You’ve been enjoying your entry into mixed martial arts training, growing stronger, faster and wiser as you train, drill and study. But you’re always open to new ideas, as well as techniques for self-evaluation which can help you to improve your MMA performance. Check out a few common MMA mistakes made by developing fighters, and make sure you’re not falling into any of these traps!
Failure to counter
You’ve rolled, slipped or weaved and avoided an aggressive move by your opponent. He’s pulling back, planning his next move. How do you spend this time? Do you count your lucky stars that you’re still standing? Of course not – you should immediately counter while he is unprepared and out of position. Many fighters neglect this golden opportunity to aggressively seize an opening for a counter move.
Sticking too much to one area
Many fighters are very good at striking, or kicking, or grappling, and will try to make every match revert to this kind of fight in order to increase their chances of winning. This is a good strategy if you know your opponent is weak in this particular area, but there will come a day when you face someone more proficient in grappling, for example. At that point, your bread and butter is toast! In times like these, being able to re-route the fight to a kicking or punching contest will benefit you greatly. Develop your skills in a well-rounded way. Specialization is fine, after you’ve achieved baseline proficiency in all required areas.
Afraid to move weight classes
At some times, your body will change. You gain muscle, you lose fat. Muscle weighs five times more than fat. As you become a more honed fighter, your fat levels will drop and your muscle levels will increase. Your body weight may change. Don’t fight it too much – nature is a powerful force. Rather, consider adapting to the new skills and strategies employed by fighters at this weight class.
Failure to vary training & partners
Yes, you love your training buddies and are very familiar with your ring. But you have probably grown quite complacent, whether you know it or not. It is most likely time to spar with some new partners, work with a new coach from time to time, and just do battle in a new ring from time to time. Fighting and training outside of your comfort zone will expose you to a myriad of external factors that you cannot possibly imagine. If you want to grow, then you need to be challenged in new ways, by new people, in new places.
Always work to vary your speed and power utilized when executing moves. You don’t have to come in at 100% on every move. In fact, varying your attack speed will have your opponent guessing and often caught off-balance as he attempts to move his body to counter your move. Arriving slower or with less physical commitment can leave him over-extended and thus open to attack.
Timing is everything
It is perfectly acceptable to take your time in a match. You don’t need the entire clock to beat this guy, and hanging out for ten seconds might reveal a weakness he is showing, or might force him into a mistake on an initial move because he’s just too enthusiastic. If an opponent is willing to beat themselves, don’t stand in their way! Additionally, remember that you can change cadence when executing moves. You don’t have to deliver a follow up blow immediately after the first blow. Often, hesitating for a second – breaking cadence – will allow you to gain a greater advantage as an opponent lets down his guard or attempts to change position.
Too much counter, not enough attack
Yes, in the art of fighting, reaction to your opponents’ moves is very much an important part of the game. However, if your entire strategy is just to avoid getting hit, and to “react”, then you will never have your opponent on his heels. Eventually, he will try something that will work. Conversely, you should mix things up, going on the attack as much as strategically viable. Your opponent should be reacting more than you are, thus increasing the chances that one of your executed moves will be successful, and give you the win.
Not enough focus upon stance
Too many fighters focus solely upon their moves, and forget to stop and think about where they are in relationship to their opponent. If you’re positioning yourself directly in front of another fighter, you are going to get hit – early and often. Instead, you should be using rhythm sets to offset your opponent’s stance and range. If you can change alignment just as he’s about to execute a move, he will be out of position and you will have an advantage.
Jack of all trades, master of none
Bruce Lee once famously said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10000 times.” Are you one of those mixed martial arts enthusiasts possessing some capability with two dozen moves, but aren’t able to perfectly execute a single one of them, every time? If so, you might need to step back, listen to the wise words of Bruce Lee, and begin focusing more upon mastering a single move, then another, then another, as opposed to being a “jack of all trades, master of none”. When you’re hurt and tired in a match, the ability to perfectly execute that one move without thought can be the difference between winning and losing.
Too much, too soon
Take it slow. You don’t need to fight after a month of training. You don’t need to pick up ten new skill sets in the first months of training. You don’t need to lift, jog, sprint, drill, and spar every single day. Enjoy your MMA experience as a hobby as much as any job – keep it fun, exciting, and always growing, but never allow it to become the “job” that you dread or that burns you out. Use mixed martial arts to improve the quality of your life.