Martial arts flow drills are but one way, there are multiple ways to train martial arts and over the next few weeks I’ll cover some of them.
All are useful, some you’ll prefer. But don’t just stick with the ones you like. Get out of your comfort zone and grind it out.
Martial Arts Flow Drills – Tools to enhance
Flow drills can be used in all arts, kickboxing, Jiu-Jitsu, Self defence and so on.
What I personally like about flow drills is once you have the drill memorised. You have the freedom to flow and see opportunities inside the work. When you are shown new work, techniques etc, you are too busy just trying to remember where your hands should be or remember to breathe. If you train you know what I mean eh.
Martial Arts Flow Drills – The basics
I’ll use a Self-defence MMA example here.
In pairs, it would go something like this. Strikes, takedown, ground position, counter, strikes on ground, submission, escape, back to feet. REPEAT left and right reference.
Now we have the flow we can begin to study
Martial Arts Flow Drills – Study time
Once the drill basics are memorised you are free to flow. Now once you are flowing you’ll see things appear. Your mind free’s up enabling you to see things you’d normally miss.
It’s a wonderful learning experience if you relax and go with it. Now finding a great training partner who’s not trying to crush you is the hardest bit.
Martial Arts Flow Drills – Royalise it all as my BJJ coach John Will says
We have the flow drill, we are finding things we couldn’t see before. Now what?
Now we take out one part of the drill, say an armbar. We work on the armbar until every detail is world class. We drill it in isolation thousands of times.
Then when its Olympic gold standard we drop it back into the flow drill. A wonderful thing now happens. The rest of the drill looks shabby in comparison. Like when you buy a new pair of shoes and your clothes look scruffy, the nightmare of many an old punk rocker. So what to do?
Royalise the lot, over time you make the flow drill world class, do that and hey presto you’re getting good.
A simple list of must-read books if you’re interested in performance and improvement for self and others.
By no means complete, there are many many others
Carol Dweck- Mindset
“Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.”
Matthew Syed – Bounce
‘I love this book. A must-read if you have ever wondered what sets the super-achievers and the rest of us apart – in any field, not just in sport. I only wish I had read it when I was fifteen.’Gabby Logan, BBC presenter and former international gymnast
Daniel Coyle – The Talent Code
Talent. You’ve either got it or you haven’t.’ Not true, actually.
Daniel Coyle – The Little Book Of Talent
“The Little Book of Talent” should be given to every graduate at commencement, every new parent in a delivery room, every executive on the first day of work. It is a guidebook–beautiful in its simplicity and backed by hard science–for nurturing excellence.”—Charles Duhigg, bestselling author of “The Power of Habit”
Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers
Why do some people achieve so much more than others? Can they lie so far out of the ordinary? Malcolm Gladwell looks at everyone from rock stars to scientific geniuses to show that the story of success is far more surprising, and inspiring, than we ever imagined.
It can seem overwhelming at times. You don’t know what to do first, is it correct and how do you know?
Let’s look at nutrition, it’s a minefield out there, where to begin?
Making Changes – What’s your output?
First off what are you outputting? Are you running three marathons a week or sofa surfing?
I’ve seen many people crash and burn who train hard then ramp up the routine. Say for a competition, they often neglect the nutrition which of course needs to meet training requirements.
So if you’re training as a hobby 2-4 hours a week. Then simply clean up your food, eat non processed food and cut out the rubbish, you know what that is.
Making Changes – Fuel source
Let’s be clear, I’m no expert though I do deal with lots of people training hard and helping them find the correct balance. We do ok.
I always start with this. What are your ratios of carbs, protein and fat?
We work on this for some weeks until we find good energy levels
Then we add fasting, super simple. Don’t eat after 6-7pm and breakfast 9-10am
Making Changes – Repair time
So while your fasting/sleeping your body has time to recover. This is when the important work is done.
Increase in muscle mass from fasting has been well documented and the evidence is available on that.
While fasting/sleeping your body goes through various stages of repair and recovery that are important if you are training hard. Even if you’re not, it’s important.
Making Changes – Takes time
This is where most fail. It takes time.
Let’s say you have been living in doughnuts and coffee for 10 years. Then every cell in your body has been created from that fuel source. It’s going to take time to change and the effects will be small over time. Sometimes so small you won’t feel it. That doesn’t mean it’s not working.
Every single cell in your body will regenerate in the next seven years. You are physically a completely different person. Eating well and looking after yourself is not a quick fix. Eat well for the next 10 years and every single cell you are made of has been made on a different fuel than the doughnut 10.
Hopefully you feel amazing, either way, you are building a Formula 1 car not a banger racer that you scarp after one race.
How Gradings Work – At Function First Martial Arts
Every now and then a student will ask about gradings. Or why there are people in an advanced group and they are not. We figure if one is asking then many more are thinking the same. So we feel we’re not getting the message across well enough.
Heres an attempt to address that
How Gradings Work – Process
Grades are every three months
Year 1 = Yellow – Red – Orange – Green Grades
Year 2 = Blue and above grades
Little Vipers age 5-8. This is nice and simple, we don’t pressure the kids at this age too much. Vipers need to complete twelve classes, so once a week between grades.
Cadets aged 9-14.
Year one is like the little vipers. Once a week meaning twelve classes between grades is sufficient.
Year 2. Now we ramp up the pressure a little. In year two cadets really need to be training twice a week and averaging 24 classes between grades. Kids who train once a week at this level struggle to retain the information so we grade them every 6-9 months. Unfortunately they fall behind a little, and this often develops into a defeatist attitude. They often seem to lose interest and leave. If we look at all our year three cadets virtually 100% of them train two or more times a week. Those who stick with it the longest are the ones who experience the growth and benefits.
Adults. All adult classes require a minimum of 2 classes a week to grade.
It is worth pointing out that those that train twice a week develop the skills at a much faster rate than those who train once a week. We have some kids that train 6 hours a week and compete, I think it goes without saying. Their confidence and attitude are unlike other kids of their age. They are formidable capable young people who walk shoulders back and head held high.
How Gradings Work – What counts?
Class attendance is important as it develops good habits. Though this alone is not enough, we grade on attitude and work ethic.
In year one for all our students, we are fairly relaxed. We want you to figure out if this is something you wish to take seriously. The work becomes more complex in year two and one class a week is no longer sufficient to remember the work.
Now we understand that some simply cannot make it in more than once a week. If it’s other hobbies getting in the way or were getting in the way of other hobbies. Then we advise picking one and studying deep as the benefits are profound if you allow them to be.
Of course one hour a week is better than none, though two hours a week is a 100% improvement. Twice the growth in a year, well actually it’s like compound interest. It exponentially develops so you end up accelerating your learning at a much faster rate over time.
Exactly the same as if you put £100 a week into a savings account and I put £200 in. After one year I would have more than double because of interest, over time this makes a massive difference.
A £10,000 investment with a 20% return each month over 3 years earns you over £20,000,000 yes 20 million pounds.
Martial arts repetitions are exactly the same.
How Gradings Work – Don’t grade?
So if you don’t grade then you stay in year one of our syllabus and repeat the same work. This, of course, is fine, it just means you never get to progress to the more complex work and close quarter clinch work of the kickboxing for example.
Once you have completed all four grades you move into the next group and cover the more advanced work from the syllabus.
Its an old cliche but there is some truth to it. Jack of all trades master of none.
Master one and you have insight into the self that others do not. You grasp concepts and see patterns that give you an edge in life.
Self Defence Lincoln The Un Real Deal – We hear it all the time
If you train self-defence then you have heard this a million times
“My self-defence is the most realistic”
“Insert system here, is the best self-defence there is”
Self Defence Lincoln The Un Real Deal – Question
So yours is the best, exactly how many systems have you trained in and how do you actually decide?
It’s like every coffee shop in the world has the poster in the window
Its true i tell you
Self Defence Lincoln The Un Real Deal – Tested
So every other sport pretty much has a league or a title belt or a gold medalist etc. We have measurement systems in place to decide what actually is or who is the best in the world and it’s as good as it gets currently. Like it or not there are winners and losers and there are ultimate champions and to take that belt, the trophy from them you have to beat them.
Self Defence Lincoln The Un Real Deal – Be nice
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing other systems. I love most of the other arts that are about, I’ve trained in many. Though when i hear thee statements, it’s like saying “I have the greatest toenail clipping system in the world, I’m the best there is” It sort of means nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Self Defence Lincoln The Un Real Deal – Enjoyment
If you are enjoying the training, breaking a sweat and having fun then you’re onto a good thing. Building friendships and camaraderie are important and much lacking as adults.
So don’t try to measure the unmeasurable, be happy your active and humble
If you really want to find out what works simply apply to compete in “name an art” and see how you do, win or lose it’s all good.
There are a few tools you can use to help control heart rate. Here are 2.
Meditation – This can help to not get caught up in the emotion. Meditation is an amazing tool to develop mental strength. You see your thoughts and you recognise you are not thinking them. You then develop the skill to not attach to them. Stress levels can go through the roof when confronted by an opponent or a threat. To focus and calm the mind with skills developed through meditation gives you a huge advantage
Sparring – This is sort of obvious though there are a few schools of thought on this. We basically work like this. 100 training sessions are light technical sparring and 1 session is tough intense sparring. So we operate a 100/1 ratio in our sparring classes. This helps develop the skills needed to spar safely and build confidence. After that its simply more time on the mats sparring, keeping that ego in check. Not getting too stressed and overwhelmed.
We hope this was helpful, in the end there are no shortcuts. More time on the mats surrounded by the right people builds confidence. This helps with stress levels and this improves not only combat but in all of life when mastered.
In the late 1990’s I was cross training in kickboxing, traditional Jiu-Jitsu and Keysi Fighting method which on its own was a mixture of arts. I was introduced to something called Vale Tudo by my good friend Tony Davis who around that time was travelling far and wide to train with little-known fighters such Antônio Rogério Nogueira.
Since them what we now know as MMA has completely transformed and exploded into the mainstream with such epic theatrical productions such as the Connor McGregor vs Mayweather fight. This fight is reported to have generated around $400,000,000 that’s half a billion nearly which I hope you agree is insane.
MMA Lincoln Fight Team
At Function First MMA Lincoln we entered the arena in 2000 and had some fantastic fights. Stu Smith one of our coaches won his first amateur fight in Peterborough and the following few years we learnt some important lessons and gained some valuable experience.
Stu after his first win
MMA Lincoln Journey
In our early days, we used to teach all the groundwork, takedown and striking in a one-hour class. But soon realised that regular students making it in two nights a week were struggling to pick up the work. So after some deliberation, we split classes into striking and grappling, MMA Lincoln.
It worked out better than we expected. Students that could only attend two nights a week could now train one hour in our striking class and one hour in our jiu MMA Lincoln class and the results spoke for themselves.
It also meant we had students who preferred the striking and those that enjoyed the grappling more. So we catered for those people also
MMA Lincoln Process
So within the first two years, our striking classes bred two K1 Titleholders and several solid fight team members. Starting at interclubs and working up to the bigger shows.
We are now building a solid fight team though it’s worth mentioning. We are not what I would call a fighters academy. Most of our students train for fun and fitness and the multiple benefits of martial arts. Both off the mats as on the mats.
Our fight team make up around 10% of our members. That seems a great balance at this point in time.
If you’re not familiar with the Tim Ferris podcast and you are interested in excellence and patterns of the successful, then I recommend checking him out.
He dissects world class sports people, chess champions, billionaire business people to actors artists and writers. As we know measures of success are subjective, though it does appear that there are some things that nearly all successful people do consistently, and one of those things is goals.
Martial Arts Gradings – Outliers
Now as with everything there are outliers that don’t fit and in fact, go completely against the grain. But we won’t focus on them in this article on martial arts gradings.
So in the hundreds of hours and interviews dissecting world-class performers, goal setting appear over and over again.
Goals give you something to aim towards, like the holiday you are going on and want that tan or six-pack before you go. Or the wedding coming up and you want to fit into that dress. These are all goals and in fact, they are goals with a specific date and time. which to some people are quite stressful.
You can also have fluffy goals with a looser date and time. These are not such a specific target that can be shifted so not so stressful. So you could aim to lose between 1-2 kg by the end of June to July giving you some slack and taking the stress out of it.
Martial Arts Gradings – Off the mats as on the mats
Martial arts gradings are goals. They have a specific date with certain skills that need to be met, though these are different for each person. We are all different and express our movements differently, a good coach understands this. We’re not churning out replicas and killing creativity and self-expression here.