5 reasons you should take a break (why I did too)

Sometimes in sport, the best thing for you to do is to take a break, be it for a few days, weeks, months or in my case, years. This article focuses on some things which suggest you should be thinking about having a break for a while if they apply to you.

1. Not having fun

Ok yeah, training isn’t always fun, sometimes its a hard graft you have to go through to earn your place on the podium or to be the guy with your hands in the air after the final bell. But if the entire process is no longer outweighed by the feeling of winning, or if winning doesn’t give you kicks any more, then it might be time to thing about having some time out. If you’re in MMA perhaps try a new martial art and focus on that for a while or even stop fighting completely and try something new like track or weightlifting. Coming back afterwards might give you a new perspective on your sport and make the whole thing more rewarding.

2. Stress

There are factors we can’t control throughout all of our lives. Stress can reduce your performance and a heavy training schedule can prevent you from dealing with the problem. However, depending on your relationship with your sport, you might want to only reduce your training load rather than take a break as exercise is a great way of reducing stress. This is one just to bear in mind and it is down to you how you deal with it.

3. Loss of motivation

If you’re just turning up to training because that is what you do and you have a bit of a “Same Shit DIfferent Day” attitude, your motivation and drive is low and your performance will probably follow. You probably won’t be having fun and you’re probably looking for excuses not to train. If this is you, Take some time off until you feel motivated to get back into the gym/dojo. Make sure you communicate with your coaches, just upping and leaving can alienate people who have your best interests at heart. If you do build up the urge to train again, you’ll find yourself much more driven and focussed on a goal than you were before and you’ll fall in love with the sport all over again.

4. After a big fight

These next 2 are more practical reasons. If you are competing at a high level, you might want to think about taking a few days off at least after a big fight. If you’re training properly, you ought to have come to a peak not long before your fight and you’ll need a deload period of lighter training. This reduces stress on your nervous system as well as giving you a psychological break. It also allows your hormone levels to return to normal immediately after the fight as your testosterone is probably jacked. Once you’ve had few days break and a lighter week of training, you can then work off of that baseline to work up to a peak before your next fight.

5. Injury

This normally applies much more to the younger fighters. Unfortunately I’ve known a number of friends and family (myself included) who have decided that they are recovered enough to train despite doctors or physio’s orders and they end up with worse injuries. If you love your sport and you want to have a professional attitude, stop training and do your rehab properly (like the pros do) or you may well end up having to stop much earlier than you’d like. Going through the recovery process properly will increase your longevity and reduce the damage you take over time. This is especially true for concussions which can lead to very serious complications if not delt with properly.

My story

I took 2 years away from Judo after having practiced more or less every week for 12 years. I wasn’t finding the sport that much fun, I had not drive or purpose and because of that, I wasn’t going anywhere. I just quietly slipped out of training and stopped communicating with everyone (why I reccommend communication in point 3). However after a couple of years of focussing on other aspects of my life, I learnt how to motivate myself again and came back to train. I’d set myself a goal of getting my black belt and trained hard with determination for it and when it came to my grading, I won the line up in just under a minute and a half. The takeaway message here is if you need to: let it go and you may even come back better later on.

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What supplements should I use in martial arts?

If you’re looking for advice on what supplements to use in martial arts, first figure out whether you should be using them at all. You should be able to get everything you need, especially if you’re young from a good diet plan. However, there are a few reasons people, myself included take supplements regularly as a part of their diet.

1. Meal replacement

I’m pretty busy day to day so it’s easier for me to throw some instant oats and some whey into a blender with a banana for breakfast than make an omeltte or porridge. This means they replace the meal with a quick and easy alternative and I get some good carbs, protein and micronutrients in early on.

2. Convenience

If you’re living with your parents, you might not be able to buy all the food you want every day so making up for it with supplements is a possiblity. Same goes for if the shops close to you don’t sell food which fits your diet plan that well, the gap in macronutrients can be made up using supplements.

Climate

If you’re living in the U.K or northwards or in New Zealand, over winter you may want to look at taking vitamin D3 as you probably aren’t getting enough from sunlight because you’ll probably be more covered up, be inside longer and obviously, the sun goes down earlier. Lower vitamin D can lower your testosterone levels so keeping a good intake up can be beneficial.

Supplements which you should use (if you need to)

Main message here is keep it simple, supplement companies love to bombard you with ads and promises of better performance, but what they tend to do is mix a few simple things together and mark the price up.

Vitamines

If you’re eating brown rice, chicken and oats every day, liklihood is you’re not getting enough micronutrients (vitamines and minerals) in. Finding a good multi-vitamin can help a lot with loads of health aspects from sleep cycles to digestion. Be careful however, taking too much of certain vitamines like vitamin C it can lead to health risks (C particularly as some companies sell vit C pills with around 200% RDA).

Creatine

Creatine works. It’s not a steroid and it’s not illegal to take for competition. It takes about 3 weeks to accumulate in your body to make a difference so don’t expect to be the hulk overnight. Again, the message with creatine is to keep it simple, companies sell all sorts of creatine, most of which haven’t been shown to be any better than regular creatine monohydrate.

Instant oats

As I mentioned before, I take these as a breakfast replacement. They’re a good source of carbs and can be quickly made in a shaker or a blender and mixed with other things too. Don’t try to cook them though, trust me, it doesn’t work.

Whey protein

This is a good quality source of protien. Ideally you should be consuming 1g of protein per lb of lean muscle mass (you’d need to calculate your body fat % to find this figure) so if you need more protein, it’s a good place to start. If you do get enough protein, no matter what the supplement companies say, more whey protein won’t really do anything. Check what you buy as well as some brands pack their whey protein with sugar in the flavourings. So if you need it, it’s good to take, if you don’t need it, don’t bother.

Vitamin D3

This is a great way to raise your vitamin D level back up to where they should be during winter months. As I said before, if your vitamin D levels drop, your testosterone can too so it’s worth taking duirng the darker, colder months.

Takeaway

There are a lot of supplements out there and a lot of rubbish too. Ideally, you’ll have enough of all your nutrition in your regular diet but the world isn’t ideal so supplementing can be necessary. If you do choose to buy, keep it simple and buy individual ingredients over big expensive stacks which have loads of stuff you don’t need.

Thanks for reading, if you enjoy reading our articles, sign up to our email list with the link below  to recieve updates as well as more free content, interesting posts I’ve found as well as early updates on any products we might bring out in the future.http://forms.aweber.com/form/82/368267382.htm

What supplements do you use? Comment below and like our facebook page for more posts on martial arts. Also check out these videos by Omar Isuf, an intelligent power-lifter, on this topic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axZGhPPp3k8 3 good health supplements

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYKKwWxT19w 3 overrated supplements

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4WvJSEGZr4 some good info on whey protein

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLRbUHAfkV0 some good info on creatine

Photo credits to pastorfit.com

Judo techniques to avoid in MMA

If you’re thinking of either adding judo to your arsenal, or using your judo base to get into MMA, here are some things you should think about avoiding to make your training more useful, and to prevent giving your opponant an easy advantage. When reading, bear in mind the difference in rules between the sports which will inform how you adapt judo to your MMA game.

Overthrow

This is being thorough in judo. Overthrowing ensures ippon (a win in judo). This is where you commit yourself so much to the throw that you follow over onto your back as well. For mixed martial arts you need to think about being strong in your throw, with enough control that you land on your opponant in a good position. If you overthrow, you give up your back, you might have gotten a highlight reel ippon, but they’ve just won the fight with a rear naked choke. Check out the videos below, one of a good judo throw, and one of Ronda Rousey’s fight agains Alexis Davis. The difference being the overthrow in judo vs the controlled throw in MMA.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0_VPtDGv18 – Judo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vc_I8ltkkoU – MMA

Landing on your front

Great for judo but gives a mixed martial artist a good position to attack you. If you feel like you’re going to be thrown in an MMA fight, go with it and try your best to pull guard, landing on your front will likely land you in all sorts of trouble.

Throws to guard

While you can attack from in someone’s guard, judo helps bypass this which can be potentially vulnerable. These are throws like Ouchi gari, kouchi gari and all the varients therin as well as morote gari (double leg takedown). Most mixed martial artists are at least adept at jiujitsu and open guard can be a strong point for them. Your advantage with judo is that you can skip all the guard passes by using a throw to land you in a good position from the off so while these techniques can be used and do have their utility in MMA, there are better alternatives.

Techniques that need a gi

These are throws like Morote seoi-nage and tomoi nage as well as most strangles and several hold downs. This is pretty obvious as you don’t fight in a gi in MMA but if you’re training at a judo club but MMA is your focus sport, it’s probably best to find some alternatives which are more specific to no-gi grappling.

If you’re starting to train judo, bear these points in mind as you train so it’s best optimised for your MMA game. If you’re already a judo fighter, make sure you start to get out of the habbit of using some of these techniques if you’re doing MMA so you stand the best possible chance.

Thanks for reading, if you enjoy reading our articles, sign up to our email list with the link below  to recieve updates as well as more free content, interesting posts I’ve found as well as early updates on any products we might bring out in the future.http://forms.aweber.com/form/82/368267382.htm

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Photo credits to prommatraining.com

How to win more fights by tap out.

A lot of clubs I’ve visited regardless of if they’re Mixed martial arts, bjj or judo, tend to separate standing and groundwork. This is an odd way of training from my point of view and is probably a sort of coaching tradition because one of the best times to submit or takedown/throw an opponant is in a transition period, a brief moment of confusion when your opponant has to mentally shift their focus from one aspect of the game to another. I’m going to first talk about my success using transitions then some drills you can use in your sport be it Judo, BJJ or MMA.

So going back a few years I was on the national circuit and I gained a couple of national medals but never made the podium at the national championships. That summer we worked day in day out on our submission drills from checking a throw (mostly drop seoi-nage which at the time was very common in judo). Come the national championships, after a defeat in the first round I won every single fight bar 1 with the same strangle that I’d been drilling over summer from the transition. It’s a great time to attack.

The same can be seen in the top levels of the UFC, Jon Jones submitted Vitor Belfort, a much more qualified grappler, by taking him down and quickly moving to side control, then landing a couple of strikes and catching the arm for an americana. Ronda Rousey almost always tries to hit her throws such that she lands in a good position on the ground but her quickest win ever against Cat Zingano was in that brief moment of confusion between standing and groundwork where an arm was free.

Drills

So what can we do to work on these transitions? Basically identify when one distinct part of the game moves to another and practice that change so that you have a better position in the new part of the fight. This can even be as simple as passing a guard. Here are some examples:

  • Takedown to submission (Hip throw (ogoshi) to armbar (juji-gatame) for instance)
  • checked or sprawled takedown to submission
  • strikes to takedown
  • strikes to clinch
  • clinch to takedown

These are just a few MMA related examples but you can apply the same framework to any submission grappling, judo, BJJ or any others. The old saying “strike to pass, pass to strike” is essentially capitalising on that brief moment between striking and grappling which are so often kept separate which makes this a niche you can exploit.

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Image credits to sherdog.com

Why Ronda Rousey became UFC champ.

Besides the hard work and dedication she’s showed to sport (which should never be understated), Ronda Rousey had one simple reason she was so dominant in women’s MMA on the way to the top. This isn’t meant to detract from her ability as a fighter but more to explain why she’s so successful and if anything, to praise her use of this system. It can be explained through game theory. This is the same way economists study people’s behaviour and how ecologists study animal behaviour. It can be applied to martial arts as well.

For those of you who understand game theory, she essentially played the defector in a slightly modified game of prisoner’s dilemma in being a specialised judo style grappler (and a good one at that) in a group full of mostly stand up strikers with some jiujitsu experience, allowing her to reap the rewards. Hopefully someone educated in game theory can stop reading here.

For those of you who aren’t versed in game theory, here’s how it works. In a group where most people are specialised strikers with a bit of jiujitsu, most people do quite well, no one is particularly standout and success is dependent on how good you are at striking (more or less, this is somewhat of a simplification). If you introduce one strong grappler, none of the strikers have experience in dealing with the grappler so they rise quickly and dominate the group. Introduce too many grapplers however and it becomes the same as before, everyone is good at fighting grapplers and introducing a strong striker will have the same effect.

Ronda Rousey’s continued success (aside from the qualities she possesses which are required of a champion) is because she has been able to consolidate her position and become a good striker as well, making challenging her a very difficult proposition. This however isn’t the takeaway message of this article.

What you should takeaway is that it is important to specialise somewhat in your sport but not too much. For instance, running isn’t the best cardio to do to build a strong mixed martial artist, however Nick Diaz is a frequent triathlon competitor and a good fighter. His niche is his good cardio and high volume boxing. He’s not the perfect fighter but he has occupied a niche which gives him a competitive edge. If he specialised too much in cardio he would lose all his power and make no impact with his punches whatsoever as well as take up valuable skills training time in cardio training, reducing his technical ability.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this bit of game theory at work was Royce Gracie in UFC 1. Examples for the strikers out there could be Machida with his karate influenced striking or Conor Mcgregor with his unconventional striking making them very difficult to prepare for.

The advice here is to find what you’re naturally good at and capitalise on it. If you’re strong, make that your competitive edge rather than becoming the same as anyone else.

Thanks for reading, if you enjoy reading our articles, sign up to our email list with the link below  to recieve updates as well as more free content, interesting posts I’ve found as well as early updates on any products we might bring out in the future.http://forms.aweber.com/form/82/368267382.htm

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Photo credits to USA Today