Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chuck Liddell
MMA Focus Mitt and Thai Pad Drills

Chuck Liddell needs no introduction for MMA fans. He is a former UFC World Champion and won many of his bouts via knockout. He is a world class striker and combined excellent timing with immense KO power while defending with his sprawl against grapplers. In the video below you can see Chuck doing various MMA focus mitt and Thai pad drills.

MMA Focus Mitt and Thai Pad Drills Key Points

* You will benefit immeasurably from working out with a partner who knows how to position and re-position the focus mitts, move and react to your attacks in a realistic manner. A good focus mitt workout is much more than simply standing and punching against the pads in a manner that can be replicated far more effectively on a heavy bag.

* Effective focus mitt drills will improve distance and timing skills.

* Use the focus mitts to build combinations.

* Repeat the drills as necessary. Start slow as you build your co-ordination and then increase your speed and power until you are delivering long combinations at near full speed.

* Notice that Chuck Liddell is maintaining his form throughout the drill exercises. Although the focus mitts are more about speed and accuracy, distance and timing, Chuck is still moving his body in the way he would if trying to generate full power. Particularly noticeable is his use of his hips to put his body weight behind each technique. The effects of this would be more noticeable on a heavy bag, but Chuck still works correct technique.

* Covering the kidney with the focus mitt (2:28) is clearly still not enough to prevent pain for the trainer. Be careful here (and I would recommend you use a thicker pad...like the Thai pad).

* The trainee can use the trainers elbows as an approximate indicator of where his real opponent's defense would be and therefore adjust accordingly.

* When practicing kicks the trainer may prefer to wear shin and thigh pads to minimize pain and bruising.

* Use the focus mitts for strategy too. You can practice faking and 'blinding' (obscuring his vision) an opponent with the pads and work these into your drills.

* Not so much related to the use of the focus mitts, but notice how committed Chuck Liddell's body is when he is throwing his roundhouse kicks to the trainer's thigh. His leg / shin is simply an extension of his hip and upper body movement. This kind of kick is far more powerful (though less easy to control and recover from) than a technique that works the leg more independently of the body.

* Work on leading with a leg technique and then following with a combination of punches. Don't simply practice techniques in isolation.

* The trainer can 'attack' the trainee with the focus mitts (doing so carefully and in a controlled and rational manner...meaning that the trainer attacks as a real life opponent would) allowing the trainee to practice blocking and / or weaving. This will help you to drill your reflex response to an attack: an immediate counter-attack.

* The trainer can throw kicks too forcing the trainer to practice his leg checks and then immediately countering.

* In many cases the trainer is moving the focus mitts into the attack, rather than holding them in a stationary position. This generates more resistance and helps improve the trainee's power.

* The Muay Thai pads are used from 7:18 onwards. Perhaps it is an obvious point, but I will make it anyway: Feel free to use whatever equipment you want to and that will help you to improve, regardless of its historical background. You don't need to do Muay Thai to use their pads.

* The Thai pads are used more for generating power. As such, the trainer should ensure that he is holding the pads firmly and he is breathing out as the incoming technique connects.

* Although used for more powerful shots, the Thai pads still offer the opportunity for the trainer to be mobile and for the trainee to work on his distance and timing. Select the appropriate tool for the job. If you want to work on power the best way to do it is to work the heavy bag. The Thai pads are not intended solely for this purpose and are therefore less effective for power generation.

* With regard to power, respect the trainer. Chuck Liddell doesn't generate full power when performing a thigh kick. His body is not as torqued as when practicing (light) the same thigh kick with the focus mitts.

* The Thai pads can also be used by the trainer to 'attack' the trainee.

* As a final point, notice that when repeating the drills at speed Chuck Liddell is keeping his hands high at all times. It is as if he is fighting a real opponent: delivering a combination, regaining his balance and rhythm and then launching another attack.

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