I will not say I know everything about the science and coaching of steel fighting. As a matter of fact, I will go even further and say until 2015 I didn’t even know steel fighting existed. What I do know are warriors, soldiers, and how to prepare them for the rigors of battle. Which goes a long way in the art of buhurt coaching.
During my time in the United States Army from 2006 to 2013, I served two tours, one to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. I was also fortunate enough to be inducted into the SAW (Soldier Athlete Warrior) Program. My time with the SAW program brought me under the wings of the University of Hawaii strength and conditioning coach and multiple Special Forces Cadre. Our goal was simple: prepare troopers for the battlefield of Afghanistan; to climb mountains with ridiculously heavy packs and still be able to fight along the way. Endurance was the name of the game.
Buhurt Coaching Fundamentals
Since then, my buhurt coaching methodology has still featured endurance but I include as much as I can from Phil Daru (AMA Head coach), Craig Ivey (The Ludus Head coach), Coach Lee Torres (Owner and head coach of the boxing gym West Seattle), and Coach Andrew Somly. These four have taught me that to build champions we must start with the fundamentals. No amount of knowledge will replace hard work. Show up ready to work, with a good attitude, and you will go further in the combat sports world. This is where the crossroads of hard work and knowledge combine.
Dynamic Fitness, maximum aerobic conditioning, powerlifting, cross fit, boxing, wrestling, weapons training, and battlefield awareness are the pillars to my coaching methodology. With the modern evolution of steel fighters and combat sports, these are just the basics you need. Dynamic fitness is essentially how athletic you are. I measure this with new fighters during our gym’s warm up. This warmup consists of getting moving, mobility and agility, CARS (Capsular Anterior Rotation Series), and then an ever-rotating diet of speed and agility ladders and skipping drills. I fully believe that dynamic warmups will save fighters, lower injury, and help build ligament and tendon strength. Injury prevention is on the top of my list during warmups.
Boxing and wrestling are essential to any combat sport, and even more so for steel fighting.
Boxing teaches you range, footwork, and to fight in the clinch. Wrestling will teach you to survive the clinch, stay on your feet longer, and positive body control. Boxing is the sweet science and wrestling is the great deception. Time and time again, we can fall victim to a tirade of trips, sweeps, kips, and rolls. Boxing and wrestling both teach you intent as well. What do you intend to do to your opponent? Smash his face or slap him on the ground? The choice is yours.
At the Ludus, we have three direct ways of weapons training
Drills and footwork
We teach that you must be able to use fundamental sword and shield or axe strikes while either moving to contact or avoiding contact. If someone has really good armor it will be hard to put them down, so you must outthink, out move, out wrestle, and out strike them. This all starts with drills. Fighters should be spending 20% of their time drilling.
This is where a fighter develops conditioning and where they can practice any move without fear of repercussions from the opponent. I take what I learned from boxing and apply it here to the tune of head, body, head. I have incorporated many drills that can push a fighter’s endurance and spatial awareness. The pell can also be used to improve judgement, and creating patterns to allow for “flow” during a fight. Doing this rhythmically and to a timer can help put a fighter in greater advantage over their opponent. I suggest a metronome for rhythmic striking and tempo. Staying with the metronome can help you develop counters and create abstract rhythms that allow for a competitive edge.
Soft stick sparring or heavy sparring
Sparring is where you see absolute growth. A new person can come in as soft as a cotton ball, but after a few weeks they are as hard as an oak plank. I encourage everyone to spar at most two times a week and try to encompass as much of what you will experience on the battlefield. We practice 2v2, 2v1, and last man open field drills. I want to explore the drill ‘chaos’ and its unique ability to create an overall better fighter.
Timing of the drill is flexible, but our first round is usually a minute before we transition to two minutes. The goal is to stay on your feet. You have no partners, you must not stay in one place, if you go down you must get back up and keep fighting, and everyone must fight to the bell. This drill is not for the faint of heart. It is intense, violent, and forces you to fight. It is a great drill for veterans and new fighters alike. I suggest a 12×16 cage and five fighters for the best results.
The buhurt coaching methodology is basic; hard work creates results.
There is no substitute to hard work, and it is your responsibility to put in that work. You are the master of your own destiny and if you are not working towards it then your setting yourself up for failure. As I was told as a young man- IF YOU WANT YOU RUN WITH THE BIG DOGS YOU MUST ACT LIKE A BIG DOG. It still holds true; you want to be a professional steel fighter or just a fighter in general, then train like one.