Bloody Elbow Book Review: Matt Lindland's Dirty Boxing for Mixed Martial Arts

Lindland_mediumMatt Lindland's Dirty Boxing for Mixed Martial Arts is surprisingly good.I didn't expect as much as I do from some Victory Belt manuals perhaps because I've got a bias against wrestling, perhaps because Matt Lindland comes with a lot of baggage.

Let's get that out of the way up front. Yeah, yeah, Lindland is the guy who put together a documentary about how he was being blackballed from the UFC because they fear him and then went out and got KTFO'd in under a minute in his very next fight. He got run out of the UFC in a dispute over a sponsor and he's funny looking. He got his position on the U.S. Olympic team by going to court to appeal a loss in the qualifiers.

All of that said, the guy won a silver medal in Greco-Roman wrestling in the 2000 Olympics and has won more than 20 MMA bouts. In his twelve year MMA career he's beaten top fighters like Pat Miletich, Carlos Newton, Jeremy Horn, Ivan Salaverry, Travis Lutter and Mike Van Arsdale.

As one of the founders of Team Quest, along with Randy Couture and Dan Henderson, Lindland pioneered the path of elite wrestlers entering MMA. He also was among the first to prove that wrestlers could expand their game and successfully incorporate submissions and strikes into their MMA games. The even split of his wins between decisions, submissions and TKO's testifies to his well-rounded mastery of MMA.

Now let's talk about the book.

There have been some complaints that the book is misnamed. The critics are saying that it's a wrestling manual for MMA, not a text book on how to use Dirty Boxing in MMA. To some extent that is a fair criticism. The book's original title was "From Wrestling to MMA" and that might have been a more apt title. But at the same time, this is easily the best book how to apply Dirty Boxing in MMA, bar none.

Sure, only somewhat less than a third of the book specifically discusses striking. But the key thing is the context in which that discussion of striking takes place.

Matt Lindland's Dirty Boxing for Mixed Martial Arts details a complete MMA system for the standup game. Where Randy Couture's Wrestling for Fighting is a primer that outlines the basic techniques of getting and defending takedowns, Lindland's book provides a complete system. The closest comparison I've read would be Eddie Bravo's two books.

Like Bravo's books, this one provides the diligent student with a series of options from every key position. Lindland outlines the key standing control positions and shows how to transition back and forth between them so you can take advantage of your opponent's mistakes and avoid his strengths. The structure of the book is also logical and builds a strong foundation at the beginning that allows him to build a complex but sold system by the end.

Reading this book really reinforced by respect for wrestling as a martial art. It's as much built on skill, science and strategy as jiu jitsu, Muay Thai, Judo or boxing. Lindland's moves are fundamentally predicated on misdirection and deception. He shows how to bait your opponent into moving and then how to use that energy against him. In that, Lindland's approach to takedowns reminds me of nothing so much as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's approach to the sweep.

It's only once he's established the foundation and shown the reader how to use the techniques of Greco-Roman wrestling to thoroughly control your opponent's body that he elaborates on how to take advantage of that control with strikes, throws and submissions.

The book is the usual great Victory Belt production. The sections are color coded for easy reference in the gym. Each move is described step-by-step and each step is illustrated by color photos. I did notice that many of the action shots are a bit blurry, this is an unfortunate distraction but doesn't impact the educational value of the book as the shots that show how to set up the grips and positioning are crystal clear, it's only the mid-air shots of the throws that tend to be blurry. In trying to do my due diligence as a book reviewer, I did conclude that the lack of an index is regrettable, although the organization, color-coding and detailed table of contents go a long way towards eliminating the need for one.

The book is co-authored Erich Krauss and Glen Cordoza. Krauss has also done books with Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Randy Couture, two with B.J. Penn, Karo Parisyan, Marcelo Garcia, Dave Camarillo, and Anderson Silva plus two with Eddie Bravo and I've enjoyed them all.

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