Self training and Fighting

I want some thoughts on whether a person can fight, on an amateur level, if they train theirself. I'd like to fight, but have never had an actual instructor. I've had a little club for almost two years and have a handful of guys with varying experience, from wrestling, to TKD, to boxing, to no experience. We train hard and have fun, doing kickboxing and submission wrestling. But, without a qualified instructor to gauge ourselves, how do we know where we stand? Also, any suggestions on training routines or techniques/helpful hints are more than welcome.

open mats might be a good idea to...

All I have done is watch.....

Billy Banks / Tai-Bo

Richard Simmons / Deal-a-meal

I`m a true warrior

Thanks for the advice, Mama. I think that I do well with my club format. I easily pick up techniques from videos or books and can generally remember those techniques and recreate them in practice. I just have some self doubt because I actually have fought MMA, before training with poor results. I'm 1-5-0 in small amateur events. The only guy that I beat had never trained before. One of my fights was after I started my club and I did quite well, losing to an incorrect decision. I think I'll try to do some drop ins at some schools, but everything is far from where I live.

decent partners and tapes was how quite a few people got started.

Go to,, and order one of everything
Here's some class notes I've taken:

Class notes: 06/03 team practice Vale tudo gloves on

Warmup with light grappling with no strikes

2 minute rounds of:

One man on bottom with closed guard.

  • Guy in guard looks to strike and pass guard. Light strikes and light knees to body.

  • Man on bottom looks for strikes, sweeps and subs.

  • If guard is passed and side control is established for a two count, start back in guard

  • If swept or tapped, start back with same person in guard.

  • Switch roles.

One man on bottom with open guard

  • Same as above but no closed guard (you can lock briefly to setup subs i.e.. climb) and bottom guy can be looking to go to knees.

One man on bottom of side control

  • Bottom guy is working to get back to guard or go to knees and defend strikes

  • Top guy is looking for openings to strike (no subs for now).

  • Top guy can switch briefly to North/South on his way to other side of body.

  • No knee mount or mount

Live roll

  • with one man starting on bottom of side control


  • This is a time to stay active and look for opportunities, don’t worry about getting tapped, experiment and go for stuff you normally wouldn’t.

  • Striking in guard will setup up your guard pass and vice versa. As you stack and strike, your partner will look to ball up, push you away with their feet, this opens the legs and you can start to pass. As you start to pass, they will open up and brace with their arms, this opens up your striking. Transition between the two. Don’t just think “Striking”, “Passing Guard”

Passing far open guard

  • One man is down and other is standing up looking to pass the legs.

  • Top man needs to keep lead leg bent, up on toes, so that that leg is not straightened out by a thrusting kick.

  • Do not bend over at the waist and offer your head to be kicked. Same stance as when you are kickboxing range. Head up and looking down with eyes, not head.

  • Close the gap and get your lead leg between their legs.

  • As they kick up with legs, grab and throw them by.

  • To prevent them from recovering and getting guard back, you drop down with some strikes to their head as you pass. If they are smart they will cover up. This gives you opportunity to establish side control.

  • You can block their hip/thigh movement with your near side leg (kind of like going to knee mount). I.e.. you are passing to your right, you crack them with a left/right/left and block with your left thigh/knee.

  • If they throw their arms up you can easily go for a straight arm bar.

  • We practiced this for a few rounds back and forth, adding more resistance.

  • If they only kick up with one leg, it still works, you just throw that leg over the other and pass to the outside in the same manner.

Jab and Cross Notes

These notes are not necessarily just from recent classes but I’m reviewing what I know in hopes that I can train in the Crosstraining Level 2 classes at the gym...

Slipping the jab

  • We spend a lot of time working on the slip. Greg has really refined the slip and emphasized that is just a subtle bending of the knees and pivot of the upper body. We are no longer doing a crunch and turning away (exaggerated). Hands stay up, chin down and eyes stay on opponent. A few weeks ago I saw a student who slipped with his body but did not move his hands so they ended up being extended away from his body.

  • The feeder needs to be far enough to have to step to jab. He needs to throw a real, honest jab. Not a mindless arm punch and not intentionally missing if the feedee doesn’t slip properly. Throw it right at their chin or nose. Especially when you add slipping to the inside. On the other hand, the feedee is not looking to rip his partner’s head off and “beat” him. He is not giving too much broken rhythm. If your partner’s flinching or getting his head snapped back too much, ease up a little.

  • Add double jab.

  • Don’t lean back when you slip. Slip in place or even step in with the slip. Set up your offense, clinch, takedowns.

  • Feeder will often feed jab, (slip outside) and right cross over the top.

  • Feed jab, (slip inside) throw left hook.

Defending the cross

  • Greg taught me the cover and is demonstrated in Matt Thornton’s Straight Blast Gym first video series. Robert prefers to keep the elbow down to defend punch or kick to the ribs and just cover by keeping the glove tight to the chin and rolling with the cross a little.

  • The cover is grabbing the back of your neck with your left palm and bracing your forearm against the side of your head, elbow up. I think this is good for in close and vs. overhand rights and a little “safer”.

  • On the other hand, as Robert said, it is an “all or nothing” defense...they could feint the cross and sink a heavy thai kick to your ribs.

  • Work the slip vs. the cross, throw a straight left or left hook (depending on your range and how you stepped with the slip). I’m still working on the timing/confidence to slip crosses.

Patting the jab

  • We also spend many, many rounds patting the jab.

  • As they jab you just make a slight movement with your hand. You can use footwork to step back, you can slip in conjunction with the pat. You can follow it with a 90 degree pivot. You can return a jab or throw a cross over the top after the pat.

  • Robert uses a great illustration for the pat. The pat is like knocking on a door. You are not swinging great big half circle swings to block it (Can you say “Wax on, Wax off”?). Doing so sets you up for the second jab or worse, a left hook. Just rapping lightly on a door. If they suddenly open the door you don’t want to go flying through the doorway because of the exaggerated motion.

  • So after the first round of patting the jab - to check your pat - for the next round, your feeder will feint the jab to see how much you are extending your pat.

Mix it all together

  • Rounds of defending jab with footwork, slip and pat.

  • Add low strikes

  • Add right hand.

  • Return jab of your own (jab sparring)

Defending the low strikes, jab and cross, hooks and uppercuts

  • First, throwing the low jab and cross. Don’t bend at the waist and over extend, especially with clinching, knees and kicks, you will be asking to get snapped down or knocked out. I am throwing the jab to the body a lot less now because the trade off of getting cracked with a return cross just isn’t worth it. It is helpful though to throw the low #1 and #2 to keep your opponent honest though. Low percentage.

  • Just use your guard to defend these strikes. Elbows tight to sides, you may have to crunch a little and brace your arm against your torso. Generally, defend same side. I.e. block their left jab with your right elbow.

  • Uppercuts are defended with a little more inward movement of the guard so that the point of the elbow covers the center and blocks the strike.

  • Wall Drill

  • Partner stands rear foot against wall. Other guy throws hooks to head and body. Defender emphasizes tight guard and body movement.

  • Next rounds, guy on wall can fire back left hook of his own.

  • Guy feeding punches should keep proper form, throwing shots with good body mechanics and returning guard to chin, not just arm punches.

Double leg off jab and cross

  • Feeder steps with jab.

  • Feedee slips/changes level. Penetration step/rocker step. Arms block backs of knees. Drive through with rear leg and turn corner to takedown and establish side control.

  • (I need to ask Robert for any differences vs a right cross...I think you put your head in the middle of stomach...not sure)

Closing vs strikes to clinch

  • Rounds of feeder throwing jabs and crosses. Feedee looks to defend and close to clinch.

  • You can slip and step and body lock.

  • You can overhook cross or looping overhand rights and left hooks.

  • You can pat down crosses and jabs and swim for underhoox.

  • You can make them cover with your own jabs and crosses, clinch their hands and work your way in.

Another class:

Thurs. 3/07

Each class we Introduced to a new technique to work on. Isolate the technique by drilling for 5-10 min one person, increasing resistance as familiarity and success increase. Switch roles.

Integrate into your game by sparring it.

Fighting off wall vs underhook:

Partner is underhooking your right arm with his left arm.

His left foot and knee are between your legs, controlling your hips, driving and pinning you to wall.

1) Knee his right thigh with your left knee to make some space for you to get your right leg/knee between his legs. You may have to do this a few times.

2) Club down with your right forearm/fist on their left shoulder blade to make some space to allow you to swim your right arm counter-clockwise inside and get an underhook of your own. (Similar to Raking Mace movement from Kenpo). Motion is what you would do for a right hook or right horizontal elbow. Coordinate step inside with clubbing motion to make him really move.

3) Drive with your underhook as you pivot on right foot by a) stepping back with left leg (if you have enough space, tai sabaki, backstep, whatever you want to call it) or b) driving in place or forward - turning counter-clockwise to reverse position and pin him against wall.

  • your left arm can be monitoring their wrist, bicep or collar tie. It can even be in the grasp of your partner.

If your partner resists by stepping or leaning towards your right side anticipating your “club” it will be hard to make space or drive him all the way across your body to the left.

1) You can overhook his left arm with your right arm, step back with your right leg, and turn him clockwise.

2) You can reach behind with your right hand, grab his chin from behind and turn him clockwise to the wall.

After drilling these two methods of turning your partner, do several rounds in which your partner increases resistance and is kneeing and striking and underhooking with either arm.

Takedowns from the underhook.

-this can be against the wall or out on the mat.

You have a good right underhook (right hand cupping front of his left deltoid, squeezing his arm with your forearm to bicep so he cannot overhook/whizzer, driving up and forward raising his center of gravity, right knee/leg between his to control his hips and limit his knee strikes) and your left hand is monitoring his right arm or you have a collar tie on right side of his neck.

1) (don’t know the name of this tech) As he swims his left knee in- between your legs, block with the inside of your right knee (or drive inward with the knee) as you pull down to your right with your underhook to take him down. Establish side control.

2) Slide by double leg - Step back with your left leg as you turn him counter clockwise, causing him to step forward with his right leg. As he plants with right leg, drive his right arm against his side with your left arm (grabbing his right wrist or bicep). Change levels by stepping with right leg between his legs, rocker step, as you pin his right arm to his side with your head. Step around with your left leg, slide right and left arms behind his knees to block legs as you “turn the corner” (driving at a diagonal to 2:00) with your head. Control his hips so you end up in side control, not in his guard. It is important to pin arm to his side so he cannot cross face you or guillotine choke you. You may have to step back with your left leg several times to setup the takedown properly. If he does not have his weight on his right leg he will be able to sprawl. You want to have your head on the right side of his head when you start this takedown.

3) Snatch single leg - As he swims his left knee inbetween your legs, clasp your arms together between his legs (left arm grabs right wrist). Keep your arms fully extended and slide wrist/forearms up right under his crotch; this will lift him off the ground. Do not lift or bend with your arms. Left with your legs. Do not grab behind thigh or his knee, he will just hop around on his right leg. Throw your head to the right as you swing your arms to the left, turning him clockwise in the air for the takedown.

Practice this on mat and against the wall.

Rounds of fighting off the wall using strikes, escapes and takedowns. If man fighting off wall breaks clinch and steps back then start back against wall. If he reverse position, but keeps clinch, keep going. If there is a takedown, wrestle to submission.

Conditioning after class. Entering on a jab. For staggered stance (they are right lead and throw right jab) Ten single leg (just lift in air). For same stance (left jab) Ten double leg takedowns.

Are you tied down to where you live? Moving to a new city with some good quality instructors and gyms is just what you need.

Numbering system for feeding mitts and sparring
# 1 - Lead jab
#2 - Rear cross
#3 - Lead hook
#4 - Rear hook
#5 - Lead uppercut
#6 - Rear upppercut
#7 - Lead foot jab
#8 - Rear foot jab
#9 - Lead thai kick
#10 - Rear thai kick
Notes on basics of stance, footwork, jab and cross
- Up on toes, shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, back straight.  Hips square to opponent so both legs and arms can strike, you can sprawl or shoot comfortably.
- chin down on outside to protect mouth, nose and chin from strikes.  Don't shrug shoulders up, creates tension/fatigue.
- Bounce on toes.  Shifting weight between lead and rear legs.  Don't stand flat footed.
- To move forward step with lead leg and drag rear leg up to maintain good stance.
- To move backward step with rear leg and drag rear leg back.
- When circling keep lead leg facing your opponent
- Pivot on your lead leg 90 degrees to right or left.
- Keep elbows down when striking, don't let elbows flare out.
- Throw hands right from your guard/from your chin, don't wind up to telegraph.  Keeping tight cuts down on your opponent's reaction to your striking, protects you from counters and loads your next punches.
- When feeding make sure partner has to step into jab.
- Pivot on ball of rear foot, from the hips for cross.  Don't lean, keep your shoulders and head above hips.  This has *really* helped my cross. 
- Bring both jab and cross straight back to chin, don't let them drop.
Notes from class last week:
Rounds of:
- Feeding #1, # 2 and #9 and #10 (to inside and outside of thighs).
- Feeder claps mitts, feedee closes distance and bodylocks with head in middle of feeder's chest.  Takedown by bending him over at the waist, into mount.  Punch a little to setup:
A)  Spinning Armbar (if feeder pushes with straight arms)
B) Keylock (if feeder covers to defend punches)
C) Rear naked choke (if feeder gives back, goes to knees)
Split class into groups of threes and fours:
One guy starts in open guard.  Tries to submit or sweep.  Other guy tries to pass guard and hold side control for 3 sec count.  When either happens another guy comes in.  Guy on bottom in for 3-5 min round. Then rotate.
Triangle counters (assuming your right arm is between legs):
-First thing (the key) is to keep right arm bent, right elbow on his left hip, preventing it from being brought across, preventing armbar.
- Squaring up to partner can help alleviate pressure from his leg across your neck, it will be across your back instead and create more space.
- Choke is finished by your right shoulder and his right thigh cutting off circulation.  So counters are designed to prevent those two things.
- First counter, don't be caught there with arm through in the first place.
- Second counter, right arm is bent controlling hips from coming up and partner from pivoting.  Pivoting brings the back of his right leg across the back of your neck, bad news.
      -  Sit straight up, back straight, LOOK UP, bringing his hips up into your lap.  Grab his left thigh by side of your neck when you can and shake with small vigorous shakes like an earthquake. 
     - Don't look down at him or his face with your eyes, this will bring your head and neck down and allow him to grab your head and pull it back down. 
     - Don't make slow, big, strong shakes.  Opponent will have a much harder time adjusting and holding onto the small shakes.
Third counter
- Your partner has legs locked a little tighter.  If he goes to pull your head down.  Grab his left thigh with your right hand to alleviate pressure a little.  Then grab your left arm under his left thigh (you want to be grabbing closer to his knee than his hip; don't let your arm get trapped underneath his body), and put your elbow and head to the mat.
Drive with your left shoulder and cinch up your arms to break the legs and pass to your left for side control.
Finishing triangle:
- To get his right arm across:
    - Get up on your shoulders and drive him away with your hips.
    - Explosively, slap his arm across with your left hand (pak sao?) as  you pull him back in with your knees.
- Even if he has his right arm bent and braced on your hip.  You can finish the choke by pushing on the left side of his head (driving his head to his right shoulder) and squeezing your knees together.

Class Notes - Kicking drills 06/17/02

(I forgot to mention last time that we worked rounds of stacking up people when you are in their open guard by sprawling your hips forward, pinching in with your thighs, throw punches and pass the legs. Your head and back are still straight. If you bend at the waist it gives them the chance to put their feet in your hips and get a lot more comfortable open guard.)

  • Pair up and work #10 and #9 on lead and rear leg.

  • So, working from right to left, you throw a :

  • 10 to outside of their left lead leg

  • 9 to the inside of their left lead leg

  • (Angle out by stepping deep to 10:00), #10 to the inside of their right rear leg

  • 9 to outside of their right rear leg

Work on flow, checking with your hands (extend the same side arm that you are kicking with to cover opponent’s eyes), pivoting properly, targeting, striking with the shin, and (don’t know how to describe this) bouncing or retracting your kick while maintaining balance and quickly returning to your starting stance.

Partner is practicing taking the kick. Up on ball of foot, turn knee into the kick and flex the quad. Do not turn away and give the back of the thigh. Robert stated that when you do this the kick looks much more powerful to the judges and to your opponent if you give a lot of body reaction and allow yourself to be off balanced when getting leg kicked. Turning away also takes away the counters you have, especially from your rear leg and cross. Driving forward and taking it on the quad leaves you in great shape to return fire.

Defending the low #10 and #9

  • Partner now checks the kick by lifting leg. Shin is straight (perpendicular), if it is too bent your partner can penetrate too much and may cut your base leg.

  • So, against #10 to outside lead leg, check by lifting lead leg and turning knee out.

  • Against #9 to inside of lead leg, check by lifting lead leg turn lead knee in.

  • Against #10 to inside of rear leg, check by lifting rear leg turn lead knee in.

  • Against #9 to outside of rear leg, check by lifting lead leg turn lead knee out.

Follow up with rounds of returning a kick after the check with the same leg that checked.

(Friday, worked on planting after the check and returning with opposite leg)

Defending Mid-level #10 and #9

  • Against the #10 to your left side, crunch your abs to make the target of your torso smaller, keeping your left elbow tight do your side. Use your right hand to parry the kick down into your left elbow.

  • Against the #9 to your right side, crunch your abs to make the target of your torso smaller, keeping your right elbow tight do your side. Use your left hand to parry the kick down into your right elbow.

  • Don’t turn away, drive in. Turning your head away exposes your ribs, kidneys, back.

2nd defense against mid level #10 and #9

  • After making contact, shuffle back and use the downward motion of the opposite side hand to parry the kick, passing it in front of your body. Kick base leg with #10 or #9.

Defense against high #10 and #9

  • Same as mid level, just bring your glove higher alongside your head to block the kick. Keep your elbow tight to your side for as long as possible to make sure they are not throwing a kick to your side. Raise the elbow/parry the leg down as you make contact. Again, drive in, not away from the kick.

  • You can parry and pass leg in front of your body as well.

Three other defenses against #10 (from past classes)

  • Just shuffle back out of range.

  • Throw #2 into their chest as they initiate the kick

  • If they step off with their lead leg before throwing the #10 - follow them, stepping to your right with your rear leg, and kick #9 to their base left leg before they throw their #10.

Rounds of alive drilling, partner feeds randomly and you use the different defenses.

Notes from Kickboxing class:

  • Rounds of pat jab.

  • Add return #2 after pat.

  • Add return #2, 1, 2

  • Add return #2, 3, 2

  • Add return #3, 6, 3

  • Rounds of slip #1 to outside

  • Add return #2 after slip

  • Rounds of slip #2 to outside

  • Add return #3 after slip

  • Random feeding #1 and #2

  • add counter #2 or # 3

  • Add return #2, 1, 2 (running forward, “boxing blast”)

  • Block #1 to body with elbow, return high #2.

  • Block #2 to body with elbow, return high #3

  • Random feeding #1 and #2 to body, with return #2, 3, 2 or #3, 2, 3.

  • Add #9 or #10 as you fade out.

7 lead foot jab and #8 rear foot jab

  • Partner holds focus mitts (padded side against body) and advances while calling out # 7 or 8.

  • Kick comes straight from floor to target, striking with ball of the foot. No bent leg chamber, no “stomping” motion. A little “pop” with the hips as you strike, head leans away for defense vs punches.

  • Add feeding #1 and #2 in combination with #7 and #8. Try to make your partner work. Give them combinations that make sense in terms of loading and unloading of body mechanics. As feedee work on getting your foot back down quickly after kicking so you can throw your #1 and #2 in balance and with both feet as a base.

  • Rounds in which feeder does not advance or retreats, feedee needs to take a step forward with lead leg to close gap for # 8. Or needs to lunge forward with rear leg to close gap for #7.

  • Rounds in which feeder advances or stands still randomly. With #1 and #2.

Defending #7 and #8

  • similar to #9 and #10, elbow to side of ribs and block with elbow/forearm with a slight turn of the torso.

  • Rounds feeding #7 and #8 for partner to defend.

  • Rounds of feeding #1, 2, 7 & 8, but feeder can throw #7 and 8 for feedee to defend.

  • Don’t throw #7 and 8 while partner is in the middle of throwing #1 or #2. Give them a chance. You are not trying to beat or stick them.

Damn Sovann I even wrote some of that down!!!

Jstrike: I'm self training right now and I understand how frustrating it can be. I was very lucky to have trained with some very good guys when I first started so at least I have a decent base to fall back on.

I think the most important thing is active sparring. If you don't have guys pushing you to your limits during sparring you are missing out. Even though I'm not training with a team right now I make sure I get some good sessions in with guys who are better than me. I've been hooking up with this Hungarian Boxer that lives out here and he is WAY better than me. This helps to keep me grounded.

Hit Sovann's routine it looks awesome!


Glad you liked it. Props to my coaches Robert Follis and Greg Piper. The kick boxing notes were for a class I taught.

I haven't seen it but I'm sure Adam and Rory Singer's DVD on MMA training would be very good for training MMA.

Thank you, valued forum member sovann.

Hugo, how is CO?
Missed you last time when you were back in NJ.

One "warning". You can learn a ton of stuff here on and all the Q&A's, watch UFC/Pride, learn from the Fighter's Notebook, from videos and you can try to spar it hard but you have to be careful not to develop bad habits. You will get schooled by someone who trains under an experienced instructor.
There are lots of guys that fight in the local shows that do JJJ or "sub grappling" that are tough as nails but you can tell their instructor likely learns from video.

For something that looks as "simple" as a spinning armbar from guard - when I studied kenpo I thought, "Oh that's easy." Even reading through Roy Harris' step by step list of the mechanics can help. But until you drill it properly you will not be able to enter and finish it properly. Learning how to climb with the legs. Posting a foot in the hip or floor to pivot. "Look in the ear". "Pinky on the chest, thumb up." You have to drill this and your partner has to learn how to be a good partner. You can learn how to do the tech, but you won't be able to in full out sparring unless you slow it down a bit.