The gulf between observer and performer is a difficult one to bridge. Much like a food critic who observes every subtle nuance of his assigned dish only to be faced with the vitriolic hatred of the chefs who prepare his food, MMA couch commentators sometimes earn the ire of their friend who attends his kickboxing classes with religious fervor. The former loves the sport from an observational, strategic point, while the latter takes more joy in the activity.
Here’s a tip that can be used by both parties who want to further their understanding and practice of the sport: whatever you do, bring a notebook,
Fighters who train constantly are likely to be frustrated with the sheer volume of information that is thrown at them. The possibilities of submissions are endless, as are the setups for takedowns, footwork, combinations, ad nauseam. Every day you learn another three submissions, and every day you might forget them entirely when the first round of sparring comes.
“A good way to combat this,” says local conditioning coach Nate, “is to bring a notebook with you every day to the gym. After class, write down the positions and techniques you learned. Write down things you need to focus on, pitfalls to avoid, anything that will help. Writing reinforces ideas in your head the same way practice puts them into muscle memory. You’ll be less likely to forget everything you’ve learned that day if you take a few short notes to get the idea set in stone for your mind. It’ll also give you a better encyclopedia of moves than you could ever buy. Think about it; who knows your style better than you? Handy little reference book before a fight or your regular sparring sessions.”
Similarly, a top notch commentator needs to be on his A-game for making the proper bets, announcing a local fight for broadcasting, or simply making the next UFC match more interesting for his viewing companions. A good observer needs to know the same things a fighter does, but from different vantage points. Write down submissions you haven’t seen before. Write down who wins, how long into which round, defeated by what. Write down when a fighter made a fatal error, or when he did something that gave him a winning advantage. Write down a fighter’s history, if he’s used that particular strategy or finish before, and if so, against whom, etc. These are the considerations a commentator worth his salt needs to predict and identify. Writing them down will help you remember and train you to recognize a hierarchy of importance.
Bring a notebook to your next UFC night or training session and see for yourself how far it will go towards making you a better MMA fan.
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