The sport has become a darling of sporting media in the last few years — the modern gladiator, the combative athlete in the many fighting styles. Where once was a unique and rarely visited domain within the cages, octagons and mats, has now all of sudden become intensely popular in the mainstream.
There are few sporting activities I feel were as overdue for acceptance and respect as the combative athlete. The classic "warrior" mindset is one of honor and humility, a noble combatant seen in many versions historically, such but not limited to the romantic Athenian, the chivalrous knight or a follower of the bushido, which reflects an organic code of conduct. These same traits have been immortalized through history, the folklore of the western gunslinger, the defender of good and against evil, and are woven in western military regimes as a code of honor, commitment and loyalty.
While phrases such as noble, grace and honor may not be fashionable or marketable in the 21st century, it is a timeless quality that elevates society and one that makes the warrior a humble leader for others to follow. Straight to the point, those that now have become enamored with the fight game need to understand truly what a warrior is.
While I commented that discussing the moral fiber of the warrior athlete may be beyond the typical scope considered in the development of a combative athlete, the psyche of this form of athlete may just be the most important consideration. Ultimately, the truly successful warrior is one that embraces the traditional version and learns the secrets lay in the past . Why I bring the psyche of the individual attention is to immediately eliminate any thoughts of grandeur from those considering entering this genre as a sporting event. The glitz and the glamour marketing of present-day MMA is an extremely inaccurate portrayal of the sport. If you choose to go down the road, you will need to acquaint yourself will a combination of unrelenting bravery, overcoming fear, extreme tenacity in the face of adversity and simply getting the tough job done with your back against your wall.
"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us — they can't get away this time."This not something you venture into lightly, and only those will iron will and rock-solid commitment will prove to be successful. Those failing to meet this criteria and show the slightest hint of weakness will meet an unfortunate and resounding demise that will not be pretty. With that in mind, the work ahead will be brutally difficult yet diverse to reflect the broad athletic skills required for the sport. There is no one exercise that will make you better, it is the sum of the whole — "the one thing is the whole thing."
Equally so, if you do not dedicate sufficient time and focus to your technical skill work, you will learn a very hard and very painful lesson. These are four extremely important points that need to be emphasized:
2. Provide a unique variation to training that may have become monotonous or routine.
3. Enhance motor skills, general grafting of movement.
4. Provide a conduit to sport-specific movement patterns.
5. Where appropriate or transitory effect during training macro-cycle.
6. Development of sub-maximal explosive work and introduction into "complex" styles of training.
7. Prepare the psychological process of concentration with the "fog of war."
8. Development of esprit-des-corp and a relentless thirst for victory.
For typical users of the Renegade Concepts of TrainingTM system, other areas of training certainly will impact GPP, such as hip mobility work and tumbling, will impact upon generalized development but are considered more static in work are less quantifiable, but have a decided and notable cumulative effect. Foot contacts (sub-maximal) are generally in the 1:1 ratio in Active Recovery (30 movements per 30 seconds) with an acceptable range of 10-15 total movements per 30 seconds. Total foot contacts will vary between 80 and 90 per two-minute circuit with recovery-based contacts representing 60-75% of that total. Sessions of this type of mixture should follow leg/hip dominant days. Additional days need to be implemented the day before or after these sessions which will substitute slightly less strenuous semi-explosive work such as (i)vertical hopping and (b) slalom side-to-side hops. Total work duration (in timed minutes) will be roughly 60% of more exhaustive daily proceeding.
Within the Renegade programs, non-weighted GPP will start with 6 minutes of total work without rest in between sets in a highly periodized program that increases total duration over time to over 20 minutes in the first eight weeks. Recovery work must always be done in equal proportion to semi-explosive work from a timed capacity while always ensuring top quality form in all the movements. Never allow the athlete to do any of the work with poor form or bad postural alignment. For those who find a simple little 20 minute of GPP "difficult," it's time to "ring the bell" and move on. I have seen many athletes whine, whimper, complain about work being too tough, with the knowledge is better they get weeded out now then go forward. If this training is hard, then what lays ahead is far beyond you. Combative athletes don't whine nor whimper, they press on where others dare not travel.
The athlete should be distracted either visually or through auditory commands from the workload during the active recovery section, and they should integrate deep restorative breathing and slower elongated movements to bring down the pulse rate. Teach the athlete to relax during actions, adjust them to dealing with a multitude of different and simultaneous stimuli and gradually learn to make the difficult easy, turn "hell into your home." This will have a direct carryover to actual performance as they accommodate to the stress and chaos.
Weighted variations of GPP offers greater latitude in exercise selection but should be less complicated in design. In addition to this, please let me remind you that you are training for the ring/mat/octagon and thus you need to employ a very broad selection of movements such as:
2. Medicine ball circuits
3. Wood chopping (no, not the silly kind on a cable machine, but I would suggest a fine Pulaski, or if you really want to spoil yourself, a Gr'nsfors Bruks is the sign of quality)
5. Sandbag training
6. Tire flipping/keg throwing
7. Baton work (i.e. "Indian Club")
9. Wheelbarrow walks
10. Xvest walks
Range of Motion - dynamic We must address the needs of range of motion, in particular, dynamic range of motion which will directly impact upon performance. I cannot stress this area enough because if you are not fluid, limber and able to relax in the heat of battle, this once again will turn into an ugly, painful and bloody affair.
At the start to each training session, all my athletes need to perform a dynamic hurdle and tumbling session to assist in loosening and preparing the hips, shoulders and back for the extensive training session ahead. As noted by my good friend and colleague, Dr. Chris Dougherty, the spine controls the position of the torso in space while the shoulder and hip respectively control the arm and leg in space. Therefore, range of motion work is first directed to these to improve flexibility. Hurdles are set at roughly hip height and performed three to five sets of three to five hurdles and two exercises per day (noted below) with very quick pacing.
Forward Roll to Stand: From a standing position, squat down and place both hands on the ground. Slowly roll forward and contact the ground with your head, tucking your chin to your chest and doing a somersault. Accelerate enough while doing the somersault so you have sufficient momentum to get on your feet and return to a standing position Backward Roll to Stand: From a standing position, squat down and begin to roll backward. Place the palms of your hands on the ground behind your head, and as you begin to somersault backward, apply enough pressure to push off with your hands from the ground ,get on your feet, and return to a standing position.Resistance Training The success of your resistance program will in essence be based upon your ability to move and react in an explosive manner to ever-changing situations. The paradox of our work is that, that the only thing certain is that chaotic events are in fact certain to occur and hence only the unpredictable can be predicted.
The actual strength program which will cater immensely to the development of the broad posterior chain of muscles will also recognize possibly the oldest consideration within classic MA training, the notion of "rooting" and extreme stability under duress. The key factors of our training:
In my past I have had the luxury of training alongside some of the best in this genre long before it developed into the cult-like circus following it has today. This was of course prior to anyone who wanted to venture into the ring/on the mats thought of it as "entertainment" and a conduit to wealth, fame and beautiful starlets. Back in the day, I suppose you could say that these warriors were exorcising some personal demons using their intense grit and brick-like bare knuckles to make a bare-to-the-bones living.
While today's game has thankfully taken these great athletes/warriors out of the backroom unsanctioned bouts where lives hung perilously on a string, still the memories of those are clear to me every time I am approached by a young man or woman regarding MMA training today because it will take a level of dedication, brutality and tenacity that few can perceive. Simply stated amongst the glitz, glamour and publicity shots that are cultivated for the present-day blinged-up sport, this is a sport that separates the wheat from the chaff very quickly, because this isn't one of those cute boxercise classes that are followed up with a chai latte and cranberry scone. No, this is a venue where chaos rules supreme, where blood and sinew are par for the course and who you go toe-to-toe with can and will inflict serious damage to you that will last a lifetime if you are not prepared for the ultimate of tests. So along with drive, determination and dedication, preparation is the key to survival and conquering your opponent.
And yet as I say this, let me also state that failure is part of the equation. I have on many occasions seen and read how my training regimes are "too tough." It is more accurately stated that from time to time, some wannabe who thinks he's tough whines about the training being "too tough" and quickly bails out. For anyone who bellyaches about training being too tough, the moment they step in the ring with someone who has something to prove, they will quickly find their face resembling steak tartare and it is best that they did "ring the bell" and not go forward.
Failure is inevitable for those who aren't prepared mentally and physically for the utmost challenge. And while I have stated this, let me also state that champions are built from many other things, including getting off the canvas and rising from a temporary setback. Remember these simple concepts, for it will pay you rich dividends throughout your life; always pick yourself off the canvas, never stay down and never be vanquished. Victory stands before those who get off the canvas again and again and again. Adversity is something you overcome. It is the air that you breathe and all that you are.
In this next section, we will deal with strategic issues within agility training and resistance work. Future installments will specifically build up proper restorative measures, the appropriate GPP and finally a working template to get you into the ring. Agility Training I would be remiss to not point out that within the Renegade Concepts of TrainingTM concepts all training is done to promote agility. At no stage is training done that doesn't recognize this highly important concern. In fact, every aspect of our work, whether it is dynamic range of motion or the methodology to our resistance work, is clearly designed to improve this attribute. And while I would prefer to dispense with categorizing training concerns, within our direct agility work we will utilize two major mediums: (The following section on rope skip and agility ladder is an excerpt from "The Beautiful Game" by John Davies, Renegade Style Publications. 2006. To purchase this book, please visit www.renegadetraining.com/soccer_book.html)
Rope Skip Rope skip is a consistent and dependable exercise medium with many benefits such as:
Agility Ladder Ladder drills teach a tremendous variety of skills, including foot positioning, quickness of feet, efficiency of movement and even a unique carryover to sport specific movement if trained with proper joint angles. Ladder work should be performed in the most sport-specific manner possible, head up at all times. Each drill is performed twice daily immediately after completing Rope work. Perform the following introductory ladder work three to five times per week with each drill being done up and back twice. The entire ladder work session should not take more than twelve minutes. As with all our work, ensure proper posture is maintained and keep your eye up -- never reinforce a habit that will negatively impact sport specific characteristics. The basic ladder session that you want to start with follows. As you progress we will add additional work and varying stimuli.
Ladder work should be done in a rapid-fire pattern in roughly 1-2, 6 minute blocks. Agility work should immediately follow your dynamic range of motion work in the form of hurdle mobility drills and tumbling. Depending upon the individual's needs and overall theme of training period, non-weighted GPP should follow this prior to entering resistance work.
Resistance Specifically as we look towards the issue of enhancing agility, it must be clearly understood most resistance regimes do little to actually enhance this quality and in fact derail most efforts. Of the many keys to developing agility is to emphasize speed of eccentric action and ground force application while always maintaining proper posture and movement generation.
After reading the first part of this article, you should recall that all basic lifting is and should be done with a variety of mediums, whether it is traditionally Olympic bars, kettlebells, sandbags or other non-conforming objects without negative impact towards training. All lifting is tremendously simple compared to technical finishing holds and loosely categorized as pushing, pulling and squatting with the correct adherence to posture alignment. As noted previously, our lifting regime is basically divided equally into two major sections; "Focus" and "Supplemental" lifts with the "Supplemental" side broken equally into hybrid lifts and pre-hab movements (very typically involving the shoulder capsule).
Focus lifts are performed with an intensity level between 40 to 65% with rest range between 35 to 45 seconds. Each weight training session will contain three total Focus lifts of four sets of six repetitions for a total of twelve sets and twenty-four repetitions. Please note these are "light" sets but extremely fast, mind-numbing explosive lifts. Focus lifts will involve the six classic lifts with derivations primarily involving starting sequence and particular style. These six lifts are:
Hybrid lifts, as simplified versions of "Focus lifts," are performed explosively in the 85-95% range of very low reps while pre-hab work is typically 70-75% of 12 reps. Training sessions are also designed such that the order of lifts are in a descending nature with the most complex lifts first. In this manner, technical aspects of the most complicated and demanding lifts are done when the body is at its highest energy levels. Hopefully now you should understand why not only are high work thresholds needed but why less complicated weighted GPP is done at the end of your training. Seems complicated? Well likely so, however this easy to follow chart should explain the basics and help you understand the secret to the balanced attack of Renegade athletes.
Along with the diet-plan and the "Renegade Stack" of supplements that you found in three-part "Simplicity" series and one that I will stress heavily, you'll be ready to step onto the mat. Now let's bring it!
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