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Skill acquisition

Theres seemingly a trend for many combat athletes to focus on the conditioning aspect of their sport.

With a focus on lifting weights and performing circuits and box jumps, all whilst aiming to increase rep range or decrease times. This is great of course and integral for any athlete aiming to a stellar performance and also hopefully a lengthy career.

They also spend lots of their time sparring and going ‘live’.

Again, great for timing and developing fitness for when it’s needed but there’s seemingly a worrying trend of little skill acquisition.

There are many pro fighters who don’t focus or develop plans alongside their coaches to garner new techniques and abilities and knowledge, to apply in their careers.

See, getting fit is of extreme importance in mma.

Conditioning is an extremely important attribute and one I don’t deny is extremely imperative at the entry level, never mind at the elite. But, for long careers, fighters need to be focusing on continual development and skills training.

All sports have a focus on skills work.

Footballers don’t just play games for 365 days of the year.

Basketball players continually practice skill work alongside the physical work required for their sport.

And mma and grappling in particular are extremely technique heavy sports too.

Progress of skill should be a constant endeavour and should be tracked.

We track our weight , we track our running times, our weights we lift, what we weigh, we track our resting heart rate and HRV but how many are keeping track on their skills and it’s development.

The scope of skills combat athletes need to learn and develop is vast. And time is extremely limited in opportune moments to learn, develop and progress in skills when too much focus is placed on other areas.

Granted, it’s much more fun and more enjoyable to be able to spar often, roll hard, lift weights and feel great but technically, we must apply that same discipline.

We should be developing, alongside our coaches, ways to improve key techniques, key positions and then implement them in to our live specific drills and sparring to then take over in to our live competition.

If martial arts is a sport you would like to continue for life and let’s be honest, it should be a lifelong study if you’d wish to be good, then as you age, skill is the only thing that will remain as your fitness and flexibility leave.

True, your strength will be the last thing to leave in attributes, so with better understanding of technique, even after injuries and surgeries and getting older you will still be able to feel confident in your technique when you spent time focusing on improvement.

The great thing about martial arts training is that there is always something new to learn.

When you have the basics down and have practiced and continue to do so with them it’s great to continually add new philosophies and techniques.

Playing with adding more techniques to your repertoire, continually adding and removing, refining each technique is one of the beauties of jiu jitsu and martial arts in general.



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