Every month, the Leeds Cage will be writing a column in Urban Echo highlighting the growing trend of mixed martial arts. Whether you are a fan of MMA, UFC or even WWE, Leeds Cage will be giving training tips and fighting techniques for all aspiring mixed martial artists.
Keep the fighting in the cage!
The advent of mixed martial arts has affected the training methods of nearly all good fighting gyms, due to the nature of MMA, so many aspects of fitness have to be covered to ensure the modern combat athlete is fully prepared for entering the cage. This has also had an effect on general fitness and personal trainers.
When l first started boxing, the training was much more basic. We arrived at the gym, got a skipping rope and skipped probably 10 x 2 minute rounds with a 30 second break in between. We then moved onto the bag work for 10×2 minutes again. This was followed by some pad work with the coach and if you were lucky enough, sparring too. We would finish the session with shadow boxing, sit ups and press ups. If on certain nights you was not at the gym, the boss make us run and do our roadwork. As a kickboxer this format was practically identical except you did a lot of stretching to attain the ability to kick.
All the above training listed was perfectly adequate for the boxer/ kickboxer but not for what is required of a mixed martial artist. When a boxer / kickboxer goes into the clinch, the referee orders ‘break’. This is not the case for the MMA fighter as the fight has just changed range, your struggling and fighting to get the dominant position or the takedown as well as endeavouring to avoid strikes, your physical strength and conditioning now becomes of paramount importance and if you haven’t done your work in the gym, you’ll be found out!
When a boy or girl approach me and say they wish to fight, my first question is ‘can you train five times per week?’ If their answer is no, then l suggest that they had best just keep attending classes and enjoying their training. If the answer is ‘yes’ and that they are willing to train five times a week and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure a good performance and hopefully a win, then we outline what is required and a training plan is put together. We are fortunate at Leeds Cage that we have a large gym and an eclectic mixture of equipment. In saying that, this has been years of reinvestment to ensure we are at the forefront of mixed martial arts.
So here follows a basic program for a fighter. It can vary for the individual but this gives you a rough idea. At least two heavy weights sessions per week consisting of bench press, deadlift and squat. Attendance in the bag blast class is a must (which is bag work and kettlebells), followed by a couple days resting. Then straight into regular attendance in all classes featuring stand up and submission. We also encourage the aspiring fighter to attend circuit classes which involve prowler pushes, sledgehammers, tyres and rope climbing. In the classes they will work on pad work, highlighting attack and defence and sparring and rolling. In the meantime, we will be looking for a suitable show for them to compete in. Our promoters are recognised professionals where the fighter’s wellbeing always comes first. When a fight is agreed, the training really steps up as the coaches look for weaknesses and strong points and try to work on all areas to make the fighter stronger and more capable. If we have footage of the opponent, we study it and come up with a game plan. Diet advice is given and the fighter must adhere to all rules of no drinking, late nights and eating junk food!
Martial arts is about self-discipline. This crosses over into other aspects of your life as you will find a focus that maybe didn’t have before as well as the simple realisation that the more effort you put in, the more rewards you achieve!
Next month we’ll hit upon some of the actual specifics of the various aspects of the mixed martial artists training regime.
John C. Higo
Chief Instructor, Leeds Cage