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Training Diary: April 16

Second time sparring this week, and I’ve quickly become obsessed with this side of training. Working on technique is enjoyable, vital, and very helpful, but obviously not quite as satisfying as giving a test to what you’ve learned against an opponent – even if it is just sparring.

For my 2nd time through, I’ve noticed a few things about my burgeoning “style,” if you can even call it that. For one, I’m much more reliant on kicks than on punches. I think this comes from two things. For one, I just like fighters who kick more, and so that’s what I am more used to seeing. And two, for these light sparring sessions we don’t wear headgear. As a result, I’m not entirely comfortable throwing a punch at my partner just yet. Because my punching technique is still developing, I am not yet confident at both executing the punch properly, but at the same time pulling it a bit so that I don’t hit my partner fully. Seems like that’s a tricky line that I’m still trying to find. No worries though, as in the meantime, I’m improving my kicking speed, technique, and defense, and managed to land a number of clean leg kicks and push kicks this time, while also blocking kicks much more effectively.

Speaking of defense, this continues to be an area in need of work, especially where punches are concerned. When punches start coming in, I find it tough to keep my composure and cover up, and instead end up trying to block each individual punch – which only leaves my head exposed and gets me tagged. Been watching a lot of Remy Bonjasky, which helps. He’s very skilled at dropping his head, bringing his gloves in, and tucking in his elbows when the punches come in, while still firing back with kicks when there’s an opening. That’s what I’m aiming for. I also used this little Rob Kamen combo I found online, which worked for me as well.

Last thought for the day is a sort of philosophical training question I’ve been contemplating – what constitutes being a good training partner, particularly when drilling techniques? Is it helpful to just keep quiet and let your partner throw the combo? To give words of encouragement? If there’s something they could improve, do you speak up? How about movement, should I circle, so that they are working different angles? Of course, different people respond to different things, but it’s a good question to ask – not only in how you can best help your partner, but how they can best help you.

Any thoughts?

Training Diary is a weekly series documenting my journey starting Muay Thai training. For more on this series, read the first entry here. I train at Conviction Fitness & Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL www.convictionfitness.com.

 

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Weekly Poll Results

Last week's question: What was the March Fight of the Month?

43% - Hesdy Gerges vs. Daniel Ghita

30% - Andy Souwer vs. L'houcine Ouzgni

14% - Other

9% - Khem vs. Kongjak

5% - Sergio Wielzen vs. Karim Bennoui

This week we offer a pretty straight-forward question, but one I am definitely interested in seeing the response to.

How much do you watch current MMA?

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LiverKick.com Picks Paul "Semtex" Daley to Explode Nick Diaz's Head, Overcoming DSTRYRsg's BJJ

Let's face facts here, going into tonight's Strikeforce main event, there isn't much left to say about it. You have a clash between two of the MMA world's baddest ass welterweights imaginable. Nick Diaz is a true force to be reckoned with, a BJJ black belt, and no, when I say that I don't mean cookie-cutter. I mean Cesar Gracie gave him that belt and he earned it and knows how to use that belt, that is the kind of jiu-jitsu Nick Diaz knows. On top of that, his boxing is great; Nick has super fast hands, puts together some mean combinations, protects his head and always stays moving. On top of that, he owns a serious trademark on the "mean mug" and has one of the most prolific histories of mouthing off, causing riots and general bad boy behavior in the entire MMA world. In a world where it feels like there are no John Waynes left, Nick Diaz is a John Wayne.

His opponent is Paul "Semtex" Daley, one of the few guys to get cut from the UFC for being a badass (and a poor sport), right up there with one of my favorite fighters, Renato "Babalu" Sobral. Babalu held a choke too long to teach a lesson, and Daley, well, suckerpunched Josh Koscheck after the bell. Sure, Daley's sportsmanship is terrible and he hasn't made weight a total of 5 times in his professional career, but his skills are his skills. Other than mocking any sort of rules and standards of conduct, Daley sports some of the most destructive stand up in MMA. How much so? Daley has 27 wins and 20 of them are via a form of knockout. That is pretty serious power.

If it came down to which fighter I think is cooler, Nick Diaz wins against everybody in MMA, but when it comes down to who will win, I'm torn and have to go with the stand up guy in this. Our mild-mannered grappling friends who just seem to want to have a good time, roll on the mat and chill at DSTRYRsg decided to throw down the gauntlet and bet some serious BetDSI money that Nick Diaz will triumph over Paul Daley. They bet $200 on our favorite betting site, BetDSI, that Nick Diaz will win this fight. After BetDSI refilled the LiverKick.com coffers after we went all-in on Shogun Rua over Jon Jones (sigh, what were we thinking?!), we have decided to gamely bet $200 of our freshest BetDSI money on Paul Daley to defeat Nick Diaz.

The odds are in our favor if this happens, with the live odds on BetDSI (you can bet live during a fight, the odds update) being at +180. This means for our $200 bet, we would win $360. Sure, DSTRYRsg might have a fancy chart set up for this wager, but the truth is, Paul Daley seeks out other badasses and has trained with the legendary Mike's Gym in the Netherlands, home of Badr Hari, Melvin Manhoef and a bunch of other destroyers. That is where you go when you are serious about your stand up, and Daley is serious. Nick Diaz has good hands and scary jiu-jitsu, but he loves to stand and bang, and against a guy like Daley it could mean curtains for him, or at least a nasty cut that could finish the fight. Diaz's jiu-jitsu is what it is, but he has no takedowns to get the fight to the ground and I sincerely doubt Daley pulls a Cyborg and takes Diaz down foolishly.

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Training Diary: April 8

This week, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to say that I have entered a bold new world in my training. A world that is both terrifying and exhilarating. A world of pain and reward. A world where my wrong moves have very clear and immediate consequences.

Because today, for the first time, I started sparring.

Now, let me just say that this was very light sparring – minimal contact, no clinching, no elbows or knees. All of which was fine by me. But man, what a great experience this was. Not necessarily for the reasons you may think though.

First lesson learned – I suck. Really, I’m not very good. And while this may sound disheartening, it’s not. I’m very new to this game, and looked at this sparring as a chance to find my weaknesses – see where I am struggling so that I can focus on those spots for next time. We sparred in a round robin format, and the guys involved were at various levels. Having a chance to spar with someone who is both above you, and a very generous teacher, is extremely helpful. He caught me, a lot, but every time was able to give me a quick pointer on how to correct my problems. This is a huge help.

Second lesson learned – DEFENSE. I’m not surprised to discover that this is my weakest area. Always has been for me; whether I’m competing in an actual sport, playing chess, or playing a Nintendo game, I’m much more offensive than defensive minded. And of course that leads me to some troubles in sparring. My main defensive difficulty is checking kicks. In the heat of the moment, to my still training body, the natural instinct when a kick comes in is to deflect it with the hand. Which of course is a great way to get yourself punched right in the face. But the idea of quickly getting my leg up for the check is tough – partly because it’s still a motion I have to think about a bit instead of doing naturally, and partly because I’m still too heavy on my feet, so checking requires some weight re-distribution before I can check. That’s too long, and by then, the kick has landed. So then the next time my mind says to me “you’ll never get that leg up in time, just swat the kick away with your hand.” And I do. And I get punched in the face. Have to work on silencing that instinct.

Over the course of this session I did manage to develop the motion of keeping my lead leg very light on the ground and frequently bringing it up in a check motion. And, for now at least, it worked! Not only did this help me check kicks, it also made it easier to throw a teep off the lead leg, or a quick stepping right kick. I definitely didn’t master this, or suddenly start blocking everything and landing every kick – but I improved. And a day later, as I feel some minor aches and pains, I’m pleased to know that little improvement happened.  And I absolutely can't wait to get back in there and try it again.

Up next – that tough boxer guy who keeps up the pressure with charging punches. How to keep him off me?

Training Diary is a weekly series documenting my journey starting Muay Thai training. For more on this series, read the first entry here. I train at Conviction Fitness & Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL www.convictionfitness.com.

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