What It Takes To Be a Real Fighter: Part I: Athleticism

Jay BanduCorrespondent IMay 14, 2009

TORONTO - FEBRUARY 5:  Ultimate Fighter Georges St-Pierre attends the Toronto Maple Leafs game against the Florida Panthers during a fight during their NHL game at the Air Canada Centre February 5, 2008 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Part One: Physical Aptitude


I am not known to write many articles on this forum.  I mainly joined because I enjoy reading about my favorite sports as well as discussing events with passionate fans.


My main reason for writing this is because recently I have noticed an influx of fighters that have some of the tools necessary to potentially be a fighter however I watched them fail due to not having other necessary tools to carry them out. 


This article is written not to bash any fighters currently out but to help recognize the truly great ones for how great they actually are.


Before I get into the actual article I would like to tell you a little about myself, mainly so that you know that I am speaking from years of experience in combat sports. 


At the age of six my father and grandfather realized that I needed a little extra discipline in my life to prevent me from taking the wrong path in life. 


I was enrolled in Tae Kwon Do and Judo classes as a result.  I originally had an immature point of view on the sports thinking they were only about hurting other people.  I thank my respective masters for bringing me into the light as to what Martial Arts are really about. 


My Judo sensei taught me that my first priority is to avoid the fight.  My Tae Kwon Do sensei taught me that what he is teaching me can seriously injure and untrained opponent and that it is not to be taken lightly.


I rose to the rank of Black Belt in both disciplines by the age of 14. I was now entering high school and a new sport was introduced to me. I unwillingly got involved in an altercation with another student who attempted to attack me and I utilized a judo technique to bring him down until a gym teacher walking by came and split us up. 


The kid was one of the varsity wrestlers in our school and about 30 pounds heavier than me.  The gym teacher was also the wrestling coach.  He approached me a week later and asked me to join the team. 


I wrestled for all four years in high school at the varsity level.  Although I wasn’t considered one of the state’s elite I managed to win two district titles.  Academics was never my strong point so after high school I trained in boxing and Jiu-Jitsu.


I am now training in Ninjutsu, which is mainly teaching me clairvoyance and the art of anticipating what your opponents next move is based on subtle muscle movements.


Now I will get onto the actual article.  There are what I believe to be three parts necessary to be a complete fighter: Physical Aptitude, Skill set/proper training, Mental Aptitude.  This article will cover the first one Physical Aptitude and it will also be divided into parts as well such as: athleticism, endurance, and core strength.





To me it is defined as being able to be very proficient in any sport with minimal practice.  This is a touchy subject because many people don’t realize the amount of athleticism required to be a great fighter.  It is also debated as to which sport requires the most athleticism.

When asked that question many people will answer one of the common mainstream sports such as Soccer or Basketball. I disagree with both due to the fact that your average man is able to play both sports for hours while he is only able to fight for minutes.

A lot of people mainly think that having great core strength and endurance alone will get the job done.  However that has been proven wrong on many occasions, due to one of the other factors that will be discussed in my future articles on this subject.

Athleticism can lead to extra flexibility, speed and explosiveness that make the difference between a win and a loss. I was told while growing up that when everything else is equal the better athlete will find a way to come out on top.




This really cannot be measured.  It is simply described as someone being able to push themselves longer, harder and faster than the common man. Unlike athleticism this can be trained.


My wrestling coaches used to make us live wrestle nine two-minute periods every day followed by a 45-minute conditioning period followed by a jogging session of about two miles so that we would be able to keep a high pace without tiring during our matches. 


This proved to be sound judgment because I noticed cross country runners will run seven or eight miles daily for a 3.1 mile race. 


Aside from training extra hard, proper diets and breathing is compulsory. If you train extra hard and eat nothing but greasy burgers and hot dogs all the time your conditioning will reflect that. With breathing it is proper to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth at a slightly higher rate than your normal rate of breathing.


Endurance is a key factor to being a great fighter because of many reasons. No one likes watching a fight go into late rounds and seeing both fighters tire and throw sloppy strikes or see the action lull. It is easier to get knocked out with your mouth open, something that can be easily prevented with endurance.


Also it is very possible to outperform a tired opponent and win a close decision should that be necessary.  When the fight is to close to call many judges will give it to the fighter who looks the least tired of the two.



Core Strength


This doesn’t pertain to any particular muscular groups just generally how strong you are relative to your body stature.  Having big pretty looking muscles does not necessarily mean you are strong. 


Most people also overemphasize training the wrong muscles. Although it is important to have a healthy amount of muscle mass all over your body your key muscles should be your neck, back, shoulders, triceps, hips, abdominals and your legs.


Most think that punching power comes from the chest. It actually starts from the balls of your of your feet through your hips and upper body into your shoulders. The triceps muscles expand and contract when your arm opens and having strong triceps also means you can throw punches faster and in more quantity. 


Having a strong neck will prevent your head from being knocked around easily and will also mostly prevent a knockout. Hips and abdominals and back go closely with the ground game the stronger you are in those areas the harder you will be to hold onto the ground.  Also having strong abdominals will prevent career ending back injuries. 


Lastly your legs are important because they are simply the workhorses of your whole body. Whether it is circling the ring, throwing strikes, attempting a takedown, or attempting to prevent one strong legs make all those that much more effective.


The stronger your legs are the more speed you will have and more power in your strikes and etc.   



In conclusion you can see why this remains such an important part of combat sports.  Although it can be possible to have great skills if you are not physically able to carry them out you might as well not have them. Being in great physical shape also prevents injuries and possibly a career ending one.


I hope I explained all of this as clearly as possible, as it is so much information.  In about a couple of days I will be writing the other two parts of this article.  Until then, I hope you guys enjoyed.