There has been a significant development with combat sports over the last century, and the cohesion of different artforms has meant that combat athletes are mastering grappling, and striking elements. Mixed Martial Arts has become the godfather of all combat sports, as each athlete will showcase their skills in one, or more of the main Martial Arts components.
What this article covers:
MMA is made up of four major concepts like striking, takedowns, control, and submission. This has paved the way for Arts like Wrestling, Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Kick Boxing to become the main styles of combat used in cohesion. In the modern era, striking has become critical in MMA matches, and employing kick boxing moves has driven the success rate for each individual athlete.
Striking Martial Arts are extremely dynamic, and hardcore styles like kick boxing are becoming increasingly popular to the mainstream athlete. There are many different forms of kick boxing, but in essence they all utilise the same core strengths. Footwork is used to allow an athlete into the right position in order to attack with punches, kicks, knee strikes, or elbows strikes. Most kick boxers are notoriously athletic, and will use fight intelligence to strategise their way into a dominant position. The hard impact of a shin whacking into an opponent's thigh is one of the most iconic actions in a kick boxers tool belt, and learning how to maximise their performance all comes down to how well they can integrate their training systems.
TRAINING IN COMBAT SPORTS
No athlete just wakes up, and becomes a world class striker, as all the best fighters of all time have had to work hard, and dedicate their life towards the improvement of their game style. Training is so important that the old masters would travel around Japan, and China, as they searched for different ways to employ self defense techniques. This led to the culmination of certain kick boxing workouts, after different forms of Chinese, and Japanese Kung Fu, Jujitsu, and Karate were all combined into a more potent artform. The innovation of the striking arts led to numerous forms of combat like Muay Thai Boxing, Savate, Shoot Fighting, Lethwei, Sanshou, and Japanese Kick Boxing.
Training in these types of Martial Combat has become critical to an athlete, especially for self defense purposes. The competition arena has also made significant inroads towards a more competitive form of combat. The importance of a good training method is crucial to the overall balance of an athlete's fighting systems, and athletes must be disciplined, and incorporate a mental, and physical toughness within their kick boxing training regimes. There are always different methods of training, and finding which pathway is the best for each individual athlete is one of the key components to increasing their overall skill set. Everyone learns differently, and training in certain technical systems can be applied in different ways. It comes down to each individual athlete, and how they feel they can improve their striking efficiency.
WARM UP CIRCUITS
Warming up is critical for all competitive sports, especially with the combat arts. All athletes will need to get their blood flowing within their body's system, and by performing exercises that increase their heart rate, and deliver oxygen to all of their muscles is a vital element. There are multiple ways that an athlete can warm up, and starting off with dynamic stretching is highly important. This may be jogging, skipping, side stepping, or jumping, along with many other dynamic exercises like star jumps, switch punch extensions, multi directional lunges, burpees, and rotational arm swings. These are all solid ways to get the blood pumping, and the heart beating, in order to delve into more deeper static stretches. This can mean limbering up the muscles that may be tight, or sore, and using stretches like a spinal twist, a cat stretch, a back extension, a shoulder flexion, or a hip flexor stretch can prepare the athlete for further kick boxing drills.
Shadow boxing is one of the best warm up exercises that a combat athlete can do. Shadow boxing is the act of circling around the mat, while evading an imaginary opponent, and throwing punches, and kicks into the air. This is a good way for athletes to warm up all of their systems in a non impactful way, as they begin to build core strategies in many different aspects of their kick boxing. What makes shadow boxing so critical is that this exercise will enable an athlete to compartmentalise many of the different components. This means to practice footwork in one drill, and coming back for a secondary drill where they can work on punching form. Segregating these elements of the shadow boxing regime will help an athlete to develop their skills significantly, before combining them all together into one more fluent form of striking.
SKILLS TRAINING CIRCUITS
Training circuits in kick boxing are vitally important for the improvement of every different aspect within the game. A good place to start is on the focus mitts, and even though these are designed specifically for boxing, the art of kick boxing uses many elements from the art of boxing. Athletes can sharpen up their striking skills by throwing punching combinations on the focus mitts, and a good trainer will employ a variety of different tactics to improve their evasive maneuvers. This means to throw straight punches for athletes to slip, duck under, or to block or parry when the trainer throws body shots. This type of training will develop the athlete's reaction time, and how they manage their counter strike ability. All good strikers must have a good kick boxing stance, and this is so they can strike with the right amount of speed, balance, and power. Athletes will be put through their paces on the focus mitts, as there are different ways to increase their striking efficiency. Running on the spot at high intensity, while throwing continuous strikes can be highly beneficial to the development of the athlete.
The Thai pads work differently to the focus mitts, and this is mainly because they are designed specifically for kick boxing. The Thai pads are thicker, longer, and more durable, meaning an athlete can throw hard kicks into these pads. This will mean an athlete can throw a range of kick boxing combos at full contact, and still duck and weave to avoid dangerous punches. Working on stamina exercises on the Thai pads can be a brutal workout, and this is commonly achieved by simulating a real fight, and setting up for five three minute rounds. Athletes will hit the Thai pads with a barrage of attacks, and work on many aspects like their hand, and shin conditioning, their punching accuracy, their evasive maneuvers, and how they counter attack, as well as their speed and power. Training drills like these are extremely important, and all athletes will sharpen up their attributes by working extensively on the Thai pads.
Boxing bags have been a part of striking Martial Arts for a long time, and using different bags for different purposes is one of the best uses of these resources. Standard boxing bags are great for working on an athlete's speed, and their punching form, and if the athlete has any minor injuries, then this bag is perfect to help with rehabilitation. The speed bag is used mainly in boxing, to help with an athlete's timing, and speed of punching, this will inevitably increase their reaction time. One of the main benefits of bag work is for an athlete to increase their power efficiency, and this can be done on the heavy bag. These types of bags can range anywhere from eighty to one hundred and twenty pounds, and are a great way of building strength within the punch, or the kick. Some good kick boxing tips are to practice circling around the bag, and visualise the bag is an opponent. This is a good way of practising getting in and out of range, while evading strikes, and landing punches, and kicks with significant force.
Kick shields are another highly reputable way of practicing kick boxing kicks. A kick shield is larger than a Thai pad, as it will enable a trainer to hold the kick shield up in a way where the athlete can administer many high calibre kicking techniques. Kick shields are used to practice more dangerous maneuvers like spinning back kicks, spinning hook kicks, question mark kicks, and powerful leg kicks. Some trainers will use kick shields that can be strapped around their waist, and this is good for an athlete to use their trainer like they are an opponent. This will allow the athlete to throw hard kicks, or hard punches into the body of the trainer, as they call out different combinations using the kick shields, or the Thai pads. Athletes can utilise continuous kicking regimes, where they may kick twenty times in a row, before switching to the other leg, and continuing the succession of kicks. This is a good way to build endurance within their kick, and also to correct their form when they are starting to tire out.
One of the most important training exercises that all combat athletes should be employing is agility workouts. Training in effective agility routines will significantly improve an athlete's flexibility, balance, and control. The importance of agility in combat sports is crucial to an athlete's attack systems, and will also help them to survive in daunting situations. Becoming more agile will mean an athlete can maintain a good postured alignment during their movements, as well as teaching the body the correct placement of all of their limbs. Using rope ladders, and side stepping through the rungs, while the athlete throws shadow boxing strikes, or hits the focus mitts, is an extremely important aspect of preparing the body for combat. In kick boxing, footwork is crucial, and athletes will need to know how to step, where to step, and when to step, so they can keep their structure, and posture intact. Increasing agility will help an athlete become extremely dynamic on their feet, which can result in a faster, and broader range of striking movements. This will also help the athlete to duck, and evade counter strikes, which can give them a greater opportunity at placing themselves into better positions to attack their opponents.
STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING CIRCUITS
High level combat sport athletes are constantly looking at new, and innovative ways to stay in front of the rest of the pack. In the modern era most athletes are increasing their overall level of strength and conditioning, and this will help them to become a formidable opponent inside of the ring. There are many benefits to increasing an athlete's strength and conditioning, and being capable of greater feats of strength can help to dictate how the fight will go. The stronger the athlete can become, the greater their ability is to avoid injuries. Injury prevention methods are extremely important, especially to the modern day athlete, and this is due to the high quality, and physical nature of combat athletes.
Most strength and conditioning circuits have many moving parts, and combining highly intense workout routines is a great way to improve their overall core strength. A common workout circuit would be starting with chin ups, and this will build upper body strength by developing the muscles in an athlete's upper back. Push ups are always on the list, and they will help to build significant strength, which can be used for more power behind a punch. Thrusting weights above an athlete's head, while using a squat will build explosive power, which is what all combat athletes require. Strengthening the deltoids in the shoulders are crucial, and by lifting kettlebells in an overhead press, this will help a kick boxer to always fight with their hands up. Deadlifts are pivotal for all combat sports, and building core strength that activates an athlete's glutes, hamstrings, lower back muscles, and their core will help them to maintain a stronger posture. One of the most overrated strength exercises is a burpee, and this full body exercise will require an athlete to jump up in the air, sprawl backwards, and do a push up. This will help to simulate explosiveness when an athlete is fatigued.
Some athletes will use more old school methods of training their bodies for combat. Lifting a truck tyre, and flipping it over and over, can be a great way to increase the athlete's explosive power. Another good method is by simply laying the truck tyre flat on the ground, and wailing into it with a sledgehammer. Farmers walks are another highly reputable training workout, which incorporates the athlete to hold two heavy weights, like a twenty five kilogram drum filled with sand, and simply walk them for a designated amount of time. Lunges are another great way to build significant strength within an athlete, and doing them while holding a kettlebell can be even more instrumental. A good way to build strength is to pass the kettlebell through the athlete's leg, as they execute their lunging movement. Another good workout method is to strap a weighted vest around the athlete, and to simply engage in sprinting exercises. Incorporating all of these elements into one circuit can be quite grueling, but the benefits the athlete will sustain in terms of strength and conditioning, is unparalleled.
Most problems that competitive athletes will face is staying motivated for the long term. Combat sports can be extremely taxing on an athlete's body, and it can also take a heavy toll on the athlete mentally. Trying to keep up their level of motivation doesn't always work out the way that they plan, so they need to take considerable measures so they can remain on track. Becoming a professional fighter is all about confidence, and motivation, and once an athlete is feeling the sting of mental laziness it may become hard to recover, and get back in shape. Finding something that motivates the athlete is crucial to being successful inside of the ring, or the cage. Whether this is an athlete fighting for someone they love who has passed, or whether they are fighting for reputation, or to put food on the table, each athlete has their own motivations that drive them. The most important part is staying on track, and making sure they are highly motivated, with a good balance between their training, their rest, and their pleasure.
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