Anyone who has read thru the “Master Combination List” has wondered: “how did someone come up with all these different types of combinations?”
I wish I could say it was easy. It was not!
Sure, I THOUGHT it was going to be easy, but when I set out to add new combinations to my workout system, I kept discovering the same old boring combinations over and over again. So, in the interest of full disclosure, here’s how I did it:
1. I used to own a gym called “L.A. Boxing”, which are now called “UFC Gym”. I hired many fighters and top-notch instructors to teach the classes. Every now and then, one of them would not show up for class, so I’d have to teach it! After this happened several times, I thought, “I better prepare myself by having a lot of cool combinations written down in advance!”
So I set off to do just that. I thought of everything I could (from previous martial arts and kickboxing experience), and wrote it down. Then, when an instructor would be demonstrating a technique in class, if I liked it and thought it worked well, I’d add it to the list.
2. I read thru books. Boxing books, Muay Thai books, streetfighting and self defense books, etc. I searched thru them to pick out all the combinations I could. This is when I realized: most material has the same few combinations over and over again. Even when they would list “15 combinations for Boxing” or something similar, they would simply be stacking punches on top of each other and calling them a new combination (eg. Jab; Jab-Cross; Double Jab-Cross; Triple Jab-Cross; etc. etc.) Well, that didn’t seem too exciting, but I was able to glean several good combos that were previously not thought of.
3. Experimentation on the bag.
I would go to my heavy bag and decide to throw a technique. Then I would strategize: “Ok, from this point, what technique makes the most sense to throw next?” And one technique would lead to the other. OR- I would want to add in a specific technique, so I would strategize the series of moves that would naturally lend itself to implementing the technique.
4. Watching fights.
MMA fights, that is. When I would come across a cool combination that I haven’t seen before, I would quickly write it down before I forgot it (after rewinding it over and over to capture what was really going on). I would choose techniques that were effective, especially if they lead to a knockout.
5. Other instructors, like on Youtube.
What instructors, you ask? ANY and ALL! I have spent HUNDREDS of hours watching kickboxing classes (and no, never came across any good combinations!), fighters, trainers, instructional clips from DVD’s, etc. If there’s a famous MMA fighter out there, and he has a lot of clips, I’ve probably picked up a thing or two to add to the system from them.
One thing all of these techniques had to have in common: they have to work well on the heavy bag!
A lot of techniques work well with a partner or in a fight, but they don’t translate well to the heavy bag workout for one reason or another, so there are some combinations I liked, but through experimentation I learned they just weren’t right for the workout system, so they were scrapped.
Sometimes after a few workouts I’d realize that a particular combination had to be scrapped, or edited or refined, and I’d go back and make the changes. After a couple of years, ALL the combinations have been gone thru so many times, both by myself and by trainees, that everything has been refined and perfected so no further revision is necessary.
The next hard part was figuring out HOW to best place all of these disparate techniques into the workout system in a way that avoided overuse, kept the variety up to a max, kept the level of spontaneity up, and kept the intensity level of each workout somewhere near the same level. This process took a LONG time because it got very confusing until I figured out a system to use that would help me avoid duplication and overuse/underuse. That’s why the combinations are color-coded, in case you were wondering!
Hard to believe that this Workout System, that started from the humble beginnings of ONE workout on one index card, has grown to a complete Home Workout System that can be used month after month and still keep people WANTING to work out! And THAT’S the name of the game! You gotta like what you do. If you don’t, you won’t do it!
1. There is far more variety. 12 workouts in all, and all 12 are for every level, from beginner to advanced. Some DVD sets come with multiple workouts, but most of the time only one or two are usable at your current level. Even after one year of doing this program, you will probably have only seen the same workout 10 or 12 times. This prevents burnout and helps keep you interested and enthusiastic about working out. We also spread out ALL the workouts to cover your entire body, not devoting a whole workout to “abs”, or “legs”, or any other specific muscle group. No one needs THAT much work done at once to any body part.
2. Much less repetition due to the built in flexibility of the System: the first 4 rounds are open to the addition of your own material, so YOU can decide what seated stretches, standing stretches, dynamic stretches, and shadow boxing you want to do. Sure, you may want to use the same warmup stretches over and over again, but should you happen to come across a book or video that is showing you something new that you want to try, you simply add it into your stretching rounds, whether its seated, standing, or dynamic. If its a technique, you can add it into your shadowboxing round. This way your program can continually grow or evolve according to your needs or desires. With a DVD, you’re stuck with what they give you, EVERY single time!
3. Unlimited variety in the music: with DVD’s, you are stuck to listening to THEIR generic terrible music EVERY single time you workout. With the “Kickboxing at Home” System, YOU are the dj to your own workout. One day you might want rock, the next day hip hop, the next time acid jazz or fusion or funk, or whatever… Being able to put on the music that YOU like, and are in the mood for, EACH and every time, is a huge plus. HUGE!
4. There are no tedious introductions and explanations to suffer thru: DVD’s always have someone talking, introducing things, instructing, etc…. It might be good for the first time, but what about 6 months into the program and you’re still having to listen to ALL that annoying stuff EVERY single time you want to work out??? No way! (Read the Amazon reviews from people who have been on a program for a while and you’ll see.)
7. All other workout DVD’s “pad” their workouts with all kinds of boot camp exercises! Burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, sit ups, running in place, pushups, and all sorts of other exercises that are NO fun to do. The “Kickboxing at Home” System has been designed to work these same muscle groups, but by doing something fun and interesting on the heavy bag. This gets your mind off the “workload” and puts it into the “fight”, where time passes much more quickly, and with a lot more excitement and fun.
8. DVD’s put your neck, and possibly your whole body, in an improper alignment. DVD’s teach you to look at a screen, when your eyes should be laser-focused on your opponent. When you’re trying to watch an instructor, yet your technique is moving your body with momentum in a different direction, this can cause you to crane your neck unnaturally and lead to neck injury and headaches. Our System has you ALWAYS looking at your opponent, and NEVER taking your eyes off of him. If there is ONE crucial habit to form for self defense and fighting, this is it.
This article is going to talk about a very unique concept called “minimal fitness”. Minimal fitness is one of my philosophies about exercise and happens to be the most optimal way to exercise for the majority of people, with some obvious exceptions.
First, lets define the term: “Minimal Fitness” means doing the least you can to achieve the greatest results. If this was financial we’d call it “value”.
Every output or action on your part has a corresponding “return”. For example, a dollar invested might have a $1.05 return. A two-hour investment in watching a movie might have a return of good entertainment and boredom relief. But we can’t run too far with examples before we must face the fact of another law at work: the law of “diminishing marginal returns”. Roughly translated, this means that for every action or effort, there is going to come a point where additional effort is going to have lesser gains. Eventually it could mean zero gains. It could also become “negative gains”, or going backwards, particularly as it relates to your fitness goals.
Lets look at how this relates to your own workout program:
Taking just one exercise as an example: if you were to do a set of bench presses (doing as many reps as you can do), that first set is going to have a result of 80, for example. If you do another set, it would have a cumulative result of 90. A third set might yield a total overall result of 95, and a fourth set might bring you to 97-100. Additional sets might not bring you any further yield, and could even be counter productive.
This means when you hit the gym, the majority of your benefits come from that first set of each exercise. Additional sets of each exercise do give you additional results, but not nearly as much as that first set did. Lets say that you and your twin brother decided to begin an exercise program at the same time. You decide to follow the path of “minimal fitness” and you spend 15 minutes in the gym. Your brother wants to follow what everyone else is doing and he spends the typical hour in the gym, doing 3-5 sets of everything. You attained 80% of the results in your 15 minutes, yet your brother, who spent 4 times as much time and effort, was only able to achieve an extra 20% for all his trouble.
The same could be said for most exercise programs. You don’t have to devote tons of time and energy to achieve the results that will make you most happy. Your workout routine of 3-4 days per week will give you 80% of the results of someone who wants to workout 6 days per week. Your 15 minute run will give you 80% of the results of someone who wants to run 10 miles.
Its not all about time and energy though, sometimes the solution is about a complete change in exercise modality or regimen. For example, your basketball game in the park may give you 80% of the fitness you could otherwise get by engaging in an exercise routine (like a bootcamp, for example) that you absolutely hate and dread going to. So many fitness programs these days are all marketed by the same ploy: “this is really hard and its going to get you in maximum shape really fast!” Many of the claims are true, but what they don’t tell you is just how much you’re going to HATE doing it!
When you exercise doing something you hate, you’ve done a disservice to your long-range fitness goals. While you may get in great shape fast, you will probably lose this great shape and return to being a very inconsistent exerciser within the first several months. It is simply too hard to force yourself to keep doing something you don’t like. If the exercise is too hard, you will likely suffer an injury, sickness, or central nervous system burnout. This is commonly called “overtraining” and its symptoms are a decreased motivation to workout, a slowdown in workout gains, sickness, elevated pulse or blood pressure, and other ailments. It is no fun. But because you “just had to have” those extra 20% gains and weren’t satisfied with “good enough”, your unbridled enthusiasm got the best of you and your long-term fitness plan is wrecked.
Remember, fitness must be kept as a lifestyle. There is nothing more important than consistency/longevity when it comes to the positive benefits of exercise on your health and overall life. Is what you’re doing now something you like well enough to keep it up indefinitely? If its not, your goal should be to find something you DO like. If you’re not able to, and must do exercise that you’re not very fond of, then do the least amount required to keep you fit, strong, healthy, and agile. I always recommend non-exercisers start with making themselves a goal of trying to do 15 minutes of exercise per day, regardless of what form that may take. One day it may simply be stretching. Another day it could be a home workout plan that you have. It could be going outside and shooting hoops, or passing the football, or taking a bike ride, or playing on the jungle gym. One day it could be a brisk walk, or run. The important thing is to do SOMETHING. Something is SO much better than nothing, even if your “something” isn’t the most optimal way to get in shape.
When it comes to fitness, unless you’re one of the few who REALLY loves it and loves running, and doing bootcamp exercises, and hitting the gym, etc., then cut yourself some slack and find something that you can live with and stick with. So many of the best benefits of exercise come from that first 15-30 minutes, and it doesn’t have to be excruciating.
The old “Left side/Right side” dilemma can be cause for heated controversy, but let me give you one man’s opinion on the matter:
Here’s what many trainers say:
“You should only train on ONE side. Period!”
Why? For several reasons:
One: You have a “dominant” side. This side puts your strongest hand in the rear where you can throw your most powerful punches. The “Orthodox” fight stance means your left hand is up front, and your right hand is in the rear where it can stay poised for a knockout punch: the Right Cross. If you’re left-handed, this is reversed and you’re fighting “Southpaw”, where your left hand is kept in the rear.
You want your strongest hand in the rear because that’s where your strongest punch comes from.
Two: “You will fight the way that you train!” In a fight, you will want your right hand in the rear, so that means you need to train with it in the rear so that there will never be any confusion as to how you will stand or punch in a fight. You want to develop all the right habits so that it becomes second nature to you. Switching sides during training only confuses the issue and your solid habits.
Three: There is a lot to work on in fighting and in your technique. You need to have your strong side completely MASTERED, and until you’ve done that, you have no business taking training time away from it and working on the other side.
Four: It will take longer to develop your skill set trying to work both sides. Its confusing enough trying to learn the body mechanics, transfer of weight/force/power, proper kicks, guard and fight stance, etc. from just one side. Adding in the other side will erode some of your progress as you get confused and you’ll be left with a weaker side and a stronger side, but no side developed enough for ultimate survival in the ring or on the street.
The above is the argument of many trainers, and they are all valid points and I respect that. If anyone wants to train that way, it is certainly appropriate and there’s no need to change.
I however have a different opinion (of course!), and some of it is because of my unique physical makeup (which I will allude to), and others may have different reasons why working BOTH sides makes sense for them.
So here they are, lets start!
1. Bruce Lee felt that your strongest hand, instead of going in the rear, should be up front, where it is going to be doing most of the work. After all, you will jab far more often than you will throw a cross, so your best hand should be in the driver’s seat. Also, your strongest hand should be up front to block because typically it is more coordinated than your weakest hand. So already we have a fly in the ointment about which side should be up front. Bruce Lee cannot be ignored.
2. You may suffer an injury in a fight which may necessitate your switching sides. You could break your front hand on the attacker’s head, and may now have to protect it in the rear. Your front hand could get injured from a knife or other weapon. You could suffer damage from kicks to your front leg so that you have to put it in the back. Your eye could suffer and injury and your vision needs may require you to change your stance. Now, if you haven’t become proficient on that other side, how comfortable are you going to be?
3. Training on both sides evens out the wear and tear on your body: your hands and joints. If you throw 10,000 jabs during your training lifetime, and 1,000 right crosses, that means your left arm is getting 10 times the workload of your right. You could develop and overuse injury to your hand, and your shoulder especially.
4. Working both sides may in some way prevent you from developing conditions based on overuse. I have two bones fused in my neck. If I look too long to any one side, it causes migraines. In a fight stance, your neck is looking to one side more than the other. Switching sides on a regular basis allows a break in each direction before problems can set in and evens out the stress.
Not all of your limbs get used equally in training. The front hand seems to punch more, and the rear leg seems to kick more. Switching to the opposite side gives all body parts a chance to participate equally in the training, so if you’re training in order to maintain a strong, healthy, fit, balanced body, it just makes sense to work both sides as equally as possible.
5. Sometimes after a technique you might inadvertently land with your “other” leg forward. You are not in charge of the fight. Your opponent can and will do things to throw a monkey wrench in your game plan. You might throw a switch kick completely intent on putting it back forward when you land, but your opponent has moved in on you, and now that leg is stuck to the rear and you must both attack and defend from this position. Wouldn’t it be nice if you were just as proficient on this side?
So there you have it and the case is made for training both sides equally. Read thru the arguments and “let each man be fully convinced in his own mind” as the Good Book sayeth. If you’ve decided you want to train both sides, and your trainer will let you, your next question might be how to go about it.
Here is what I do: if I’m doing a drill, lets say “5 front push kicks, 5 rear push kicks”, I will simply do the set, then switch stances and do the same set from the other side.
If I’m executing a combination, I might do it first on one side, then on the next, alternating continuously until the bell rings. Or you might want to do the first half of the round on one side, then switch, whatever. I try to really equalize the work on each side, but you might not need be quite so anal about it and perhaps you just want 25% of your training to be on your other side. Whatever works best for you and is your best interest depending on your training needs and your body structure. While I realize that this little treatise in no masterpiece, I hope it is able to serve as food for thought for those that are wrestling with this issue.
1. The Weariness of Decisions: Psychologists have discovered that making numerous decisions wears out our mental faculties and leaves us less satisfied with our choices. Our System was created so that when you stand before the heavy bag, you ALREADY KNOW what to do, so that you don’t have to make a decision or choice about what technique or combination to throw! Without using this System, you would actually have to make choice after choice, up to 30 times per round, leaving you much more mentally fatigued after your training session. That is why you’re left with NO STRESS after your training sessions on this program; it has been specifically engineered to accomplish this goal.
“Coach Mike, how do you train fighters to get ready for their events? Are there just a whole bunch of “basics” that must be done regardless of who you’re fighting? Or do you try to really coordinate your training time to match the opponent’s certain weaknesses and habits? Do you spend 50% of the time on basics and 50% of time on fight “specifics”, or how does this work exactly? What if you don’t have much information on the opponent? Or conversely, maybe you simply know your strengths and you try to capitalize on them, and you know your weaknesses, and you try to work on them?”
“Training Fighters to get ready for their events?
1. Stepping with every punch is a really old school boxing technique taught by really old school boxing coaches, the primary reason for stepping with every punch is for weight transfer. Transferring weight from the back foot to the front foot like for stepping with the jab. To get power on the jab you must step to push out of your back foot getting your body weight behind your jab and get your body weight moving forward. Stepping on punches also helps you close the distance to deliver your punch so you are not reaching for your opponent. Use your footwork to close the distance and don’t reach to throw punches because by reaching you take your head out over your knees and feet and easily pull yourself off balance. This is especially dangerous in MMA fighting because you can get pulled into a deadly knee strike that could end the fight very quickly. Stepping while trying to throw a left hook is not really a great idea because you are already moving and not planted with your feet and don’t have the power needing to really turn and get your feet, body and hip into the punch, and more times than not you will end up swinging the punch and you don’t want to be a swinger with your punches becoming an arm puncher. In stepping with the hook I would only step to close the distance to be able to put myself in a position so that I could throw my left hook. Watch old school boxer Bernard Hopkins shadow boxing and watch him step almost on every punch. Great old school technique and old school fundamentals.
Question for Coach Mike:
“A lot of gyms have more than one coach and each may teach techniques differently. How should both coaches, and fighters, handle this? What should a fighter do when he receives conflicting information from one or more coaches? For example, in my last gym, one coach would teach the left hook by turning on the front foot. The Muay Thai coach didn’t like it because he said you’re setting yourself up for a kick to the back of the leg. Then of course there were different opinions on whether the fist should be “palm down” or “palm facing you”. And this was just on ONE punch! What are your thoughts and guidelines on this?”
“First of all I’m going to confine my answers and comments regarding having more than on boxing coach in the same gym because I have experienced this first hand and seeing myself as a head boxing coach I can speak on what I have seen and what I know to be true on this subject. First let me tell you what the experts say and think about this subject of having more than one boxing coach in the same gym and these experts are guys who have been in business and have operated gyms for a long time. Having more than one boxing coach in the gym is a bad idea and is not recommended by the guys who really know the business. A boxing coach coming from another program may have a very different approach to the sport than you do. This can lead to confusion in your boxers and may add a great deal of stress to you as the head coach and to others in the gym. By having only one boxing coach in the gym this way your boxers learn only one system-yours. I want my guys doing the things I want them to do and I don’t want other coaches, parents or fighters trying to correct my guys when I’m working with them.
“Coach Mike, a lot of people think there is a difference between straight boxing/Western Style boxing, and “Boxing for MMA”. Is there much, if any, difference? And if so, in what way? Does boxing need to be modified at all for MMA, like modifying the stance (because of takedowns), modifying the guard (because of kicks), or modifying the strikes themselves?”
This question and argument comes up a lot between people in MMA and people in boxing including MMA and Boxing trainers and coaches. Keep in mind this is only my opinion based on my coaching, my experience and what I have seen and continue to see in the sport. Boxing is boxing and the fundamentals are the fundamentals which haven’t changed for 120 years or since boxing was invented. I beg to differ with those that say boxing for MMA is completely different from regular boxing. Bull Shit. If you have solid fundamentals and are fundamentally sound and technically correct in your boxing skills it doesn’t matter if you are competing in MMA or regular boxing. I don’t think there needs to be much if any modifications for regular boxing and boxing for MMA. One of the biggest problems I have seen in a great deal of MMA gyms is sometimes one coach who is trying to teach everything, Boxing, grappling, wrestling, muay Thai and one person cannot teach everything. Then you have MMA gyms that have Striking coaches that are usually either Kickboxing or Muay Thai guys who are trying to also Coach and teach boxing and that doesn’t work either because of a difference in basic stance which has a big effect on punching style and technique.