10 Things you need to know to be a Mixed Martial Arts Fighter

Everyone knows that the Mixed Martial Arts Craze is taking over America and everyone wants to be a part of the craze. The problem is that 99% of the Martial Arts Schools in America can’t teach you all you need to know to become a great MMA fighter. Why? Because the teachers don’t know all the skills necessary to become a great MMA fighter and so they only teach a little of the skills required and thus they only produce very poor MMA fighters.

So what exactly are the skills you need to know to be a great MMA fighter

  1. How to punch like a Boxer, not a karate player

  2. How to kick like a Kick Boxer or Tae Boxer, not a tae kwon do player

  3. How to do takedowns like a Wrestler

  4. How to do ground jiu jitsu with No Gi

  5. How to do conditioning for a fight

  6. How to eat like a champion

  7. How to prepare for a fight mentally and physically

  8. How to control your mind and emotions before, during and after the fight

  9. How to use the ring

  10. How to do physical conditioning

During the next few weeks I will be going over each of these skill sets and how and why you need to know them if you want to be a great MMA fighter.

The 1st skill set you need to know is how to punch like a Boxer, not like a karate fighter.

I have been practicing karate and jiu jitsu for over 46 years and I know how to punch like a Karate Fighter. I can break bricks with my hands. I can break 2 inches of wood from 1 inch away. I can drive my fingers thru 2 inches of wood. I can throw a board into the air and break it. I can drop a board and break it in mid air. I can break one board with my left hand and one with my right hand at the same time. I can drive a nail thru a board with my head. I can break an inch of wood with 1 finger. I can break 4 inches of wood with my elbows. I can Jump in the air and break boards hanging over my head. I can do amazing board breaking techniques and amazing Karate Punching techniques and if I tried any of them in a MMA fight I would get my butt kicked in short order. Why? Because karate punching techniques don’t work in a MMA fight. They might work in the street, but they don’t work in a MMA fight. Please let me explain why.

In all the scenarios I spoke about above for breaking boards. I usually get myself psyched up, with mental exercises and breathing exercises. I am sure you have seen the great Karate Master deep breathing and yelling with a huge KIA before he does his impressive breaks. A few things have to happen. The karate master must get focused and concentrate on the specific board or boards he is going to break. He must get his mind focused and then begin his breathing and mental focus. Then he makes his move with a loud KIA and breaks the boards. It is important that the boards being held by the students are held correctly and do not move or give way. They must be at an exact height and facing the right direction. This is a great show and very impressive and let me assure you if your opponent in the MMA ring were to stand still with his jaw in just the right place and you got ready and did your power punch you would easily knock him out or even kill him. But unfortunately he is not going to stand still, he will be moving and he will be attacking you while you are getting ready and so unless you can do your karate punches from a moving position on a moving target you will get knocked out before you get to do your move. Karate punching techniques do not work in a MMA fight.

But, you say, “We practice moving, we practice hitting a moving target”. And I say, “no you don’t”. You practice moving and hitting a moving target for Points. Your teacher does not allow full contact, especially for younger students, or he won’t have many students for very long. The best way to lose your students is to knock them unconscious in class while mom and dad are watching.

I have taught tens of 1,000’s of karate classes and most of the time we get into a deep “horse stance” and punch, right, left. One at a time, then 2 at a time, then 3 at a time. Then we get into a deep horse stance and do shuto’s to the left and right, and then we do forward stepping punches, and rear stepping punches, very hard with the left and right hand. Then we do cat stances and shuto’s and side stances and shuto’s. And sometimes we do moving punches, but usually only 3 steps forward then a hard yell and punch, and then 3 back and a yell and punch, etc We punch at other student’s heads, who are moving forward in a “one step stance”, and we do our punches and shuto’s and back hands while they stand still and let us.

It is quite different at my boxing club. We move and dance, punch the heavy bag, the speed bags. Punch at moving targets and pads. Bob and weave, duck and slide, move in and out while throwing combinations and more combinations. We wrap our hands because we are hitting hard and so often they would break if they were not wrapped. (Note: many people think a boxer wraps his hands to not hurt the other guy as much, it is quite the opposite. Wrapping the hands makes them much harder and does more damage to the other guy. The reason a boxer wraps his hand is so His hands don’t break when they hit the head of the other guy.) It is quite different training for a karate punching class and a boxing class.

I train at a very high end health club in Dallas that just built a “state of the art boxing room”. This consists of 4 heavy bags and some speed bags, gloves, a few pads, etc. And they want to call it a boxing room and teach boxing. I have tried to tell them that the fastest way to get sued and lose all their clients is to start punching the Doctor’s and Lawyers they have for members in the head with the intention of knocking them out. You see real “boxing” consists of 2 people hitting each other as hard as they can and as often as they can in the head, and sometime in the body, to know them unconscious. It is a violent sport, not for the faint hearted and not for “a fun workout”. Real boxers will hurt you and hurt your brain for life, because they know how to Punch like a boxer.

And how to you punch like a boxer? You punch while moving at a moving target with speed and power, with both hands and no feet. You condition your body to go 2 minutes full speed and full power with full contact. You condition your mind to be ready to accept getting hit, getting hit hard and to hit back harder and more often. You run long distances to build your “wind”, and you sprint to build your “endurance”. You bob and weave, you jab and cross. You hook and upper cut and your punch with your right and left just as hard as you can at all times. It is nothing like a karate puncher does and the conditioning is totally different.

So if you want to be a great MMA fighter you have to stop practicing like a karate puncher and start practicing like a boxer. That means you need a teacher how knows how to punch like a boxer and train like a boxer, and just like it takes years to be a great karate student or karate teacher, it takes years to be a great boxing teacher, or great boxer. You are not going to train like a boxer for a few months and think you are a great or even a good boxer. It takes the same kind of commitment that you gave to become a great karate student to become a great boxer. It take years of practice and hard work required to be a great karate student or great boxer, and you will never be a great MMA fighter if you are punching like a karate player.