Strength Training for MMA and Combat Sports

A very common question that comes up in the gym is whether or not weight training is necessary for MMA, BJJ or any combat sport. I think at this point most people will agree that strength and physical conditioning cannot make up for a severe lack of technical ability but when combined with solid fundamentals in the particular art. An added boost of strength and power can go a long way.

All you have to do is take a look at the top competitors in any combat sport and it becomes very apparent that they all do some sort of weight based training. Some prefer Crossfit style workouts while others focus on heavy power lifting, I’ve even seen some use strongman style training, but they all lift. You might say to yourself that the top level guys do this for a living and can devote huge amounts of time to their conditioning and that you being a normal person with a job and other responsibilities cannot. Of course you are completely right. You cannot devote the same amount of time to your training, so in turn, you must be smart with how you plan to use the precious bit you do have.

“Is strength training necessary for combat sports?”

My answer to the question is no, it’s not necessarily needed for combat sports. You can still become very skilled without the addition of weight training. However, if you want to be as successful as possible it’s definitely helpful and something I would recommend. I would also like to add that having a strength or conditioning advantage over my opponents has come in incredibly handy over the years. Many times during a match or an MMA fight, I’ve felt my opponents fading and a hard push forward was all that was needed to seal the deal and leave me with my hand raised.


Here are my tips to anyone who is interested in adding a weight training regime to their schedule.

  1. Focus on strength training. Developing your strength and power are huge. First off you can develop weaker areas of your body and help prevent injury. Secondly. Think about someone you’ve trained with that was strong or powerful, maybe a wrestler. Who wouldn’t want a little of that? Added strength and power will give you an added umph to your game.
  2. Don’t get carried away with cardio. A little extra running, biking or rowing is fine. A circuit or WOD style workout from time to time is fine as well. But remember that the bulk of your cardio should come from the mats. If you want to push yourself and your cardio, increase the rounds or the intensity of the rounds you do during training. Added cardio should be a compliment not a replacement. Too much extra cardio work will just run down your body and make your time on the mats or in the weight room less productive.
  3. You don’t need to be in the gym every day for 3 hours doing curls. Make sure you get a good routine built that will help develop the whole body. Don’t get too hung up on your t shirt muscles and lose sight of developing far more important areas like your lower back and legs.
  4. Find a coach that is willing to help you. There are plenty of coaches out there these days. Find one that is knowledgeable and one that is willing to work with you. Be sure that the coach understands your goals, is willing to take the time to identify your weaknesses and meshes well with your personality.
  5. Stay consistent. Weight lifting is just like any other skill. It takes time and consistency to improve. Make sure to make a commitment that you can stick with. This may be 2-3 days a week which is fine. Even 1-2 days a week is better than nothing.


If you are a student at Derby City MMA and are in search of a strength training routine to boost your abilities on the mats, be sure to talk to Joe Clark for assistance.


Thanks for reading,


Cooking with Chewy – How to cook healthy food for the week

Cooking with Chewy


So my blog about going to the grocery got a bit of attention and one of my students asked if I would post something about how to cook. His dilemma he says is that he can’t cook. The grocery article stressed that eating healthy foods can be easy and this post will be about how you can cook food fairly simply.

Please bear with me as my cooking abilities are more akin to The Swedish Chef than a gourmet chef.


First we need the food!


-1lbs grass fed beef (fat % is your choice)

-1 ½ cup of dry quinoa (I’m using a mixture of red and white in the photo)

-1lbs bag of chopped bell peppers (you can opt for freshly chopped. I buy the frozen at times for convenience. If you do buy frozen vegetables, be sure there are no preservatives or flavors added.)

-10 baby mushrooms

-Misc. Coconut oil, yellow curry powder, pink salt

*Not shown.

* 1lbs of brussells sprouts and broccoli florets.

*4 cloves of freshly chopped garlic.




I typically start by getting the water for my vegetables (kettle) and quinoa(pan) ready. If you’ve never cooked quinoa before, no worries, it’s really simple. It’s two parts water and one part quinoa. For example, since I was cooking 1 ½ cups of dry quinoa. I brought 3 cups of water to boil. So when you’re cooking, double the amount of water you use in relation to the quinoa.



After the water is on the stove I move over to a large pan for the beef or whichever meat I decide to use. I like starting with a spoonful of coconut oil and throwing the fresh garlic on the pan. After a couple of minutes I will throw the meat onto the pan. Since I was using beef, once on the pan I began to chop it up with the spatula and added the yellow curry powder.


Once the water is at a boil I’ll throw the quinoa in, cover the pan and lower the heat. Once this is done it typically takes around 12 minutes before the quinoa has absorbed the water.




Once the beef is browning and getting closed to finished I will add the frozen peppers and mushrooms. I don’t want them to be super cooked because I will be reheating these meals. I find that cooking vegetables and peppers less makes them taste better when I reheat the meals.


It doesn’t take a long time and then the peppers will soften and the final product looks like this. . .


By now the quinoa should be ready and will look something like this. Move around the quinoa to ensure there isn’t much water left. If there is a little bit, its ok, just sit the hot pan to the side and it will absorb any remaining water. If there is a lot, then continue to cook. Otherwise you probably added too much and need to drain some out of the pan.



With the vegetables, again, I don’t want to cook them too much as they tend to get soggy upon reheating. So I will place them in another pan on the stove and pour the boiling water from the kettle on top of them. I leave them in the water for around 2 minutes and then drain the water and put them into a bowl before I pack them up for the week. This cooks them but keeps them from being mushy when heating.



After this is done you’re ready to put all the food into containers for the week. You can use for tupperware and I’ve even seen people use little zip lock bags to hold and then pour the food onto a plate or bowl before heating. That’s really up to you. This process took less than an hour and I also have chicken and other vegetables that I didn’t show in this blog that were cooked in the same time frame. So in an hour I have enough food to provide lunches for the rest of the week. Plus it wasn’t difficult, so even if your culinary skills are subpar you can still cook well enough to provide yourself with healthy options during the week.

Again I hope this blog helps you eat healthier which in turn will help you train harder. Good luck!


As always,

Thanks for reading!


2 part gi choke series using the brabo grip from side control







2 part gi choke series using the brabo grip from side control



Grocery Day with Chewy, simple dieting advice to lose weight and train hard!

Grocery Day with Chewy, simple dieting advice to lose weight and train hard!



A common subject I get asked about by my students concerns dieting and what to eat to lose weight and have energy to train hard. Many people seem really confused about what to eat and are overwhelmed with all the different diets or data out there. I typically give very similar advice to anyone who asks. Now before I continue I will stress that this is what works best for me and I am not some super dieting guru. I don’t track everything to a T, but I have changed my body drastically over the years.



(The advice I list below is what I used when I lost weight for my MMA fight)



Keep it simple stupid, you know, the KISS method! Seriously though, when deciding on a diet it’s really important to make it easy to follow. I promise, eating healthy doesn’t have to be that complicated. There are people I know who can successfully count calories and micro manage their intake. But for me, and for most people, that just doesn’t work, so I keep it simple and make easy to stick with. In this post I’m going to share the basic idea of the diet that I am following currently.


Eat real food

Eat whole foods. You don’t have to shop at Whole Foods but you need to eat them. This means things you actually have to cook. As a general rule I try to steer clear of processed pre-made items. There are exceptions of course, like protein powders and supplements, but when you make your food you have greater control over what you’re putting into your body.


Prepare food in advance

I make all of my lunches and dinners for Monday-Friday on Sunday. This allows me fast access to good food throughout the day. I’m a fat boy at heart and if I don’t have something to satisfy my hunger I will slip up and eat something that I probably shouldn’t. So I find it really important to have my meals ready for lunch time and especially post training. I really don’t like cooking after I just finished a hard training session.

When selecting what I want to put on my plate throughout the week I break it down into 3 categories, a protein source, a carbohydrate source, and green veggies.  Now I know that the 3 macro nutrients are Protein, Carbs and Fats and obviously green veggies are not fats. I do make sure to get a fair amount of good fats from the meat I take in as well as fish oil, coconut oil and nuts.


Below are pictures from grocery day last Sunday



(Grass fed beef, chicken and a little chorizo for breakfast. Chorizo makes an omelet awesome)



(This week is mostly quinoa but I threw in some sweet potatoes to mix it up a bit)



(You can buy fresh or frozen veggies. I use spinach with just about anything, and I really load up on asparagus and sprouts during my meals. I honestly just like the taste and I don’t think anyone has ever become overweight from eating too many leafy greens or green vegetables. I also put chopped frozen peppers with my meat. It’s not a green vegetable but it made it into the picture.)



(I really like greek yogurt with berries and walnuts for a snack. Peanut butter or almond butter is also a solid snack that goes well with fruit or a protein shake if you need something quick.)


(If any of my students have passed by my office after training and smelled something. This is probably the culprit. I love this stuff and use it on my meat when I cook. Its sooo good.)


*Side note. I did not take pictures of all the food I bought. Some of things I did not take pictures of were almond-coconut milk, eggs, garlic, apples, oranges, bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, squash, honey, and coffee.

Common objections to eating this way:

It costs too much

I bought all the food I needed for a week for around $100. This includes breakfast, lunches, dinners and snacks as well as another meal once I get home at night for each day of the week. I could probably cut the cost a bit if I chose to go with cheaper crappy coffee or meat, but I refuse. People spend lots of money on their cars, fancy electronic gadgets, training gear, etc. I think we owe it to our body to treat it well and spend a little on food. I mean if you aren’t healthy then the rest of those things are going to be a lot less enjoyable.


I don’t have time to cook

On Sunday it takes me between 45 minutes to an hour to prepare 10 meals plus snacks for the week. You don’t have an hour? Step away from the t.v for a bit.



I hope this post helps you in your quest for a better diet that will help you on your journey to being a healthier version of yourself. Be sure to listen to your body and how it reacts to certain things and take note of how you feel while eating the foods. When I eat the food that I listed above I feel great. I have energy throughout the day, I don’t get sleepy and I am able to train hard. However some of the foods I listed may not suit your body and you will need to adjust accordingly.

Again, there are numerous diets and eating plans out there with the next big thing. But in my opinion if you’re new to dieting and trying to ease into eating healthier, you can’t go wrong by starting with eating whole foods that you have prepared yourself.

12 Frequently Asked Questions before trying a first class at Derby City

12 Frequently Asked Questions before trying a first class at Derby City

Whenever someone decides to try their first class at Derby City they typically have several questions. Hopefully this post will help answer any questions you might have.


1. What to wear?

Answer: You should wear something you feel comfortable in while working out. No matter what class you do, you’re going to move and you’re going to sweat. Make sure you’re clothing is appropriate for this. Also, if you or your child is doing a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu class, make sure you don’t wear your favorite t shirt. Since BJJ involves a lot of grabbing and pulling, traditional clothing tends to get torn up or worn out faster.


2. Do I need anything in particular?

Answer: Not for your first class. We have everything you’ll need to try a class.


3. Do I need prior experience?

Answer: No. Our coaches are trained to assist anyone at any level. From the newest of the new to the advanced, so even if you’re brand new we’ve got you covered.


4. I’m out of shape, is that ok?

Answer: Yes. Many of our members originally came to Derby City seeking a better way to achieve their fitness goals. If you’re out of shape, it’s even more important for you to train so that we can help you!


5. How long do classes last?

Answer: Classes will typically last around an hour, sometimes a little longer. If for some reason you need to leave early, no problem just let your instructor know.


6. I have physical limitations because of a previous surgery or injury; can I still try a class?

Answer: Yes. Just last week I had a student with a broken foot, one with an amputated leg and another who was fresh from knee surgery. Each one of these people had to modify their training a bit. So if you have a preexisting injury it isn’t a problem; we can work around your limitation.


7. Am I too old to start training?

Answer: I don’t believe so. Everyone is different and everyone has different limitations, but we have several 60+ year olds training at the gym. They may not be able to train at the same frequency as a 20 year old but they are still able to reap the health benefits of training as well as learning effective technique.


8. I have no intention of fighting or competing, can I still train?

Answer: Yep! Only around 10% of our gym is competitors, the rest are people that find this to be a very fun and effective form of physical fitness.


9. I’ve heard a lot people say Crossfit teaches bad form, is this true?

Answer: Some trainers do not place a huge focus on perfecting form and technique on lifts. Our Crossfit program does not make this mistake. While you’re form certainly won’t be perfect right off the bat, we have training that is focused on technique and form incorporated every day in class.


10. Will the techniques I learn be valuable in a self-defense situation?

Answer: Yes. Between Boxing, BJJ and Wrestling, after training you will definitely be able to defend yourself in a confrontation outside of the gym. Be sure to understand though that self-defense isn’t something you learn over a weekend seminar. It’s a skill and it takes time.


11. Are appointments necessary?

Answer: Appointments are helpful but not necessary. If you see a class on our schedule that you would like to try, just show up a few minutes before and we will introduce you to the coaches and get you started.


12. What should I eat or drink before training?

Answer: You know you’re body better than anyone else, but if I could make a suggestion. I would definitely make sure that you drink a good amount of water prior to training and avoid any heavy meals that day.


So, if you’re thinking about training at the gym, I hope these questions help. If you do have any other questions that come to mind just call us at (502)937-8797.

BJJ Video: Half Guard Sweep

BJJ Video

Chewy showing a sweep from half guard using a wrestling style grip


I’m not ready for a BJJ competition

“I’m not ready for a BJJ competition”


I am not sure if it’s because tournament season is gearing up, but I keep running into something. Recently, I’ve talked to several of my students and to friends and acquaintances that I know through BJJ. Many of them have the urge to compete, but instead of acting on this urge, they shy away from competition. They often express that they have a gap in some part of their game, or in some cases it seems that first time competitors simply fear the unknown. A couple of the people I’ve talked to are colored belts too. So if you’re reading this and you’re a colored belt who hasn’t competed, don’t worry, you’re not alone.


The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is today.”

Competitions aren’t necessary and they certainly aren’t for everyone. But they can be a lot of fun and can teach us a lot about ourselves and our Jiu-jitsu, so if you have the desire to compete but are on the fence about it . . . just do it. You don’t have anything to lose.

Reason why people don’t compete

There are some reoccurring themes that seem to cause people to over analyze tournaments and over think themselves out of the situation. Again, these are my personal opinions and experiences on the subject.

  1. 1.       Nature of BJJ – Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a martial art / sport of constant learning and improvement. If you think about it, in some ways we are like a hamster in a wheel. We continually strive for perfection and mastery only to get to the point we were striving for and realize we’ve got more work to do. No matter how well we are prepared or how good we are at the time. We can always be better. So if you are avoiding competition because you feel like you have too many imperfections or that you’re lacking somewhere. Relax, no one is perfect, your opponents will have weak areas too. When we compete we’re just trying to execute our game at that time to the best of our ability. We don’t have to be perfect to do that.
  2. 2.       Bad at takedowns – This one comes up a lot because often times newcomers to BJJ haven’t wrestled and many gyms (mine is not one of them) do not practice takedowns often. This can often be a scary spot for BJJ practitioners. Without proper training, takedowns appear to be an injury waiting to happen. If you feel this way, you have two options. You can find a takedown and start drilling and developing that area of your game. The other option is to develop a nasty bottom game so that you will feel comfortable pulling guard and attacking off your back.
  3. 3.       Watching too much Youtube – I remember when I fought my first MMA fight. At the time I watched so much high level MMA. Highlight videos, PPVs, etc. When I was getting ready for my first fight I was so nervous. What my mind associated with MMA was the highest level of the sport. When I closed my eyes I saw replays of Randy Couture, Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, Mirko Crocop (this was 2006 mind you). What I was actually taking part in, was the lower levels of amateur fighting. Mostly out of shape “tough guys” who wanted to fight to puff their chest up a bit. I believe if I would have watched more amateur level MMA prior to the fight I would have been a little less nervous . . . a little. Many BJJ players who are new to this world of one on one competition build tournaments into something they aren’t. They will watch things like Andre Galvao highlights, Miyao brothers move breakdowns or the Black Belt matches from last years’ Mundials. This of course, is because those are the highest levels of our sport and the most popular. The problem is, if you haven’t competed, these become the only images you have to associate with competition. In my opinion, practitioners should be equally as focused with watching matches that will reflect their skill level.  If someone is a blue belt, they should seek out blue belt matches in order to get an idea of what their competition might look like. Often times when people watch matches from their level of skill, they get an attitude of “oh. . .I can do this.”
  4. 4.       Ego – Many people are competitive and the thought of not winning is haunting to them. If this is a reason for not competing. Don’t let your ego get in the way. It may not seem like it, but there is more to competing than just winning.


If you find yourself searching for a reason not to compete, STOP! Instead, search for a reason to compete. You can always find a reason not to do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone. But I can sincerely say that I’ve never done a tournament and felt any regret afterwards. Sometimes I was in the best of shape and other times, not so much. I won some and lost some. But I always learned, enjoyed the camaraderie with my team and had a great time hanging out with a bunch of fellow BJJ junkies. I’ve also met some of the coolest people and build friendships that have changed my life at these tournaments.


I’ll leave you with this.

As a full time instructor for almost 5 years, I’ve had several students who shied away from tournaments and even feared them. When these particular students finally took the leap and competed. In each instance, win or lose, they expressed how much they enjoyed the experience and that they wish they would have competed sooner.

Tips on buying your BJJ gi from Chewy

Common question from a new white belt: “Chewy, what kind of gi should I buy?”

My answer: Early on I think the type of gi you wear matters very little. As a newcomer to BJJ, you won’t be able to detect the small differences that exist between the different kimonos out there. You may notice a difference if you get a heavier gi opposed to a lighter one, but that’s about it.

My advice is to find a gi that you find visually appealing, is within your budget and is from a reputable source. Other than that, don’t pay too much attention to the extras.

Although single, summer, pearl weaves and any gi label “light” are going to be a little lighter and cooler, that doesn’t always mean better. I personally, prefer a heavier gi. Don’t be afraid to test it out and see which type you like best. Base it off your experience not whats popular at the time.

Pay attention to the sizing chart of that particular company as many gi companies have different sizing for their kimonos.

Before you buy, do a search on youtube or google for a review of the particular gi you intend to purchase and see what you can find. These reviews can be helpful about learning how much the gi shrinks up, fades, fits, etc.

In regards to colors, I personally feel that you should wear whichever gi color you like, but check with your gym. Some academies have rules against colors. In addition, if you plan to compete in IBJJF tournaments, you will be required to wear certain gi colors.

Fun Fact: Many gis are made in the same factories overseas and in some cases, Kimono companies simply copy another competitor’s design and rehash it as something for themselves. So don’t get too worked up about the special features on your new gi. Focus on finding something that you will be pumped about wearing when you step on the mat.

If you’re new to BJJ and had this question, I hope this blog helped you. If you still have any questions, consult your instructor or send me an email and I’d be happy to assist. :)

As always,

Thanks for reading!


North South Choke for BJJ or MMA

Chewy demonstrates how he sets up the North South Choke. He has used this successfully in both MMA and BJJ. Check it out!

How to tape fingers for BJJ


Chewy shows how he tapes his fingers for BJJ


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