Fighters Like Conor McGregor are Using Mobility Training to Get Astonishing Results

Fighters Like Conor McGregor are Using Mobility Training to Get Astonishing Results

By Loren Mayshark

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” Bruce Lee

The Journey from Nameless to “Notorious”

Conor McGregor has been crushing his competition in the octagon and making a name for himself as one of the most fearsome competitors at 145. But he hasn’t always been known. He was merely another gladiator who was part of the crowded pack vying for fame and fortune, a fact evident in his losses to Artemij Sitenkov and Joseph Duffy. When he was 4-2 no one could have predicted his meteoric rise to dominance, becoming one of the celebrities of the sport.

On various levels we all want to achieve what McGregor has; we want to silence our critics by finding success on our own terms. So what changed for “The Notorious” Conor McGregor? How can one man become so successful at the highest level of a sport that is insanely competitive where only the toughest rise to stardom?

Early in his career, before he made a name for himself in the UFC, McGregor quickly realized that very few make it to the top of the mountain in this brutal sport and as he said, “I want to be known as a guy who defied the odds…” There is no question that McGregor has a nearly flawless physic and is tougher than a coffin nail. But even casual fans understand that this is not enough to dominate the sport. When the margin that separates average fighters from elite warriors is razor thin, what makes the biggest difference between getting your hand raised at the end of a bout and going home with a swollen face and a loss? When dissecting McGregor’s game plan, training, conditioning, and all the other components that make him “Notorious,” one factor stands out: mobility training. The aspect of his preparation that is only now being taken under consideration by the most informed MMA enthusiasts is mobility training (which is also referred to as movement training).[1]

What is Mobility Training?

From the time we can walk we use our bodies to play, lift things, swim, jump, and roll. But as we get older we are told by adults to “sit still” and “pay attention.” Our formal education ushers in a period of our lives where the majority of people spend an increasing amount of time at a desk and as a result of lost repetition, they lose mobility.[2]

Although mixed martial artists are certainly much more physically active than the average person, they still are influenced by this prevailing mindset. Many people who are traditionally trained in a single martial art—especially those who come from rigid backgrounds such as Muay Thai and boxing, where fighters are trained not only to move but to stand and trade shots—are generally not very fluid. Mobility training for martial arts is a way to incorporate specific movement into a training routine which can translate into the octagon. It can help people improve no matter what martial arts background they have.

That is why the new wave of mobility training is rapidly changing how many fighters are approaching MMA fight preparation. The astonishing results that fighters like McGregor, Lyoto Machida, T.J. Dillashaw, and Dominick Cruz are getting come from unique routines that incorporate some form of mobility training. But the precedent in MMA was set before by crafty fighters like George St Pierre who started training gymnastics to help his game and Anderson Silva who has long been known for his unorthodox training regimens. People can argue about the best ways to train for a fight, but no one can argue with the results that these fighters have been getting over the past few years.

Where Does Mobility Training Come From?

The roots of mobility training are as ancient as martial arts. However, just as MMA has brought together many different fighting styles, it has brought together many different ways of training. This is at the core of what makes the sport so exciting: there is no “right way” to train and nearly every martial art gets a chance to be showcased. For deeper insight into the modern wave of sport-specific mobility training, it is helpful to look at Capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial art dance. Anyone who has spent enough time in Brazil has seen people practicing this elegantly fluid dance in public parks or at the beach and has been captivated by both its strength and beauty.

Ido Portal is an elite movement coach who comes from a Capoeira background. Portal grew up practicing martial arts and began training Capoeira at fifteen. Later in his adolescence Portal had an “epiphany” and realized that his passion was not just martial arts but physical movement. This passion became an obsession as he searched the world for “Movement Teachers.” He became frustrated because all of the teachers he sought were interested in movement within their own particular disciplines but not in the broadest sense, which could be applied to all martial arts and other aspects of life. When he was unable to find a mentor that fit the exact mold he was looking for, he decided to take what he had learned and begin he calls “movement culture.” He defines this as: “a contemporary paradigm shift in physicality, moving us away from main culprits in movement and fitness as well as the separation between health, aesthetics, performance and art.”[3]

Conor McGregor

Two of Portal’s most high-profile clients are Conor McGregor and Gunnar Nelson. There are numerous videos online of these two bearded pugilists twisting through the sand at exotic beaches, nimbly walking on railings at parks, and gyrating while people swing wooden staffs at their heads and legs. These fighters and a handful of others have completely bought into “movement culture” and are reaping the benefits.[4]

Mobility Training Sounds Awesome! How Can I get Involved?

The techniques that make mobility training effective are specific and not easy to learn. The mastery of these techniques involves frequent training and repetition in order to train the body to perform these new feats of flexibility and muscle memory. You can’t get great results from simply going to the park, rolling around in the grass and fooling around on the monkey bars, without knowing what you’re doing.

At the Kombat Arts Training Academy there is an assortment of martial arts training from Brazilian Jujitsu to Thai Boxing. For a long time Joey De Los Reyes and great trainers at the facility have understood that mobility is crucial to sustainable success in MMA, which is why Kombat Arts Training Academy is at the cutting edge of the mobility training. Check out our class schedule to get in the dojo and start training like an elite competitor today. Our Mobility Class is Wednesdays at 7:30pm.

[1] http://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/races-sports/fighting-words-with-the-ufcs-conor-notorious-mcgregor-20150113

[2] https://fightcampconditioning.com/lets-talk-movement-training-for-mma/

[3] http://www.idoportal.com

[4] http://fightland.vice.com/blog/watch-conor-mcgregor-and-gunnar-nelsons-movement-drills

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