Bloody Elbow Book Review: Greg Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts: The Stand Up Game

Jackson_s_mediumIt's always a treat to receive a review copy of a Victory Belt book in the mail and Greg Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts: The Stand Up Game (co-written with Kelly Crigger) is no exception.

I've found that even though I don't actually train MMA, that studying technical manuals like Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts are the best way for me as a fan to understand what I'm seeing in the Octagon. This is especially true when studying the strategy and tactics of a coach as cerebral as Greg Jackson.

Jackson is the mastermind in the corner of many of MMA's top fighters including UFC welterweight champion Georges St Pierre, former light heavyweight champ Rashad Evans, middleweight contender Nate Marquardt, TUF stars Keith Jardine and Melvin Guillard and many others. 

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that Guillard owes his UFC 109 win over Ronnys Torres to Jackson's tutelage. When a fighter like Guillard, who has been infamous throughout his long career for getting caught in submissions survives two rounds of assault by a jiu jitsu master like Torres without getting caught and goes on to win the fight, you know something has changed in his game. The obvious change for Guillard is his new coach, Greg Jackson.

The Stand Up Game features hundreds of clearly explained techniques with chapters on the fundamentals (stance, head movement, footwork), basic strikes, combinations, the clinch, the takedown, and in a bit of a departure from Victory Belt's usual sport-fighting focus a chapter on street fighting/multiple opponents and weapons.

Each technique is clearly explained and illustrated with a series of sharp color photos, often from multiple angles. Some of the photos are a bit smaller than in other technique books, but that is because so much information is being crammed into each page. The points being conveyed are always clear and easy to follow, however.

The most interesting thing about The Stand Up Game is the insight into the mind of Greg Jackson, the strategist and coach. Not only is the opening chapter on strategy probably the best in the book, it's one of the best summations of how to take a strategic approach to Mixed Martial Arts.  He breaks MMA strategy into three basic tenets (and they'll be familiar to any student of Sun Tzu): Know Your Opponent, Know Yourself and Know the Terrain. He also discusses identifying goals for each fight, how to develop a plan and how to develop a support plan.

What is revealed in that chapter, and also especially the chapter on combinations, is that Jackson is a really wicked mind. He's always looking for a way to lull an opponent into a false sense of confidence and then capitalize on it in a really nasty way.

In sum, Greg Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts: The Stand Up Game is an excellent addition to any MMA library or a fine first book with which to start your study of the game. And if, unlike me, you actually train or fight, this book could make a huge difference in the way you approach MMA.

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