Strategic Boxing Series...the nerd, the brawler or something else...How people approach their training can tell you a lot about a fighter. Generally there are three broad approaches which people fit into (don't confuse this with styles)...the nerd, the brawler or the 'combat athlete'. #1. THE NERD, this guy has an encyclopedic knowledge of the game. They analyse and pour over technical perfection, repeatedly rehearsing techniques to find just that. They will probably be able to tell you what colour boots Floyd Patterson wore when he fought Johansson in June 1957. They are methodical, considered, critical and yet wholly reluctant to get in the ring (or mat/cage). Sparring is one area where these guys are very seldom seen. They can easily identify how someone can improve the holes in their game, but are hugely reluctant to get in the arena and play themselves. Whilst their analytic, hardworking nature makes them a trainers dream, their reluctance towards contact time in the in ring/mat/cage will always result in their technique never becoming truly refine. To quote Bruce Lee, "Knowing is not enough, we must apply..." Without sparring these guys will miss the opportunity to develop true understanding of their technical development.
#2. THE BRAWLER... These guy don't sweat you. They don't sweat anyone. They seemingly fear no man (or woman) and are happy to fight. In fact they are happiest in the fight. Confident to a fault, they are not in the slightest bit concerned with being in condition or having the correct technique. Their energy and enthusiasm is driven by the need to compete (by compete I mean smash something). Their technical development occurs through experiential learning of what functions and what doesn't in the moment if the fight. This isn't to suggest that these guys are all overly aggressive sociopaths. They are just bored by the smaller details. Their over confidence in their fighting ability does tend to be rather bad listeners. Their not interested in breaking down the technique, or taking a moment to discuss and reflect on how to improve their game. Whilst it's the case that sparring is a crucible for fantastic learning, it's also the case that without analysis and review lessons are not identified, learnt and individual development becomes stagnant (practically non-existent.)
3. 'The Combat Athlete'...these guys are some of the hardest workers in the gym. They bought the playbook on strength and conditioning for combat sports and have implemented it to the letter. They understand and can happily tell you which twitches fast and which twitches slow. They can happily tell you what exercise best assist to generate power in horizontal shoulder abduction occurring in the sagittal plane. They are often the fittest, most conditioned individuals to never step foot on the mat/ring/cage. Maybe the intention was once to learn and develop in combat sports/martial arts, however the physical conditioning aspect of training, for these guys, became the primary drive. Hitting the gym at least 7 days a week, fasting cardio every day, SAQ drills coming out of their ears and 2 sessions per body part per week as a minimum...physically gifted but technically lost. Without specific technical practice all the conditioning in the world will still result in no real improve to your game. Looking like a marble statue is great, if your goal is to look like a marble statue, but to competently conduct yourself in a specific arena there must be a balance between conditioning and technical modes of training.
The best approach towards training will always be one that embraces balance and flexibility. First point, technical perfection doesn't always win fights. It's fundamentally important that having developed the technique in isolation its progressively pressure tested through prearranged drills, isolated sparring and free sparring. Application of technique is the key, not merely the technique. Second, contact sparring as an isolated and fold form of training is limited. Without technical analysis of performance, review and refinement, individual development cannot occur. Moreover, once you've identified the issue, isolating it to apply to solution is key. Breaking down the technical, repeating the correct, rebuilding it and the pressure testing again is the only way to secure improvement and continual development. The third and final point here is that the hardest workers are often the best players of the game. Ignoring strength and conditioning training is as limiting as ignoring technical development. You need the underlying support systems to be strong, efficient and effective to allow you to deliver that technique. Without an adequate gas tank, the car is just not going to get anywhere. The body is a complicated machine, made of many parts which require attention. Ignorance to one area or aspect of training is ultimately going to limit your development and progression within your chosen game. Consider your approach and ensure you have a plan. It's what we do!