How To Start With MMA? You Don't Have To Worry About Being Crushed During The First Training Session
André Reinders and Martin Karaivanov are among the best Czech MMA coaches. We asked them how to start with this sport, what to wear for the first training, but also how to adjust the diet.
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MMA (mixed martial arts) is one of the fastest growing sports in decades, if not the fastest growing. Along with the massive popularity of cage fighting, the number of people who are impressed by this sport and want to try it themselves, but perhaps hesitate and don't know how, has also grown in recent years. The most difficult step is often the first one.
That's why we asked experts about how to get started with MMA - Martin Karaivanov from Jetsaam Gym in Brno, the home stable of UFC champion Jiří "Denisa" Procházka, and André Reinders, whose Prague gym Reinders MMA fans in internet polls two years after chose themselves as the best gym on the Czech-Slovak scene.
There is no need to worry that they will crush you during the first training session.
– Martin Karaivanov
Why you don't have to be afraid to come to training even if you have no experience, what to take with you, how long does it take to master the basics of MMA, and how should you adjust your lifestyle? You will learn all this and much more in the article below. The coaches also described when and how a client can move from training to competition.
It is quite common for a person to be nervous or afraid before the first training session. But coaches André Reinders and Martin Karaivanov assure you that you don't have to worry about anything. If you've never done martial arts before, it's no problem at all. Quite the opposite. They will welcome you to the gym warmly and teach you everything from the beginning. Complete beginners usually have their own training group, so there is definitely no risk that you will suddenly find yourself face to face with a much more experienced learner. You will learn basic movements and techniques with people who are at the same level as you.
I always emphasize that before you can compete with someone else, you must first learn to control your own body. That's where it all starts.
– André Reinders
André Reinders confirms that even people without experience in combat sports have an open door at his gym. "Everyone is welcome here. We have created a special group C for those who are complete beginners. Previously, most people who started training in MMA already had experience in other combat sports, but with the increasing popularity of MMA, many people are coming who have never done a combat sport in their life, but want to give it a try. So these beginner training sessions are designed for them.
No one needs to worry that it would be too physically demanding or that someone would beat them, certainly not. It is primarily about learning basic techniques, learning to move your body and learning to control your body. I always emphasize that before you can compete with someone else, you must first learn to control your own body. That's where it starts. So anyone who wants to try what MMA is all about, doesn't have to be afraid to come," explains André Reinders.
Men and women train together, which is not unusual. Most of the women form pairs by themselves, the more advanced ones also train with men.
– Martin Karaivanov
Martin Karaivanov, head of Jetsaam Gym, agrees that anyone can start withMMA. No one needs to be afraid to come to the gym - the exercisers are divided into groups so that everyone trains with people of the same level.
"Anyone can come to us, regardless of experience. We have several training groups designed for different levels. There is no need to worry that you will be crushed in the first training session. You are training as equals," reassures Karaivanov. Division into training groups according to experience is generally a common practice in practically all gyms.
In addition, it is customary for both men and women to train together in public training (except for specialised courses in combat sports, which can also be found for women only). This is a normal thing and of course no one is in danger even in such cases. Women usually form pairs together. "Men and women train together, which is not unusual. Mostly the women form pairs, the more advanced ones also train with men," adds the head of Jetsaam Gym.
And how does such training take place? "Trainings are different, depending on what is being practiced. In general, at the beginning there is a warm-up, stretching, gymnastics/dexterity, technique training, drills, strengthening and occasionally light, controlled sparring. Everything with regard to development and the possibility to move to higher groups," further described Martin Karaivanov.
The specific form of training is, of course, different in each gym and depends on the leadership of the given trainer or group of trainers. As already mentioned, for beginners, the emphasis is mainly on practicing the most basic movements and techniques, so if you want to find out if this sport is for you or just try it, don't worry about the first training session.
What to take with you to training?
You have chosen a gym and decided to go to training. You've taken the first step. Now comes the question of what to take with you. But you don't need much for your first MMA training, because you can almost always borrow basic equipment and protectors, such as gloves.
As a rule you should be able to get by with just regular sports clothes. However, it is definitely true that having your own gear is an advantage. Especially if you're going to do more combat sports, it's better to get your own gear, that fits you well and makes you feel your best.
This is also confirmed by Martin Karaivanov. "We have certain equipment to rent, but it's definitely better to bring at least your own gloves, either from the point of view of comfort or the availability of items," advises the head coach of Jetsaam Gym.
Whenever someone asks me what they should bring with them, I say the desire to learn something, because that's where it starts and ends.
– André Reinders
The head coach of Reinders MMA points out that the most important thing a person should bring with them to their first training session is primarily an interest in learning something new. The gym will take care of the rest. "Every time someone asks me what they should bring with them, I say the desire to learn something, because that's where it starts and ends. Otherwise, classic sportswear is enough. All other equipment that would be needed is in the gym. In the beginning, they learn basic movement skills, basic stance, escapes on the ground, and no equipment is needed except for the desire to learn something."
If you decide to devote more time to combat sports and perhaps increase the intensity of your training, in addition to your own gloves, bandages or tooth protectors, don't forget to buy a helmet. This significantly dampens blows and minimizes concussions. Thanks to this, you can prevent possible brain damage, which is usually irreversible. There is no 100 percent protection against brain damage in combat sports such as MMA or boxing (except for perfect dodging, perhaps), but a helmet is the best prevention.
In the past, we talked about the importance of using a helmet with professional cutman Bohumil "BoBesh" Vojkůvka and traumatologist Pavle Holeka. Among other things, they told us how long it takes for brain damage to start showing up and what the first symptoms look like. Both agree that a helmet should be used in every sparring session. You can read the article on preventing brain damage here.
When can I switch to competition?
MMA is one of the most complex combat sports, if not the most complex. It combines elements from boxing, Thai boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and other sports - hence the name mixed martial arts. And because it is a highly complex sport, it can take several months to master all the basics. Therefore, as with everything else, regularity, persistence and discipline are necessary. Of course, how quickly you learn to defend or fight also depends on talent, because each of us is gifted at something different.
"On average, it takes half a year to a year before it is possible to transfer a complete beginner to a more advanced one. It depends on the diligence and talent of the individual," Karaivanov explains.
For many people, combat sports are just a hobby, or they want to learn to defend themselves or get in shape. But for others, MMA can grow from an ordinary leisure activity into a passion with the desire to take it a step further and experience a fierce fight for themselves. The trainers in the gym will help you with that. First, however, it is necessary to have some training experience. This is also for the sake of your own health. No good coach would allow anyone who was not sufficiently prepared for the match.
"For someone to be able to wrestle, they have to be trained, and Friday's sparring training serves as a test. If he can hold his own against more experienced wrestlers, we can talk about him being ready for the match," says the head of Jetsaam Gym.
A quality and balanced diet, paired with sufficient sleep, is the foundation that everyone should include in their lives. (...)
– Martin Karaivanov
The same is true in the Reinders MMA gym. André Reinders says that sometimes the initiative can come from the client himself, who has the determination to try, other times the possibility of a match can be suggested by the coach himself. As the head of Reinders MMA adds, everything depends on mutual agreement. If both sides agree and they agree on a date for the match, the training regime will be adjusted accordingly.
"As far as competition is concerned, of course anyone who is interested in trying what they have learned in an intense match, we will help them prepare, and ensure that everything from handling various registrations and applications is in order. Boys and girls start training, and after some time find that they feel comfortable with the sport, want to compete even with more experienced people.
Usually, the coach or myself start to sense that they have the desire to compete, it usually happens spontaneously. It often goes so hand in hand that I propose the topic of a potential match, or the person in question decides on his own that he would like to try it. We usually decide on a date when we will adjust the training to prepare for it, we intensify and pay more attention to training and then we eventually begin with some kind of amateur match," André Reinders described the procedure.
How to adjust the diet?
Last but not least, lifestyle is also connected with active sports. If you decide to do MMA, or practically any other sport, and you want to improve in it, diet can help you do that. This has an effect not only on how much energy you will have during training, but also on how your body will regenerate afterwards. Of course, it is not necessary to immediately prepare a diet according to professional athletes, but at least pay attention to the basics of a healthy lifestyle, such as sufficient sleep and a balanced intake of proteins, fats and carbohydrates from quality sources.
"A quality and balanced diet, together with sufficient sleep, is a complete foundation that everyone should include in their lives. It is not possible to say in general what to include or exclude. We all have different jobs, different daily routines and rhythms." explains Martin Karaivanov.
It is certainly a plus if people adjust their diet a little so it is not difficult for them to train and they regenerate better. Of course, our coaches are always happy to advise them on this.
– André Reinders
The importance of a proper lifestyle is underlined by André Reinders, who also mentioned that if someone does not know how to deal with nutrition, they can turn to the trainers in the gym, who will gladly help them.
"It's always an advantage when people adapt other regimes to it, although of course I understand that it's not entirely easy for many people who have a normal job or who study. But it will help a lot in regenerating after the training, so that they can train more often and more intensively." concludes André Reinders.
Are you in?
So what to remember? If you want to start MMA, find a gym in your city and don't be afraid to try it out. You only need ordinary sports clothes for your first training, the equipment is usually available to rent on the spot (but it is a good idea to check before visiting the gym in question). You can switch to custom equipment gradually.
If you decide to do MMA, also pay attention to your diet, which will help you improve. And even if you have no ambitions to switch to competition, combat sports can help you get in good (and not only) physical shape.
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