Victor Bachmann

July 23, 2010

Some don’t get out alive

Filed under: Training — The Professor @ 12:34 pm

When battling evil, injuries can occur.

Last week I dislocated my shoulder. It happened the way it always does, at the end of practice doing one last round. I was tired and went in for a sloppy shot, opponent drops to a lazy sprawl and falls on my arm in a weird way. Pop! It didn’t actually make a sound, but it sure did hurt.

It’s easy to blame your training partners, opponents, coaches, etc., but every time you step out on to the mat, ring, gym you accept the risk that you are going to end up in the emergency room. You’re the one dumb enough to take part in combat sports. Of course, you are always trying to minimize the risk. You warm up properly, put submissions on slowing, never crank a submission to a training partner who won’t tap (if it’s in the cage, break it!), and always tap when you should.

As much as you minimize the risk someone will get hurt. It’s a risk you either accept or get out of the game. It’s a big risk. You might have to drop out of an upcoming fight. You might have to get reconstructive surgery, spend months in physiotherapy, and more months getting back to where you started.

Most fighters don’t have much money and physiotherapy is expensive. When I tore my ACL, I didn’t have any extended insurance. I have a few good friends who were willing to help me out, but they have to make a living as much as anyone else and can’t do that handing out freebies to every sob story. Without proper recovery an injury might not ever heal.

Not being able to fight or train is bad enough, but showing up to your job in a leg splint can cause even more problems. We have a few aspiring and current firefighters/paramedics who train with us at Hayabusa and an injury can cost them their job. Most of them stop serious training or taking fights when they first get hired on.

There’s a lot you can do to speed up recovery. In all my strength and conditioning sessions I work on joint stability, either as a warm up or as part of the workout. After an injury, being diligent with all your exercises, ice lots, rest lots. That doesn’t mean stop training. With the U of A wrestling team, you are expected to show up to every practice, injured or not. There’s always something you can do, even if it riding a stationary bike or doing the exercises your physio prescribed.

I’ve known a few athletes try to push through their injuries, with mixed results. At best they lengthen their recovery, but run a risk of much more damage. Going into competition days or weeks after surgery might mean repeating it. It might mean it can never be repaired again and walking with a limp, cane, or pain for the rest of their lives.

As for when I will get back, hopefully soon. I’m putting in the work I need to get it better and training where I can. I was planning to fight in September, but I might have to push that back a month or two. At least this time, I can get the best treatment I need and take the time to fully recover.


July 13, 2010

The Worst Part of Fighting

Filed under: Fights,Training — The Professor @ 3:01 pm

More like postBONED!

This coming Friday was supposed to beMitch Clarke’s title shot against Curtis DeMarce. Two weeks before the show, the whole event was cancelled. Many of my teammates had spent the last 2 or 3 months putting in hours everyday to get ready for fights on the card. All of them are devastated.

This is a pain I know all too well. I have, more than once, gone a year training for fights that had fallen through. Some promoters would try harder to find replacement opponents. I would go through a laundry list of names before finding an opponent or giving up.

Training camps are hard on the body and injuries happen all the time. Rarely does a fighter go into a fight at 100%. A week before my second fight, I had torn a bunch of ligaments in my elbow and could barely move my arm. I spent most of the week with my arm taped up and the pain was so bad I couldn’t sleep at night. The thought of dropping out of my fight never occurred to me. I’m not sure if I realized I could.

That fight was tough and my performance was terrible. I did manage a win, but in retrospect I’m not sure that it was worth the risk. Full function of your arm is important in a fight. The toll on my body was pretty bad, I spent the next week bed ridden with the flu and it took months for my elbow to fully recover.

Fighting is risking to begin with. You have got an athlete pretty intent on removing your head from your body and it’s important that you are able to defend yourself with everything you can. An injury can mean more than a loss. Pushing an injured body to it’s already stretched limits affects an athlete for the rest of their life. The injury won’t heal properly and will affect future fights. Not to mention that this is the same body that you will stick with for the rest of your life.

It’s hard to find a good promotion to fight for; one that has respect for their fighters, pays them fairly, is fun to fight for, and has their shit together. The last one is harder to find than you’d think. I was supposed to fight in KOTC: Terror on the Tundra and then KOTC: Battleground in Grand Prarie. Both cancelled. Many of my teammates were supposed to fight in TFC 11: Destiny. Cancelled.

A cancelled event can be more frustrating than a dropped opponent. Both fighters are wanting and able to fight, training camps have been set up or finished, and fighters have sold tickets to friends and family. Sometimes other promotions pick up fights, but most fighters are left scrambling to find an event to fight in.

There is little consolation to a fighter. They are trying to build a career. Most fighters I know are living paycheck to paycheck and if they miss a fight it might mean they have to miss the next fight because they are busy working to make ends meet. MMA is a fickle business and people forget your name quickly.

I have gotten used to the idea that when I am training for a fight that there is a good chance that the fight will get cancelled. I enjoy training for a fight, sparring with my teammates, and getting my body into shape. The challenges of training camp can satisfying, even if it seems pointless. Of course, it’s always pointless. Even if you win a fight, you’re back in the gym the next week. Right?

June 1, 2010

The Off Season

Filed under: Training — The Professor @ 11:41 am

I’m taking some time off from fighting. Not too long, but the earliest I’d be fighting is August. There’s no actual off season in MMA. In Edmonton, there’s at least one event every month. Often 2 or 3. It’s easy to get a lot of cage experience in a short amount of time.

Taking a break by climbing a mountain.

Like every athlete, a fighter needs to take a break and slow things down. It’s an opportunity to let injuries heal fully and properly, let the body fully recover, take care of any relationships at home, and focus on things they let slide during a training camp.

A training camp is stressful. Everyday, you are pushing yourself through grueling practices, dieting, focusing on your game plan, and looking a head to the fight. It takes a toll on your mental state, putting pressure on yourself to perform in practice every day and playing over the fight in your head. Makes for a grumpy fighter. Putting some time between fights can get you back in a good head space, and make you a much saner person.

More importantly, it’s an opportunity for a fighter to improve technically and athletically. During a fight camp, the focus is taking the skills and physical abilities a fighter already has and using that to defeat their opponent. There’s time taken to fill in glaring holes (like terrible footwork or a tendency keep hands down) and skill mismatches (I’d probably work on my submission defense if I were to fight Marcelo Garcia). But that training isn’t going get a fighter his black belt in BJJ.

With out the pressure a fight, a fighter can dedicate time to get proficient in areas they lack and master the skills they are already proficient in. Athletes who get to the top, get there because they aren’t satisfied with where they are at. Mastery takes time and countless repetitions. Athletic ability takes just as much effort.

There are many fighters who don’t do any training unless they have a fight coming up. They spend months away from the gym. It puts them at a great disadvantage. The skills a person has fades quickly when they aren’t used; use it or lose it. When they start a camp, they start with less technical proficiency that they have to make up for. The physical abilities have also diminished; they are weaker, slower, less explosive, and less enduring.

Big opportunities rarely come at opportune times. Many tickets to the Big Show come when someone gets injured and a call goes out to find a short notice replacement. For most fighters, the chance comes only once and is impossible to turn down. They’ll take the fight, whether they’ve been training or not. If they haven’t, the only thing they can do is train their cardio and hope to get a quick knock out. If they’re lucky, they’ll fight a can and it’ll look like a sloppy toughman fight. If the fighter has been training, a last minute call can make a career or give a second chance.

Of course, the biggest reason a fighter trains is because he loves it (unless you’re this guy). I did everyday this week because I can.

May 10, 2010

Making Weight

Filed under: Fights,Training — The Professor @ 2:00 pm
Moments after making weight. In 6 hours, I will have put on 15lbs.

Moments after making weight. In 6 hours, I will have put on 15lbs.

Three days before I fight Jordan Mein in the first round of
Let’s Get It On’s
welterweight tournament. The only thing I can think of is nachos and that chocolate cake my wife got me for National High Five Day. I have to make weight in two days. I fight in a weight class that maxes out at 170lbs, and usually weigh between 185 and 195lbs.

For professional MMA bouts, weigh ins are conducted the day before the event. Most fighters will spend the hours leading up to the weigh ins sweating out pounds of water to reach their weight class. The moment they step off the scale they start rehydrating and carb loading as much as they can before they have to fight the next day.

I have been cutting weight for competition for the past 8 years, since my first year wrestling. My first few tournaments I competed at the weight that sat at, 82kg. Sometimes I was bumped to the next weight class, 90kg. I would always end up the smallest competitor in my weight class, and couldn’t compete with the size and strength of my weight cutting opponents.

Going down to 76kg (167lbs) was an easy decision, if I wanted to be competitive. I would lose 5-8lbs during hard practices and didn’t seem to effect my performance the next practice. There was usually a 2kg weight allowance, and would only have to make 76kg once or twice a year. I would be much bigger and stronger than the other wrestlers in that weight class.

Cutting weight isn’t fun or easy. A fighter will do anything to get weight off, I’ve seen people shave their heads to lose a fraction of a pound (it doesn’t work, hair doesn’t weigh enough to register on a scale). The hardest part is sweating the weight off. Fighters break down and cry regularly when in the middle of a weight cut.

Some fighters prefer to sit in a sauna until they get on weight. I put on a plastic suit and sweaters and ride a stationary bike. I like to make it easy, so when I’m sweating to make weight I only have to lose 5-7lbs. I do most of the weight loss the days leading up to weigh ins. Others do all their cutting the day of weigh ins. I’ve know people lose 25lbs or more in a few short hours. I have also seen that back fire too many times, affecting fighters performance during their fight the next day or, worse, ending up in the hospital with their kidneys shutting down.

Healthy eating has made making weight infinitely easier. Nutrition is both more simple and complicated than most people think. During my wrestling years, most of the advice came from teammates. Their ideas were either passed down from other athletes or had just come up with on their own. The goal was always to keep the weight down.

Some teammates struggled harder than others at making weight. The ones that struggled tended to be straight out of high school and learning to live on their own. Their day to day diet consisted of the Lister Hall cafeteria, mac and cheese, and MacDonalds. When it came time to make weight, their diets would change to a daily bowl of oatmeal.

I made sure that I was eating the best I knew how. I did some research on proper eating. Most of the information I found was either from the Canada food guide or weight watchers. The closest thing I saw to eating as an athlete were geared towards body builders. I followed the best advice I found and I never ballooned up during the off season or struggled to make weight.

When I was living in Toronto, I had a chance to meet with nutritionist Kyle Byron. The first thing he told me was I wasn’t eating enough. Then we went over what I should be eating, when, and why. Most of the nutritional plan was simple enough. A balanced meal of protein, carbs, and veggies every few hours. The biggest surprise was eating for training sessions and performance.

Nachos! My favourite post fight meal.

Nachos! My favourite post fight meal.

Eating to lose or maintain weight is pretty easy. Timing meals to make sure you have enough energy to push through a tough training session and not feel sick can be challenging. A two hour training sessions takes a lot of energy and your muscles can only hold so much. Being able to put some energy into your body gives you a big advantage and you can maintain intensity for longer.

I don’t always eat according to plan. After I fought Jordan Mein, I skipped the official after party and ate a full plate of nachos from Original Joe’s and then went home and ate that entire chocolate cake. I usually take the week after my fight and eat nothing but garbage. After that, I go back to regular, planned, healthy eating. It means I don’t have to starve myself when I’m training my hardest and I don’t have to feel guilty when go out to dinner.

April 16, 2010

Do you think you can fight?

Filed under: Training — The Professor @ 1:03 pm

Imagine you’re this guy, goes to the gym regularly, runs most days, is in generally good shape. Every now and then you play one on one basketball with your buddies. You usually win. Maybe you have a hoop on your garage and play with your dad on weekends. Do you think you can beat Michael Jordan, one on one? How about Jamar Samuels, forward for Kansas State? Current captain of your high school’s basketball team?

Sounds absurd. These guys play competitive basketball everyday, where you shoot hoops with your dad as he tells you about the birds and the bees.

How about instead of basketball, you get drunk on weekends and get into scraps or horse around with your buddies. You’re young and in good shape so you usually come out on top. Can you beat up Floyd Mayweather? Chael Sonen? The Professor?

I meet a lot of guys who want to fight professionally in MMA from aging local rock stars to kids fresh out of high school. Generally, they have little to no combat sport experience but still think they’re pretty tough. There have been more than person come in who already have a fight contract signed and want to get some training in with the pros.

Much of the problem is that there is no established amateur MMA. There are amateur grappling tournaments, but people don’t see a connection with MMA. There’s amateur boxing, but that’s a very evolved community and you’d be looking at a career as a boxer. So many people feel that local MMA is their best option.

Then there’s the ‘tough guy’ attitude.

Which one spent the day using his new Bedazzler on his T shirts?

Which one spent the day using his new Bedazzler on his T shirts?

There was a time I considered myself as ‘tough’. Like most young men I had a bit of an attitude, would occasionally get in to street fights, and generally act like an idiot. At the same time, I never though I could hold up against someone who fights professionally. Once I started wrestling, all that attitude went away and the image that I had of myself was crushed.

We get ‘tough guys’ coming in to Hayabusa saying they want to fight MMA, they’re going to be the next Georges St Pierre. We had one guy sign a picture of himself: ‘Hang on to that, it’ll be worth something.’ They start training and soon realize that they aren’t the person they thought themselves to be.

I guess the idea is that all it takes little more than attitude to be a professional athlete. The years I spent wrestling, training Jiu Jitsu, kickboxing, and MMA were a waste.

When tough attitudes, and little else, get their chance to fight it tends to end badly for them. What is frustrating is that occasionally these tough guys get matched up with other bums and they get their win. The fight is always ugly. What I could never figure out is how do they get fights? I hear stories of people walking up to promoters in bars and getting fight contracts. There are organizations which fill their cards with these fighters.

It takes years to develop any kind of athlete. Some people are naturally athletic and it’s those people who are going to rise past the rest when they put in time and effort. Fighting is very complex. There are endless technique and strategies to learn. Physical preparation is just as time consuming. Developing any real strength, power, speed, or endurance takes years. When coaches are developing an athlete, time lines extend into a lifetime.

If you are interested in MMA, start training in some combat sport. Be it boxing, wrestling, jiu jitsu, karate, it doesn’t matter. As long as it’s realistic, and the techniques are test against honestly resisting opponents. Keep in mind that it will take years for you to achieve technical proficiency and physical readiness. Compete as much as you can; test yourself against many opponents of varying experience.

You are going to lose, people will clown you, and you will generally feel crushed. The more attitude and ego you have, the less willing people are to help you. Keep an open mind, and if the time comes when you and your coaches fee that you are ready, fight.

April 8, 2010

Game Plans

Filed under: Training — The Professor @ 3:15 pm
Randy Couture is the master of game plans

Randy Couture is the master of game plans

My first fight was nearly 4 years ago. The training camp was a mix of everything; we would practice wrestling, boxing, jiu jitsu most mornings. Every afternoon, I’d go to wrestling practice. 3 nights a week I’d do jiu jitsu class. If I had the energy, I’d find the time to do some weight training.

The coaches talked to me about what I was going to do: wrestle my opponent down and either submit him or punch him out. Seemed obvious. But when I walked into the cage and the fight started, that didn’t happen. I ran at him with punches, he took me down, and we flopped around like fish until I managed to get mount and knock him out. It was ugly.

My coaches spent much of my next camp telling me not to mess around and wrestle the guy down and finish. But the next fight was much of the same. I didn’t understand what was going on. I had been a wrestler for years. I even competed in a wrestling tournament the weekend before. Yet I was still fighting aimlessly.

I thought I knew what it meant to have a game plan for a fight. It seemed simple enough, for me wrestle the guy down and maintain top position. I did that everyday in the wrestling room.

The difference was in the training. When competing in wrestling, you face more than one opponent during the day. All have different styles and in practice you train against different training partners. After a tournament, you look at where you had trouble, what people did to defeat you, and what you did that was successful. Then you go back and work on all those skills. Every day I was training for wrestling against wrestlers, not MMA against fighters.

When I was getting ready for my third fight, the training was completely different. This time it was run by Jeff Montemurro, who has been my main coach ever since. I was still training Jiu Jitsu with Kyle Cardinal, wrestling at the UofA, boxing, etc. But that was supplementary to the MMA training.

Before, all our drills were technique specific. I would do so many arm bars, guard passes, etc, with increasing resistance from my partner. Now, all our drills were skills specific. Techniques were left to be learned and improved between camps. Instead of repeating the same technique for reps, I would spend rounds taking down ever changing partners or submitting guys trying to pound me.

That next fight went perfectly. Instead of training perfect technique, I had trained to fight a certain way.

It’s a mistake that I see fighters make all too regularly. They separate their training, working on striking and ground at different times, only spending a small fraction of their time working on the fight plan. Then they walk into a fight with a plan in their mind that they rarely spent time practicing. While learning proper ways to perform technique is important, when getting ready for a fight, training for the fight is far more important.

Fedor dominates for 3 rounds where Nogueira is most dangerous

Coming up with a training regime can be challenging, but a good game plan can be near impossible. When dealing with one dimensional fighters, it can be as simple as defending a take down for 3 rounds while peppering your opponent with punches. With more experienced and well rounded fighters, it’s less obvious. There are many factors but it breaks down one simple idea: Control.

During a fight, each fighter is looking to control where the fight goes, the pace it’s fought at, the space given to the opponent. There are endless variables. By establishing control, you can shut down the strongest aspects of your opponents game letting you take the fight more places.

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