DVD Review - Machida-Do Karate for MMA (May 22, 2009)

Lyoto Machida will be challenging Rashad Evans for the UFC Light Heavyweight title in this weekend's UFC 98 event. Among other things, Machida has made headlines due to his karate background which has lead to his unorthodox stances and excellent lateral movement. Thanks to Victory Belt, a leading publisher of a number of instructional books and DVDs, I was able to review Machida-Do Karate for Mixed Martial Arts.

At the outset, I must say that I have never trained in karate have not and likely ever will not fight in a mixed martial arts bout. However, as someone with more than just a passing interest in MMA and as someone with some martial arts training, I jumped at the chance to review this four DVD box set.

I was intrigued by this set because I've always wondered how much of Machida's karate background could be utilized in the cage. Sure, Machida is an excellent technical fighter, but how much of that really comes from karate? The four DVD set includes the following:

Disc 1- Movement and Fundamental Strikes
Disc 2 - Striking Attacks and Takedowns
Disc 3 - Intercepting Attacks, Takedown Defense, and The Clinch
Disc 4 - The Ground Game

I found the DVDs to be fairly helpful, not just at establishing general techniques, but also in setting up various combinations. I was particularly impressed by the logistical setup of Disc 4 - The Ground Game, as it offered split-screen views of each technique, both the top view and the ground view. Both the newbies and veterans of any martial arts training should find this helpful as the simultaneous views prove helpful to make sure you're executing the techniques properly.

The chapters on the DVDs are all efficiently organized by technique, so if you want to concentrate on one technique you could just rewind or fast forward by chapter without worrying about missing something. The main menu has a sub menu that allows you to sort through everything by chapter/technique, so if you are looking for one specific technique, you can easily find it. Additionally, after watching one of these individual techniques, viewers are presented with the option of either watching the technique again or moving on to the next technique.

Each disc also features an interview with Machida, covering various topics from martial arts, combative fighting and his own history as a person and martial artist.

The DVDs are geared primarily toward English-speakers as there is an English voiceover providing the instruction throughout. Machida does speak Portuguese as he gives instructions, but if I had been listening for that only, it would have been hard to hear sometimes.

Machida works in the traditional gi with no gloves for Disc 1 and in fight shorts and gloves for Discs 2, 3, and 4, so while the set is clearly geared towards using the techniques in MMA, there is plenty of helpful instruction for those looking to practice fundamentals as well. Machida does many of the workouts with a sparring partner (one of his brothers), demonstrating the application of the techniques, but he also demonstrates many of the techniques on thai pads and focus mitts as well. Further, all of the techniques of each disc are demonstrated first at half-speed, then faster, and aside from the ground game section, many of the techniques are demonstrated with Machida just showing the technique but not hitting a pad or a person and then a second time, with Machida hitting a target. Then, Machida often engages in some free-form sparring geared toward the particular techniques that he just demonstrated. All of these aspects give viewers an appreciation for the technical aspect and the practical applications of all of the moves, and also show some combinations that one could put together.

Each DVD also features stretching exercises geared towards the specific training featured on that particular DVD, and Machida even goes as far as to address the importance of the traditional kata as part of training.

Although I was initially skeptical about how much usefulness karate instruction could prove for MMA, what one has to remember is that Machida's style is karate-based, not karate-only. There are definitely elements of brazilian jiu jitsu and muay thai present at various points throughout the DVDs. Additionally, I found the various takedowns Machida demonstrated to be both interesting and useful (I practiced a number of the techniques on all the DVDs with my training partner), but quickly realized that to effectively utilize many of these unorthodox takedowns would require a lot of practice time, moreso than with other techniques, to nail down the specific complex movements.

As a whole, the set provides a lot of useful instruction and definitely gives some great insight into Machida's fighting style. In spite of the fact that many of the techniques are initially performed at half-speed and then again at a faster speed, as someone who doesn't train full-time, I found myself wishing that the techniques were demonstrated more, or even slower. However, the fact that techniques are divided by chapter made it easy to keep hitting the chapter rewind button to skip back to the beginning of that part of the instruction. Additionally, it seems to me that anyone wanting to seriously utilize the techniques demonstrated on these DVDs would have to do so with a sparring partner, simply because of the emphasis that is put on the application of the various moves.

As I stated at the outset, I will likely have no chance to prove how useful any of these techniques would be in the cage, but I can say that a fighter (or even a non-fighter) who is looking to train in a different discipline, and who wants to learn some unorthodox, but proven techniques would benefit from checking this set out.

Priced at approximately $120 (depending on which website you check out), I thought the set seemed kind of pricey. However, there are four DVDs, and they are packed with tons of techniques, so a serious training buff could get a lot of mileage out of that $120.

To purchase the set, head over to Budovideos.com.

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