Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Are You Sparring Too Much?

I recently came across an article regarding MMA fighter Jamie Varner and his recent retirement. In it, Varner talks about his concerns that too much sparring can lead to severe head trauma and prematurely end a fighter's career.

The whole article can be read here at Bloody Elbow - good stuff.

This brings up a great point that I've talked about in the past. Namely, brain trauma is a serious concern for those of us involved in full-contact fight sports and we should take steps to prevent it. The effects of brain trauma accumulate over time and can lead to progressively worse issues - slower reaction speeds, impaired memory and speech patterns, changes in personality, impaired motor control, and even dementia.

Not fun stuff.

In previous posts I've talked about ways to prevent brain trauma. One of the suggestions I've put forward is to take it easy on the sparring. Obviously, if you are getting hit too hard by your sparring partner then your risk for brain trauma will go up significantly.

But, even if you're sparring with light contact, could you still be sparring too much?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cung Le Tests Positive for HGH...So What? (WARNING: Rant)


It was recently reported that UFC MMA fighter, Cung Le has tested positive for HGH - a performance enhancing drug (PED) - after his fight with Michael Bisping in Macau.

Upon hearing this news, I was surprised. Not because he was confirmed for being on PEDs, but I was surprised he got caught. It's very unusual for athletes at Le's level and notoriety to actually get caught.

To be perfectly honest, this should come as a surprise to no one. I'm serious: if you still believe that any pro-level athlete in any contact sport (Football, Boxing, MMA, etc...) isn't on PEDs then you are living in a fantasy world.

Take a look at the photo above. Cung Le is 42 years old. Does that look like a "natty" physique to you? It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out he's on some form of PED. But it isn't just Cung Le. If you think Michael Bisping wasn't on gear then you're simply being naive.

In fact, it's kinda funny that Bisping accused Cung Le of "looking" like he was on HGH prior to their fight. Very funny. Funny in a "pot calling the kettle black" kinda way.

Now, of course Le is denying HGH use. Just like Bisping would be denying it if he got caught. Just like every other pro athlete denies PED use.

But, really, why do people care that these athletes are on steroids? It seems very silly to me and, quite frankly, I'm getting pretty fed up with hearing about how awful PEDs are.

Some will claim, while sitting atop their high horse, that preventing athletes from taking PEDs "levels the playing field". Others will say their concern regarding steroid use is directly related their to concern for the safety of the athletes.

Upon closer examination, however, both of these arguments fall flat on their face. Let's take a look at why these two arguments fail support the need to ban PED in professional, full contact athletics.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Learn To Utilize the Muay Thai Clinch

Proper Clinch work is essential for any MMA or Muay Thai fighter
Muay Thai is famous for it's clinch work.

One thing I see a lot of, however, is guys who simply aren't comfortable being "clinched" and working in the clinch (which the Thais call "plumming"). Typically, these are folks from a non-Muay Thai background like American or K-1 style kickboxing or western boxing.

So, in today's video I want you guys to see a very simple, basic drill you can throw into your training to help you become more comfortable in the clinch and learn to gain/maintain a "dominant" position when clinching. I asked my Kru, Harun Raja of Raja Academy of Martial Arts here in Greenville, SC to teach this drills.

Enjoy -

Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Ever Shaolin Temple Fighting Tournament

Is a fighting competition at the Shaolin Temple a good thing?

The South China Morning Post is reporting that the Shaolin Temple is planning on hosting its first ever "world martial arts competition".

It's being billed as an opportunity for martial artists all over the world to come and compete together in forms, "iron body", and even fighting (presumably San Shou/Sanda). But, as with pretty much anything in the martial arts world, this announcement is having mixed reactions.

A lot of folks are pretty excited about it. Many martial arts can trace their lineage, in some form or fashion, back to Shaolin. So, to have a tournament in this historically important martial arts "cradle" is a big deal.

However, you've also got the "anti-competition" crowd who's bitching that Shaolin is no place for this kind of event. The argument is that fighting and competing somehow hurts the reputation of the temple. Obviously, this completely ignores the fact that the temple had a fighting force which participated in armed conflicts at as far back as the Tang dynasty.

My opinion is, this is a good thing for martial arts in general and traditional martial arts specifically. Shaolin Temple is a major symbol/archetype in the martial arts community. Having an international competition where martial artists of various styles can compete as friends and fellow fighters is very positive.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments section.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Floor Bag for Solo Grappling Training

The floor bag is an excellent tool for training grappling solo.
In a perfect world, we'd always have access to a willing and able training partner. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world and many of us are forced to spend part of our time training alone.

While this may not be a huge deal for a striker who can always work on the heavy bag or do some shadowboxing, it is kind of a big deal for a grappler (or mixed martial artist working on his ground game) who's art relies almost exclusively on partner work.

You could do solo drills on the mat, but without some sort of implement to stand in for a live partner those drills can feel a bit empty. Luckily there exists a very simple, very cheap tool you can obtain right now: a Floor Bag.