Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wrestling for Fighting - Randy Couture

Randy Couture has been one of the poster boys for Mixed Martial Arts competition in recent years - and a good one at that. His words are well thought out, he's articulate, hard-working and talented. A lot is made of his age, as well. However, I don't think it means a great deal except to say he's an example of what hard work and good attitude can acheive.

Erich Krauss and Glen Cordoza do a great job of getting these qualities to shine through in this publication. The book's dedication speaks of work ethic and self-reliance, as well as the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people and influences. One can only say that this is as much a recipe for success as any. It's worked in Couture's case, anyway.

The book is - like most Victory Belt publications - a large format book. It's 11" x 9" and has 214 pages. It's a glossy book on high quality paper. It's also generous with photos and the photos are detailed and clearly show the techniques presented. I was critical of a couple of Victory Belt's publications in the past for proof-reading. This one does a lot better. It is very unfortunate that one of the very few errors that slipped through happened to be in a very noticeable place. Nonetheless, the writing is excellent and gets better with each publication. I'd be a real jerk if I said it took away from the book.

As seems to be the Victory Belt template, the book opens with an introduction which spends twelve pages chronicling Randy's career. Erich and Glen are getting better at this every time. It's the best written of the Victory Belt intros by far and the one I enjoyed the most, as well. Take note, though, it may be that I simply enjoyed Couture's story more than the others.

The technical portion of the book is broken up into three parts. The first talks wrestling, the second focusses on Greco-Roman wrestling and the third on adapting the wrestling game for Mixed Martial Arts. Each part is broken up into six to seven chapters concentrating on different aspects of Randy's game. As far as the techniques go, this is clearly the game of Randy Couture. The book also shares a lot of information with his earlier video series from Century. That makes this a great adjunct to the series, as well.

The wrestling section starts with a comprehensive chapter discussing wrestling basics. This is followed by a look at four basic takedowns. This is followed (quite naturally) by a chapter on finishing the single leg. Clearly this is and area Randy considers key. Following this is a long section on tie-ups. Here, you really start to make the connection between the Randy you see in the cage and the one n the book. There are two defensive chapters in the wrestling section - Sprawling and Defending the Single Leg.

The section on Greco is shorter, with a two page introduction followed by a chapter on pummelling and then basic takedowns. I enjoyed this section a lot as I picked up several of details that (as a Jiu Jitsu guy) I didn't know before. There are then chapters on armdrags and on more advanced takedowns. All are effective techniques, well photographed and captioned.

The last part of the book is called "Wrestling for Fighting" and is obviously the crux of the book as far as the authors are concerned. It starts with an introduction (as for all the book's parts) and then jumps into the relationship between strikes (especially the overhand) and the double-leg takedown. There is then a chapter on closing the distance. Following this, come the chapters on the most famous parts of Randy's game - The clinch and cage tactics.

The clinch chapter concentrates on Couture's much hallowed "Dirty Boxing" technique while the chapter on cage tactics provides invaluable pearls on how to use the fence to your advantage. I'm not sure Randy has given up all his secrets here, but the book certainly describes much of what I've seen the man do in the cage.

From here, there are chapters on ground tactics and submissions. The tactics here are simple. There is a good deal of time devoted to "Ground 'n' Pound" and two basic choke submissions. Both should be a big help for wrestlers looking to make the change.

All-in-all, I think there's something in here for everyone. Wrestlers making the jump to MMA will obviously benefit the most as it shows precisely how the wrestler's game translates. People like myself, who don't have a strong wrestling background will be able to add elements to their game they had previously not been exposed to. And, I don't think there's out there who couldn't benefit from the clinch and cage tactics chapters.

The book brings the good points of all Victory Belt's previous publications together. It's shorter, more basic and easier to navigate than the already excellent 'Book of Knowledge' from BJ Penn and more articulate and mature than 'Mastering the Rubber Guard'. This one takes pride of place on my bookshelf and will join the Best of the Best category on this site.

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