Written By: Bob “The General” Perez
I am honored to have been asked by TheCageDoor.net to write a monthly column on topics that I as a coach find important in fighter development. Although there are many things I want to currently discuss, I have decided that for my first column I will stick to what I know best…striking for Mixed Martial Arts. The topic at hand will not discuss specific technique but rather touch on the most basic, yet important factor in successful striking…using what God gave you.
USE WHAT GOD GAVE YOU
“Use what God gave you” is something you will hear me shout to my fighters time and time again while coaching sparring sessions or during drills. What does this mean? Well, the answer is two fold. First, you must strike like only you can strike. Secondly, you have to use your natural physical attributes to get the most out of striking game.
STRIKE LIKE ONLY YOU CAN STRIKE
Contrary to popular belief, there is no “cookie cutter” way a fighter should stand, hold his hands, or deliver strikes. I continually train visiting fighters that try to emulate a certain fighter’s style. Even more common, I will train a fighter who looks EXACTLY like a clone of his trainer. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, in fact, I commend these trainers on their ability to teach.
However, no two fighters are identical. So, why should the stance, footwork, hand placement, combinations, and even certain physical mannerisms be identical? What happens when you make a copy of an original document? It looks the same, but just doesn’t quite live up to the quality of the real thing. Fighters are no different. Take the knowledge and solid fundamentals given to you, but modify them accordingly to suit you best. As long as you are fundamentally sound (hands high, chin down, stand on the balls of your feet, etc…) you will do great.
USE YOUR NATURAL PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES
To get the most out of your striking you need to use your natural physical attributes. This goes hand and hand with the aforementioned topic of not trying to fight like someone else. Your body type will help dictate how you should strike. You should do what physically comes natural when finding your true stance, length of your slides, and the types of strikes that will yield the most success. However, I have to re-iterate that keeping good fundamentals is imperative while searching to find your own game.
How does body type come into play? Let’s look at two UFC fighters who are physically very different, yet find tremendous success in striking: Anderson Silva and Dominic Cruz. Outside of their obvious technical knowledge, hard work, and experience, a huge part of their effectiveness stems from using their body types and natural athletic abilities to their advantage.
Anderson uses his length to deliver long knees, jabs that extend from one side of the cage to the other, and kicks that could decapitate most men. Moreover, in his takedown defense and clinch game, Anderson understands how to use his build to gain the leverage and extension that shorter fighter could never achieve. Lastly, Silva utilizes his length to allow him to stay outside, remain patient, create angles, and use a methodical approach in his attacks.
On the flip side, Cruz is a shorter, more compact fighter. Being a smaller, faster man, Dominic implements in and out fighting, is extremely explosive, and uses hand/leg combinations that no one else can mimic. Furthermore, his incredible athletic ability allows him to attack from highly unorthodox angles that are extremely difficult to defend. So, at the end of the day, using your body type to achieve success is a must. A Heavyweight should not try to strike like a Featherweight, a short fighter should not try to strike like a tall one, and so on… and so on.
TO SUM THINGS UP
Cruz can’t strike like Silva, Silva can’t strike like Cruz, and guess what? Neither can anyone else. Please understand that I am not telling you to do whatever you want when striking. There are definitely RIGHT and WRONG ways to do things. However, there is not just ONE way. Listen to, respect, and look up to your coaches, but never let anyone tell you that their way has to be your way.