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Bloody Elbow Book Review: Randy Couture's Wrestling for Fighting

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2854075958_174827cdac_mediumI got Wrestling for Fighting: The Natural Way by Randy Couture, Erich Krauss and Glen Cordoza a few months back and have been slowly digesting it ever since. My wife came across Krauss and Cordoza's Mixed Martial Arts: The Book of Knowledge (with B.J. Penn) on my Amazon wish list and it made for a successful Christmas present so she followed up on my birthday with this tome.

I'll confess, at first I was a little disinterested in it. Let's face it, as much as I respect wrestling as a sport and marital art and regard it as an essential 1/3 of MMA, I'd always thought of it as pretty boring.

But I made a good faith effort to at least give it as much of a reading as I gave Penn's book. So it sat on the bed side, next to the crapper and on the kitchen table and slowly but surely I came to really appreciate it over several months of perusing it one technique at a time.

First off, Krauss and Cordoza have this shit down. They have a great formula -- get a name fighter with a distinct style or expertise, set up a clear organizational structure (color coded even), add clear descriptions of each step of each move and great great color pictures that are very clear and easy to see -- with little inserts to show grips and other little subtleties.

Secondly, my fat little almost 40 year old ass hasn't trained in over a decade and I have no interest in going back to the gym. Nevertheless, I find these books have dramatically increased my appreciation for and understanding of the human chess aspects of MMA. Previously I thought of wrestling as just single and double legs, trips, sprawls, slams and body locks. Now I'm much more attuned to the nuances of the game, like the battle to secure underhooks by pummelling, etc.

I also find the transitional sequences very enlightening. Knowing the way moves can be strung together to set up one another adds great depth to my understanding of fights and strategy in the ring.

These books are also great insights into the mentality and technical repertoire of individual fighters. Couture is clearly based in wrestling -- over 2/3 of the book focuses solely on wrestling techniques. Only the last quarter (there's also a narrative section at the beginning running through Randy's career) adds strikes and a very basic submissions. This contrasts to B.J. Penn's more integrated book which centers on BJJ but is very self-concious about featuring every technique in the context of MMA.

All in all, for me this book has been highly enjoyable and I look forward to reading Karo Parisyan and Fedor Emelianenko's books with Krauss and Cordoza.

UPDATE: Screwing around on Amazon I just stumbled upon upcoming Krauss and Cordoza books with Anderson Silva and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira! I was literally thinking through a wish list of more Krauss and Cordoza books in  the shower this morning and those two guys were at the top of my list. Now if they could just add Cung Le, Lyoto Machida and Georges St. Pierre to their roster...

This Amazon review does a good job of describing the book:

The book is - like most Victory Belt publications - a large format book. It's 11" x 9" and has 214 pages. It's a glossy book on high quality paper. It's also generous with photos and the photos are detailed and clearly show the techniques presented. I was critical of a couple of Victory Belt's publications in the past for proof-reading. This one does a lot better. It is very unfortunate that one of the very few errors that slipped through happened to be in a very noticeable place. Nonetheless, the writing is excellent and gets better with each publication. I'd be a real jerk if I said it took away from the book.

As seems to be the Victory Belt template, the book opens with an introduction which spends twelve pages chronicling Randy's career. Erich and Glen are getting better at this every time. It's the best written of the Victory Belt intros by far and the one I enjoyed the most, as well. Take note, though, it may be that I simply enjoyed Couture's story more than the others.

The technical portion of the book is broken up into three parts. The first talks wrestling, the second focusses on Greco-Roman wrestling and the third on adapting the wrestling game for Mixed Martial Arts. Each part is broken up into six to seven chapters concentrating on different aspects of Randy's game. As far as the techniques go, this is clearly the game of Randy Couture. The book also shares a lot of information with his earlier video series from Century. That makes this a great adjunct to the series, as well.

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