Tag Archives: mixed martial arts

MMA Defined

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about martial arts and it occurred to me that the term MMA is confusing to many people. Parents continue to put their kids into Tae Kwon Do and Karate schools in large numbers while many MMA schools have fewer students and have to diversify to stay in business. And, there is still the occasional debate pitting MMA versus Traditional Martial Arts.

I personally started with Tae Kwon Do over 30 years ago. I love martial arts and therefore I love Tae Kwon Do, but I learned (the hard way, which is sometimes the best way) that if you study just one discipline you are cheating yourself and not learning everything you will need going forward.

So, what is MMA? MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts. To some this means the UFC, because the UFC has spent millions of dollars spreading their business to every corner of the world. This also means MMA is tightly associated with (sometimes brutal) cage fights. But MMA is much more than this.

MMA has been around for a long time–long before the epic 1993 contest that put the Gracie name on the map . Anytime a martial arts practitioner used techniques from more than one style, they were doing MMA. MMA includes striking (Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Boxing, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Wing Chun, etc.), grappling (Wrestling, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, etc.) and ground fighting (Wrestling, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, ground and pound, etc.), but the most important part of MMA is transitioning smoothly between and amongst these three areas and many styles.

So, that means that time you got in a fight and boxed with your opponent who then took you down and you choked him until he quit, you were doing MMA. The first person to have international fame using MMA was Bruce Lee. Although his striking was amazing, Lee was aware that he had to know more than just striking to win on the street. This is why Lee trained with people like Gene LaBell, and Lee was able to show some of what he knew about ground fighting in his movies.

One of my goals with this blog and my book is to help people to be more open minded about martial arts and fitness. For people to argue about MMA vs Traditional, or MMA vs Boxing, etc. is really a waste of time; MMA is traditional martial arts and MMA is boxing. MMA is learning Tae Kwon Do and Karate, but also learning grappling and ground fighting.

I cover this and much more in my book, Martial Arts For Everyone. Thanks and best of luck with your training.

 

 

My first cage event, XFP4

I was recently invited by Jose Torres of Dominion MMA to check out their local MMA event. It was held at the Longbranch in Raleigh, NC and there were 8 fights. As I walked into the bar I was impressed by the very professional set up. Walking toward my ring side seat I could feel the energy and excitement in the room. This side of the Longbranch has been used as a country bar for many years and I have been there are several occasions. Never before has it looked as good as it did with the octagon sitting in the room.

As the fights began, I was impressed by the ground techniques used by several of the fighters. I had a good view of a text book rear naked choke early in the evening and there was some good wrestling as the fighters used take down defense and worked to get up after a take down. The two main event fights were for titles, and both fights lived up to my expectations. Trey Singleton pulled off a dominant performance on the way to a decision victory against a game opponent (Garrido). The Kenna vs. Roberts fight was quick, but I had a good view of the Americana  (which is also one of my favorites to use) and it was a solid technique.

I am definitely looking forward to XFP5 and I am very excited to be able to say that I have been to an event with an actual octagon (instead of a boxing ring). Hope to see you there.

 

“Check” it out

David training

David Nelson training

I love it when I watch a fight and see someone using techniques I learned in Tae Kwon Do (TKD). TKD was my first martial art and I studied it for about 16 years before branching out, so I will always have a great appreciation. One of my favorite techniques (from TKD) is “checking.” The definition of checking is using a feint or movement that makes your opponent react. If your check is successful, your opponent will think you are attacking and you can see what he does. This allows you to assess his skill level, speed and his preferences for evading and/or countering.

At the level of MMA seen in the UFC, checking has a very valuable role. A fight between two experienced professionals who have trained hard and are relaxed (they have gotten past first time ring anxiety) becomes a very serious chess game. These pros usually have a strategy that was put together based on watching fight footage and compiling data on their opponent. They look for weaknesses; the way the fighter evades, how aggressive he is, etc.

But, in order to know what you should do, you need to assess the person you are fighting that day. They may have changed during their training camp; added new footwork, techniques, and sometimes styles. You also need to discover what your opponent’s strategy is for the fight. Did he notice something in your game that he intends to take advantage of? Will he keep it standing or go straight for a take down? Does he want to put you against the fence and work from the clinch?

The way to answer these questions is to “check” your opponent. If you do a kick feint and he shoots in, you know he hopes to take the fight to the ground (possibly because of your great striking/kicking game). If you do a punch combo feint and he evades you know he likely wants to keep it standing up (possibly he thinks his striking is better or his ground game is worse than yours). In order for your check to work, it has to be convincing. If it is not, your opponent will not react and you learn nothing.

Spend some time looking in a mirror and work on your feints. Also use stepping, switching or footwork to simulate an attack until you are happy with the way it looks, and start using it on your training partners. See if you can get a reaction from your opponent. The most fun thing is when you get so good with your “checking” that you make people do the counter you want them to do so you can do the counter to that. When you reach that point, you are doing it right. Good luck.

More on David Nelson

Martial Arts Expert, David Nelson in Lao Warrior

Writer/Actor David Nelson staring in Lao Warrior

As you might have guessed, David Nelson is a popular name. First let me say I am not the 155 pound MMA fighter (no disrespect intended to him or anyone else who has the guts to step into a cage to fight). I am older than him and my weight class is 185 pounds (look out Anderson Silva). I have not had any MMA fights either amateur or pro, but I have been training in MMA since 2005 and in martial arts since 1984. Even though I am not Randy Couture, I am considering my first amateur MMA fight later this year.

I started with Tae Kwon Do (TKD) and got my first black belt in 1987. I joined the Army in 1988 and was honorably discharged in 1991. I came home and joined the NC National Guard and went back to work as a stocker for Food Lion. In 1992 I started college and began the road toward getting into and completing Pharmacy school, which I did in 1996. I also finished my time in the Guard and received my second honorable discharge in 1996. This gave me time to get back into TKD.

I studied at a great school in Danville, VA (respect to “Brain”) before moving to Greensboro, NC (for a girl-I know, big mistake). I continued to train at another great school where I competed in many TKD tournaments and got my second black belt in 1999 (had to get up and check my certificate to be sure about the year). From there I moved (not for a girl this time) to where I live now, Raleigh, NC.

In Raleigh, I trained at 2 more TKD schools and competed in more tournaments before deciding to diversify. I started with Wing Chun, then Muay Thai Kickboxing, then I found the Royal Tiger Academy where I have been training under Master Saykosy ever since. I am currently working with Master Saykosy on an action movie Lao Warrior, and we plan to release later this year. More on that in future blogs. Thanks.