What is holding some fighters back?

There are a lot of fighters who have dreams of being champion in the biggest organizations (Me), but for every person that achieves that dream, there’s a thousand people who failed to even get close to that goal. Now there’s a lot of different reasons for this, some say that it's genetic, that the greatest people are simply born better than suited for fighting than the others, which there is some claim, I mean look at Francis Ngannou, There’s no amount of work out there that can turn you into him and if there is, I’m not doing it. Other (more annoying) people say that it’s up to fate.

Conceive, Believe, Achieve. (Source: UFC)

Conceive, Believe, Achieve. (Source: UFC)

But I believe that the most likely reason is in the way that a fighter trains and in their mentality, both about fighting and how they feel going into the ring or cage.

Outdated training methods

There’s a lot of traditional ways of training that a lot of fighters and gyms stick to without really looking into simply because its what’s their coach tells them or because it’s the way everyone else trains. Running, jump rope, shadow boxing with weights and telling fighters to not lift weights (quite the contradiction eh?) all make this list of old school training methods. Most of these methods aren’t wrong, but with MMA still being a new sport in comparison to others sports and with the knowledge of sports science of the sport being even younger and constantly changing, it can be hard to know what the optimal way to training a fighter can be, But as more and more research comes in it is becoming more obvious that some of these older methods aren’t the way. Let’s take the whole “lifting will only make you slower and has no use” idea out right away, almost all top MMA fighters have Strength training incorporated into their training program somehow and running is a good way of building the aerobic energy system, but studies show that it might not be the most effective and it can be dangerous to a fighter's joints. Shadow boxing with weights doesn’t build speed in our techniques and while it does build some endurance, it can also cause technique breakdown, which in my opinion, no amount of endurance is worth. It’s hard to find out what the most optimal way to train is, MMA’s a young sport and the sport science seems to come out with a new study every year, but that’s not a good reason to stick to ideas that everyone does just cause someone else told them it was the best way for no reason.

Not accepting new techniques

This is a personal one, as someone growing up training in Taekwondo who then switched to Muay Thai I got the whole “SPINNING S*** LOL” talk a lot, which I found weird because when I had made my switch there were already plenty of people spinning successfully.

Spin kicks don’t work (Source: UFC)

Spin kicks don’t work (Source: UFC)

The thing that I find about “Crazy” techniques is that eventually, they tend to become standard. Did you know that the uppercut used to be considered an unorthodox technique and was only created in the early 1800s? Yeah GODDAMN THOUSANDS OF YEARS of people punching each other and the uppercut didn’t come by until a man known as Dutch Sam created it around 1800, seriously look it up, it used to be called the undercut and people said it was ineffective. Even in the BJJ community, leg locks were seen as this dirty set of moves that were somehow at the same time too dangerous to use, but also too ineffective to attempt, what? But we see than John Danaher’s death squad is rolling (get it) up to every grappling tournament and MMA match and is slapping this on like its nothing and we see others in MMA and BJJ utilizing these techniques as well. I generally believe in the whole “Adapt or Die” mentality when it comes to techniques in martial arts if a technique’s effective, you should at least train it to know how to defend against it if its ever used against you.

No Mental Practice or Training

As the great Canadian Musician and MMA commentator Robin Black once said “The fight game is 90% mental” is that the most scientific statement ever made, no, but he’s right, a massive portion of the fight game is mental if you have done all the training in the world and have the best cardio, but you're freaking out and think your gonna lose, its 100% gonna happen, trust me, I know. We’ve seen fighters like Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, and others talk about Visualization and Meditation and how it helps them stay loose and confident when they fight, and even other top athletes and celebrities have talked about how they have mental practices that help them achieve their goals. I believe that a lot of young amateur fighters come in with this mentality that it just takes toughness, which you do need and almost everyone who’s training for a fight thinks they are going to win, but it's a lot different when your minutes out from your fight or doing the walkout or the bells about to ring and you're across from our opponent and that’s where I believe the mental training can be helpful for an athlete. Mental training isn’t just Meditation or Visualization, it's also journaling, listening to mental primers and having self-discipline.

If your interested in mental training, check out BushidoCode.com where there’s a bunch of information to help improve your mental strength and discipline and also check out their Kickstarter for their new journal Plan and Conquer that will help you achieve your goals and keep you accountable.