Muscle Memory for MMA
There are many things I’m doing to make up for the fact that I won’t be getting UFC 101 in a few days. There is nothing I hate more than having to watch the highlights after the fight has aired. Two things I’m doing are, training and watching a lot of MMA action on my puny cable television package. I’ve spent a few days watching everything I could find, and during a fight between Chris Leben and Terry Martin on UFC Fight Night, I saw something I had to talk about.
Now, I’m not a veteran fighter, by far. However, there is a technique that I think every fighter should, at least, check into. This is something I first encountered during my time in the Marine Corps. In the Corps, we are trained in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program or, McMAP, as we call it. Picture Muay Thai, BJJ, and Judo all mixed into one. Ken Shamrock worked directly with the Commandant of the Marine Corps at the time, to reinvent the line training of the past. Marine Corps Martial Arts was born. Enough of that, here’s what I’m here to talk about.
Training in this discipline is hand-to-hand without gloves. It’s not in a gym, but outside on the ground. If you hold back with your partner, they will switch you out with someone who’s not afraid to break your face. One of the slightly controversial, but highly effective techniques I learned while earning my little tan belt, was the muscle memory technique…
Now, this technique takes a little fire for being slightly dangerous, but ask Chris Leben how much it helped him through the years. This works really well with guys like myself, who like to throw bombs until the referee pulls him away and tells him to calm down. Anyone can get rocked in a fight, even the biggest fighters. Good training is the only thing to get you out of this. Some trainers make you perform certain combinations until you puke. They do it in the military, as well. It doesn’t always seem like it, but there’s a reason for this. You’ll always remember it. As I’m watching the beginning of this fight, I see a much healthier, calmer Chris Leben. For once, he didn’t look like the pitbull, but the greyhound. I have to say, for most of the fight, it didn’t seem to be working for him. Sometime in the third round, it looked very bad for Chris Leben. He was in better condition, but being peppered constantly by heavy punches. Then it finally happens, he gets hit by a hard shot and he’s rocked. I think the fight’s over, and I was right. Out of nowhere, Leben finally throws the bunches of punches he’s known for. He is seriously rocked, but starts walking forward throwing punches everywhere. A split-second later, Terry Martin is on the mat, holding his face, and wondering what the hell happened. I’ll tell you what happened. An M1-A1 tank named Chris Leben left him on the deck with nothing but glove prints on his face and what was left of his confidence checking out of the Terry Martin Hotel before anyone knew it was staying there.
When asked, after the fight, to illustrate the end of the match, Leben called every shot up to the point where he was caught hard and flipped out. He said he had no idea what happened and you know what? I believe him. If you asked him, he’d tell you he’s practiced gassed and rocked a thousand times and you’d better believe him, too. That’s the only way you can accomplish that kind of impressive turnaround against someone so much larger than you are. So if you’ve ever heard Chris Leben talk about the “Magic Button” on his head and wondered what he’s talking about, ask Terry Martin. Can’t find Terry Martin? Ask a Marine about muscle memory. As long as you’re careful, you might even want to give it a try. Just practice a technique until you don’t even realize you’re still doing it, then keep doing it. It’s painful and boring, but you’d be surprised at the difference it can make when you need a