Understanding Lyoto Machida: A Review of Machida-Do Karate for Mixed Martial Arts

Lmkaratedvd2_mediumWhen Victory Belt Publishing contacted us with DVD's to review, I was curious to see who they had gotten for their first line.  The package came within a couple weeks, and when I opened it I found 3 DVD's of a fighter-to-be-named-later and a 4 DVD box set from none other than Lyoto Machida.

My heart sank.  I'm one of the biggest Machida fans you'll find, and easily one of the staunchest defenders of his elusive, defense-first style.  And while instructional DVD's should be, you know, instructional, they also need to be entertaining enough to keep the audience interested.

I grew more worried when I looked at volume one of the set.  "Defensive Positioning and Movement"?  What have I gotten myself into?

Less than ten minutes into the DVD, however, Machida erased my fears.  Each DVD starts with an introduction from Lyoto, detailing the contents of the video and explaining the importance of the techniques and their integration into your fight game.

Ironically enough, I found the first DVD to be the most engaging of the four.  Machida explains the basics of good footwork - maintaining constant balance, stepping with the leg nearest your destination, don't cross your feet, etc., but the real nuggets of knowledge come when he breaks down the intricacies that make up his infamous ability to avoid damage.

Machida comes right out and says his fight strategy revolves around the idea of inflicting damage while receiving as little as possible.  Over the course of the first two DVD's (volume two covers his striking techniques), you get an idea why Machida can successfully employ his gameplan.

Without getting bogged down by the details, two things really stood out to me.  First, the footwork translated from his karate background is extremely quick and efficient.  Each movement serves a purpose and no energy is wasted.  Second, like a good poker player, Machida offers no visual clues to what he will do next.  During several techniques, Machida takes great strides in stressing the importance of maintaining and returning to your base stance before, during, and after each technique.  By doing so, Machida masks his intent for as long as possible, reducing his opponent's window to react in time.

As for the quality of the DVD's themselves, I give them a solid thumbs up.  My biggest critique is the design and quality of the packaging.  Neither aspect looks high-end; the actual packaging looks as if it could have been printed off a high-end consumer printer.  However, while there's room for improvement here, they are suitable for the nature of the product.

Most importantly, the video quality is very well done.  The DVD cover claims it was shot in 1080i and it shows with rich colors and bright lighting in a widescreen format.  During sections on ground fighting, we get a split-screen with two different angles on the technique.  This significantly reduces time spent having to show the technique from multiple angles.

I'm especially thankful for the pacing of the videos.  You get a good balance of explanation and replays without the feeling that you need to hit the "next chapter" button on your remote.  Machida also explains each technique in a very straightforward fashion, making it easy to follow even for those without any prior training.

For anyone interested in learning the intricacies of MMA, adding nuances to their own fight game, or simply taking an inside look at the Machida puzzle, I definitely recommend picking up this DVD collection.  The Machida-Do Karate for Mixed Martial Arts is available at amazon.com and  retails for $120.

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