Fighting on the Inside: offense

Badr Hari (img.from borilacki-klub.com)

Badr Hari (img.from borilacki-klub.com)

Last time we discussed how to survive the onslaught of strikes when fighting on the inside, perhaps while being on the ropes. But what if you decide, you have had enough of being pressured on the inside and wanted to return the favour? This is what we are going to discuss here.

Getting inside

When trying to fight on the inside offensively, the footwork is an absolutely crucial element. Since getting inside of an opponent means that you have to somehow bypass their strikes while moving forwards, it needs to be done properly. One such way is to learn how to slip punches. When punch comes in slightly tilt upper body to dodge the strike. The tilt has to be very slight to allow quick recovery to strike back quickly. Also tighten up your guard on the side that is at risk should the slip fail. Once the punch has been slipped successfully move inside and you’re ready to fight on the inside. While moving in, it’s often a good idea to land first punch on the way in. Depending on slip, strike to ribs, or head is usually possible. Another powerful method of getting inside is to utilise good footwork. Move forwards with your jabs to push the opponent onto the ropes and get inside by either just moving in, or parrying opponent’s punch and then moving in. To make this strategy even more effective, try to move in such way to force opponent into corner. This is a bit like pushing a crate. If you stand in front of crate and push, you will push it forwards. However if you stand on right side of it and push, you will push it to the left, from the initial point of view. Also make good use of rule set specific methods, such as Thai clinch or kick catches. Once in clinch, you can push opponent onto the ropes. Or if you catch kick, you can dish out few punches before moving in, or even throwing their leg to side and move in with a big knee.

Once inside

Once inside, a lot of rules from defensive fighting on the inside still apply, however there are few differences. While in defensive situation, you would stand with legs side by side with one leading only slightly, in offensive situation, you should lead front leg a little bit more to make it harder for opponent to push back. Also, when inside make sure your guard is tight to deal with the pesky bob and weave from the opponent. Another difficulty while fighting on the inside is deciding on the power of the punches and their speed. While it is good idea to punch hard and increase chance of KO/TKO immensely, it makes you slower, therefore opponent has greater chance to escape. When it is beginning of fight with little chance of KO, you might lean towards speed to score more points and tire them out, whereas when it is late rounds, or high KO chance then go all out. For speed stand close to opponent and punch in same way as defender without fully following through and without fully twisting hips. If you are going for power, move back few inches while they are on ropes to give you some working space and start landing those big punches, fully following through and twisting your hips all the way. Also mix your punches to open up holes in their guard, such as right hook to open space for left uppercut when they lift hand to protect against hook. Another great advice is to never underestimate body strikes, as body is often left unprotected in favour of the head. This is a perfect opportunity for liver punches and big knees!

These are my main tips regarding the offence on the inside. I hope this will help you and of course if you have any tips or points you wish to discuss, you are more than welcome to comment! One thing to bear in mind is that this way of fighting inside constitutes for a very aggressive style.

Article written by: Hubert Bieluczyk

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Fighting on the Inside Guide: Defence

As many of you know, being forced to fight on the inside can be one of the most daunting situations one can find themselves in during a fight. You are cornered. Endless onslaught of big punches. Insanely powerful knees and elbows. Sounds familiar? We’ll outline few ways how to improve your inside game in defensive situation.

Stance and guard

Most important consideration when defending on the inside is of course the stance we adopt and the super tight guard. When resting on the ropes make sure legs are roughly shoulder width side by side with leading leg only slightly in front of the other. This will allow better side to side movement, which will allow you to escape this situation. Also be slightly hunched, tucking abdomen in to make yourself a smaller target, allowing for better bob and weave and to make it difficult for opponent to land these massive punches. Tucking the abdomen in will help immensely by reducing the damage body punches can do, as all the vital organs are safely tucked away. The guard also needs to be absolutely airtight, as on the inside all the big hooks and uppercuts will be coming into play. Keep both hands by your head with elbows tucked in tight to prevent head knees and uppercuts. Use body movement to bring body punches onto your guard, but make sure your head is protected at all times.

Hitting back

Let’s face it; you’re in bad spot, but you aren’t going to just sit there taking it all. It’s time to put in few hits of your own. Most important consideration here is to use short punches. This means you no longer can use these massive jabs and crosses that are meant to go through the opponent, with full hip twist. On defence inside, you have to use punches with less hip twist, using feet twisting to squeeze out more power and aim the punch to just go through opponent’s head, or body, no further. This is necessary considering the limited mobility and need for quick pull back to protect yourself. However, if you can, it is a very good idea to slip punches and counter, as thanks to your stance you’ve become a small target. Also moderate amount of body movement will confuse opponent and make it harder for them to land hits. Slipping punches also may provide an opportunity to move out of the ropes.

Getaway

This is a bad spot to be in, therefore it is clear, that you must escape, before you get knocked out. Your best friend here is the side to side movement, if you see a window of opportunity, such as hook coming in to your right, you can move to your left and hopefully get off the ropes. Also after slipping a punch you may notice there is plenty of space for escape, hence move instead of countering. This movement has to be quick, however, so the opponent doesn’t just pin you in different portion of the ring. There are also rule set specific ways of neutralising inside fighting. In MMA there is the take down if there is enough space. Be careful to not get hit with uppercut or knee when shooting for it. In Muay Thai there is the Thai clinch. Clinch up and move one of your feet forwards. Then use the movement of entire waist as opposed to upper body to place the opponent on the ropes. Just be careful to not get hit with straight punches when breaking your guard to clinch up.

Do Not Panic!!!

This is the most important consideration. You’re in bad spot, however tensing up and panicking will greatly hinder your mobility, which in turn hinders your ability to escape. At first this is difficult to achieve, as your instinct will kick in, however when you practice this during sparring, the panic should slowly fade away. Ask your partner to pin you onto the ropes and punch with less power to help you learn how to fight on the inside.

These are my main points I adhere to when fighting on the inside. Hopefully this will help some. Do you have and advice regarding fighting on the inside? Comment away!!

Article written by: Hubert Bieluczyk

The Bane of Our Existence- The Bad Days

Hard Training

Hard Training (img. from boston.com)

We’ve all been through this. You come into the class. Warm up starts. Instructor shouts out 100 push ups! Easy peasy, you’ve done it like million times! However after 30 push ups you feel like you’re going to pass out. Jelly knees, weak muscles, tunnel vision and that hellish brain ‘fog’. Whilst we’ve all been there, there could be many underlying causes for this, most of which are not on medical grounds strictly speaking. I’ll outline few possible reasons and ways of preventing those crippling days.

  1. Food type and timing- This is probably the most common reason for the bad days. You’ve just come back from school/uni/work, quickly make and eat that steak to be ready to start training in half an hour. You make it just in time, but you feel horrible right from beginning of the warm up. This actually has very good scientific explanation. Your body has two ‘modes’, the fight or flight mode and rest and digest mode. After ingesting large amount of food, you tend to start training right when body starts digesting food. Most of the blood is rerouted from muscles and brain to the stomach and intestine to aid digestion. This causes all the muscle weakness and light headedness. By eating food soon before training, you are essentially forcing your body to work in wrong mode! The best solution to the problem is to finish eating at least two hours before training in order to allow some time to at least partially complete digestion and ensure greater ‘working’ blood supply. Of course in this day and age, our hectic lives might not allow it, in which case the best idea is to eat something light before training, such as a banana, or cottage cheese. This doesn’t place as much stress on digestive system, allowing a better workout.
  2. Daily activity level- This is another fairly common cause for bad training days. Our daily activity varies greatly during week between the midweek madness and weekend lay in. This has a paramount effect on our performance. The key here is to try moderate the activity levels and avoid vegging out on couch all day or splitting yourself into four to perform all your daily tasks. If you spend all day in front of TV with bag of crisps doing nothing, your body as well as mind become very sluggish, and training session gives body a massive shock and not enough time to adapt. Solution to this is quite simple and it is to either plan to do something productive or physically active to wake the brain and muscles up. If you really can’t think of anything, do a little cardio pre-warm up an hour before the actual training. The other end of spectrum is equally bad as you’ll be knackered before you even start. Here the solution is much harder to implement, as it means you have to slow down and resign from some other responsibilities. Another thing to try is to get bit of shut eye during transit (if it is safe to do so).
  3. Not breathing during exercise- This sounds silly, but it is just insane how often we forget to breathe during the intense moments of the workout. If you don’t breathe your cells are not getting enough oxygen for aerobic respiration and your body quickly shuts down on you. Check your breathing during any workout paying most attention when throwing combinations, be it on bag or pads. Breathe out vigorously with every punch, kick knee or elbow thrown. This clever trick, not only makes your strikes more powerful by reducing the slight resistance given by air filled lungs during the movement, it also forces you to breathe in soon after the punch, ensuring the continuity of air supply.
  4. Medical Conditions-Various medical conditions and illnesses can be significant factors contributing to your bad training day. Even common cold will significantly reduce your performance and increase risk of injury by placing additional stress on your body rerouting resources to immune system. Therefore keeping yourself healthy is always a good idea. Another condition that can majorly affect your performance is insomnia. It puts additional stress on your body by not allowing proper recovery and also affects your brain activity even after one rough night. There are various way of treating persistent insomnia from perfect sleep hygiene and melatonin tablets to prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines. Of course seek an advice of a doctor before commencing any treatment and be aware that most sleeping pills are benzodiazepines which are banned by many sport regulatory bodies such as the NCAA.

These are 4 most common reasons for bad training days, however if you believe the cause could be much more serious (such as heart problems), never hesitate to seek advice from your doctor. What are your most common reasons for bad training days, have I missed anything out? Let me know in comments!

Article written by: Hubert Bieluczyk.

The Almighty Wallop- How To Increase The Power Of Your Punch

Firstly I wish to apologize to all readers for my 1 year long absence, however I had few things going on in my life, meaning I could not devote the time necessary to run the blog, however now I am back, hopefully stronger than ever!

Now isn’t it a dream of every fighter, to possess that Tyson-esque punching power, sending opponents to sleep with one punch? Of course it is! Many fighters have different ways of increasing their punch power and we will outline the few main ways of increasing the power of your fists.

  1. Increase the size of your muscles- Now this seems like a no brainer, bigger muscles are able to generate more power, leading to harder punches! However, while doing this we must take the fact that our weight will increase with the muscle size into consideration. This is of paramount importance in competitive fighting, where there are weight classes. Also be sure to bulk up all muscle groups, as most punches utilise the entire body and thus power transfer happens across most major muscle groups. Working on just triceps, will not increase the power of jabs and crosses until other groups, such as back muscles and core also bulk up.
  2. Develop functional strength- It is crucial to make sure the increased muscle size translates into harder punches by training your functional strength. If someone works out just on weight machines, the movement happens on single plane every time and same fibres are activated every time, which may not necessarily be the ones required by punches, therefore adding functional strength exercises to your regime is a must. Rope climbs, towel pull ups and heavy bag work are a great start, as these exercises work different muscles on different planes every time, promoting the muscle’s efficiency. Of course heavy bag work might include punching it, which of course is a great way to improve punches.
  3. Improve your punching technique- This is probably the most important and efficient way of increasing the punching power. Punches were designed by various martial arts and fighting systems to be as effective and as injury free (to the thrower) as they can be, therefore following the technique precisely will yield greater power. For example moving the hips through the hook punch and twisting the foot right way will yield much bigger force on impact, than arm-punching without engaging the body or legs.
  4. Tactic- While this strictly speaking does not increase the absolute punch power, utilising punching in clever ways will help you increase the impact your punch has on the opponent. Firstly punch in a way that your opponent is always moving towards your punch, if opponent moves to your left throw left hook! This causes additional impact due to opponent basically ‘walking in’ on the punch. Another trick is to strike vulnerable areas. Hook to jaw hinge will hurt opponent significantly more than hook to temple. Examples of areas to aim for include tip of the jaw, nose, liver, and groin (self-defence only!).

So, these are few ways of increasing your punch power. Of course most of these tips also apply to other strikes such as kicks, knees and elbows! Do you have any other ways to increase your striking power? Comment below!

 Article written by: Hubert Bieluczyk

Recovery Troubleshooting

image from: a.espncdn.com

Do you still feel that niggling pain in shoulder you injured last month? What about that faulty tendon in your back? Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that clicking, annoying knee! Does that sound familiar? Do you frankly speaking feel like your body is just falling apart and never fully recovering? Welcome to the world of fighters and martial artists! I came up with couple tips that have helped me to complete the recovery of my old or recurring injuries.

 1.Hydration-Water is required in almost all of the reactions in the body. Good hydration therefore, will aid the anabolic processes in your body which will help in recovery. The problem is that majority of populace is not hydrated enough. You, as an active person are even less likely to be hydrated. So, to help your injuries heal drink more than usual, for example every time you walk into the kitchen drink a cup of water. If you finish workout, drink to quench your thirst and then drink additional cup of water or two and you will see a range of benefits water can bring.

 2.Water- Yes, I already mentioned hydration, but there are other ways water can help in recovery. One such way is the shower. Hot shower can help to loosen up and warm up the strained muscles and tendons in the body making for quicker recovery and temporary relief from symptoms. Hot shower will help to complete recovery of the older injuries, while the most recent, same day injuries would benefit from cold shower followed by a hot one. Water can also come handy in swimming pool. Swimming is often very beneficial for recovery from muscle, tendon and some joint problems. Just find yourself a swimming pool and hop in for a light to moderate intensity swim for an hour and feel the benefits!

 3.Stretching- I think we all know about benefits of stretching in term of muscle and tendon recovery, however we often seem to underestimate the effects stretching can bring. We all know that if we stretch after a workout muscles are going to be less sore next morning. Try, however locating an injury and performing couple light stretches on surrounding muscles. Stretching can go long, long way in terms of recovery.

 4.Physiotherapy- This is single-handedly the most effective and quickest way to recover from injury. These guys know what they are doing. If you got an injury that doesn’t want to heal, go to your doctor to give you an appointment with physiotherapist. They will in turn accurately describe the nature of your injury and prescribe you some exercises. Follow them and watch the injury go away. I had horrible pain in my left side of lower back after messing up a kick. The pain wouldn’t go away for six months. It would just half heal only to ‘snap’ and come back on next class. It felt like a weak tendon/ligament that was strained or partially detached from bone or muscle. However my physiotherapist, contrary to my initial theories on my injury, has identified that it was a nerve that kept on getting trapped in hips and after three weeks of doing exercises she has prescribed, I made an astonishing recovery with the lower back pain being a distant memory. Physiotherapy is a fantastic tool for eliminating those difficult injuries.

 These are my tips for completing a recovery from an injury. Each of these has helped me recover from one or more injuries I had myself, so if you want to recover from your injuries you are most welcome to try these out! Do you have any recovery tips or stories about your injuries? Please share!

 Article written by: Hubert Bieluczyk

How To Fake Strikes

Mike Tyson (image from 3.bp.blogspot.com)

Fighting is a all about power, speed, technique and endurance. Or is it? What if the other fighter is simply better than you in all of these areas? What do you do? You do what Mongol horde did while invading the Europe. You cheat! Mongolian warriors drilled holes in their arrows so they whistled and scared horses off, they ganged up on one warrior and they deceived. Now I’m not saying you should bite the opponent’s ear off Mike Tyson style, but incorporate some deception into your tactic. One of the ways to deceive opponent is to create openings by faking strikes. Here, I will talk you through as to how fake strikes and when.

 There are two main methods of faking strikes:

  1. Powerless strike– now, technically this isn’t a true fake strike, but it is an element of deceptive game. You basically throw a strike as you would normally, except you don’t put any power behind it. This will result in less weight being shifted and quicker follow up strike. Ideally, you would throw a high powerless punch and powerful body punch or vice versa. This is a clever method, but it is mostly useful in punches, rather than kicks. Also you still have to throw whole punch in order to create an opening, which may somewhat limit your options.

  2. True fake strike– This is when you fake strike by beginning to strike but you stop mid- way to follow up with other technique. This method is effective as it allows you to switch techniques much more quickly than in previous method and you can easily fake all types of strikes including punches, kicks, knees and elbows. The disadvantage may be that you do not connect with first strike which may mean that you miss out on points when fighting in points- based system.

 Ok, so now that we know the types of fakes we can throw, now we can learn how to actually throw the true fakes. The method varies for different types of strikes so we are going to go through them all.

  • Punch– The easiest strike to fake. Simply adopt a fighting stance and vigorously lower one of your shoulders. This is a natural motion of a hook, which will often fool your opponent into thinking you are actually going to throw it. By doing the motion quickly, the opponent can sort of panic for split second and automatically react by lifting their hands up. That is when you can throw a mid section, or low section strike, such as leg kick or roundhouse.

  • Elbow– Also fairly easy strike to fake. Literally do the opposite of what you did while faking punch. Lift your shoulder up quickly and slightly lift your elbow. As you can see this is a starting motion of the elbow slash over the top. Opponent should react to this by lifting their hands up. That is when you can throw some mid- section knees, ore even clinch up and take it from there.

  • Kick– kicks are slightly harder to fake and pose some limitations. In order to fake a kick, you must quickly twist the hips in same way you would twist them while throwing a roundhouse kick, but do not lift your leg up. This fake however poses some limitations as to follow up techniques, as you are twisting your hips and shifting quite a lot of weight, so you may find it hard to follow up with right hook after twisting hips clockwise and vice versa. Make sure you follow up with technique that goes same way the hips do, or a straight technique. For example you can fake a left kick and follow it up with left high or mid section hook depending on the opponent’s reaction.

  • Knees– I find knees hardest to fake while making them look convincing enough to induce the opponent’s reaction. In order to fake a knee, you must lift it up as if you were doing it, but do not put as much power behind it and do not engage the hips. Now, since you are not engaging the hips it may be hard to make it convincing, so make sure it is quick, so that opponent does not notice these imperfections. If fake is successful, the opponent should cover their body up, or focus on their body rather than head. This means you can drop the leg to the floor and land a massive cross, or even super man punch.

  • Eyes– No I don’t mean striking with your eyes (although some scary people can make you feel like it with their stare). You can use you eyes to telegraph where you are going to strike, but you can also use them to deceive where you are going to strike. For example you can stare at their legs, but throw a high roundhouse.

 There are many fakes you can incorporate into your arsenal, but make sure you use them at right time, like you would with any other technique. It is important to apply correct fakes at correct range. You won’t fool anybody by faking elbows from the other side of the ring! Another big no no is to fake all the time. Do not throw a combination of five fakes and one actual punch. Good rule of thumb is to limit your fakes to maximum of two per combination. Also make sure you mix things up! Don’t consistently throw a fake 1st punch every time. This is a deception game where variety is the key. Foe example do not throw fakes at all in 1st round, then in 2nd round fake often and then fake sparingly in 3rd. Or mix it up even more!

 Fakes are a very useful tool that can help you gain that edge in a fight and lead up to very powerful techniques. Before you try them in competitions, try them out in sparring first and ask your instructor for more advice on them to maximise their effectiveness. Go on! Be that sneaky and awkward opponent that nobody wants to fight!

 Do you know of any other good fakes, or follow ups? Please share them in comments section!

 Article written by: Hubert Bieluczyk

How to overcome pre-fight anxiety

Silva knee stomps Leites (image from prommanow.com)

Your competition is soon! You feel tightness around stomach and chest, your head hurts. Your muscles feel weak and you are incredibly tired. In two days’ time you are going to have to fight. First you thought you will come out happy and relaxed and walk out with that win Rocky Balboa style, but now you somehow feel stressed and anxious. All competition fighters know that feeling. This is our body’s natural fight or flight response to prepare us to deal with this situation and even the best of best get those symptoms. Even the middleweight UFC champ and pound for pound best fighter admitted that he is scared when he walks into the octagon. You are not alone and never fear, as you are going to find out how to fight your inner self before fighting the opponent.

1.Your opponent is not out there for your blood-The opponent is there to have fun on the competition just like you and may also be nervous just like you (unless it’s a pro bout). Nobody is going to kill you and you won’t lose any limbs. You will be fine. Just relax and enjoy yourself!

2.Visualise- Visualise the whole fight. Visualise yourself putting gloves on, walking out, going through all the procedures before fight and visualise every single detail of your fight. Visualise yourself dishing out blows to your opponent and also yourself receiving some. Slow down, rewind and repeat whenever you feel appropriate. Visualise your stamina level and how you not going to be gassed if you fight relaxed. This will certainly reduce your anxiety and the technique itself is used by thousands of professional fighters around the globe.

3.Meditate- This is another really effective technique of reducing your stress levels. Meditation is based around the concept of clearing your thoughts and thinking processes therefore achieving total calmness relaxation and serenity. Start by sitting down, or lying down in comfortable position. Close your eyes and focus your mind on your heart beat (you can put your hands on your chest to feel the beat). Just focus on this feeling and try to stop thinking. If any thoughts intrude your mind, gently push them out. Continue to do so for next 5-10 minutes and then open your eyes. You should feel bit calmer if done correctly. At the beginning it may be very difficult to keep fighting those thoughts, but you will get better with practice and benefits will grow as well if you do it regularly.

These are my main tips on how to overcome pre fight anxiety or stress. Do you have any more techniques? Please share!

Article written by: Hubert Bieluczyk