I weigh over 200 pounds and have been at that weight for a while. In all those years, it never fails to amaze me how people take one look at me and say “Yeah he may be strong but he’s slow.” Now I’m not the fastest guy out there but I’m not exactly slow either. And I’ve trained with a truckload of other heavyweights who were either just as fast or lots faster than me.
Still, many people out there have this idea that all heavyweights are slow and can’t have good footwork. Weird, but I’ve encountered this too many times for it to be random. Now I do understand that seeing a guy like Viacheslav Datsik in action makes for a convincing argument in their favor but not all heavyweights are like that.
And before you fall off your chair laughing, Datsik knocked out Andrei Arlovski in his first MMA match. So even the worst heavyweight can get lucky.
The main problem big guys face is that it’s very easy to rely on your strength and weight when you train. In many schools and gyms, there are a lot of lighter fighters compared to only a few heavyweights. So the big guys often train with lighter ones simply because there is nobody else. After a while, you risk getting used to the weight difference and fight a specific way: willing to take a couple hits, because you know you can take them, to get close enough and land a power blow. It’s not a terribly bad strategy, because it works in that specific situation, but it limits your progress as a fighter. In the long run, you don’t grow as much as you should.
So what’s the key to avoid ending up a sloppy big fighter? Become a student of the arts. The Latin root of “student” means to be eager, to be diligent or to strive after. That’s exactly what you should do:
- Be eager to learn everything there is to know about your art.
- Be diligent in your practice. It’s never enough.
- Strive after technical perfection. It multiplies the benefits your strength and size give you.
Here are a couple examples of what I mean:
Love him or hate him, Mike Tyson was an amazing athlete. Yes, he digs his fists into the heavy bag with astounding power but look at how incredibly fast he is, how his footwork is explosive and precise as he chases his trainers. My favorite part is the 360° shadow boxing he does at 1min27. His fists flash like lightning as he turns and slides in the ring. If you think he’s only using speed and not power, look at his body mechanics: they are solid.
Here’s another one, Ernesto “Mr. Perfect” Hoost:
Hoost wreaked havoc in muay Thai rings for years on end and you can see why. He has amazing timing and makes long and fast combinations. Watch how his chopping hooks flow from one to the other, sometimes ten in a row. To top it off, he has a knack of landing a nasty leg kick every time he finishes up.
But most of all, watch his footwork when he goes to town. Even when he rushes forward, he manages to stop on a dime and start his series of punches. No loss of balance at all. And look at how he does a 360° around Andy Hug. Just like Tyson in his shadowboxing (not as fast or powerful but still pretty decent for a non-boxing specialist) he circles around him while firing one blow after the other.
These are just a couple examples of heavyweights who are neither slow, nor with bad footwork. And there are plenty of others out there, they just don’t all have clips on Youtube. So next time you see one of them training, don’t make assumptions about his speed or skill. Find out if he’s another Datsik or the next Tyson before his fists and feet do the talking.
Speaking of training, I’m slowly getting a bunch of lingering injuries under control. Stuff that kept me from training like I wanted to for the last 6 months. I’m not there yet but it’s getting better. I thought it’d be fun to make a couple videos of my training, especially since a lot of you have mailed me asking just that. The first thing is figuring out a way to bring the footage from my camcorder to my PC. Last time I did that was on my previous computer; this new one is different so I’ll probably have some trial and error going on before it works decently. Stay tuned.