A mixed martial arts expert has backed England rugby’s move to use MMA skills in defence work, saying players can become more efficient and conserve energy by utilising grappling techniques.
Igor Breakenback says he has worked with a number of professional rugby players in the past and says the skills directly translate between the two sports.
England defence coach Paul Gustard revealed he had been working with an MMA expert in the lead-up to the Six Nations championship.
Breakenback, who teaches mixed martial arts at his gym in Bondi, says the biggest area where players can benefit is at the breakdown.
“Both sports play in the strength-endurance kind of area, so in rugby union you’re required to be explosive for long periods of time and obviously you need to have strength-endurance qualities,” Breakenback said.
“There are various skills that we train that are very compatible with rugby union, including take-down skills and grappling skills, because grappling happens quite extensively in rugby, as well as, obviously, tacking.
“The initial collision in rugby, the tackle, is just one area, what happens after that is basically the grappling part, or the take-down part, is a very different one. Somebody that practices mixed martial arts or wrestling or grappling, they have much better muscle memory in that area than rugby players.
“By practising, grappling specifically, or wrestling, it will allow you to transfer after the tackle straight into the grappling part of the rugby game much faster and more efficiently. Which results in having more energy for the rest of the game because you’re not using as much energy to take the person down and you’re not using as much energy to control the ruck.”
Breakenback said there were benefits a smaller athlete could get from learning the specific take-down techniques trained by martial arts practitioners.
“Jujitsu and mixed martial arts and all grappling sports pride themselves on that you can take a smaller, weaker person and then by understanding technique apply it against somebody that doesn’t [have the training], and be more successful in the same arena.”
A major aspect of rugby union is learning to use your body while still maintaining control of the football and MMA fighters are well trained in implementing manoeuvres while one body part is out of action.
“Another thing for mixed martial arts is we try to handicap ourselves when we practice very specifically. Let’s say you’ve thrown a punch and one arm is injured and you cannot use it, you still have to be able to defend yourself on the ground, even if that arm is not available to you.”
This skill is beneficial for the ball carrier in a maul in rugby union or getting rid of a tackler in league to play the ball faster.
“That specific practice is very transferable into playing with the ball,” said Breakenback.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net….