Erich Krauss' latest training manual, The Ultimate Mixed Martial Artist: The Fighter's Manual to Striking Combinations, Takedowns, the Clinch and Cage Tactics is a bit of a departure from previous Victory Belt publications.
Don't worry, it definitely maintains the reputation for excellence that Victory Belt has earned in the past few years with the books Krauss has co-written with Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Randy Couture, two with B.J. Penn, Karo Parisyan, Marcelo Garcia, Dave Camarillo, Matt Lindland and Anderson Silva plus two with Eddie Bravo.
It's still filled with hundreds of crystal clear color photos illustrating each technique and step by step instructions explaining each move.
But it is such a departure that I had to ask Erich a few questions about it:
This book is a bit different from your past books which focus on the techniques of one coach or fighter. What motivated you to write the Ultimate Mixed Martial Artist?
Erich Krauss: As you know, I've had the opportunity to work with a number of exceptional fighters over the years. Although each of them are excellent fighters in all aspects of the game, they all have some unique quality that make them stand out above the rest. For example, Randy Couture with his takedowns, Forrest Griffin with his unorthodox striking, Anderson Silva with his striking combinations and takedown defense, Karo Parisyan with his throws. Out of this came the idea to put the most unique aspects of each fighter's game into one book-The Ultimate Mixed Martial Artist.
How did you choose which fighters/coaches to use for this book?
Erich Krauss: When you have a book titled, The Ultimate Mixed Martial Artist, you have no real choice but to put in the best guys in the game. The first book focuses on the stand up game, which includes striking combinations, counterstriking combinations, takedowns, takedown defense, the clinch, and cage tactics. I picked the guys who were the best in this arena. When it comes to takedowns and dirty boxing, you can't get any better than Randy Couture and Jon Fitch, and when it comes to striking, Anderson Silva, Forrest Griffin, Shawn Tompkins, and the others are absolute masters.
Over the past few years you've had the opportunity to help some of the best fighters in the game document their techniques and secrets. Does UMMA basically summarize the techniques that you personally find the most effective and compelling? Is UMMA your personal distillation of the best ideas for MMA fighting?
Erich Krauss: Well, this book is quite different than the books I've done in the past. When you focus an entire book on one fighter's style, you get to show how he puts everything together. And that is really the secret to fighting-putting everything together. This book is different because we at Victory Belt put together the system based on the most effective techniques from each of the fighters and coaches. The system itself hasn't been proven because it is a compilation of techniques from so many fighters, but the techniques themselves have all been proven. So it was kind of an experiment. When starting this project, I wondered, "What if there was a fighter who could throw like Karo, strike like Anderson, and execute takedowns like Jon Fitch." I wanted to create a manual on how to accomplish this. The system is there, but since the system has never been utilized, there are no definite instructions on how to put it all together in the ring. That has to be left up to the reader.
How did you select which fighters/coaches to use for which techniques? For example I presume that you have documented the rear round low kick of numerous fighters, but you chose to feature Shawn Yarborough on that technique, why?
Erich Krauss: Again, the techniques I asked fighters to demonstrate were based upon their prowess with certain parts of the game. Shawn Yarborough is currently Forrest Griffin's striking coach, and I've had the chance to train with him. Having fought professionally in Muay Thai matches, I can recognize good Muay Thai form, and Shawn certainly has that. As I mentioned, the focus of this book is to show the best aspects of each of the fighter's games. A lot of MMA combatants haven't taken the time to truly master low kicks, simply because there are so many other parts of the game they have to learn simultaneously. Shawn, being a Muay Thai practitioner, has mastered the low kick. And when you master a low kick, it is not only applicable in Muay Thai, but also MMA. To me, it seemed beneficial to the reader to have someone who has spent a lifetime mastering a certain kick portray it in the book.
The book covers striking, takedowns and the clinch but no ground fighting. Can fans expect a sequel that will focus entirely on the ground game?
Erich Krauss: Yes, the second Ultimate Mixed Martial Artist will focus exclusively on the ground. And continuing with the theme of the first book, we brought in the best fighters in the business. Some of the fighters are the same as in the first book, such as Randy Couture, but we also brought in new fighters, such as Antonio Nogueira. Originally, the idea was to combine both the stand-up and ground games into one book, but when it reached 600 pages, we knew we would have to break it up into two volumes.
Of all the fighters/coaches you've worked with which one do you feel has the most innovative approach to MMA?
Erich Krauss: That is a difficult question to answer because each of the fighters we have worked with has an innovative approach to MMA-that is the reason we chose to work with them. And thank goodness for that, or I all of my books would have been carbon copies of one another. What always amazes me is just how different each of these top fighters are in terms of their strategy and techniques. You would think that one style of fighting would stand about above all the rest, but that just isn't the case. Despite their differences, each of these fighters have managed to climb to the top of the MMA mountain. You can't say that Karo is more innovative with his throws than Anderson is with his strikes. They are both innovative, and they both make their styles work for them. The goal with this book is to give the reader the tools to incorporate all of these innovative styles into one fighting system.
Do you ever find yourself violently disagreeing with a fighter's method of executing a technique? For example Fedor Emelianenko's punching style increases power but also exposes the hand to increased risk of injury. Have there ever been techniques a fighter described that you just flat out didn't want to include in the book because you felt it was technically unsound?
Erich Krauss: The one thing I have learned as a professional fighter is that there are fifty different ways to do every technique. When I first started training in Thailand, I learned how to throw a Thai kick a certain way. A few years later when I started training at a different gym, they taught me a completely different way to throw the Thai kick. Of course I was partial to the first method because that is how I first learned, but both gyms had champions in their midst using the method they had been taught. That lesson carried over when I started writing technique books. It would be easy to put in my two-cents on each of the moves, but then it would be my book rather than the fighter's book. And who am I to question the fighter-they have made it a lot further than I ever dreamed of. The goal with Victory Belt instructionals is to lay out the fighter's game exactly as they use it, not to water it down in any way. If a technique is dangerous for a particular reason, yet the fighter still utilizes it because it carries high reward, we will let the reader know this and they can decide for themselves if it is a valuable technique.
What's next for Victory Belt?
Erich Krauss: We have a lot on our plate right now, including books by Lyoto Machida, Andre Galvao, Cung Le, and Leo Viera. And we have second books coming out by Anderson Silva, Greg Jackson, and Marclo Garcia. We also have numerous DVDs coming out. The Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva DVDs are already released, but we have three more DVD's coming out by Anderson Silva, making five total. Once all these projects have been released, we will probably do books that focus on individual aspects of jiu-jitsu, MMA, and other martial arts.
Describe your own training and competitive background. Were you into Muay Thai before you got into MMA or vice versa?
Erich Krauss: I originally started with Muay Thai. After fighting in Thailand, I came back to the US and joined the Shamrock 2000 fight team, which at the time consisted of Jens Pulver and Valery Ignotov. My goal was to compete in MMA, but I suffered a slipped disk and ended up having to take some time off. During my recess, I got more drawn into writing, which has always been a passion of mine. Although I still train regularly, it has become more of a hobby. However, my co-author Glen Cordoza is currently climbing the MMA rungs. He has won all six of his Muay Thai fights, the majority by knockout, and he has devastated his opponents in his three professional MMA matches. I have a strong feeling you will be seeing him in the mainstream before too long.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.