Monday, January 12, 2009

Anderson Silva's Mixed Martial Arts Instruction Manual - Striking"

Everyone's used to Victory Belt and have their expectations about what they'll see in the books, nowadays. As a group, VB publications are on a par with some of the higher quality books on the market. They stand out, though, in two areas.

The first is the sheer prolific nature of their work. They put out product after product. They release so much that they may, in fact, be their own best competitor. The other area they excel in is in marketing based on the game of the big names in the sport. Plenty of world champions have graced the VB catalogue and each of them give a unique insight into their game.

Anderson Silva is yet another in a long line of champions to be published with the group. He's also the first one to devote an entire book to striking. Of course, Krauss and Cordoza previously published the excellent "Muay Thai Unleashed", but this is the first time they've looked strictly at the game of one of the top strikers.

As I read the introductions of the books, I get a handle on the attitude of the subject. Fedor, for instance, is all about the work ethic, Saulo Ribiero seems to be enamoured with economy of movement and perfection of technique. In Anderson's case, he emphasises the artistic component of his craft. The introduction paints a picture of a man anxious to become better and to perfect his technique so as not to rely on his athletic ability.

He speaks of his desire to learn and implement new techniques and his pride in how he wins a fight being as important as winning itself. This introduction reinforced my impression of Silva and endeared me to him. I even see obvious parallels in my development that inspire me.

The book itself has 272 pages and is of the same stock the rest of the Victory Belt lineup is made from. There are 6-8 pictures per page and they are well described, have multiple angles and the flows are well marked.

In the past, I have been critical of Victory Belt's clarity of photography in some publications. Clothing and background selection has often made it difficult make out the action where the luxury of contrasting jiu jitsu gis aren't available. I'm pleased to say Victory Belt has gotten there with this book. The backgrounds are sparse and clear. Anderson and his opponent wear the same colours the entire time and there are no brightly coloured rashguards to be seen.

The book begins with a dozen pages on stance and footwork. This is where you see this isn't your run of the mill Muay Thai manual. Anderson is known for his skills in Muay Thai, but the discussion and techniques here lend themselves to fighting from ambidextrous stances and protecting against the takedown, as well as attacking in the Thai style.

The next section is on countermovement and covers evasion, parrying and leg checks. This is followed by a section on striking techniques. This is fairly normal for a book on striking. However, while most of this section is conventional, there are a few things you won't see in most Muay Thai manuals. He covers things like the side and spinning back-kick, as well as his famous "Lead Reverse Back Elbow" and flying knee. There's more than a couple unique (or at least unusual) techniques here.

The next section is titled "Attacks" and covers combinations used to do so. I'm no expert, but I'm fairly certain Anderson's combinations here are different to conventional Muay Thai or boxing ones. For instance, there are a number of rear hook punches and combinations of punches that are less conventional. In this section, Adnerson also describes his movement during techniques. He also has segements of the use of feints and opposite stances - areas not well covered in other texts. And, what would a section on attacks be without a discussion of the clinch. The best thing is, Anderson's clinch is well modified for MMA and is an effective tool to prevent the takedown as well as to attack.

The last section (and the biggest) is on counterattack. Watching Silva's fights, I'd have to agree with this being the bigger area of his game. He is probably the best counterfighter around in MMA at the moment. He covers counters to attacks from matched and unmatched leads and has a section on countering kicks. As with all the sections in the book, there is a good mix of conventional and less orthodox techniques, here. There are also some less orthodox combinations of conventional techniques.

This book is to the point. There's not a lot of fanfare or filler. If you're looking to add some standup to your MMA game, there are lots worse books than this. You'll learn some interesting ways of dealing with the standing game. However, I'm not inclined to add more than one combination at a time. I just don't have the Anderson Silva athleticism and touch to pull a lot of this off.

Then again, neither does Anderson, apparently. He makes no secret of the practice and attitude that make him great. You'll get a taste of that, as well as a solid dose of excellent technique.

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