By Allan Blackett
Everyone wants to advance and jump into fighting at a level higher than their current one. We want to get good at fighting quickly, thus often rushing the process.
Let's first be realistic though—you're not going to go from zero to hero in just a few months. Improving your fighting ability will always require hard work and lots of patience. You can train hard with max effort all the time, but you can also train smart.
Let's talk about the smart ways.
1 - TRAIN AND RETRAIN THE FUNDAMENTALS AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN
Everything in any given discipline relies on having a solid fundamental base. The greatest fighters in history all relied on their most basic skills to put together the most amazing performances in the ring.
This means you as a developing fighter must make an effort to consistently practice and drill the fundamentals repeatedly over your fighter career.
Through consistent practice, the body stores information on frequently repeated motions, which then becomes instinct. This allows you to execute strikes automatically without thought or plan, and also allows you to move and fight more efficiently.
Once you firmly grasp the fundamentals of offense and defense and it has been hardwired into your instincts, your techniques and combinations will become faster and more natural. With minimal mistakes, you can seamlessly flow through complex maneuvers, showcasing the true essence of your fighting ability. (edited)
Even if you are experienced, it never hurts to go over the basics so you don’t get sloppy. Identify technical errors and flaws in your maneuvers, and strive to correct them.
Which brings me to my second point:
2 - IDENTIFY AND WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESSES
This is something I’ve been doing a lot throughout the years of my martial art journey; Identifying my weaknesses and working to improve on them every time at the gym. Start with 2-3 weaknesses at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many things you have to work on. For example, if you find yourself having a hard time checking kicks, with a sparring partner, ask him/her to mostly throw kicks at you, and work on checking kicks.
You may notice that you are too predictable when you throw your strikes, which leads to you getting countered often. If this is the case, for the next sparring session, focus on making yourself more unpredictable by throwing more feints or mix up your strikes (high/low). This will help make you less predictable for counters.
You get the idea.
Develop awareness for where your weaknesses lie and work on them over and over again until they no longer become an area where your opponent cannot exploit. If you work on your weaknesses enough, they may just become your strength.
3 - STUDY FIGHTERS
One of the methods that I use that drastically improved my fighting skills is by studying fighters.
Going back to point #2 on addressing your weaknesses with regards to getting counter attacked, watching fighters like Israel Adesanya can give you ideas on how to improve. You may notice how Israel utilizes a lot of fakes and feints mixing up his strikes, always trying to make his offense less predictable, thus reducing the potential of him getting easily countered. You can examine how he does this, practice this at home, or at the gym, and apply it in your next sparring session.
This is just one example. You may watch a fight and really like the way a particular fighter throws combinations that you would love to add to your game. Open your repertoire of techniques by looking at new fighters and learn from them.Experiment, try things out, have fun with it. Use what works for you, discard what doesn’t, and develop a unique style for yourself.
“Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee.
To close things off, I strongly believe that the most important thing about training isn't where you train or who you train with; it's how you train. While some might say that good fighters come from the best, most prestigious gyms, I really believe that all truly great fighters come from within, from their own hard work and dedication to their craft.
Hopefully, this helps.
By Allan Blackett
Fighter, Personal Trainer, Student of the Game