5 tips for beginners from BJJ coach Thiago Steffuniti

Here are my 5 tips for beginners starting BJJ.

Attendance

As with a lot of things – turning up is half the battle! To accelerate the speed of your progression, it is important to make it to as many sessions as your schedule allows. If you miss one session, don’t write off the week.

You can’t learn everything in your first month

It takes the average person, two years to reach blue belt, and around ten years of continuous training to reach black belt. While there are certainly exceptions to these timelines, nobody reaches blue belt in their first week – even Travis Stevens‘ incredible progression took a few weeks from white to blue! Focus on what is shown in class, consolidating the fundamental positions and movements – giving you a strong foundation of knowledge to build upon.

Tap! Don’t snap or nap

Like in the striking arts, you should keep yourself safe at all times. An injury from a non-tap can take you out for a long time, halting your progress. It is important to learn your limits. Training with competent teammates is essential to your progress.

Control Yourself

We usually compete in different weight divisions, but at training we encourage training with different body shapes and sizes. If you find yourself training with a smaller or weaker training partner, dial your strength back a bit. By taking strength out of the equation, it will allow you to focus on the technique. When you return to training/competing against someone of the same size, if not larger, you will have the tools to combat a strength discrepancy.

Play to your strengths

While it is important to learn and absorb as much as you can in your early months, it is also important to learn what your style is. You may be a natural open guard player, a pressure passer, or any other positional/technique type player. You will find ‘your game’ through your white to purple belt progression. A good fighter is one who understands his/her own body.

Thiago Steffuniti Third degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt

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DEVELOPING HABITS

DEVELOPING HABITS

Willpower is a finite resource, but YOU can access more!

Have you ever heard of ‘decision fatigue’? It’s what happens when you’ve been worn down through the day, deciding on everything from what to wear and where to sit, through to major business decisions or whether to go to Simon’s birthday on the weekend.

We have the most willpower (mental fortitude) in the mornings. However, by the evening – when a lot of us train – we are weaker and succumb to temptations more easily.

So how do we get past this block? We create habits! Habits are very powerful tools in our training arsenal. A well established habit will override a mild temptation or lapse in willpower.

Three stages of a habit

1. The Cue. Identify or create a trigger that tells you that it’s time to carry out a routine.
It can be an alarm – morning alarm for early sessions, or a calendar reminder for lunch and evening trainers. Or, maybe you’re a visual cue type person. Try keeping your gym bag in sight, so you have a constant reminder of your appointment with the gym.

2. Routine. In the case for training – is the physical behavior that follows the cue.
You leave home or work, get to the gym, and get ready for the session. Structured classes are handy to take away the decisions for what to do. Try limiting the chances to divert from your path to the gym.

3. Reward. The stimulus that we receive as a result of finishing the routine.
Remember the immediate euphoria after a hard session? The Oo-Rah at the end of a Lycan session. The handshakes at the end of jits class. The fist bumps at the end of a striking session. Or a big sweaty hug, showing your respect for some excellent sparring with a teammate. And don’t forget the longer term results from the training! Better fitness, improved shape, upgraded skills, and shaping yourself towards being the best version of you!

Other tips:
Plan ahead – pack your bags the night before so you can remove a barrier to completing your habit the next day.
Be accountable – tell people about your habits and associated goals to create more drive for your actions.
Commit – to at least 3 weeks (21 days) and see the habit flourish
Have fun / share the fun – share your passion for martial arts and fitness with those around you. Whether you’re a self professed ‘team captain’, or able to encourage the person next to you – we’re a team, and teams go further together.

What are your cues, actions and rewards? Comment and share.

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Getting the most out of your first month training boxing

Getting the most out of your first month training boxing
3 tips from coach Pradeep Singh when starting your boxing journey

Learn the rules and fouls in boxing.
Can you hold? What is the definition of ‘back of the head’? Can you push someone in a fight? There are a lot of assumptions about what boxing is and how it is scored. For your own development, and the safety of your training partners, you should take a minute to look up the rules. (I prefer YouTube videos)

This will also make viewing boxing fights more interesting, as you’ll know who’s winning and how the referee is adjudicating before half of the room does.

Happy Feet
Footwork is arguably the most important element of boxing. All beginners often think it is punching, but how can you build a house without a foundation? Concentrating on your footwork early will prevent poor habits from forming. You will find your balance improve, and as a result, your punching power will increase. And who doesn’t want more power, right!?

Learn how to punch
This seems very obvious, but quite often beginners try to learn a 20 punch combo, an exotic punch, or something else they found off YouTube – before establishing their jab and cross. Introduction and fundamental classes are essential for learning to punch correctly, which could save your hands from injury and better your defense.

Boxing correctly is not only for boxers with aspirations for fighting. It can be more challenging to punch with good form, and therefore increase the workout.

So whether you’re boxing to get fit, release the pent up energy from your day, or looking to become the next Muhammad Ali – learn the proper form and technique to see your results excel.

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Getting the most out of your first month training MMA

Getting the most out of your first month training MMA

3 Tips from MMA Coach Jeremy Wharerau

1.Go slow to learn fast

A lot of beginners try to hit as hard and fast as they can. The problem with this is that all technique gets thrown out the door, and a bunch of bad muscle memories are formed. Instead, forget that you’re trying to hit something at all. Just focus on slow controlled body movements, creating the correct muscle memory. Once you develop good muscle memory through slow controlled movement, add the speed and power last.

2.Learn how you learn best

We are all unique creatures whom are shaped, move, think, and process information differently. Understanding how you learn best will sky rocket your MMA development, as you can apply that process to whatever technique you want.
To figure out your optimum learning process – take note of the “light bulb moments” when a technique or movement clicks for you. Think about the entire process leading to the light bulb. All of the who, what, where, when, how, and why questions are important to understand the process as to why that technique clicked at that time.Then try repeat that process with other techniques constantly refining your learning process until you know how you learn best. This is a very hard thing to learn about yourself but once you do sky’s the limit.

3.Learn MMA last

It’s important to learn the fundamentals of boxing, muay thai, wrestling, and Brazilian jiu jitsu first. Build your training schedule to incorporate striking and grappling classes so that you can then learn how to put the different martial arts together in MMA sessions.

This famous quote from Bruce Lee is the key philosophy to base your MMA training around … 

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5 Reasons to train MMA

5 Reasons to train MMA

1. Burn, baby, burn! (like a disco inferno):  You can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour while practicing mixed martial arts. Training MMA can get you into the best shape of your life! I say ‘shape’ because ‘weight’ should only be a consideration for competitors around fight times. Don’t be deterred if you actually put on some ‘weight’ after you start training, it’s more than likely muscle, and I’m sure you’ll be a fitter shape!

2. Friends & networks: There’s a popular African proverb that says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” MMA is a sport that competes as individuals, however, there is still so much to be gained from the relationships you make within the team. Your teammates can:

  • help you improve your techniques,
  • keep you accountable to your goals,
  • provide a social outlet with people of similar interests, and
  • extend your networks past your usual reach.

3. That ‘cathartic’ feeling! It’s that feeling right after you finish a great session, where you feel the tensions and anxieties of your life melt away. Even if only until you arrive home, or back to work – it’s that rush of endorphins that draws us to the gym, and keeps us coming back. It get’s us out from our cosy beds on cold mornings, or away from the bar on tough days at the office. The release of stress through physical activity can boost your energy levels and help re-balance your perspective.

4. Self-esteem & confidence It is broadly recognised that physical exercise can boost confidence and self-esteem. One way this can be achieved is through learning new techniques, developing / refining skills, and generally gaining more knowledge of your own abilities. You shouldn’t be surprised that after training MMA, ‘that work emergency’ wont throw you off your game. This is because that ‘emergency’ isn’t trying to punch you in the face (hopefully!).

5. Build discipline & focus Starting is the toughest step. It takes the most effort to move from a standstill to running. Once you get moving and form the new habits of regular training (which will be easy considering the above benefits) – you will be able to invest your willpower into making more good decisions, and forming your next set of habits in your life.

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5 Solo Drills you can do to help your Muaythai

Training on your own is part of the sport some times, so here are 5 drills I like to do as part of my training to be more efficient with time.

1. Shadow boxing. This seems like an obvious one but it’s a great chance warm up and work your technique without impact on your body. I also use visualization in my shadow boxing, instead of randomly throwing shots I visualize an opponent sparring in front of me and work my defenses, attacks and footwork.

2. Tabatha bag work. Tabatha is awesome for fitness! Find a long bag and start with 20 seconds of technique combinations at lower intensity and then 20 seconds of high intensity with hard and fast combinations. Do 8 rounds of this then have a minute rest.

3. Clinch work on bag. Lock on to a heavy short bag, pull and push the bag like you are in the clinch driving knees in at different angles. Practice your pop back straight knees and continuous knees, it’s also a good way to practice hard elbows.

4. Plyometric work is great for developing explosiveness in your Muaythai. My favourite plyometric drills are box jumps including one legged box jumps. Gradually build up the height on the box jumps ensuring that both feet are landing cleanly so you can stabilize on top of the box.

5. Ladder drills help with speedy footwork and agility. There are heaps of different drills to try the aim is to be as quick and light on your feet as you can. I usually start the drill at half speed and build up the speed as I get more comfortable.

I try to keep drills simple but also challenging, since it they are ‘solo’ drills it’s best to choose ones you enjoy as you get what you put into the drill.

Claire Foreman

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What to expect in your first month of training in BJJ?

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is an incredible sport and a martial art in where you never stop learning. For an average person it takes 10-15 years to earn their black belt and that’s because BJJ is extremely difficult. BJJ can be practised as a hobby, a competitive sport, a way to get fit, stress relief, a social outing and a very effective form of self-defense.

In your first few sessions, you will learn the fundamental moves and concepts which will carry you through to more advanced techniques later down the track. Usually you will repeat the technique on a partner without any resistance, which is called drilling. The next step of training is where you test out the technique or sequence you just learnt with live resistance from you training partner. This is a great way to give you feedback on how effective your execution is and where it could be improved. Probably the most enjoyable part of training for many is the sparring part – or ‘rolling’ as we call it in BJJ. This is where you train with full resistance with an aim of having positional control over your opponent and eventually making them ‘tap out’.

In your first month of training, you should expect to have a lot of fun. You may see yourself dominated by a smaller, but more skilled opponent, which means that the sport you are choosing to do actually works. You will learn new skills, meet some wonderful people and become a part of a friendly community. You will get fitter but also realise that the more efficient you become at the technique, the easier it gets. You will learn about patience and discover things about yourself – be it on a physical or emotional level. The beginning is often tough, but all you have to do is keep turning up with an open mind and be ready to learn. Training BJJ for whatever reason you may choose is a journey absolutely worth having.

As they say, a black belt is a white belt who never quit.

Livia Gluchowska

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Why is clinching so important in Thaiboxing?

15994356_10154421709290547_283840277501538393_oPersonally, I believe the clinch is an aspect of the game that I resort to if I feel I’m struggling to dominate an opponent in striking range. In the clinch you are able to lock someone up, land powerful knees and elbows, perform discouraging sweeps and wear the opponent down physically and mentally. On the other hand, your opponent may also resort to the clinch to defeat you if you are keeping on top of them in the striking range; therefore it’s essential that you are proficient in this discipline to defend against strong clinchers or as a means of winning your Muaythai fights. It’s unique to aspect of Muaythai and is one that separates it from other striking disciplines like K1 style of kickboxing. It is important to understand scoring in the clinch and is essential part to Muaythai, this is why I believe it is so important.

John Mckenna

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