Two Different Assessments (diary entry)


First Private Lesson

My mandate for this lesson was to get a professional wrestler back into shape. The wrestler is a headliner in the promotion I used to co-promote and is currently one of the UK’s best. Therefore, there is a lot pressure for the stars to be on top form. Training is geared towards returning the wrestler to previous top condition. The wrestler has a prior background mixed martial arts. He also suffers from a knee injury. Exercises are designed to help shed fat and water retention (this must be coupled with a sensible eating plan), increase cardiovascular and lung strength, sharpen existing skills, safeguard against future injuries, and to increase overall functional strength.

Before any of this can be approached seriously, a good coach should take the psychological/mental state of the individual client. These training sessions are unlike those involving novices or even other martial artists who are seeking to pursue CCMA methods. This is a reconditioning project and is an entirely different challenge for both the client and me. In order for a wrestler of this calibre to have been able to achieve the level on a promotion he now holds, he will have had to have applied a certain attitude. Therefore to lose condition he must have changed his state of mind. So, my first job was to break him back down again and get his attitude right. In order to do this we began our training at 6 a.m. and chose my home as the location. I am limited by a barn that is used in the day as a workshop and outside, which this morning was covered in frost.

The session was something of an induction to the different methods and strategies that will be used throughout future lessons and for the client’s homework, as well an assessment of his physical abilities.


·         Medicine ball press-throw

·         Medicine ball squat and press-throw

·         Medicine ball Rockys

·         Medicine ball slams

Technical Training

·         Boxing on the focus mitts – regular and at speed

·         Wrestling – stand-up grip fighting

Functional Fitness

·         Deck squats – to train the suplex motion

·         Bag climbing/hanging – to train all over body grappling attributes

·         Pull-ups/inverted rows – to train the back and arms for grappling

·         Footwork on the tyre – to strengthen stabilizing muscles in the legs to protect the knee joint, to increase aerobic fitness and to improve footwork agility

·         Sledgehammers to the tyre – to increase heart and lung strength and for upper body conditioning

We discussed various high intensity interval training exercises for future sessions. including hill sprints and burpees that will build towards doing a full Tabata session. I also explained the importance of drilling wrestling movements such as rolls, shadow wrestling and bag slamming. This client will receive further instructions on how to manage his solo training.

Second Private Lesson

We have reached the half-way point in my foundation self-protection programme. Along with pre-fight soft skills delivered both verbally and through emailed documentation, the client has covered the following hard skills: pre-emptive striking with impact development (straight rear hand strikes, hook strikes, back hand strikes), incidental combinations, striking from compromised and restrictive positions, combat kicking, recovery training and anti-grappling tactics (finger-breaks, eye gouges, bites, head-butts, very close range striking and striking when being grappled behaviour exercises).

All of these areas were run through and layered for further development. This included looking at impact development, where my client got the feel of striking into a human body full force by using his shoulder and chest. Such an exercise simply cuts out the impact tool (the hand or elbow in this instance) and has the client step in full force to the coach. Because the impact surface area being used is so wide there is no injury, but the client gets some feedback on an actual body as opposed to a heavy bag, focus mitt or a human target he has to pull back on.

The client then received his first pressure test. It is important for me to address such matters as early on in the training as possible. In this instance it serves as a means for better confirmation the tactical efficiency of the techniques being taught against resistance, but I also like to use it for the student to learn a degree of unique adaptation. Hypothesis goes out of the winder as the heart rate goes up and the amygdala in the back of the brain stimulates the activation of the stress hormones.

The pressure test is what I call “Strategy One versus Strategy Two”, an asymmetrical combative exercise where one protagonist is restricted to using strikes and anti-grappling tactics whilst the other can only grapple. Initially the client resorted to the primal default tactic of grappling a grappler, but this was over-rided in short time. The pressure was not full on, but enough to raise the intensity of the client’s experience and to highlight errors. I was very happy with my client’s progress. He had practised and retained the skills he had been taught, and showed little worry about holding back once he realized it was the only way he could fend off his attacker.

 Resources: All You Need to Know About HIIT for Beginners



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