MMA Books – Can You Really Learn MMA From a Book?

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MMA or Mixed Martial Arts is considered to be an extreme sport, a blood sport, so I pose this question to you: Would you want to enter the octagon having only trained from a book? Anyone with any sense whatsoever would say no, of course you wouldn’t. So why do so many people think they can, to the point of actually buying the books?

Imagine for a moment, turning up to an MMA tournament to face an opponent that has had 6 months of instructor led training. His training routine consists of fitness, strength, sparring, grappling, take downs, escapes, holds and much more. How long do you think you would last? 1 minute? 3 minutes?

The sad truth is that you simply cannot learn a competitive sport like MMA from a book if you actually want to compete in it, even if you have studied the books for years.

It’s not a question of whether or not we can learn MMA from a book or video, we’re being told to learn from the book and video for the simple reason that individual instructors end up teaching individual versions of moves. To standardize, everyone needs to refer back to the standard and that’s why rules, laws and moves are written down. That’s the standard.

I suspect anyone who would say you can’t learn mixed martial arts from MMA books would also argue that you can’t learn the moves without an instructor. Now if we can only learn directly from the instructor, then it follows that we can’t learn when the instructor isn’t present. So what happens if he is ill, or decides to take a holiday, do you stop learning and wait until he returns, or do you have a stand-in instructor that will guide you?

The other problem of course is if your instructor doesn’t know everything about the sport, what if he only manages to teach you 80% of what he does know, and what if you go on to become an instructor yourself and only manage to teach 80% of what you know to your students. Can you see the ‘watering down’ effect that is going to occur?

To combat this, some instructors will ‘make-up’ their own moves or take techniques they have witnessed from other instructors or at events, but I can assure you they will be documented and referenced by others. Some instructors will also use books as a reference, and put their own spin on a particular move. The main difference being that if you attend classes, you will have real, practical and physical experience.

I’m definitely not suggesting that you should try to learn mixed martial arts without an instructor, simply that you can learn from books and videos. Feedback is important; it’s immensely valuable to get those verbal clues from your instructor on whether or not you’re doing it right. It would take a dedicated, talented and careful person indeed to learn MMA entirely from a book. It would take really good instructional materials and a video tape machine to watch oneself and most of all, it would take a person who would never ever be satisfied that they’d ‘got it’.

However, there is a place for MMA books in the areas of fitness, strength and to demonstrate certain elements.

With fitness and strength, there is no learning of moves and techniques. Simple photographs can show you the required positions and you will lose none of the value due to the ‘watering down’ effect. Oddly enough, fitness and strength are the most important aspects of MMA, because most fights last under 60 seconds in the real world! Sure, in competition you may ‘dance’ around the octagon looking for a decent opening, but in the real world, you have a fraction of a second to react and to get the job done, and let’s face it, the people who want to learn this kind of sport want to learn it for one reason, to win in a fight.

If it is fitness and strength that you require, then I’d recommend you invest in some MMA Books.