“Leave your ego at the door” is a common phrase you will see written on the walls of martial arts gyms everywhere. But it has always amused me because it would be almost impossible to do unless everyone had an existential crisis as they walked through the door. But more than merely being helpful, considerate and courteous to people, I think it might be useful to interpret it as not being fearful of receiving feedback or experiencing failure in the learning process.
To simplify the process, we can experience failure and either laugh or cry about it. You probably have to do both at some points, and only ever having one reaction would possibly lead to negative consequences. Maybe accepting it as just the way things are and an unremarkable, expected, and natural part of the process seems to be the healthiest attitude. You might feel awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassed, but no need to make it worse by thinking that those feelings would be rare.
Of course, you will find these new movements and skills difficult at first. Unless you started training as a child, we all come to martial arts at a stage of life when we are probably skilled in different areas, at the very least whatever you do for a profession would give you skills in one area that most people in the same room do not possess. Everyone would likely struggle if they stepped into your day to day activities and had to learn on the job. It’s the expected outcome, predictable and we shouldn’t let it surprise us, throw us off or discourage us from persisting.
Understanding that process could then lead to the more common interpretation of the saying of basically not being arrogant or a jerk. Then maybe becoming less arrogant and more understanding of other peoples struggles and your own could then, in turn, make you a more peaceful person? If you want to try that out, then martial arts might be an excellent vehicle to do so. Possibly because on some level, fighting or physical struggle has a deeper meaning with a long history in humans nature than other modern skills you could learn. Im not doubting that you could get the same lessons through other professions, but martial arts does seem to have some exceptional qualities to it if that might be what you are looking to achieve.
Or maybe im overthinking it (more than likely) and simply put, just don’t be a goose and injure anyone in the mat by going too hard.
The spectrum of teaching styles appears as a unified theory of teaching that aims to describe the structure of all possible teaching methods. It starts from the basis that education will be a chain of decision making with each teaching decision being a result of the previous one.
It identifies that the decisions can come from either the teacher or learner and in three distinct phases of a learning experience which are pre-impact, impact and post-impact. Pre-impact will be the planning and intention behind what you want people to learn; impact will be the decisions made during the lesson, and post-impact will be assessing how the experience went and incorporating any feedback.
Depending on the configuration of decisions between teacher and learner will determine where the teaching style will fall on the scale. The two extremes are if the teacher makes all the decisions, which will result in a military-style strict drilling lesson. The other end will be if the learner makes all the decisions, which results in a concept style of self-teaching.
Reproduction & Production
The full spectrum illustrates 11-landmark teaching-learning approaches that appear divided into cognitive clusters. The first five styles are Command, Practice, Reciprocal, Self-check, and Inclusion. Together they form a group that focuses on reproduction and memory. The remaining six methods, which are Guided Discovery, Convergent Discovery, Divergent Discovery, Learner-designed Individual Program, Learner-initiated, Self-teaching focus on the production of new knowledge.
The reproduction styles will focus on the reproduction and recall of already existing knowledge. In contrast, the discovery styles focus on the learners to produce new information they did not know previously, such as concepts and principles. In future posts, I will outline the details of the 11 landmark styles and the space between these, which becomes a wide variety of teaching variations known as canopies.
As you can see to view grappling training as a choice between “Techniques or Concepts” comes at the problem in an oversimplified manner. In reality, the spectrum could illustrate a more nuanced and informed approach to learning grappling.
The spectrum of teaching styles was developed by Muska Mosston in 1966 and did not propose a one size fits all solution for what would be considered “good” teaching. Instead, it offers a range of styles that could be best suited for a lesson based on its intended objective. Each style has its purpose, and just because you attempt to use a style does not mean it will be better. Each method has its positives and negatives so a style can still suffer from misuse in a given context.
Teaching styles that are instructor centred and focus on direct instruction fall under reproduction styles cluster. Five distinct styles exist called command, practice, reciprocal, self-check & inclusion. Each style slowly gives the students more input into the decisions in the lesson.
Most commonly in martial arts, the warm-ups will be run in a command style. The class gets instructed on techniques and perform them all at the same time or rhythm. It becomes beneficial to run a warm-up with this style for the sake of being efficient with the time available to teach.
Reproduction styles are negatively stereotyped as being old, outdated, and lacking the option for creativity. But if you keep in mind that every method has its purpose based on the constraints and goals, then it still has plenty of utility. Take the warm-up example, telling people to warm up on their own might work once they already know what they need to do and how they need to do it. But until they reach that point of proficiency instructing everyone together will be a time saver. Also, they can be appreciated by the student who simply wants to turn up to class and be told what to do without having to think so much, after a day of work they might want to do the reps and get fit.
Primarily, the reproduction styles rely on taking knowledge discovered previously and letting the students memorise and repeat it. While looking at the ideas of BJJ concepts (especially my podcasts with @schoolofgrappling), I started to realise that although we can create a list of concepts and principles, these are often still taught in a reproduction style. In a manner of “Here are some concepts I prepared earlier”. In further posts, I will go through each reproduction style to explain how they operate before crossing the “discovery threshold” into the production cluster of teaching styles.
Teaching styles that are student-centred and focus on indirect instruction fall under the production styles cluster. Six distinct styles exist called guided discovery, convergent discovery, divergent discovery, learner-designed individual program, learner-initiated and self-teaching. The styles encourage students to come up with new knowledge and information to problems that the teacher comes up with and eventually to issues that they come up with on their own.
On the spectrum of teaching styles these are found once you pass the “discovery threshold”. As these styles are best suited to teaching concepts and principles it would make sense for these to work for concepts in grappling, but I have not seen too many examples of this being the case. The idea being that whatever solution to a problem the instructor has in mind you give the student enough guidance that they come up with the answer on their own instead of being told.
With the reproduction cluster of teaching styles, the instructor aims to get students to replicate knowledge through repetition and memory.
Remember that it does not need to be a one size fits all approach, the different styles have different benefits based on your goals and multiple styles could be used in a single lesson.
A- Command Style The instructor makes all the decisions for the class. Including the timing of when the students will perform. It is useful when safety considerations have to be taken into account and It can also ensure the maximum amount of time will be spent on task as the instructor sets the pace. Often seen in warm-ups, think of military-style drilling.
B – Practice Style The instructor will show the technique and then the students will be given time to practice and drill at their own pace. The instructor moves around the class giving individual feedback. The practice style would be the most common style of teaching for grappling that I have seen.
C – Reciprocal Style The instructor designs drills for pairs or small groups and provides criteria for feedback on the technique. One student performs the technique and the partners give feedback from the criteria. The style increases socialisation between students, placing trust in them and gives them an active role in the learning process.
D – Self Check Style Similar to the reciprocal style but the students assess themselves against set criteria. The instructor can circulate through the class and work with students to set their own goals which will focus on the result of a technique and not the technique itself. Students monitor themselves and self-correct their own learning.
E – Inclusion Style The instructor designs a variety of drills or tasks that have multiple levels of difficulty. The students then decide which level of difficulty they want to attempt based on their ability level. The style caters to individual needs as students can increase their level when they feel ready or decrease if they find it too difficult.
With the production cluster of teaching styles, the instructor aims to get students to produce knowledge or techniques that are previously unknown to them. The discovery process remains an ideal way to teach concepts, principles, theories, strategies & game tactics. Students will need a base level of skill to use the styles effectively. But once a student knows the fundamentals, it would be possible that they could develop more rapidly and find the process more enjoyable using the discovery styles. The following summarises the six of these landmark styles from the spectrum of teaching styles.
F – Guided Discovery The instructor designs a series of questions and problems that lead the student towards discovering a specific predetermined concept or principle. Like climbing steps of a ladder, one question leads to the other in a logically sequenced manner.
G – Convergent Discovery The instructor chooses a situation that is unfamiliar to the student so that they must discover the single predetermined response by using their logic and reasoning ability.
H – Divergent Discovery The instructor selects an unfamiliar situation, and then the student will produce multiple solutions to the problem. The instructor does not look for any single solution but encourages the production of numerous solutions.
I – Learner Designed The instructor selects and area for the student to investigate. The student then designs their plan to examine and find solutions to the problem and will grade their performance.
J – Learner Initiated The student will design their own learning experience and decide on the problems and solutions they will investigate. The instructor’s role becomes a facilitator to ask questions of the student on the decisions they made.
K – Self Teaching When the student becomes the teacher. They are now in charge of all their learning decisions which becomes a continual process. Consider this the 36th Chamber of Shaolin.
Spectrum of Teaching Styles for BJJ, Grappling & MMA
Most of the way that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu still seems taught seems firmly on the reproduction side of the spectrum. It focuses on replication and memory, which can be great for teaching routines, previous models of techniques and rules.
I think that this may have its place for beginners as they need to become accustomed to the fundamentals, and this can be a time-efficient way for them to learn them. The production styles are said to be better suited to teaching principles, concepts as it leads the learner to make a discovery, which may be more suitable for higher belts past a certain rank.
But what may be surprising would be that the majority of ways I have seen teaching “CONCEPTUAL BJJ” still fall firmly in the reproduction side of the teaching spectrum.
While they may be showing a concept, the methods they are using appear based on the already dominant replication styles. According to the teaching spectrum, it would not be the best way to reach the intended outcome of teaching a concept.
“Each style has the capacity to uniquely contribute to human development and content acquisition.“
“No teaching style is inherently good or bad. Each style IS. Each style accomplishes the objectives intrinsic to its specific Teacher – Learner decision configuration.”
Reference: Mosston, M., & Ashworth, S. (2008) Teaching physical education: First online edition. Spectrum Institute for Teaching and Learning.
I have talked about how we prepared for the “King Of The Beach” competition on a podcast recently and what I noticed was what we did was very similar to how Andy from School of Grappling recommends that training be structured and also to the GameSense pedagogy I studied at Univerisity.
It was excellent training as everyone had a purpose, it was enjoyable, and it was one of those rare moments in time at a practice where everyone was in the mix together. It makes you grateful for having positive training partners and getting to spend the time training together. Those kinds of moments that I can appreciate even more now that we cannot get on the mats. But one thing I did notice was that the level of everyone in the room did seem to progress substantially during that time and made me think about what we did.
We trained for around 6-8 weeks doing two classes a week that followed this format. Generally, we did between five to ten rounds of each segment depending on how many people were in class, they were 1 minute long with a 15-second break. Everyone in the class rotated at least once with different partners, so they had a chance to work with everyone in the class. Once everyone had been around once I would briefly show one offensive or defensive option that could work from the scenario. Partners would drill these a few times each, and then we would do a couple more rounds of the drill.
The warm-up consisted of stance drills and shadow wrestling to get people moving in a way that was directly applicable to the sport.
The goal was to work for either an inside collar tie or underhook and to hold it for 3 seconds.
The goal was to snatch and hold a single leg of the partner for up to 3 seconds.
After you had the single-leg, then the goal was to complete the takedown and put your partner on the mat.
A few rounds where you could score from pushing your opponent off the mat or into the wall. My memory of the particulars seems to be hazy, possibly because this turned out to be an area that I was less than excellent at.
Then to finish, we did rounds rotating with the complete ruleset that the competition would be held under. I think on a few occasions we also di a mini knockout tournament at the end to simulate the competition setting.
A standard static stretch routine for a cool down. Maybe on some days we also took an obligatory post workout commemorative photo.
As you may be able to tell from that the focus for the competition was on snatch single-leg takedowns which based on the ruleset I thought would be the best way to play to win. But any takedowns were allowed once it came time to practice under the full beach wrestling rules.
Overall everyone who competed did really well with everyone managing to score takedowns, and overall it was merely a fun day of wrestling and camaraderie for the team. An experience I hope we can get close to replicating again in the future when things get back to normal!
Frank Shamrock was an early pioneer of mixed martial arts training with a unique approach to cross-training and fight strategy that enabled him to become the first UFC light heavyweight champion before vacating it after an all-time classic match against Tito Ortiz. He formed an alliance and cross-trained his shoot wrestling style with the kickboxing skills of Maurice Smith and the guard work of Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and successfully blended them together to form a well-rounded skill set. Each member of the alliance was able to help each other improve in a different area and in many ways exemplifies his plus, minus and equals training system which we will discuss in this article.
Perhaps due to its inclusion in the book “Ego is the Enemy” by author Ryan Holiday one of the most notable aspects of Frank Shamrock’s training is his system of plus, equals and minus. The plus, equals and minus formula is as simple as have a training partner that is better than you, at the same level and of lesser skill than you, which will enable you to always continue learning and growing. Author Ryan Holiday explains the benefit of the system as follows:
“The purpose of Shamrock’s formula is simple, to get real and continuous feedback about what they know and what they don’t know, from every angle.” – Ryan Holiday
Let’s now go more in-depth about how the three parts of the plus, minus and equals system will connect.
The plus will be a martial artist who is more skilled than you who you can learn from and will expose your gaps. In many cases, this will be your coach who will have more expertise on the subject than you but also sparring partners who can put that knowledge into action. The coach can provide the role of mentoring, training guidance and knowledge of techniques that can help develop your martial arts skills. But martial artists will always have a coach who should fill this role except in the rare case that someone was self-training and if so they should go find a coach to become “the plus” immediately.
Sparring partners who are also a step above you will fill this role as you need someone to be exposing the weak areas in your game to help you become aware of them and give you the incentive to work on them. Without a partner who can best you in training, then you are merely giving yourself delusional confidence that may be exposed by in a real fight or confrontation. These mini losses in practice will help you grow, and you want to have these experiences in the gym in an environment where your partner is helping you to learn rather than for it to occur in a public competition setting.
The minus will be a martial artist who is of lesser skill than you who you can teach and help grow. It is someone that you can help along the way to improve their skill set, and in the process, it will help you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of your skills. It many ways the best way to understand is to figure out how to teach it to another person, and these people will provide an opportunity to do so, ensuring they are willing. Simply giving unsolicited to people can be very frustrating, and some peoples pet peeves in the gym when it is considered the primary responsibility of the coach.
Another practical way that you need to have someone who is a minus is you need someone who can help you put implement skills you have just learned before you can get them to work at a higher level. When you learn a new technique, the chances of you being able to execute it flawlessly at first will be very slim. But you might be able to make it work on someone less skilled than you while you refine the application of the technique over repetitions. Whereas if you immediately try to apply a new technique on someone who is of more considerable skill, it might be stopped immediately before it, you can see it develop into being usable. Ideally, you can take a new ability and troubleshoot it on a minus to a point where it starts working on equals and further and then get a chance to show that technique and any possible counters to your training partner to help them also benefit from the process.
The will be a martial artist who is roughly at the same skill level and can match you in sparring. It can be someone who started training at the same time as you or someone who you happen to be matching skill levels with but overall these are people who are the same point in their development as you. Now we can consider every one of our training partners as our equals as everyone trains together with the same goal of improving and solving the same problems. It can be everyone in your gym being on the same team and all trying to strengthen each other on the same journey. But at a more individual level, you want to have people who are matching you in training with neither person able to get a clear advantage.
These sessions with people who have been your equals should be fun and enjoyable and will also give you a guide to know if you or they have improved. It would help if you were motivating each other by knowing that you are on the same course together and that you are helping each other grow and develop in a way that can be more team building than being bested by someone better than you. A practical example is having a group of people preparing for a competition on the same day. Everyone can help push each other and raise the overall level of the group as everyone works towards the same goal.
The Plus, Minus and Equals training system
The plus, minus or equals system will be there if you look for after training for a short period of time. Even if it’s just having the plus being your coach and the equal being your training partners. Once identified, you can use the system to provide you with continuous real-time feedback on your progress throughout training. Getting that constant feedback will help keep you grounded and honest about your skill level and in the book “The Ego is the Enemy” the chapter that discusses this focuses on always remaining a student throughout life. Frank Shamrock describes the benefit of doing so as follows:
“False ideas about yourself destroy you. For me, I always stay a student, that’s what martial arts are about, and you have to use the humility as a tool”. – Frank Shamrock
The system of plus, minus and equals training will simplify the process of remaining a student by giving you a readily identifiable way to learn new skills, collaborate as a team and share what you know with others while continuing to grow, improve and strengthen yourself as a martial artist.
Cutmen at an MMA fight are responsible for treating a fighters lacerations or swelling in the one-minute break between rounds. Therefore, a cutman’s duties include getting the fighters to perform at their highest level of ability by minimising the effects of cuts and lacerations that could hinder their performance. Also, if cuts become too severe, it may lead to a fight being called off by a referee or doctor so in some situations a cutman’s work could make the difference between winning and losing a contest.
All major MMA promotions will provide corners with their cutmen; a smaller show may provide one cutman per fight and rely on the chance of both fighters requiring a cutman from not occurring. However, at smaller regional shows a cutman may not be provided at all, and it will be expected that the coach or cornerman of a fighter will fill this role.
Learning the skills required to be a cutman can be through an informal apprenticeship where you could help out a more experience cutman in their duties and learn on the job. In this case, you will have more success finding experienced cutmen in boxing clubs and venues rather than in the MMA circuit. Otherwise, a few formal training courses exist online and around the world that attempt to pass on the knowledge while providing an “Official Cutman” certification upon completion. The article below will give an overall guide as to what is required, but real insight will come through working corners and getting experience 60 seconds at a time.
The equipment of a Cutman
The lists of equipment for a cutman will be as follows and may include some crossover with the equipment you would be expected to carry as a cornerman. Enswell, coagulant, vaseline, gauze, cotton swabs & towels.
The Enswell (Sometimes called an End Swell or No Swell) is the most distinctive piece of equipment in a cutman’s toolkit, and It is merely a flat piece of metal that is kept cold and used to apply pressure to cuts or swelling on a fighters face. Different styles and variations on design exist for enswells, but their essential use is all the same and can come down to personal preference as to what type you would use. As you want to keep the enswell cold for its use, it should be kept stored in your bucket of ice on fight night, and a thin layer of vaseline can be applied to the enswell to prevent the metal from being so cold that it would stick to a fighter’s skin when used. In the event that you cannot find an enswell to use any small piece of metal can be used as a makeshift enswell providing that it doesn’t have any sharp edges that could cause a cut. A simple bent spoon is always a good option that is available to use if necessary.
A coagulant is a medicine used to assist in clotting the blood to stop or slow the flow of bleeding from a cut. The most common and available coagulant used by cutmen is adrenaline 1:1000 or epinephrine. The epinephrine can be applied to cotton swabs and then pressed directly onto a cut to in-between rounds. It can come in bottles that are designed to be used for injections so it can be useful to transfer the liquid into an eyedropper bottle which is easier to apply to a cotton swab. Also, you may need to get the adrenaline from a doctor or nurse, so if it is unavailable, a hemostatic gauze is also another option to use. Hemostatic gauze is a medicated gauze strip that contains a coagulant in it to promote blood clotting that usually is either zeolite or kaolin. The hemostatic gauze can be cut into smaller pieces that can be applied directly to a fighters cuts in between rounds. Other coagulants do exist, but adrenaline is the most commonly used by cutmen, and hemostatic dressings may be the most easily available over the counter option available from pharmacy or military surplus stores.
A cotton swab is used as the application method for the coagulant and to apply pressure against a cut. Many cutmen will use a wristband that they store multiple cotton swabs in that they have prepared before a fight. Cotton swabs can also help in treating a bloody nose as they will be able to fit up a fighters nostril and help with stopping the bleeding. The cotton swabs used by famed cutman Jacob “Stitch” Duran are not your regular swabs used for cleaning out the ear. Instead, he will purchase cotton balls roll them out as much as possible and then cut and attach them to smaller cotton swabs to help bulk them out so they can contain more adrenaline and cover a larger area (Bartlett, 2008).
Petroleum jelly is more commonly known by the brand name vaseline and is an essential piece of kit for any corner to have. Vaseline will be applied to a fighters face before they enter the ring or cage as a preventative measure to avoid cuts by helping gloves slide off the fighters face rather than sticking and breaking the skin. When dealing with an existing cut, vaseline will be applied entirely over the wound as a filler to help “seal” it up and help prevent further bleeding. When using vaseline as a filler, it can be kept cold which will make it harder and more malleable, but this can also make it more difficult for a doctor to clean and stitch together after the fight. The vaseline can also be mixed with adrenaline 1:1000 to provide an additional application of the coagulant to the wound.
One large white towel should be kept for wiping down a fighters shoulders and back and in the unfortunate situation where it may need to be thrown into the ring or cage to halt a contest. Multiple smaller face or hand towels should also be in the toolkit and kept damp on fight night for use in wiping fighters face clean of any blood or vaseline between rounds or at the end of the fight. The smaller wet towel will be easier to handle and manipulate along the curves of a fighter’s face than the standard large towel which has a rough texture when kept dry.
A cutman may use various other pieces of equipment with a lot of crossover with standard corners supplies. Latex gloves are one piece of additional equipment. Wearing gloves is simply a hygiene issue as dealing with open cuts you want to keep your hands as clean as possible to prevent infection. A bucket will be required to help store all the other piece of the kit and taken to ringside. Fishing tackle toolboxes can also be useful to store all the smaller pieces of equipment between fights. Icepacks to help keep your enswell cold or apply to a fighter are also helpful to keep in your tool kit. Plastic zip lock bags make for cheap and useful ice packs as you can fill them with ice you get at the venue. Ziplock bags should be double wrapped to help prevent them from accidentally opening and spilling ice on the floor when used.
What to do In-Between Rounds
During the closing thirty seconds of a round, you should begin to assess what work will need to be done during the break. While a cut could still occur from the last punch in the last second of a round, you should always begin to form a general plan before the bell rings. After the bell rings, you will then need to asses the severity of cuts as soon as you are allowed into the ring or cage. A judgment will then need to be made about what will be worked on during the minute break with priority going to preventing the fight from being stopped and then too, which cut impairs the fighter the most (Matuszak, 2015). In general working out how you will work with other members of the fighters corner who will be wanting to provide technical instruction should be discussed backstage before the show starts.
The following image is a guide to help asses the severity of the cuts according to their placement on the fighters face. The most common and severe cut you will deal with are ones running horizontally along the eyebrow. These cuts are dangerous as they can bleed into the eye and obscure the fighter’s vision and if they are deep enough they can damage important nerves (Gelber, 2016).
Cuts that have occurred within zones 1 and 2 are the most serious and may need you to consider ending the bout. Cuts within all other zones will require careful inspection of their depth to make a judgement call
SUMMARY OF LACERATION ZONES
tarsal plate, lacrimal sac
nasolabial fold with facial artery
superficial temporal artery, facial nerve (at the zygomatic bone)
facial artery at masseter
mental nerve (Gelber, 2016).
Working with Cuts
The number one technique to use when dealing with cuts or swelling is to apply cold direct pressure to the affected area to compress the blood vessels and help contribute to the clotting that needs to occur. Doing too much else can end up making things worse, so unless you are confident in what you are doing or find yourself in a unique situation, it would be best to stick to the basics. Even without adrenaline to apply to the wound merely adhering to the basic principle of applying cold direct pressure will be the most important thing you can do.
The first thing to do when dealing with a cut is to quickly clean the area with your small wet towel, which should be cold from being kept in the ice bucket. Then as soon as possible, applying pressure to the cuts with gauze or your cotton swabs soaked in adrenaline should be done if you have them. You could also place the enswell on top of the swab to apply pressure and cold at the same time. When the break is coming to an end, then you will remove the gauze or swab to apply vaseline to the cut. The vaseline should be used over and into the cut to act as a filler and should be seen to seal up the wound to the best of its ability.
Nosebleeds will be another common injury you will deal with as a cutman. Again wiping the blood away from the nose with your small wet towel should be done straight away. Then immediately placing an adrenaline-soaked cotton swab up the bleeding nose of the fighter while applying pressure to hold it in place from the outside of the nose should be done. It would help if you were careful not to pressure both nostrils as you still want the fighter to be able to breathe but as you work on stopping the bleeding advise the fighter to breathe through their mouth, so they do not swallow blood. You should also caution a fighter no not blow their nose if you suspect that the nose is broken.
Dealing with Swelling
As with cuts, the most important technique you can do is to apply cold direct pressure to the wound using your enswell o if you didn’t have one then even an ice pack will do. Some cutmen will advise to rub swelling out to try and lessen it, and I have seen this used to move swelling away from the eye, but this is a technique that Jacob “Stitch” Duran strongly advises against as it can make the swelling worse (Markarian, 2010). Cold direct pressure to any swelling will still be your most used technique in dealing with swelling. Vaseline should also be applied to any swelling before the break ends to help with reducing the chances of the skin tearing on a swollen area and turning into a cut.
Other Duties of a Cutman
Dealing with cuts between rounds is the primary duty of a cutman, but other skills may also be useful to master and cover the scope of a cutman. Wrapping hands would be the number one skill cutmen would also be expected to have, and I will cover this in another article. Along with wrapping hands, general skills in applying sports tape to other parts of the athlete will also be useful and general first aid skills to help assist in fighters well being after the fight will be suitable to acquire.
General people skills are also useful for a cutman to have as they will need to negotiate with corners to figure out how they will operate in between rounds. On top of that, giving the fighter confidence that they are working with is also helpful as they can help calm them in-between rounds and provide them with confidence backstage going into a fight. Part of the trust you can instil in a fighter can be done by building a reputation as being the best at your craft so that when they know you are working with them, they feel confident in your abilities.
Sixty Seconds to Work
Being a cutman will always be a pressure-filled role as you have sixty seconds to work within where you will need to prioritise what you do and work effectively with the rest of the corner. It may be repeated twice or four times within a fight. With that in mind have a good handle on your equipment and what you will do with them ahead of time will make you better prepared when the time to work on a cut comes.
If you spend time in a fight gym, you may want to keep your toolkit in your gym bag. If a fighter gets cut during practice or sparring, then it may allow you to work with a cut without the pressure of the 1-minute time limit and gain some experience. Otherwise except for the few cutmen courses that are available then first-hand experience working on fights will be your best teacher or if you are lucky you will be able to find someone willing to let you shadow them and learn the craft.
Dealing with cuts is all about helping your fighter be the best they can be and also keeping them as safe as possible during their fight. The above article is a good rough guide, but if this is a topic that you are serious about mastering, then you should seek further instruction, particularly from medical professionals.
(Although this didn’t fit anywhere in the article I thought it was interesting to include at the end. While researching this article, I found a study they did on fighters in the fifties on sewing a single stitch to fighters cuts between rounds which I found fascinating: “Closure of Boxing Lacerations Between Rounds”. )
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Duran, J. (2008). Jacob “Stitch” Duran Presents DVD: Giving the Fighter One More Round [DVD]. America: Jacob Duran.
Fleischer, N. (1951). How to Second and How to Manage a Boxer. Nat Fleischer.
Gelber, J. (2016). The Ultimate Guide to Preventing and Treating MMA Injuries. ECW Press.
Markarian, R. (2010). “Stitch” Duran: This Cut Man Gets Priority Position. Retrieved 26 January 2020, from https://tss.ib.tv/boxing/articles-of-2010/11826-qstitchq-duran-this-cut-man-gets-priority-position
Matuszak, S. (2015). UFC 189 From a Cutman’s Perspective | FIGHTLAND. Retrieved 26 January 2020, from http://fightland.vice.com/blog/ufc-189-from-a-cutmans-perspective
MMA Junkie Staff. (2013). Alex Davis, Jacob ‘Stitch’ Duran discuss the science of the cutman. Retrieved 26 January 2020, from https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2013/07/alex-davis-jacob-stitch-duran-discuss-the-science-of-the-cutman
Reddy, L. (2019). Adrenaline, Vaseline and composure – Kerry Kayes on the art of being a boxing cuts man. Retrieved 26 January 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/sport/boxing/47026147
The core of talent in martial arts is not dependent on the presence of remarkable attributes but rather the absence of limitations imposed on yourself by society and your subconscious. Society and self-interference can hinder your mental, physical and emotional performance and the four principles which embody this lack of obstruction are non-resistance, accommodation, balance and the natural order. All humans are naturally born free of all obstructions, and it is only through external influences of society and our upbringing that we unconsciously develop these restrictions that stifle our development as martial artists.
These four principles can all be witnessed in the natural world and explained in proverbs with which you might already be familiar. Trees that bend in the wind are examples of the principles of non-resistance, a gentle stream that can cut through stone is a case of the principle of accommodation, life thriving in moderate cycles is an example of the principle of balance and the regular changing of seasons is an example of the natural order. Nature can reveal these principles in action, but they are all psychophysical forces that transpire both equally in the human mind as well as the human body. It is said that training in the martial arts is 50 percent physical and 50 percent mental, or as former UFC heavyweight champion Bas Rutten would say it is 100 percent mental as you have to use your brain to want to get out of bed and go to training. A connection between the natural environment, the human psyche and body that creates a psychophysical hurdle that can be overcome by the four principles mentioned. Including these principles in your martial arts practice will change your training from a mere repetition of physical movements to natural movements that are influenced by your mental state, energy and environment. Embracing these principles can lead to reawakening your learning abilities and create benefits that will be developed through martial arts that can transfer to your daily life.
The Principle Of Non-Resistance
The forces of life will impact upon people in various forms, yet the ways to deal with these effects can be broken down into four different ways. You can disregard these forces them and risk having accidents that are caused by your ignorance; you can attempt to resist them in a manner that is inefficient and turbulent uses of energy, or you can implement the principle of non-resistance and use these forces to naturally blend with and energise your life. H is like building a sail that catches the wind to cross vast distances or how a bird can use that same wind to fly or a fish that swims with the current. All are examples of working together and in harmony with natural forces as resistance is not found in nature but is constructed in the minds of humans.
“Non-resistance is the key to the greatest power in the universe” – Eckhart Tolle
It should be clarified that non-resistance is not merely passive inaction in the face of life events as anyone with a lack of motivation can resign themselves to do nothing of consequence. Rather non-resistance is actively cultivating a sensitivity and intelligence to discern and interpret life’s subtle forces and then be able to naturally flow with them in peace. Problems of day to day life can be handled using the principle of non-resistance, but martial arts training and competition will also benefit from this concept. Through non-resistance, you use an opponents movement to your advantage and you can understand your opponent is a teacher that will educate you on your weaknesses and help you to improve and better yourself. Redirecting an opponent’s force to use it against them is a common theme in martial arts and is an excellent example of the principle of non-resistance in action.
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Master Yoda
Unfortunately, most actions of humans are endeavours to push or pull on the river of life rather than flow with it in harmony, and this constant resistance is what causes physical and emotional anxiety. Anxiety or tension are subtle signals that something is amiss and should be carefully listened to so you can take responsibility for actions that may be causing this pressure and not resist by shifting the blame onto circumstances out of your control. The most common way a martial artist will experience resistance is by “trying” because the moment you begin to “try” you are immediately assuming a weakness to the challenge ahead of you, and this will cause tension. The tension created by “trying” is entirely a mental construct generated from trying too hard instead of flowing with nature.
“Aikido is the principle of non-resistance. Because it is non-resistant, it is victorious from the beginning. Those with evil intentions or contentious thoughts are instantly vanquished. Aikido is invincible because it contends with nothing.” – Morihei Ueshiba
A talented martial artist will never “try”, they will instead be smooth, relaxed, calm, confident and have a naturally continuous and flowing approach when training and competing. Trying to make or force things to happen creates turbulence and will be met with direct opposition, you can still achieve your goals by working with nature and flowing. Let things transpire naturally based on the complexities of circumstance and train without tension and resistance. For an example of this, consider placing a balance beam on the floor and walking across it and you will find the task relatively simple. But if you place the same balance beam across two skyscrapers you be in a different mental state that can cause tension despite it being the same physical task you have to perform. As soon as you begin to “Try” in martial arts you have created a mental opposition to your work instead of flowing, this psychological opposition will then create physical symptoms causing muscles tense and breathing to be interrupted.
The Principle Of Accommodation
Placing demands on yourself to encourage growth in training will need to take the form of progressive overloading where you repeatedly demand a little more of yourself than you are currently capable of dealing with comfortably. Progressive overload will require patience and the ability to tolerate repeated failures as you continually push yourself and take risks to achieve your life goals. Tolerance for failure will come with an intuitive understanding that each failure is an opportunity to learn and to make accommodations for these failures and lessons. To be able to build tolerance for your inevitable failures you must make your expectations realistic and achievable, so you know that with patience and continued perseverance you can achieve the goals you have set if you make your goals unrealistic and unachievable you will create frustration at your repeated failures.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
Martial arts training then becomes a process of consistent development through an incremental progression of practical and sensible demands of your body and emotions. The principle of accommodation is much similar to a bodybuilder who wishes to increase muscle the muscle fibres must be broken down over time so that they can grow back stronger and evolve over time. Or think of grinding a rock into the shape of an arrowhead, this can be achieved if you grind the rock slowly and with patience but if you attempt to rush it and grind the rock quickly you risk breaking it. The demands you place on your body, mind and emotions must be gradual and within your capacity, taking one step at a time and this is the principle of accommodation. If you ever find yourself asking if you can become good at a skill, thinking that a particular skill would be too difficult you are not embracing the principle of accommodation. These question to yourself will create tension in your body and chip away at any motivation you have to achieve your goals. Instead, you must look at the gradual demands you can place on yourself and start making the steps on your path to whatever higher goal it is you wish to achieve.
“Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.” – Morihei Ueshiba
The Principle of Balance
Essentially the principle of balance can be summed up by stating “Neither too much nor too little.” and it is a principle that can be used in every aspect of your daily life, martial arts training and body and emotion. For a martial artist, balance is seen by not moving too fast or too slow, not being too aggressive or too tentative and not being too far high, low, left or right. The balance will control the pace and timing that every martial artist relies upon to be successful, and this will also filter through to your mindset in training. Understanding balance in training will allow you to accept that you will have good days and bad days and not become frustrated or impatient with an unrealistic expectation that every day of training should constantly be “good”. This understanding will free your mental state from the dependence of your outcomes of any particular training session and instead leave you to focus on the practical process of training and realise that the cycle of good and bad days will balance itself. Training becomes a balance of body, mind and emotions and any days where your physical performance is not excellent should be used to pay more attention to your mental clarity and emotional stability.
“Everything too fast is not good but everything too slow is also not good. You need balance. That’s why I like martial arts: it always tells you how to control your body, your mind, your heart. Balance. Balance can keep the world’s peace. I think that’s a very good thing.” – Jet Li
A martial artist will become centred and in balance with your physical body, mental and emotional states all simultaneously and notice how they all affect each other and are interconnected. The opposite effect of this can be seen in an opponent who is mentally out of balance or emotionally upset as they become much easier to defeat. Upsetting an opponent’s composure is what some prizefighters look to exploit when they trash talk an opponent in an attempt to emotionally unbalance their opponent so that their physical performance also becomes unbalanced. Physical balance and emotional turmoil are like fire and water as they do not mix.If you spend too much time thinking about your emotional problems, then you will become unbalanced, but if you meditate on your balance, then you will get rid of your emotional problems.
The Principle Of Natural Order
The principle of natural order is understanding the continual progressive development and changes that occur over time. For instance, the four seasons always stay in the same order and a tree always grows from a seed and never goes from a tree to seed. These processes cannot go backwards and cannot be rushed; it is human nature to want to accelerate the natural order, and this causes our mind to race faster than life is capable of moving. Although progression in the martial arts can still be seen as an equation of both time and concentration where you can spend less time to make the same progress if you concentrate your intensity, it still must remain in balance at all times. Training too long and too intense will cause you to overtrain, which is where your body cannot properly recover from the stress you are putting it under. Also not training enough and without any passion will cause you never to achieve your goals, so it is something that must be balanced and follow the natural order. A great sign that you have a balanced attitude to training is that you are happy and have a sense of humour, as you understand that no matter what achievements you make in martial arts they will not matter in the scheme of the universe or on the scale of the cosmos.
“There is no quick way to grow a tree that is strong enough to withstand a storm”
If you ever find yourself thinking that you should be doing better or you should be progressing faster, it is a sign that your mental state is not in the natural order as the word “should” has no place in the mind of the martial artist. As with the word “Try” the word “Should” suggest you are dissatisfied with your current state of being and will cause tension and emotional turmoil. Time is better spent taking action on what you can control rather than spending time thinking about the way things should be which can eventually lead you nowhere other than into neurosis. To continue your martial arts training with the principle of natural order, you must look to always be happy with your training and keep the enthusiasm and inspiration of a beginner.
These four principles of developing talent in martial arts will help you with your enjoyment and growth of both your martial arts practice and your daily life. You want to balance between the positive and negative aspects of life and practice nonresistance with whatever circumstances life will bring towards you. Do not get stressed if things do not happen fast enough for you and realise this it part of the natural order and instead embrace accommodation and work on the process of achieving small goes and make continued progress. You will use all these principles to transcend illusionary self-concepts, break down emotional obstacles and develop martial arts talent.
Reference: Millman, D. (1979). The Warrior Athlete. Walpole, N.H.: Stillpoint Pub.