Hey lads, this one came up because someone asked me what I meant by savvy the other day and I had a really hard time putting it in to words! Hope it's a fun read, I want to hear as many other examples as you can think of!
Savvy is defined as:
Shrewd and knowledgeable in the realities of life.
Savvy in terms of fighting - whether it be boxing, kickboxing or MMA - is the use of one's knowledge of the game to gain every possible advantage over one's opponent. The difference between a savvy fighter and an ordinary fighter is not just a bag of tricks that they use in their fights, it is an entire frame of mind. The truth is that not everyone is athletic, yet the Sean Sherks and Melvin Guillards do not dominate MMA. The prospects in boxing beat each to the point of brain damage while the 47 year old Bernard Hopkins comes out of fights with world champions unscratched and ready to take on the next up-and-comer against whom he'll be an underdog.
My interest in the idea of "savviness" came when, as a child, I realised that I was not as athletic as many martial arts practitioners, but I still wanted to be able to hold my own. To this end I searched for men who had had success in combat sports without having any of the athletic benefits of youth or amazing genetics. Here are some of the savvier men I have had the pleasure of watching fight. Please note: fighting dirty is not prerequisite to being "savvy", but savvy fighters often push the envelope and take three inches wherever their opponent and the referee give them one.
1) Bernard Hopkins: "The Executioner" came to boxing 22 years ago and has been a force in the sport ever since. The secret to his career longevity is his smart style - he will use any means to get one over on the opponent. A quick glance at his recent matches with Chad Dawson and Roy Jones Jr. will reveal his Oscar worthy hamming up of an illegal blow by an opponent. "B-Hop" is also excellent at using the clinch - a secret of career longevity in any combat sport, diving in behind his right hand leads with a noticeably common "accidental clash of heads", then moving straight to a clinch fighting position. With his rematch with Dawson on the way in April, it will be interesting to see how boxing's oldest title holder in history does at the age of 47.
2) Randy Couture: Wherever you stand on the many favors he was given in match making, Randy Couture is quite simply one of the greatest MMA light heavyweight and heavyweight fighters of all time. Certainly one of the few to make his presence felt in both divisions. Couture's chin was never rock solid, but he showed a great deal more competitiveness than his younger rival Chuck Liddell did in the last few matches before their retirements. Randy Couture practically invented the practice of "dirty boxing" in Mixed Martial Arts. Couture is also responsible for the many fighters today who drop one hand to the floor when in a Thai clinch or front headlock, in order to exploit the rule about kneeing a downed opponent. Simple things like this made Randy the savviest man in the octagon.
Using his oft quoted experience from boxing in the army Couture was able to use effective head movement and a ducking jab to dive into clinches, largely unharmed. It was from here that Randy did his best work - offbalancing his opponent at all times so that they could never get the power on their strikes that he did on his. Randy Couture is credited with being an amazing gameplanner - but it is not so much his specific gameplans against opponents as their inability to deal with his go-to techniques which made him such a force even until his mid forties. And while many doubt Couture deliberately headbutted Gabriel Gonzaga to break the latter's nose, he certainly benefited enormously from falling the way he did.