How To Run an MMA Class

Posted: July 25, 2009 in All Eli's BJJ Posts
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Let me start by saying that, in my opinion, MMA wasn’t ever meant to be a class unto itself. To be a succesful mixed martial artist, one should train each area of fighting in their appropriate contexts with their due attention However, with the proliferation of the sport, the demand for such classes became great. The reason we run MMA classes at Three Rivers is twofold: first, we have the knowledge and experience, likewise we offer individual arts that make for a strong foundation for MMA; secondly, we have always been driven by a compulsion to disseminate responsible training methods.

This second point is crucial to me, as I see so many “cage fighters” these days and fewer martial artists. The essential difference here is that any idiot can jump into a cage at a cheaply thrown-together local event (by igorant and unscrupulous promoters) and establish for himself a cage fighting record. The mixed martial artist is driven by other factors. Some simply like to fight or have a morbid desire to hurt others in as efficient way as possible.

What we try to do at my academy, and have been fortunately successful thus far, is to foster an environment more condusive to self-exploration. I don’t mean that we sit around and have fireside talks and daily affirmation sessions or anything, but we present the technical information and bodywork framed a way that makes it obvious what works and why. Furthermore, we maintain a demeanor of professionalism, courtesy, and frankness. We obfuscate nothing. We share and encourage. For all these reasons, we have an instructor base and student base that is among the tightest I have ever encountered. Inflated egos and overly proud attitudes are noticeably absent in our academy.

But, I digress. Here is the part that you can skip to if you care to hear my phiosophical pedanticism. Outright, here is the structure that makes for a successful MMA program:

*Please note that this is not a routine for running a fighter stable in which you train multiple times per day for hours at a time. This is a 1-2 hour class setting:

1. Warmups – Shadow boxing/fighting. This should be very active shadow boxing with all tools being worked, i.e. punches, kicks, knees, elbows, shooting, sprawling, etc.

2. Standing Striking – Because we will be moving through each range of the fight in order, we start here. This is where we will do padwork on a striking combo, or maybe big gloves for a combo in which we hit our partner. Always encouraging speed and technique and not trying to kill each other.

3. Standing Grappling – Depending on what grappling arts your facility trains (ours concentrates on BJJ, Judo, and some freestyle wrestling), you will work either standing clinch or shooting for the takedown. Standing clinch can focus either on striking, as in Muay Thai or dirty boxing, or pummeling for the throw or takedown.

4. Ground Work – My personal favorite area, this is when you will work ground positioning techniques and drills. Because our MMA classes are butted up against BJJ classes, I typically drill more than teach technique here. This is good to end off on this note, because everyone leaves feeling like they really got a workout.

Important Points to Follow for Class:

• Follow fight process for class structure: standing striking, standing grappling/striking, ground fighting

• Keep in mind core skills set that everyone needs to have. Categorize these techniques by each area of the fight as mentioned above. Curricula are hard to establish for MMA classes, so select techniques from the categories of the technique base in this way when formulating the lesson plan.

• Never let specific current rules deter you from showing a useful technique. I cannot emphasize enough that ultimately MMA is for fighting. Remind the students of this. If someone has a fight coming up, then concentrate a little harder on the rules for their venue; otherwise, teach what works in a fight.

• Encourage the students in all areas, but especially regarding what they are doing for themselves. By training, they are figuring out things about themselves that most people never will. And ultimately this is the only value I ever see in competition of this type: to test oneself in an intense situation under severe pressure with a mental and physical deficit, in order to see how you will perform while experiencing these impairments.

I hope that this is helpful advice. Years back (ok, even these days occasionally) I searched around to see how others run their classes. Eventually, I came up with this format through long processes of collaboration with fellow partners and instructors, research, and good old-fashioned trial and error. Hopefully, if you come across this while searching for inspiration for your teaching/training then you will get some use from it.

Now get off the damn computer and go train already!

  1. Jamie says:

    Hiya!. Thanks for the info. I’ve been digging around for info, but there is so much out there. Google lead me here – good for you i guess! Keep up the good work. I will be popping back over in a few days to see if there is updated posts.

  2. Need to be able to state that I think it is a incredibly great post. I’ve truly continuously enjoyed Mma and it’s so nice to read a fabulous site that takes Mma seriously. I have just not long ago begun to be able to get in to Mma practicing myself and I am definitely wishing to end up with at the very least a little bit reasonably competitive with it. Not even hoping to move in the cage or a single thing just like that though! Any tips when it comes to whatever I ought to be doing to do well. Anyways, do go on with the great content for the blog as well as your excellent blogposts.

  3. Robert Dempewolf says:

    Outstanding! Sounds like you set the exams for others to follow. Drive on, amigo.

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