MMA Training Advice from the Pro’s: How to Spar Harder, Recover Better

This week contained a lot of bumps, bruises, and soreness—but it also brought a lot of insight and growth. The training as always was great, but after this week of training what stands out to me the most is some of the mental and strategic side of things. It seemed like almost everyday this week someone had something insightful to say.

This blog is written by Connection Rio team member Torryn Heffelfinger. He’ll be blogging weekly on life and training BJJ in Rio de Janeiro. In the following excerpt from his weekly blog “Training the Dream”, he talks about receiving MMA training advice from professional fighters in Rio de Janeiro.

On Wednesday I again had the opportunity to work with Milton Viera. He focused on countering my strikes, and stifling any offense I would bring. Still though I felt good and landed some solid strikes and was able to score a takedown and maintain a top game for a minute or two (until he was able to hit a nice heel-hook).

MMA Training Advice from a UFC and PRIDE vet

After the sparring Milton and I talked for a bit. He gave me some great pointers. First off he told me to start throwing a bit more and then hitting my shots. Eventually after getting tagged a few times with punches your opponent will step in to counter, which is the time to attack for a takedown. That way its not solely you working to close the distance from a shot, but your opponent is bringing his hips in closer to you. Sometimes in sparring this is hard to do, because if you spar against someone who doesn’t have a fight coming up they will usually play a more counter style, working and maintaining good position and distance. If you have a fight coming up is your job to stalk and engage, forcing the other guy into a battle.

UFC BTT fighter Milton Vieira

Torryn with UFC and Pride vet Milton Vieira of Brazilian Top Team

Milton also conveyed to me the importance of the look in your eyes during a fight. He said when you are tired your opponent will most likely be tired oo, so you have to keep an intensity in your eyes (even if your body doesn’t feel it). This intensity will not only strengthen your resolve but it will work to break your opponents. If they look across the mat or cage and see you with the look of confidence and intensity they will (even if deep down) have the thought of “Oh Sh#t, this guys still going strong”. I was also told to hit harder on top to force him to open up and react (kind of sounds like poking a tiger with a stick, but we will see how it goes).

How to recover from tough training

Thursday afternoon conditioning went great, my lungs and legs felt strong. As we finished I was able to get more sound advice. This time it was from Edson Diniz. After running up the hill leading to Pedra de Gavea we were all about to walk back down when Edson told us to go to the waterfall to get “recharged”. We walked up the path and down to the water falls. Edson is an advocate for the power of relaxing in nature. He believes that instances where you are “one” with nature serves to recharge and re-energize the body and mind. I will admit after sitting under a waterfall of a cold mountain stream and then sitting on the rocks enjoying the forest I did feel better and more relaxed. Power of nature or not, I do feel like his attitude of taking time out to relax and appreciate your surroundings is extremely important and healthy thing to do.

Also this week, two new arrivals to CR from Norway, Arlid and Kim, began to train at ATT with me as well. They both have a background in full contact TKD and Arlid has a pretty good ground game. Both guys are here to work not only in the Kimono but to improve in all aspects of fighting.

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