May 5, 2009

Seminar Review - Demian Maia

On Sunday May 3rd I had the pleasure to train with one of the worlds best grapplers, as well as one of the most exciting up and coming 185 pounder's in the UFC Demian Maia at his seminar in Toledo, OH.

For those of you living in a hole in the ground Maia is a 5x time world BJJ champ, winner of the 07 Abu Dhabi Championships, and is currently 10-0 in MMA competition. It was just announced that Demian's next opponent will be Nate Marquardt at UFC 102 in Portland, OR. on August 29th 2009.

Demian's seminar was attended by over 50 grapplers and fighters from all over the Midwest. Demian covered both gi and no gi techniques and strategies and entertained questions on all aspects of training. One of the best things about the techniques shown was the lack of concern if one was wearing a gi or not. None of the techniques were gi dependant in other words.

Demian has a, well deserved, reputation for being very technical (his teacher is none other than the great Fabio Gurgel, Marcello Garcia's teacher. See a pattern here?) instructor, and he certainly did not disappoint at this seminar! We did not cover a huge number of techniques, but rather did a flow from take down, to 1/2 guard pass, to positional dominance, to submission. We basically covered a Up and Crush setup into an arm bar. This was cherry for me as I have been working the Up & Crush a lot lately and though I was doing it basically the same way Demian taught, he added lots of little details to tighten up my technique.

Another little gem for me was some detail on the kimura for when your opponent locks his arm out. Again one of my go to moves is the kimura and I find myself struggling with strong opponents who defend their arm quite well. I am not going to divulge the details here, but those who roll with me in the next couple of weeks will see what I do and I am happy to show you what he offered.

From their we took a little break and came back to work some no gi techniques. It was a little uncanny that Maia covered some techniques from my opponent doing an "S" pass (my terminology, not Maia's) to my butterfly guard. Those who follow my blog will note a few weeks ago Luis Heredia shared some of his thoughts on the exact same position, so it was a continuation from a totally different perspective. Pushing the head to the opposite side of my body prevents his pass, and from their I under hook his inside arm, kicking my leg free, and getting to my opponents back. Nothing revolutionary but Maia's details were very, very helpful. We also went over a few details of maintaining the back as well as transitioning to other places from the back.

Overall the seminar was very, very good. If you get the chance to train with Maia do it! He is very humble, genuine, and technically wise a great instructor. His English was very good so their was little trouble understanding plus he had a student their fluent in both English and Portuguese so any words he struggled with were quickly clarified. Unfortunately he could not grapple with us (he said he normally does) because he had hurt his foot at Royler's house the day before, so that was a bit of a bummer though understandable. Also no video taping was allowed which I am not a fan of usually, but his teaching method ensured that we remembered the flow very well and I have had no problem retaining all of what he taught since the focus was on detail, not volume!

One of the best aspects of the seminar was his Q&A session where he shared his thoughts and ideas about training. One thing Maia stressed was training smartly. When asked about levels of contact in preparation for MMA fights his response was; "You never want to hit full contact in training due to risk of injuring your partner or yourself. Of course you put on head gear and boxing gloves and go harder than with 4oz MMA gloves, but you never want to be at 100% striking power against your partners." These words were well needed in a room full of potential / wanna be MMA fighters, as it was scary how many white belts had terrible, TERRIBLE cauliflower ears! In my opinion there is no reason someone with under 2 years experience should have such chewed up ears if you are training intelligently and with good teachers and partners.

Overall a good seminar and one hell of a nice teacher. I hope to have more opportunities to train with Maia in the future, and I wish him all the luck in his future in the UFC!

Train hard,

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