Tony Ferguson’s horrible deadlift

Here’s a video of Tony Ferguson, a professional athlete and UFC champion, doing a deadlift last year:

There is a reason why I write my books and articles the way I do and this is a part of it:
Martial arts is one of the fields in which even the best have some of the worst training practices.
This video illustrates that clearly.Tony is an excellent fighter, there is no doubt about that. But I see only two explanations for this horrible deadlift:

  • He is trained by an incompetent conditioning coach. There is zero reason to let any client perform a deadlift in this manner, let alone with this much weight. Zeroat all.
    I teach all my clients how to properly hip-hinge without weight or with a broomstick. No exceptions. Technique comes first, weight second. If they don’t like it, they can find another trainer, because I won’t be responsible when they go to snap city and end up hospitalized.
  • He thinks he knows how to deadlift, but never really learned proper technique. Which would mean he is his own conditioning coach. As a professional athlete looking for every edge you can get, that’s just stupid.

I’ve rarely encountered a field other than martial arts where the most counterproductive or antiquainted training exercises and protocols are used by professionals. When I write in-depth about topics, it is precisely to avoid giving you incomplete information that can lead to injuries or worse. I’ve often been criticized for being too wordy, but it doesn’t bother me. Those who think TL;DR is the way to excellence will eventually find out that they missed their shot. Those who keep on studying and try to learn and improve, those are the practitioners who get to the top and stay there.

hip hinge

Showing Barry Eisler the range of motion in a proper hip hinge

There is a corrolary to this: I rarely talk about topics I don’t have experience with or knowledge of. I try to avoid adding bullshit to the already massive amounts of information that are shared all over the internet. So I usually either stay quiet on those topics or refer to others who are more knowledgeable.

I would dare say that if he hasn’t already, Tony could do worse than find a good coach to teach him the basics of the deadlift…

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  1. Could not agree with you more Wim (I Posted your Post on my Blog to make that point!), and I battle that issue all day every day with every new patient, and all the people that I encounter who are at risk, don’t know it, don’t think so, and don’t care – until it is too late.

    My view is that we all should have been taught this stuff when we got our first job and someone put us to work bending and lifting. Obviously, that is probably family, and true enough, it should start there. It didn’t (and doesn’t usually), so that means bosses – who have vested interests in our not getting hurt. Then the military. Why didn’t (don’t they) drill the basics into our heads right from the start – they certainly came up with all kinds of creative ways to “train” us? In my world (Chiropractic = back pain, to most) why don’t Colleges teach it better. True they do a much better job, in some places, now then did in the past, but I still see all kinds of health care professional whose resume would indicate that they are “expert” at it, but can’t even have a decent conversation about it. From there it is the Safety community – and it just gets worse there: again, they should know. And their posters should give information that a person can use. They do not do that. Keep up the good work. Where btw, did you learn, knee rule, neutral spine, and hip crease? Not the language, but the body mechanics, if different. I am curious because I learned the body mechanics from Dan in Tai chi, but only the knee rule, explicitly. In complying with the knee rule, I developed movement the preserved the neutral spine. And I did it by using the hip crease/hinge. But I did not have the language until I read Pavel’s stuff and had it explained in minute detail. (I have a story that I will share with you about how that clarifying understanding impacted my Internal Strength training. Now, I have to get home to supper:-)

    • You’re totally right Dennis: it should be thaught. But it isn’t, unfortunately. That said, most children seem to have excellent bodymechanics and lose htem as they get older. One factor might be that the school system forces them to sit still for half a day, for years on end. Anotehr the lack of movement in modern livestyles. I could go on but won’t. :-)
      I learned some of the mechanics in our style, others in sport science studies and strength training. For the life of me, I don’t remember where the exact terminology came from: Probably a blend of all of them.
      I’m interested in that story, so share away!
      Speaking of sharing: would you be interested in doing an interview on my podcast? No pressure and no hurry.

      • That story I mentioned goes like this: It is the epiphany that “neutral spine” is not a static spot, per se, but a range. Paval doesn’t explain it that way, but his detailed, very excellent, discussion of it in “Naked Warrior” crystalized the point for me. As a result, I became aware that in certain static Internal Strength exercises I had not preserved the lumbar curve carefully. By adjusting that curve just 3/4 of an inch my back was never again the spot that failed when I reached the point of failure: it was from then on the legs. (A person could have a big long conversation about the implications of me saying that: which “should” fail first?, Why?, Why not the other?, Why not both at the same time? Blah, blah, blah… It’s a conversation that would be fun, but I don’t write as fast as I think or talk, so it isn’t fun to type it:-)

        As for the Podcast. I am not sure how that would look, but I would be happy to do it. Email me details. I haven’t really been actively following the one you have been referring to, but I will now:-) Take care.

        • I agree with you on it being a range. The human body is not a machine built to spec, it has tolerances aand as it is living tissue, these change. Small improvements can make a huge difference. E.g.: I often have clients do work in the tall kneeling position. Tends to teach them a new understanding as to what “keeping your pelvis tucked in” and “neutral spine” means. :-)

          Email is on its way…

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