|Provided by Sherdog.com|
|Nick Name||The Bohemian|
|Record||7 – 6 – 1 (Win – Loss – Draw)|
|Wins|| 4 (T)KOs ( 57.14 %)
2 Submissions ( 28.57 %)
1 Decisions ( 14.29 %)
|Losses|| 3 (T)KOs ( 50.00 %)
2 Submissions ( 33.33 %)
1 Decisions ( 16.67 %)
|Association||Gladiators Training Academy|
Law #1: Conditioning is an offensive weapon.
While most fighters are content to attain a level of fitness that enables them to go the distance in a fight, you must approach training with the conviction that conditioning will become your most potent weapon. It’s not enough to simply “last”, you must train to dominate, preparing mentally and physically to maintain a level of intensity and relentlessness that your opponent is unable or unwilling to sustain. From a conditioning standpoint, make it your objective to push your opponent to the point where he wants out of the fight just as badly as you want to take him out. At that moment he begins fighting two people, you and himself , and usually succumbs to defeat soon thereafter.
In some of the Laws that follow I will give a general outline of the type and progression of training necessary to reach the level of conditioning I’m describing. Certainly it doesn’t come easily. Still, if the degree of physical and mental intensity I’m suggesting seems out of your grasp, try thinking in these terms:
In each exchange, flurry or scramble for position you need only persist 2-3 seconds longer than your opponent.
When striking from the feet, that means throwing the last punch or kick in each exchange. When grappling, execute the last counter in every flurry or out-hustle your opponent by 2-3 seconds in each scramble for position. Two to three seconds . Consciously make the commitment to that “throw the last punch” mentality and your body will begin to follow.
Law #2: Develop your conditioning gradually and progressively.
Effective training involves a continual process of overload and adaptation. That is, consistent workouts produce a stress (overload) that your body seeks to alleviate by growing stronger and more fit (adaptation). As your physical capacity improves, more is required (i.e. you must run faster, lift heavier weights, spar longer or with greater intensity) to overload your system and affect further positive physiological adaptations. Unless you gradually ask more from your body, your training will yield minimal improvement.
However, if you push too hard, too quickly you risk overtraining or injury. For this reason, “fighting shape” is best attained in a systematic, step-by-step manner. My training typically encompasses four distinct stages: (1) base conditioning , (2) intensive preparation , (3) pre-fight restoration and (4) post-fight recovery . Because each fighter has individual needs and limitations, and different types of training equipment at his disposal, I’ll offer a general guideline of what each phase entails, rather than give specific exercise prescriptions.
The goal of the base conditioning phase of the training cycle is to build up the cardiovascular system, lung capacity, and muscular strength and endurance. The bulk of your aerobic conditioning should be performed at 65-80% of your maximum heart rate for periods of 20-60 minutes. This is also the period to focus most intently on addressing and correcting any technical weaknesses you may have, as well as adding new fighting skills. The base conditioning stage can last anywhere from 2-16 weeks, depending on several factors, including your current level of fitness and whether you have a bout scheduled in the near future.
Once your base conditioning is established and a fight is scheduled, you’ll enter the intensive preparation phase of your training. The purpose of this stage is to prepare yourself physically, mentally and emotionally for the specific demands of an actual fight. Predominantly anaerobic workouts, performed at 80-95% of your maximum heart rate for 20 minutes or less, become more and more frequent. Sparring becomes increasingly intense, often against fresh opponents rotating in every 2-3 minutes. During these weeks your skill training should focus less on acquiring new technique and more on making the most of your existing strengths. This intensive preparation phase lasts between 4-6 weeks. Training at this intensity for more than six weeks increases the likelihood of overtraining. Less than four weeks in this stage won’t allow your body enough time to sufficiently adapt to the rigorous training.
The week before your bout training transitions into the pre-fight restoration phase . I liken the previous stage of intense preparation, particularly the grueling final two weeks, to wringing out the body like a sponge. During the pre-fight restoration phase the goal is to gradually cut back the volume and intensity of training so that your body re-absorbs energy to full-capacity.
Don’t lift weights during this stage. Instead allow your muscles to fully recover from the rigorous training and replenish glycogen stores. If you compete on Saturday, your last hard sparring session takes place on the previous Monday. Each day that follows reduce the volume and intensity of your workouts by about 20% (in addition to not lifting weights). Tuesday is a moderate workout (80%), Wednesday is moderate-light (60%), Thursday is a light workout (40%), and Friday is easy- less than 45 minutes of drills and shadowboxing and 30-60 minutes of stretching. Resist the temptation to do more and instead, go for a relaxing walk or watch a movie. On the day of the fight follow a routine that keeps you relaxed without being lethargic. I’ll typically play a short, spirited game of soccer or basketball with friends in the late morning before a fight. After lunch I’ll take a nap for an hour or so before leaving for the arena.
Tapering down training volume and intensity after several weeks of extremely rigorous workouts leaves me fully energized and mentally eager to fight – both essential components of a peak performance.
Finally, after the bout it’s important to spend a week or two in the post-fight recovery phase . Here, the prescription is active rest . Engage in activities unrelated to fighting- play soccer, go for a hike- whatever activity suits your interest and temperament. The key is less structure and more variety while allowing yourself a mental respite from the intense competitive focus. Physically remain active while giving your body a reprieve from the repetitive movements and stresses associated with fighting. Take this time. It’s an essential component in your training cycle and will leave you refreshed and ready to resume another training cycle.
Law #3: In training, as in competition, you must frequently thrust into pain.
As you approach extreme levels of physical exertion your body will naturally send a sensation of discomfort to your brain in an effort to convince you to slow down. Your body is geared towards homeostasis and prefers to stay within the parameters of moderate exertion. If you become anxious and reflexively pull back every time you experience the pain of fatigue, you will never actualize your potential as a fighter. Understand that your body’s capacity is always greater than your mind is initially willing to concede.
Take this example. Many years ago I read an article in a powerlifting magazine extolling the benefits of a weight training routine centered around a twenty-repetition set of squats. The author suggested loading the bar with a weight that would normally be a challenge for ten reps, then squat it twenty times. The first time I read this idea I naturally resisted accepting it, thinking “if I can only squat a given weight ten times, how can I expect to squat the same weight for twenty repetitions?” In the end, though, I decided to suspend logic and commit myself to this twenty-rep principle. Here’s what happened:
I loaded the bar with 455 pounds, a weight that was typically a challenge for me to complete ten repetitions. Before taking the bar onto my shoulders I resolved I would perform twenty reps, fixing that goal in my mind. I grasped the bar, touched my forehead to the center knurling, took a deep breath, positioned myself under bar, then lifted it from the rack. Absolutely focused on the destination of twenty I completed the first ten deep squats rather mechanically without any real strain. My legs and back still feeling strong, I remained resolute as I entered uncharted territory, methodically completing another four repetitions before I began to feel fatigue. The next three reps required great concentration. I took them one at a time, reaffirming my resolve for the next squat at the completion of the previous one. After the seventeenth rep my hands were numb and my thighs began to shake. I was too close, however, and quitting was not even a remote consideration. I entered another realm, one I’ve since revisited many times in training and competition. I let go and simply allowed myself to be pulled towards my goal. Not only did I accept the pain of fatigue, with something akin to rapture, I thrust myself into it…18…19… then 20!
The body itself may require only a few of months of hard training to get fit. The rest of the time you’re building your spirit- your guts- so that they’ll work for you in a fight without your thinking about it.
Law #4: Balance training with recovery.
As a young athlete I was so intent on becoming a champion that I’d roll off my mattress every morning at 5:30 a.m. and immediately begin doing push-ups. After 500 push-ups, 500 sit-ups and 200 pull-ups, I’d run the first of the day’s three 3-mile runs. In the evening after wrestling or football practice or competitions, I’d lift heavy weights for two hours. I was under the mistaken impression that if some training was good, then more training was always better. Clearly, in training there comes a point of diminishing, or even negative, returns. Strength and conditioning can only improve after sufficient rest and recuperation allows the body to adapt to your workouts.
Looking back on those eight-hour training days it occurs to me that at least some of my athletic success was achieved in spite of my excessive training, rather than because of it. The combination of excessive training volume and intensity results in a condition known in exercise science as “over-training”. Simply, you can train hard and you can train long, but you can’t do both without running a great risk of over-training. The symptoms associated with over-training can include fatigue, loss of appetite and muscle mass, chronic soreness, anxiety, elevated resting heart rate and impaired immune function.
By my late-twenties I was less capable of recovering from my previous marathon training sessions. Under the guidance of my boxing trainer, Eugene Ray, I grudgingly reduced the hours I spent training, began mixing easier “recovery” days in with the intense workouts and made certain to get 8 hours of sleep each night. Mr. Ray was also adamant that I take one day completely off from training every week. On Sundays (my designated day off) he’d call me at random times throughout the day to make sure I hadn’t snuck out for a run in the hills. I discovered, to my surprise, that cutting my previous training volume nearly in half, incorporating rest days, and following a progressive, periodized training regimen (as outlined in Law #3) enabled my strength and conditioning to reach new heights.
It’s important to note that no pre-determined training program is perfect. I’ve learned to pay attention to my body and its capacity to train on any given day. When I’m in the midst of a training cycle I consistently note my resting pulse rate and check my weight each morning upon waking. When I’m in good shape my resting heart rate is generally between 38-42 beats per minute. I check my weight to make certain that I’m not dehydrated, a condition that can elevate my resting heart rate. If my resting pulse upon waking is 50 or more beats per minute, and my weight is within 1% of my bodyweight from the previous morning (indicating I’m sufficiently hydrated), then I know I haven’t sufficiently recovered from my previous workout.
On those days when I awaken well-hydrated, but my resting heart rate is elevated I make certain not to train too intensely. For most serious athletes, especially fighters training for a bout, allowing for sufficient recovery is extraordinarily difficult. The practices of checking your resting heart rate and body weight provide useful and objective criteria for determining whether your body is ready for an intense scheduled workout.
Law #5: Train around injuries.
Intelligent preparation and good, mindful sparring partners can minimize the risk of getting hurt, but occasional injuries are inherent to combative sports. Trying “gut it out” and train through injuries only prolongs the time it takes to heal and puts you at risk for even more serious injury. There’s also the likelihood that you will unconsciously develop bad technical habits as you alter your mechanics to avoid painful movements or positions.
Your first order of business is to have a good team of health care professionals on your side to help you properly assess what your injury is, how to rehabilitate it, and how to return to fight-preparedness as quickly as possible. At the same time, you generally want to maintain or improve as best you can your fitness and skill level while recovering from an injury. One way to do that is to continue to stay as active as reasonable while you heal. Though an injury may temporarily force you out of your regular training routine, you don’t normally have to experience a long-term loss of conditioning. Find alternative methods of training while on the mend. Below are examples of general injury sites and creative ways to “train around” them without significant loss in conditioning levels, and allowing, in most cases, a faster return to normal training.
Injury Site Alternative Conditioning
Upper Body Swim with kickboard; Stationary cycle; Elliptical machine; Hiking; Stair climbing; Lower-body resistance machines; Training unaffected limb.
Lower-body Swim with pull buoy; Upper-body resistance training; Upper-body ergometer; Seated punching on heavy bag; Seated speed bag work; Training unaffected limb.
Also, the time spent recovering from an injury often allows an opportunity to address neglected or less familiar skills. For example, as a college junior I suffered a serious knee injury in a football game that ended my season. The team doctor told me that my career as a competitive athlete was likely finished. I was pretty shaken up by the doctor’s assessment and the day after my cast was removed I began doing heavy squats on my unstable knee. Panicked at the prospect of losing the thing I loved most, I gravitated towards the type of physical training I knew and did best even though it surely undermined the healing process.
Somehow the news of my weight room exploits quickly reached a former wrestling teammate, Eric Klein, who was then a graduate assistant coach at another college. The letter he wrote me on a torn scrap of paper transformed my collegiate athletic career from one of middling success to that of two-sport All-American. Eric wrote, “You’re strong enough to beat any heavyweight in the country. The factor that’s limited your success on the mat hasn’t been inadequate physical training. It’s your lack of mental preparedness that’s held you back.” He cited a few Eastern European studies that demonstrated the value of several types of mental training, including goal-setting, progressive relaxation and mental imagery. Eric noted that people tend to focus on the bulk of their training on the activities or skills they know and do best. Mental training is an area in which most athletes don’t have a lot of experience and consequently resist investing their time and attention. I took Eric’s advice to heart, acquired a few books he’d recommended, and earnestly set out on a regimen of mental training. At the same time I adopted a slightly more sensible physical therapy routine for my knee. The result, as I mentioned earlier, was a profound metamorphosis in my athletic career.
You can always train and improve some aspect of your game. Use injuries as opportunities to develop skills and conditioning, both physical and mental, that you may have overlooked or neglected. It’s very possible to emerge from an injury a better, more complete fighter.
Law #6: Breathe deeply.
Of all the skills I’ve developed, learning to breathe deeply has given me the most benefit per time and effort invested. One advantage of deep diaphragmatic breathing is obvious- you simply take in more replenishing oxygen. Another benefit, often overlooked, is that breathing deeply, when practiced regularly, is effective in reducing anxiety, muscle tension, fatigue and stress. When fighters feel tense or overexcited they often react by either holding their breath or breathing rapidly and shallowly from the upper chest. Both of these responses tend to create even more tension and lead to impaired performance. Studies have demonstrated time and again that a person cannot occupy opposing physiological and emotional states. That is, an anxious mind cannot exist in a relaxed body; nor, can a quiet mind exist in a tense body.
Lie down on the floor and put a book on your abdomen, it should rise and fall as you breathe. If it doesn’t, you’re not breathing fully enough to produce the relaxation response. Now, replace the book with one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. Notice how they rise when you breathe in and fall when you breathe out. Most people in Western culture tend to be shallow “chest-breathers”. That is, when they inhale only the chest rises and falls.
During inhalation, the diaphragm should move down, pushing the abdomen out and creating space in the lungs. The lungs fill with air from the bottom up. Practice breathing with this focus: push the diaphragm out, forcing the abdomen out. Fill your lungs with air starting at the bottom, and slowly expanding through the middle portion of the lungs by expanding your chest cavity, raising the rib cage and chest. Finally, continue filling the upper portion of the lungs by raising the chest and shoulders. During the exhalation, pull the abdomen in and lower the chest and shoulders to empty the lungs in a “sigh”. Let go of all muscular action at the end of the exhalation to promote relaxation in the chest and abdomen.
When I was first exposed to diaphragmatic breathing I consciously adopted a practice of mindfully taking five deep breaths every time I saw a clock or watch throughout the day. This seemed a good way to practice, first, because seeing a clock or watch was a fairly common and regular occurrence, so I was able to get a lot of practice repetitions each day. And secondly, often when I looked to see the time it was because I was in a hurry or running late for an appointment. This gave me the opportunity to practice breathing in mildly stressful situations.
While the exercises can be learned in a few minutes with immediate benefits, persistent practice will produce maximum results. Deep breathing can also be used in conjunction with other strategies such as the meditation or visualization exercises noted in Law #10.
Law #7: Your well-conceived offense has a built-in defense.
This basic notion permeates my fighting style as well as every individual technique I use and teach. Because its relevance is so broad, however, it has proven to be a difficult concept for me to articulate in writing.
My objective in every fight is simple- to defeat my opponent as quickly and decisively as possible, while incurring the least possible amount of damage to myself. This involves integrating my offense and defense. This means using offensive techniques that don’t leave me exposed or vulnerable to my opponent’s simultaneous or counter attacks. Straight punches originate and end at cheek level, out and back on a line so that the shoulder directly involved in the punch protects one side of the face, while the opposite hand protects the other side. Or, when I throw a left hook my right hand pulls back hard to cover the right side of my face. This not only adds snap to my punch, it also protects me from my opponent’s left hook, which is the most common threat in that situation. By using offensive techniques that are defensively sound, you can attack with aggressive confidence, unafraid of taking punishment when you engage.
If you lack confidence in your defense you’ll generally adopt one of two fighting modes:
I suppose this Law could just have easily been written as “your defense has a built-in offense,” for it’s not enough to just block an opponent’s punch or avoid his takedown attempt. Your opponent will simply regroup and attack again, often with even greater resolve. Instead, always try to make sure your opponent feels a negative consequence for throwing a punch or attempting a takedown in the first place. Block, slip or weave each punch, then immediately counter punch while your opponent is extended. Or, when he attempts to take you to the ground, don’t be content to simply avoid the takedown. Use your hips to crush his position, then work to secure the takedown yourself. Not only will you double the opportunities to score against your opponent, but your actions will have a lingering defensive effect. Think about it. If your opponent is always paying a price for mounting an offense, he may have second thoughts about initiating an attack as the fight goes on.
When I consider making a technique part of my arsenal, the technique must satisfy three criteria. First, it must have the potential to hurt or create an opening to inflict damage on my opponent. Second, it shouldn’t present a defensive liability. And third, it must leave me in a position to continue attacking.
Law #8: Never underestimate your opponent.
I’ll keep this short. Always expect your opponent to be damned tough and prepare yourself accordingly. It is always better to bring your absolute best to a fight and find that it’s more than enough, than to give less than your utmost and discover that it’s too little. When victory is at stake you owe your best effort. Anything less is disrespectful to both your opponent and yourself.
Law #9: Disregard your opponent’s reputation or ranking.
While it’s certainly a mistake to underestimate a rival, it’s equally important not to succumb to intimidation when facing an opponent with impressive credentials. As you develop and move up the pecking order as a fighter it’s likely and completely desirable that you’ll encounter a higher level of competition. You’ll face fighters you’ve read about, seen on television, perhaps even those that you’ve admired and sought to emulate.
Listen, fighting a good opponent is difficult enough. Don’t compound the difficulty by battling the opponent and his lofty reputation. Focusing excessively on your opponent’s past accomplishments usually leads to one or more of the following responses:
• You convince yourself you can’t win, in which case you almost assuredly won’t.
• You convince yourself that you can only win by doing something extraordinary, so you attempt techniques you’re not familiar with or force ill-timed or exaggerated techniques out of desperation.
• While in the fight you spend more time watching your opponent than fighting him. Enthralled with his reputed skill you watch and wonder what he’s going to do next. Instead of making your opponent deal with you, you become entirely reactive or, worse, passive.
Every true champion has reached his position by beating a champion. The process is no different for you. Rather than allowing a phantom factor like “reputation” influence the fight’s outcome, remind yourself to fight your opponent’s body, not his name. By doing so you’ll avoid distraction and self-doubt and simply focus your every fiber on defeating the man in front of you.
Law #10: Erase self-doubt.
Never discount the power of your thoughts. Pre-fight anxiety and self-doubt can make you feel as though you’ve fought three fights before the actual bout ever begins. Adequate preparation will prevent many potential uncertainties and worries, but oftentimes a few nagging doubts persist. I’ve found it helpful to adopt the following pre-fight ritual to assuage those lingering fears.
A few hours before a fight I’ll sit alone and quietly reflect on all the reasons I might have for giving a less-than-peak performance. The twinge of pain in my shoulder, the three days of training I missed because the flu, the pressure of other people’s expectations- every negative thought that enters my mind; I acknowledge and mentally take note of each one. Eyes closed, I vividly imagine writing each and every defeatist thought on a sheet of paper. When I’ve completed my “list” I review it once more to make certain I haven’t overlooked any situation or condition, real or imagined, that might potentially undermine my performance. In my mind every negative factor leading to the fight is there on that paper in black and white. Then, I imagine crumpling up the list in my hands and throwing it into a fire. I watch as it burns and the negative thoughts go up in smoke. They’re gone, the emergency brake of self-doubt gets released, and my conviction to win becomes absolute.
This practice of mentally imagery has consistently helped me perform at a high level in situations where circumstances were less than ideal, including wrestling in the NCAA Championships days after extensive facial surgery, and competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship two weeks after an emergency appendectomy. Combining psychological preparation with physical training will help make even your “bad” days better than most fighters’ good ones.
Law #11: Don’t become a victim of your own strategy.
The idea in competition is to soar above the common herd of fighters by virtue of superior skill, conditioning, will and confidence. Excessive reliance on a pre-fight strategy often indicates a lack of real confidence in your abilities and training. Adhering too rigidly to a plan of tactics based on your opponent’s strengths can be problematic for at least a few reasons.
First, if your strategy is geared to exploiting a specific facet of your opponent’s skill set, you may find yourself in a waiting game- watching, waiting for a specific action or response from your opponent that may never come. In the meantime your opponent dictates the course of the fight. Also, if your rival changes his attack and you are too slow, or unwilling to adapt, your now-obsolete strategy may become your undoing. You’re better off forcing your opponent to deal with you.
Practice your techniques to the point where they each become a conditioned response to a stimulus. Don’t intellectualize during a fight. Trust your training, your instincts and the input of the people in your corner between rounds. They should know your strengths and limitations and serve as an extra set of eyes.
Law #12: Training is a long, arduous process. Appreciate and enjoy the process.
Get the most out of your experience as a fighter. I’ve spent a lot of summers climbing peaks in the Sierra Nevada . One thing my experience in the high-country has taught me is that a disproportionately long time is spent ascending and descending the mountain as compared to the 20 minutes or so spent at the summit- just long enough to take in the glorious view before the early afternoon thunderheads roll in and it’s time to scramble back down. The time atop the mountain is so fleeting that it’s important to fully appreciate the hike up and back from the summit. Similarly, the euphoria after a victory is relatively short-lived compared to the months and years dedicated to preparation. Be present and savor the journey.
In my nearly thirty years in combative sports I’ve experienced a handful of profoundly satisfying victories. What resonates most after all the battles and grueling workouts, though, are the relationships I’ve developed with training partners, coaches and fellow competitors, and the self-knowledge I’ve gleaned through challenging myself. Certainly it’s useful and desirable to keep your goals in sight. At the same time, however, the patient and persistent journey towards excellence yields an enormous measure of meaning and satisfaction. Remember that success should never be measured solely in terms of victories or titles, but also to the extent you enjoy what you’re doing and the degree to which you are striving to do your best.
Tim is available for seminars and private instruction. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .