruined the sport.

As far as the heavyweight division now, it sucks! Boxing through the 50's and 70's was where it was at. Guys like Tyson, Frazier, Ali, Liston, Foreman and Marciano were killers! Today... you've got the Klitschko brothers and Joe Mesi. So what! They'll never make great champions because they are too gentleman-like. They're not killers! Fighters in the 70's and earlier were looking to take your head off! Also, Chris Byrd... who wants to see him fight? He doesn't knock anybody out and he doesn't LOOK to knock anybody out either. He just looks to survive! He's nothing special... with all that running around and tap, tap, tap shit he does.

Mike's fight against Lennox Lewis. What did you think?
Mike wasn't in shape. If he had gotten in shape he would have beaten Lewis. But he quit against Lewis. That whole fight sucked! Lewis didn't do anything great or spectacular! He hit Mike with a couple of shots and Mike got a couple of cuts. Then, Mike tried to quit in the corner, but they sent him out. After that, Mike just laid down. He could have knocked Lewis out if he had only trained.

In that fight, Mike took a heck of a beating - the worst of his entire career. Do you think it affected him?
Nah! Mike quit! He gave up! He was just in it for a payday!

Although there have been many, in which fight do you think Mike threw his best punch? A punch that surprised even you!
The Spinks punch was pretty good. Mike hit him on the chin and put him in La-La Land. Although, that was expected because Spinks was a little nervous. But, Spinks grabbed his 13 million and got the hell out of there and retired. But, the Trevor Berbick punch... THAT was the best! He knocked Trevor down three times with one punch! That was a hell of a punch. That was the best one!

Cus D'Amato. If he could see how Mike's career turned out, what would he say?
Well, I gotta answer that in two ways. Number one: If Cus had stayed alive, it never would have happened. Number two: I think Cus would be very disappointed. He would have thought 'Dammit, I didn't have enough time to teach Mike.' And, I believe that. Cus and Mike were together for almost 5 years and it took Cus almost 2 years to get Mike's trust. Once Cus got that trust, Mike started to go through everybody in the amateurs. Then, when Cus died after Mike's 11th pro fight, he told Jimmy and Bill 'Let's prove Cus right.' There was no greater mind in boxing than Cus D'Amato. Nobody!

Even Ali sought Cus's advice. No?
Right! He did that before his fight with George Foreman. Cus told Ali: 'George doesn't respect your punch, so go out there and nail him!' If you watch the fight, you see in the first two rounds, Ali plants himself and nails Foreman hard with a straight hand - right on the button! You can see the surprise in Foreman's eyes! With 30 seconds left in the rounds, Ali would open up on Foreman. So, after every fuckin' round, George is going back to his corner and they're telling him Ali can't punch! That was the psychology and Cus saw that. After the rope-a-dope, Foreman was tired and he more or less gave up.

Fighters who are big punchers usually have problems with their hands. Did Mike have hand problems? Was it ever a concern for you as his trainer?
Mike never had any broken bones or knuckles. He never had any type of hand problems when I was working with him. One time he had a problem with his thumb, but he got that in a street fight with Mitch Green.

Speaking of Mitch 'Blood' Green, he was the first man never to touch the canvas against Mike. Did Mike have a problem with Green's style or did he underestimate him?
It was Green's style. All Green was doing was counterpunching. He wasn't leading. Green fought a defensive fight and didn't look to engage. He only looked to survive. Mike beat the fuck outta him! When you got a guy who's 6'4", that doesn't want to lead or exchange, he's hard to fight - and he's definitely hard to knock out. Also, Mitch has always been pissed off about his situation with Don King. That's what lead to that street fight in Harlem in front of that clothing store. Green took a slug at Mike and Mike blasted him.

What do you think prompted Mike to bite Holyfield?
I believe Mike bit him because Holyfield kept head butting him. Holyfield is a very dirty fighter and no one ever talks about that! He's very slick with those dirty tactics. Even George Foreman said that Holyfield was the dirtiest fighter he ever fought. But in that fight, it all started when Holyfield threw Mike up against the ropes and came in with his head! He cut Mike. And, Holyfield kept on doing it throughout the fight! People have to realize that the atmosphere in that fight was really charged up. If you look closely, Mike nibbled on his ear before he actually bit him. It was almost like a warning to Holyfield to stop head butting. Of course, it was wrong for Mike to do that. But back in the old days, stuff like that used to happen all the time.

When I was coming up, Cus showed me some tricks and how to get away with them. Cus was from the 20's and he knew every dirty trick in the book! He showed me how to hold a guy a certain way... come in with your head... put your elbow under his chin... put a thumb in the guys eye... hit a guy low... knee him in the groin, things like that. When you're in close, you can do those things and get away with it. It's hard for the referee to see things like that. In a fight, it's an all out war. Although there are rules and you try to stay within those rules, fighters... like Holyfield, do try to break those rules.

It's been said that Holyfield had the perfect style to beat Mike. How would you have coached him against Holyfield?
I would have sent Mike right after him. Get right in Holyfield's face! AND, move his head more. That was Mike's main ingredient. Moving his head. It made him difficult to fight. When a fighter throws a punch at another fighter, and it doesn't land, he becomes more cautious and won't throw that same punch. The guy gets confused. That's when a guy like Mike, who's moving his head, can land his punches and knock the guy out. If Mike had the proper training, with me in his corner, he would have knocked Holyfield out. There is no question about it.

Mike's loss to Buster Douglas. Many people were saddened to see him on the canvas struggling to grab his mouthpiece. What did you think of that fight?
I wasn't saddened because I saw it coming. But, I was saddened when I saw Mike's next fight after Spinks, eight months later. He fought Frank Bruno (their first fight) and his skills had already become diminished. I could tell he wasn't training like he should. If Bruno could fight, he would have knocked Mike out that night. Bruno landed a punch that buckled Mike, but Bruno didn't know what to do after that! When I saw that, I knew it wouldn't be long before he got knocked out. For me, that was sad... to see Mike's skills start to unravel.

But for Douglas, the minute I saw Mike walk into the ring, I knew he wasn't in shape. I saw the fat. He wasn't ripped. I just KNEW he was partying it up in Japan before that fight. They really like to party over there in Japan. Believe me! I found that out when we went over to Japan the year before to fight (Tony) Tubbs. But, we had to refrain until AFTER the fight. It was a long plane ride over there, something like 14 hours. When we got there, Mike slept for a while and then I woke him up for a 3 mile run. Then, he would go to the gym and he worked out hard. There was no fooling around before the Tubbs fight!

Two weeks before the Douglas fight, I heard Mike weighed 250 and had to take off 30 pounds. So, he dehydrated and starved himself. In the first few rounds, Douglas came out throwing a few jabs and you could see that he was nervous. But, he was throwing punches and Mike wasn't! If I had been in Mike's corner that night, I would have said: 'Look Mike, you came all the way over here and all you did was party. You've only got 3 or 4 rounds in you and you better throw EVERYTHING you've got. If you don't knock him out in that time, I'm throwing in the towel.' If Mike had done that, he could have knocked Douglas out. But, he didn't. He let a scared fighter get brave. Once you do that, you've got problems. Brave fighters don't go back to being scared. So, as the rounds went on... Douglas got confident! And when Douglas got knocked on his ass, he punched the canvas and got up. The next round, he beat the hell out of Mike... and then stopped him.

Which fights do you feel were the best performances of Mike's career?
Oh! There were many! When he went 10 rounds with James Tillis. It was his first 10 round fight. Before that, he was knocking guys out in less than 6 rounds. Another one was the fight with Mitch (Green). Mike beat Tony Tucker in a 12 round decision, EASY. He destroyed Tyrell Biggs, EASY. He knocked out Larry Holmes, EASY. Then it was Tubbs and then Spinks - EASY. Mike was on the road to greatness. In his first fight without me, he looked terrible against Bruno. Then he fought (Carl) Williams in a controversial stoppage. And then came the Douglas fight. So, all I have to say is... look at Mike's record before and after me.

Mike's rape conviction. Many people feel it was a set up. Your thoughts?
Definitely a set up! How the hell are you gonna get a TAX attorney to defend you in a RAPE case?! Just before that happened, the rumour was that Mike was going to leave King and go with Harold Smith. That whole thing just didn't add up. So... who knows.

Mike could have gone down as the greatest heavyweight ever. He could have been undefeated in 100 fights! But, he surrounded himself with lowlifes and jerk-offs and everyone was having a party with his money. Mike was making a ton of money because of Jimmy and Bill (Cayton). They are the ones who got Mike 20 million to fight Michael Spinks! It was the biggest purse ever at the time. He made 10 million to fight Tony Tubbs in Japan and Mike was making commercials for millions of dollars. Then, Mike marries Robin (Givens) and King steals him away. Mike can't sit around and say 'Cus never told me!' That's all bullshit! Mike had the BEST team! You don't go from the BEST to the WORST and then try to play naive! It's Mike's fault and his fault alone.

You know, Mike hurt himself and stabbed me and Bill in the back when he went with King. But, Mike was wooed away by King and I understand that. Mike should have just stayed with the people who brought him to the top. But, he chose to go with King. Mike blew it. He had a great run. But, he got suckered when he went with King and he should have known better. Now... Mike is suing him for 100 million dollars! You go figure it.

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Friday, 2 October 2009

BJJ Drills for Smoother Grappling

Today’s video is to do with grappling drills. Although the video is entitled BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) most of the drills can be applied or slightly adapted to all forms of grappling including no gi.

Drills are what carve out fighters rough edges so as there grappling “game” can run as smooth as possible. Without practising them regularly one can easily develop bad habits, become sloppy and try to use too much strength when good technique is all that is needed.

The idea of performing drills is so one can not only understand the movements and body positioning of certain techniques but so one can gauge there progression and iron out any sloppiness that may appear. For this reason it is best to perform drills at a slower pace than one would use when sparring. Speed should be worked, but should only constitute about 10% of your drill time.Enjoy!

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