Improvements in striking and BJJ through Drilling

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Another week has come and gone here in Rio, and with it has come another week of memories that will last a lifetime. As I get closer and closer to hitting the one year mark in Rio, I can’t help but reflect on all the great experiences (both on and off the mat) that I have had. It’s an exciting time to be in Brazil and who knows what great adventures lay ahead.

Week in Training
It was a busy week for me personally, but I still made time to get in a ton of quality sessions. As a result of the recent string of successful fights by the MMA team I am working with, the team has grown which means more great athletes to train with. For wrestling we worked chain wrestling heavily. The theory behind chain wrestling is simple yet crucial to the art of taking someone down. Many times ones initial takedown may be defended, so it is crucial to be able to switch to a different attack as soon as possible. The more effortlessly you are able to change from one attack to another (and sometimes to yet another) the higher the likelihood that you will be able to finish the takedown. We worked these chain series both in the middle of the cage, using different leg attacks, and also against the cage. For cage work we chained together pummeling and cage reversals into leg attacks with various finishes.

I really feel like I have started step up my striking game (not to say I still don’t take some punishment). Every striking session starts off with 15-20 minutes of pure footwork drills. When I first started working with the coaches I felt awkward and not used to the movement styles. But lately I’ve started to move more fluidly and stay relaxed. With the added confidence in my movement I have noticed two big differences: 1. A large improvement in my defense 2. Opening up of my striking game.

For the first time I am starting to defend kicks and slip punches with head movement. While it’s still a work in progress it is really nice to not eat every single punch or leg kick thrown at me. With the improvement in defense and relaxing in movement, I’ve noticed more openings to strike. I am working in more body shots and leg kicks with my combos; which is keeping my sparring partners guessing more and more importantly helping me to land clean strikes.
With the busy week I didn’t get a chance to make it to Nova Uniao for BJJ, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get some great jiujitsu work in. On Tuesday Dennis and I drilled on the CR mats for close to two hours, working different submission series and positions. After a training session with Dennis I always feel a little bit more confident in my game and enlightened about BJJ. Throughout the week I got in several more drill sessions with the guys at the house, repping out techniques, and doing movement drills. While I didn’t getting in to any formal classes it was nice to sit and work on a few things I wanted/needed to work to solidify my game.
.For the last couple of weeks I have been training closely with Carlos Moyano who is here from Columbia. As I have said before Carlos is an accomplished striker, who has an impressive 12-0 (all stoppages) in MMA. Though there is a bit of a language barrier we are working through it and have gotten some great training in. One of the biggest things he has had to say on training here in Brazil is the high caliber of training partners. He has commented several times on how he has never had a more complete group of fighters to train with than here in Rio. The high level of training here has already allowed Carlos to improve his game to a higher level. He has caught on to the wrestling defense that he has been shown and has begun to use that to keep sparring sessions on the feet where he feels most comfortable. This past week we spent time working on ground-and-pound defense and offense, as well as throwing on the kimono to improve our BJJ skills. He is strong, explosive, hardworking, and smart. On the path that he is on Carlos will be an even greater force to be reckoned with. I am glad to have him here as a training partner.

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