A grapplearts reader writes:
Q: You say that there are 3 main components to MMA: is it important to train these 3 components together or train them separately? For example should you add strikes to the clinch or just wrestle?Should you always train grappling with striking? How can I combine these areas if there isn’t an MMA school near me?
A: If MMA or self defense are your focus then you should train each of these three areas separately AND train them together: this is what almost all the top fighters do.
The reason you want to train each area separately (at least some of the time) is so that you can develop skills in that area, without relying on your strengths in the other areas. If you always blend standup and ground, grappling and striking, then your weaknesses in one area might remain hidden for a long time.
The reason you want to combine striking, wrestling and grappling in your training (at least some of the time) is to simulate a real fight as closely as possible and also to find out if you have developed any bad habits in your training.
For example, if your wrestling stance is extremely low with your hands on your knees, or if you use your closed guard without breaking your opponent’s posture posture or controlling his head and arms, then a brief MMA sparring session will definitely be an eye-opening experience for you.
If there isn’t an MMA school near you then combining strikes with your wrestling with your grappling is going to be difficult. The boxers you train with will only want to box, the wrestlers will only want to wrestle….
So if you can’t find anyone who wants to blend these arts you may need to train these areas independently until you can either find an MMA school or some training partners who are willing to to cross train. Even if you are training them separately you are still laying solid foundations for later, so this is NOT wasted effort.
Another useful tip if you are training with pure grapplers is to put them in your guard with gloves on and encourage them to try to punch you: you’re not allowed to punch back, only defend, sweep, submit, etc. Often-times training partners don’t like to get hit, but they don’t have a problem with hitting you, so you can still do this drill.