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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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.

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Photo credits to prommatraining.com

How to build success habits.

Building good habits can make the difference in what level your game is at. if you are habitually training multiple times per day, you have a good diet and you’re sleeping and recovering right, it’s obvious to think your game will improve. The trouble for many is getting to this point. I’m going to break down an easy way of forming good habits you need to improve your game. This can be applied not only to martial arts, but sport and life as a general.

Start small

Ok so you want to start making things go better for you. The biggest mistake most people hit is doing too much too early. My Dad for instance might decide he wants to lose weight and will change his current diet which doesn’t really have any consistency to it, to an all salad and low calorie diet, it will last for a couple of weeks max and then he gives it up. The message is baby steps.

Take one aspect of your life and do something proactive. Keep doing it over and over again until it becomes natural. An example put forward by Elliot Hulse of Strength Camp is taking a walk every morning to lose weight. This has a couple of effects: your calorie usage for the day goes up, meaning you will start losing weight if all else stays the same but you also start to build momentum. Elliots video on the subject is just below.

Building momentum

So yeah great you can get up and go for a walk every morning or whatever it is you’ve changed as a small start. From here you can start building momentum.

This happens in two ways. The first, particularly if you’re a martial artist or a sports person as we tend to be pretty kinesthetic people is that movement gets you going, gets blood pumping around your body, most ideas I have for new posts, lessons, buisness plans all tend to come during my walk.

The ultimate momentum builder is the habit of building habits. You’ve just started to build positive habits throughout your day with that one simple start.

You can progress from here. For instance the next step might be cleaning up your diet so the next step is to record everything you eat WITHOUT changing what you eat, again don’t do too much too soon. You can then build on it and start cleaning up your diet, sorting out a healthy macronutrient intake and so on riding on the back of the momentum you’ve build from the small initial steps.

You might want to start indroduing more exercise. If you’re a martial artist you probably already go to training a few nights per week, you might want to form a new habit of hitting the gym for strength and conditioning twice per week as well.

The point is once you start building habits successfully, use the momentum to build more positive habits at a good pace, never too much too soon.

Goal Setting

So here comes the science part. What we’ve discussed is the most powerful form of goal setting in sports psychology: the process goals. It’s been found that people react to these goals the best. I find it’s helpful to write down performance goals associated with the process goals (I.E, I want to increase the speed I can run 1.5 miles or the number of times I tap people out per session, I want to lose so much weight etc.) so that I keep the mid-term goal envisioned, but the most important part is the process goals. These are “I’m going to turn up to training 3 times per week”, “I’m going to walk every morning” “I’m going to record all the food I eat” type goals, focus on these but keep the longer term plan in mind.

Jugganought’s article on Goal setting: http://www.jtsstrength.com/articles/2015/05/06/the-sport-psychology-of-goal-setting/

Hard Work Becomes Effortless, the power of 21.

What might have been hard in the past will soon feel effortless. It will become a part of your life. Doing the odd healthy things in an unthealthy lifestyle won’t make you healthy as much as the odd unhealthy things in a healthy lifestyle will make you unhealthy.

Some people talk about the power of 21, the idea that if you force yourself to do that thing for 21 days, maybe it’s get up an hour earlier. After 21 days it will feel natural, it won’t be a chore to do it. Eric Thomas does a great video about this and I reccomend all readers watch his stuff, he’s great for getting you motivated.

The takeaway is that you don’t need to change your whole lifestyle at once. In fact, doing this can really screw you up and you can end up worse than before. Start small, build momentum using the power of 21 and set your goals properly.

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