Taking Ownership of your Development as a Fighter

Taking Ownership of your Development as a Fighter

By Allan Blackett

When entering competition in combat sports, the importance of taking ownership of your development as a fighter cannot be overstated. Whether you’re into Muay Thai, Boxing, BJJ, or any other discipline, success extends far beyond just showing up to class and practicing monotonously. It’s about being fluid, adaptable, and fully engaged in the process of your own growth and training, taking on a mindset of commitment and proactive engagement with one's training routine and development as a fighter – a philosophy that separates the dedicated from the casual.

Why Taking Initiative Matters

Competing in combat sports is not the place for the half-hearted or the uncommitted; it's a very challenging endeavor which can be brutal and oftentimes unforgiving. For spectators, it may be entertainment, but for fighters, it’s an intensely personal challenge that tests every facet of their physical, mental, and spiritual being.

It's a demanding journey that requires commitment to constantly refine, learn, and adapt, which is vital for a fighter's growth. Learning quickly is the only way to improve, thrive, and survive in combat sports.

"I believe the path to being the best is through the cultivation of skill and the relentless pursuit of knowledge and improvement."

― Georges St-Pierre

Importance of Self-Assessment

A crucial component of taking ownership of your training is the ability to self-assess. Identifying and rectifying your own weaknesses, such as bad habits and mistakes, is fundamental for your growth as a fighter. To correct bad habits and mistakes effectively, it’s essential to:

  • Identify your mistakes: Acknowledge areas needing improvement.
  • Correct them: Implement changes or seek guidance to help address these issues.
  • Drill them out: Consistently practice the corrected techniques to ingrain them.
  • Evaluate your results: Continuously review your progress to ensure the changes are effective and adjust as necessary.

The mental aspect of fighting is equally crucial as well. If you find yourself fighting in a state of panic, reacting impulsively rather than strategically, you’d know that your emotional discipline needs work. Developing strategies (such as deep breathing or visualization before a fight) to remain calm and focused under pressure, along with reflecting on your responses during sparring sessions, can help identify triggers and patterns of panic. Conversely, a tendency to fight too passively may signal a lack of confidence or fear of taking risks. In this case, working on assertiveness and building a mindset that embraces rather than avoids challenges can transform your fighting approach.

Every fighter is different; identifying gaps in your skills and diligently working to fill them is what leads to real growth. This process requires brutal honesty, humility, and the initiative to focus on the necessary areas for improvements. It's about understanding that believing in yourself, while essential, must be paired with a constant effort to evolve and refine all aspects of your game.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Stepping out of your comfort zone

Comfort is the enemy of progress. To excel in combat sports, you must push beyond your comfort zones from how you normally do things. This may include:

  • Identifying areas where you feel least confident and deliberately putting yourself in positions during training to work on these.
  • Seeking new sparring partners outside of your gym with diverse skill sets or higher experience, pushing you to adapt and strategize differently.

Professional fighters serve as prime examples of this. They take ownership of their training by consistently seeking ways to refine their skills both in and out of the gym. They analyze sparring footage, study fights and techniques online, and reflect on their personal strengths and weaknesses.

This approach, valuable at both the amateur and professional levels, highlights the importance of thinking beyond conventional training methods and embracing a targeted, tailored approach to development. Learning from the pros, amateurs can adopt the same strategies.

"The more you are willing to step out of your comfort zone, the more you will learn about yourself and your capacity to grow in technique, strength, and spirit."

― Rickson Gracie

Ultimately, owning your development as a fighter means embracing growth through self-assessment, pushing boundaries, and continual improvement. Success in combat sports is about the journey as much as the destination. Hope this helps.

By Allan Blackett
Fighter, Personal Trainer, Student of the Game



3 Effective Ways to Drastically Improve Your Fighting Skills

3 Effective Ways to Drastically Improve Your Fighting Skills

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.


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:


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.


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


The warm-up process before your fight

The warm-up process before your fight

The following is a template Coach Marlon uses for his competitive youth team.  We call it the 5 bout rule to getting warm for your competition match.

5 bouts before your bout

Get up and start start "dynamic" warm up. This is where you get up and start moving your body. No need to shadowbox here, just get up, walk around, arm circles, criss-cross your arms & hug yourself, tap your face, open jaw etc. You want to just get the blood going but take it easy.

4 bouts before your bout

Get your heart rate up by skipping or any body weight cardio exercises like mountain climbers, squats, jumping jacks etc. 

3 bouts before your bout

Shadowbox and fight visualization. This is not the time to strategize a new game plan or overthink anything. We use this time to visualize how we want to fight, practice your bread and butter combos, visualize your defensive move, your counters, your attacks.  Let your mind relax.

2 bouts before your bout 

Gear up and get ready for pad work with the coach/cornerman.  Warm-up with haste.  You never know, there might be consecutive knockouts in those matches before you and you might be up fighting earlier than anticipated.

1 bout before your bout

Finish putting gear on, have a sip of water and walk to the staging area. If the coach needs to say something to you, this is where we may have a final pep talk.

Feel free to adjust, add, and make it yours.  Give yourself some margin of safety with time so you don’t get caught going onto stage cold!

Hope that helps.


Rituals to deal with anxiety from competition and sparring

Rituals to deal with anxiety from competition and sparring

What makes competition and sparring so scary?  Let me tell you, it’s the unknown.  Anxiety stems from the lack of control and anticipation over the situation and the outcome. So what should you do?!  Control what you can, and embrace what you cannot.  Pre-fight rituals (or pre-spar rituals) is one tactic that I use to help me calm my nerves before going into competition.

A pre-fight ritual is a set series of tasks/activities that you do each time before entering the stage to perform.  


Rituals work because amidst all the unknown associated with competition, rituals have the ability to ground you with the power of familiarity and therefore put the element of control in your own hands.  Familiarity is built by the consistent reenactment of these rituals over time so take the time to practice and get acquainted with them.


Before every BJJ competition I go through a very specific set of rituals.  I usually arrive 1.5 hours before my bracket.  45 min before my 1st match, I like to leave the competition area and find a quiet spot somewhere away from the action.  I put on my headset, play some calming instrumental music and close my eyes for 25 minutes.  I focus on deep breaths and empty my mind.  At times, I even doze off.  I wake up to the sound of the alarm with 25 minutes to go; I start putting on  finger tape.  The process of wrapping my fingers is extremely important for my psyche.  I do not rush the process.  I stay in the moment with each wrap and soak in all my feelings.  Once all my fingers are taped, I get up and start my warm-up routine, which consist of a few sets of mouth clenches, jumping jacks, and burpees.   I head toward the mats 10 minutes before go time.

What happens in a fight is unpredictable and chaotic, so I try not to make too many predictions nor do I try to control the outcome. I try only to control what I can, and that’s the pre-fight rituals which I do my very best to replicate the same each time.  This puts me back in the driver’s seat.     


The set of rituals you chose should be specific to you.  Get creative and create your own routine.  Rituals can be done 30 minutes, 2 hours, or even a day before performance.  Just remember that you should try to keep the process as similar as possible each time you do it.

Ideas for Rituals:

  • Listening to music (should be the same every time)
  • Meditating
  • Calling a friend, or loved one
  • Taking a nap
  • Taking a series of deep breaths
  • Going for a walk
  • Eating a muffin
  • Watching the same TV show or movie 

Now go take what’s yours.

-Coach Bao



Master list of muay thai combos

Master list of muay thai combos

Have you ever been lost with what combos to throw on the bags or pads?  The coaches here at Legacy have put together some of their favorite muay thai combos.  They are very basic, yet they work at the highest levels of competition. Don't just glance over them, study them, and know them well.

Don't forget to read our related blogpost called "CREATING MUAY THAI COMBOS."

Lets dive into it.

Major Single Strike Attacks

  1. Jab
  2. Cross
  3. Rear up elbow
  4. Lead up elbow
  5. Rear side elbow
  6. Lead side elbow
  7. Rear swing kick
  8. Lead swing kick (switch kick)
  9. Rear low kick
  10. Rear pushkick
  11. Lead pushkick
  12. Rear knee
  13. Lead knee (switch knee)



  • Parrying punches
  • Blocking against punches
  • Shin blocks against kicks
  • Arm-shield Blocks against kicks
  • Dracula guard
  • Catching kicks


Counter Strikes

  • Parry any punch to swing kick counter
  • Parry any punch to straight knee counter
  • Shin block to swing kick counter
  • Counter the cross with a rear swing kick or rear low kick
  • Counter the jab with a switch kick


Basic Punching Combos

*all hooks are lead hooks

*all jabs or crosses can be substituted for uppercuts

  • Jab, cross
  • Jab, cross, jab, cross
  • Jab, cross, hook
  • Jab, cross, hook, cross
  • Jab, jab, cross
  • Jab, cross, lead body hook
  • Fake jab, cross, lead hook


Elbow Focused Combos

  • Lead up elbow, rear side elbow
  • Lead side elbow, rear up elbow
  • Jab, lead up elbow, rear side elbow
  • Pull down opponent guard and side elbow
  • Jab, cross, lead side elbow,rear up elbow (important to close distance)
  • Jab, cross, lead side elbow, rear up elbow (important to close distance)


Kick Focused Combos

  • Jab, cross, hook, rear swing kick
  • Jab, rear swing kick
  • Jab, cross, switch lead kick
  • Cross, switch lead kick
  • Cross, hook, rear swing kick
  • Hook, cross, lead swing kick
  • Jab, jab, cross, swing kick
  • Jab, lead uppercut, cross, switch kick
  • Inside lead kick, cross
  • Jab, body cross, lead hook, low kick
  • Lead teep, rear swing kick *2
  • Rear swing kick, lead teep
  • Cross, switch kick*2

Low Kick Focused Combos

  • Jab, rear low kick
  • Jab, cross, hook, low kick
  • Cross, hook, low kick
  • Jab-hook, low kick
  • Rear upper, hook, low kick


Teep focused Combos 

  • Jab, lead teep, jab fake lead teep -> any rear weapon after that works based on range.
  • Jab, rear swing kick, lead teep
  • Teep, fake teep, rear swing kick (or low)
  • Jab, lead teep, rear face teep
  • Swing kick, fake swing kick to rear teep

*Side note - timing teeps (lead especially) vs swing kicks is very important.

Establishing an effective teep leads to many opportunities to step a a variety of combinations for all range of weapons

Knee Focused Combo 

  • Cross, rear knee
  • Jab, switch knee
  • Jab, cross, switch knee
  • Left hook rear knee
  • Cross, hook, rear knee
  • Lead teep, fake lead teep, rear knee

*knees are great counters after blocking kicks or parrying punches, example:

  • Parry jab to rear knee
  • Parry cross to switch knee
  • Either side shin block against kicks to either side knee


Combos Starting with a Kick

  • Rear swing kick, cross
  • Switch kick, cross
  • Switch kick, cross, hook, low kick
  • Lead push kick, rear swing kick
  • Rear push kick, lead swing kick