First - I want to wish all of my UK friends and colleagues a great holiday season and the best of 2010. You guys know me – I don’t usually post but I was compelled to do so when several of you called me and asked me to comment on a quote recently published in MMAU. I had the opportunity to put this together while my children and wife are taking a nap after a busy Christmas morning.
I also want to say up front that I have nothing against anyone in this field and I respect the work of all coaches, whether I agree with their methods or not. BUT – I’m old school and will not stand for someone bringing up my name and throwing it around like a can and getting away with it. Sorry - I can’t stand for that since I come from a generation where men were men and they settled their differences and handled their businesses in a certain way.
My post is about a comment that Ollie Richardson made during an interview published recently in MMA Unlimited (Issue 16 with Randy Couture on the cover). In all fairness to Ollie, he did call Joel Proskewitz of The Strength Company to express his concern for the “misrepresentation” as soon as I arrived in London on Dec 9th. I want to thank Ollie for that gesture of respect. However, whether the quote was accurate or not is really not the issue – the issue is that my name came up and something was said that needs to be addressed. I have given much thought to how I would handle this, and based on Ollie’s respecful call and good faith, I thought we should make this post an educational comment rather than a retaliatory remark.
The quote that Ollie was credited with said this, “There isn’t really many people addressing strength and conditioning for athletic performance, Kevin Kearns and JC Santana – it’s all the same, everything is endurance based. It’s like what they were doing 15 years ago – nothing ever changes.” Again, Ollie called Joel and me as soon as I got into London and told us that he was misquoted and taken out of context –we have no reason not to believe him and take him at his word.
Well, perhaps my age and the history I have lived allow me to provide a different perspective, not ‘cause I’m educated – just ‘cause I’m old I will provide some historical perspective based on the 37 years I have of martial arts training, coaching, competition, and like I said – just being old. Mind you – 37 years is more time than most of the young strength and conditioning coaches have been alive. So, I think being a student of the game (literally and figuratively) for an entire lifetime gives me a particular perspective some of the young cats may be able to learn from. So here it goes.
First, young coaches should NEVER look at a couple of DVDs and assume they know what someone else (the person in the DVD) does. Unless you have been with a coach through several long camps you should never assume you know what he does. I for one, don’t know a darn thing about what any of the coaches in MMA do; I have never seen them train consistently, never talked to them for an extended amount of time about training, nor have I even talked to fighters about their training methods with other coaches in any significant manner. When a new fighter comes to IHP we start fresh and go from there – no gossip, no bad mouthing, no speculation. So -the take-home message is your mom’s old advice –it was true when she said it and it’s truer now, “if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone – don’t say anything.”
I have yet to see any of the top MMA strength coaches visit IHP. I have also not talked about training with any of them. Therefore, I can unequivocally say that besides my fighters, none of the top MMA strength coaches have a clue of what it is that I really do. Therefore, to include my name in a statement such as the one quoted (or misquoted) above shows little maturity, lack of confidence, or bad reporting – you take your pick.
Anyone who has read my book, “Strength and Conditioning for the Modern Gladiator,” knows very well that as a general rule my philosophy, methods, and training systems follow a periodized and developmental program and I pay attention to ALL training cycles. So to say that my training is all “endurance based” clearly tells me that someone is spending too much time on Utube, or a reporter fell asleep at the wheel. So if we are going to have a conversation based on fiction what is next - a discussion of who would win - Rambo or Bruce Lee?”
I can’t speak for Kevin on the mention of his name in this article –but here is my initial and simple view based on FACTS! Kevin attended many of my seminars in Boston, paid me some nice compliments, he uses some of the protocols I developed over the years, and has come up with his own methods over the years. The fact that I helped him in any way is a source of great pride for me and I humbly accept his respectful complements when they come. I gave Kevin his first testimonial on his first DVD, based on the fact he had enough balls to make open and did a good job. With all of that said -let's get to the point..... Kevin did train Kenny Florian for three years all on his own and Kenny did very well under Kevin’s training. SO - with that track record alone, and not knowing what Kevin really does with his fighters, few can argue the fact that Kevin did a very good job with Kenny. BUT – I’ll let Kevin defend himself on this, or not. Back to the discussion of “It’s like what they we doing 15 years ago – nothing ever changes.”
Coaches who are in their 30s could not possibly know what we old bulls were doing 15 years ago – they were not even in "strength training diapers" 15 years ago. When a young coach (i.e. training for less than 10 years) learns his craft, it is hard to have the historical perspective to analyze what has occurred over the last 15 years and what direction he may want to go in based on the vantage viewpoint that life and history provide. You simply don’t have the time-earned experience to make that advanced analysis. That does not mean he can’t be smart or do a good job, it just means youth does not have the experience to make brash statements on historical developments. And since history is not a topic that gets much press these days, knowing what was done over the last 15 years is not possible unless you are mentored by a coach who lived it. Even then – it’s best to sit down, take notes, mind you comments and give those that paved the road you’re on the respect they certainly deserve.
In terms of the last 15 years, there are few books that detail what was being done in the trenches -especially in MMA strength and conditioning. However, we can make a case that 15 years ago this is what was happening in the general arena of strength and conditioning. These are just highlights off the top of my head and not meant to be taken as a historical review!
1)The NSCA Essentials Book was the premier book on Strength and Conditioning -all straight up conservative Strength and Conditoning training. Nothing on functional training, metabolic conditioning, skill specific training, etc. No even complex or contrast training was discussed in this original text. The information was a traditional as the "missionary position."
2)Donald Chu’s book “Jumping Into Plyometrics,” and his soon to be released “Explosive Power and Strength” were the hottest thing on Power training.
3)The Olympic lifts were the best practices in power development (based on the work of Garhammer’s and Pat Oshea).
4)Baker, Newton, Greg and Murphy’s power work out of Australia was showing us that maximum power did not occur high on the force vs. velocity curve, but rather in the 30-55% of 1RM range.
5)The UFC 5 was still outlawed with a $50,000 purse to the winner of the tournament. Most MMA fighters were not strength training deliberately for combat. At that time Ken Shamrock was the only athlete lifting significantly and he was doing mostly bodybuilding for strength.
So fifteen years ago –this was the latest and greatest. – I won’t go into details – I think you get the drift.
Until late 1990s and early 2000s, the training for fighters remained lifting for strength and running for cardio. The end result was better lifts in the gyms and better VO2, but not necessarily good carry-over to MMA strength performance. Fighters who lifted for strength, like Tank Abbott, dominated the scene because fights were not lasting very long – conditioning had not played a major role yet (with exceptions like some of the Gracie fights that lasted 16-36 minutes!). Fighters who ran for conditioning quickly found out about the conditioning brought in by the American wrestlers, like Coleman, Kerr, Randleman, Couture, and Henderson. The entrance of the American wrestler into MMA would see the era of running for conditioning and lifting form strength critically analyzed.
Continued on PART II