Movement Training the future of MMA?
“They don't move like I move. They don't tink like I tink.”
Mixed martial arts was born in 1993, from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. But when the first heavyweight champion was crowned, it was Mark Coleman over Dan Severn, neither of whom was a BJJ expert. Next champ was Maurice Smith, who likewise studied very little BJJ. Then it was Randy Couture. Then Bas Rutten. Then Kevin Randleman. None of them knew much about the art that the sport was founded on.
This kind of rapid adaptation is about the only thing that stays the same in the sport. Now the ascendance of undisputed UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor has inspired a new focus, on Movement Training.
Rather than develop speed, strength, and above all endurance, Movement Culture seeks to a increase balance, coordination, and range of motion, freeing the body to move more effectively.
In a June profile in ESPN, McGregor discussed his new approach. It came about when he tore his ACL vs. Max Holloway, and had to take nearly a year off. Prior to that, his training had not been unusual.
“Show up at the gym, put the gloves on, put the gum shield in and do 10 to 15 rounds straight,” he said. “Do about 300 to 400 rounds a week.”
“How many times have you looked at a person who grinds so hard and trains so hard and then gets better? You see them maintain. You see them in good shape. But they never get better skillwise. … And then through damaging the body, it slips. It declines. I'm trying to move differently.”
McGregor focused on moving his body more freely. He mimicked alligator crawls and chimp walks. Then he found Ido Portal videos on YouTube.
Portal is an Isreali born lifelong martial artists, who coined the term Movement Culture.
Portal trained with a variety of teachers: Osteopaths, and Manual Therapists, MD and Dancers, Yogis and Athletes, Circus Performers and Fighters. Over time he formed a body of knowledge on movement education, development, and culture. He began to do workshops all over Western and Eastern Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia. In his yearly 'Movement Camp' he gathered fighters and rock climbers and anatomists and much more and facilitated an exchange of information. Over time, a small community formed around his ideas.
A month after the ESPN profile, Portal posted about McGregor on Facebook
“Yes, we've been aware of Connor McGregor's following for a while now and are happy for our positive influence,” Portal wrote. “The fighting game is first and foremost a movement game, hence – with specialization and refinement of existing knowledge- you can only go a certain distance. (it can be all the way to the top but not beyond)
“In order to be great in any field – one must not only regurgitate existing, prior knowledge flawlessly but ADD TO THE COLLECTIVE KNOWLEDGE in his field.
I am impressed with McGregor's contributions to the MMA scene. He is doing things differently.”
The McGregor started training with Portal.
McGregor and teammate Gunnar Nelson are far from the only fighters availing themselves of Ido Portal's method.
Expect some trainers to say they have been doing it all along. It's Animal Gymnastics. It's Yoga. Others will say there it's a fad, without legs. But over time, expect a radically increased focus in our sport on how to move generally.