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Training Diary: March 25

Back to training, and the key word for today: kicks. Right kick to the body, left kick to the body. Two right kicks, fast on top of each other. Two right kicks, switch, two left kicks. Working various manner of right/left combinations leads me to a few observations.

First, the ability to quickly switch stances and to control how you bring your leg down after a kick is huge. I admire that ability to look effortless in your switch to a south paw stance and immediately throw the left kick. I’m definitely not there yet, as I can execute the switch and kick, but it’s so deliberate and telegraphed that an opponent would see it coming a mile away and I would never get the kick off. But that’s what drills are for. The other aspect of this footwork that eludes me is bringing your foot back down in a different position then when you threw the kick. Example: throwing a left kick from the back leg, then bringing your left leg down in the lead position in order to immediately throw a right kick. This sounds obvious and simple, but there’s something about the weight distribution that I find very challenging. Perhaps I need to get all boxing style on it and work jump rope and things to get lighter on my feet. As with all of this training, it really makes you appreciate when you see someone like Giorgio Petrosyan who is an absolute master of footwork.

The other big question for me this week was finding the right balance between keeping your guard up and using your hands to help give you power when kicking. This is a tough line to find, and it’s one I recall The Voice discussing on more than one occasion during fights. Particularly for Muay Thai, there is a tendency to chop with your hand as you throw a kick in order to add some extra power and torque to the kick. And this is naturally what your body wants to do – try throwing a kick while covering your head and your hands will naturally drop to help push that kick through. But the downside is obvious – dropping that hand exposes the head, and against an opponent with good timing, this is an easy way to get yourself KO’d. So how do you find that balance? For me, the big thing I am working on in this area is simply getting the hand back up to guard as fast as possible, and maybe that’s the answer. But I’d be curious to hear from those more experienced if this is an area they think about at all.

Last kicking note – on a personal level, one thing I need to work on is my range. I’m pretty tall (6’4”) and want to use that height to my advantage, but I still haven’t figured out quite the right range for my kicks. As a result, I don’t always catch the pads just right, which throws me off balance, and frankly, just looks embarrassing. Got to keep at it and find that range.

Speaking of embarrassing – I suffered my first (very minor) injury today. Nothing bad, just a bruised or sprained or some word that is slightly less than broken, but still discolored and painful toe. And how did I get this injury? From improper technique on a kick? Better yet, from using so much power on the kick that my toe simply could not stand the force? Nope, I snagged it on the edge of the mat when dropping down for a push up. This is not exactly the kind of training injury I envisioned, and is unlikely to wow you with my dedication, but hey, I’m here to tell you what happened – even if it is a bit on the humiliating side. Now off to get some tape before next time.

Training Diary is a weekly series documenting my journey starting Muay Thai training. For more on this series, read the first entry here. I train at Conviction Fitness & Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL www.convictionfitness.com.

 

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The Voice Versus Wanderlei Silva; A Look at the Axe Murderer

(C) SusumuThere are very few MMA fighters that I consider an all-time favorite of mine, as I tend to prefer the exciting, intelligent striker who can handle himself on the ground. There are a lot of good strikers who have made the move to MMA, but a lot tend to play it safe or have no real ground game to speak of, but then there is Wanderlei Silva. Wanderlei did not make a huge impression on me at first in his UFC fights, he was pretty good at the time, but the Tito Ortiz fight was enough to make me forget about him for a while.

So you can only imagine how I felt in 2001, yeah over a year later, when I saw him again in PRIDE and saw the absolutely path of carnage and destruction that lay in his path; I was hooked. The wrist roll, the stare of a madman, the crazy, brawling Chute Boxe Muay Thai and the ability to defend himself on the ground and work his way back to his feet to continue to symphony of violence. From 2000 until 2005 Wanderlei Silva was an absolute machine. If there ever was a fighter that I could get behind it was Wanderlei Silva.

As I'm sure you can imagine, since he moved over to a much more local fight scene in the United States, it has been a lot more difficult to be a Wanderlei Silva fan. Since his return to the UFC Wanderlei has a 2 - 3 record with only one knockout under his belt and doesn't seem to be moving as fast or hitting as hard. Lot's of people will say that Wanderlei was simply not that great, as he is a mere 34 years old right now, but to that I argue the man started his fighting career training at age 13 and was fighting within the next year of his life and has not slowed down since. He peaked before moving to the UFC and you have to be comfortable with that.

Enter the Voice Versus Wanderlei Silva. The latest in HDnet's interview series with Michael Schiavello. Unlike Fighting Words with Mike Straka, which tends to err on the side of serious journalism, the Voice Versus is a more friendly sit-down interview style that feels like a conversation between old friends. It doesn't matter if Schiavello has only met each fighter in passing or is good friends with him, his demeanor, tone and candor makes it so fighters can feel at home with him, as does his knowledge of each fighter's history and of tall tales. There is nothing different when it comes to the Wanderlei Silva episode as he discusses coming up in Brazil, the origins of his name, that Jiu-Jitsu photo of him being lovingly embraced by Shogun Rua and Wanderlei customizing Schiavello's head with a Team WS tattoo.

What really comes through loud and clear is how nice of a guy Wanderlei is, he talks about how he has to build up a rage inside of him when he fights and how the adrenaline changes him, but the man himself is gentle, quiet and very funny. Seeing "the Axe Murderer" in a setting like this is refreshing, as you get to see just how much he enjoys laughing and telling stories about the legendary Chute Boxe gym and how he considers most of the fighters he has faced and knocked out our been knocked out by as good friends now. Did you know that Kazushi Sakuraba calls Wanderlei up at 2am to discuss fights? Because he does. We also see that Wand has no desire to do kickboxing post-UFC, as he understands they are entirely different sports and he is not prepared to fight high level strikers.

So do yourself a favor and tune in on Friday Night at 8pm Eastern for the Voice Versus Wanderlei Silva on HDnet.

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Alistair Overeem's Toughest Opponent: Himself

Alistair Overeem could very well be done with the world of K-1 for now. A lot of people have been sleeping on this factor, but this could be the fallout from Zuffa purchasing Strikeforce and the fact that many fighters will be offered Zuffa contracts from Joe Silva and Co. almost immediately to lock them in. To say that a fighter like Alistair Overeem wouldn't be on that list would be to not know who he is. Overeem is the current Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion, and with his desire to fight in the United States and Zuffa currently owning the US MMA scene and FEG not paying him, it would be difficult to assume that he'd turn down a Zuffa contract.

Fight Game, Golden Glory's Clothing and All-Encompassing brand put up a new interview with the Champ where he discusses a few reader-asked topics. We also note that Fight Game has a US-based store now, so if you want one of those bad ass Overeem or Golden Glory shirts you see on all of those K-1, Ultimate Glory, It's Showtime and Strikeforce shows, you now can. Oh, and there is a US-based distribution center, so the shipping is dirt cheap. So head on over there and grab some stuff after you listen to Overeem.

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April 9: Mike Zambidis, Dzhabar Askerov, More

W5 Grand PrixWe're just coming off a busy kickboxing weekend in the midst of a jam packed March, and already April is looking stacked.  We've previously covered 8 April cards featuring top international names - here's a 9th to add to the list.

On April 9 in Moscow, KO Fight Club will host the W5 Grand Prix - a one night, 4 man, 71kg tournament.  They've already announced the field, and it's pretty nice.  In semi-final #1, the resurgent #7 ranked Mike Zambidis will face Enriko Gogokhia.  The other semi-final sees #23 Dzhabar Askerov vs. William Diender.

Really good stuff here, with a very solid line-up.  As I mentioned, Zambidis has seemingly come out of nowhere to reclaim his spot as one of the division's most dangerous strikers, while Askerov looked simply phenomenal in his 1 round destruction at the Oktagon event a few weeks ago.  A Zambo vs. Askerov final would be something to see.  As for the other two - Diender also puts up a good fight, but will be a big underdog to Askerov.  Gogokhia was a semi-finalist in last year's K-1 MAX East Europe GP, losing to eventual champ Vitaly Hurkou, but he looked good at that show, and I'm interested to see him once again.

Also on the card are superfights featuring Alexander Stetsurenko, Basil Tereshonok, Ramil Novruzov, Roman Mailov, Vladimir Mineev, and Vitaly Shemetov, plus a reserve fight of Vladimir Shuliak vs. Peter Woznicki.

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