Winnowing quotes out of a Duane Ludwig interview is an interesting process. The Team Alpha Male head coach talks faster than just about anyone in the business, and has a lot to say. Shifting between bold confidence and polite humility, changing constantly from topic to topic, correcting himself only to ignore his own criticisms, Ludwig has a lot to say, and it's not always easy to keep up with his train of thought.
One of the most notable aspects of Ludwig's style is the deftness with which his fighters switch stance. Newly crowned champion TJ Dillashaw effortlessly floated between southpaw and orthodox throughout the five-round shellacking he gave Renan Barao last Saturday. I asked Ludwig if that was something he encouraged his fighter to do.
"Well, you tell me: would you like to have a set blueprint?"
Unsure of what Ludwig was looking for, I hedged my bets. "Well, adaptability is always good..."
"Right, but I'd like to have a good reference chart, wouldn't you?"
"So. I guess that answers the question."
That's the way that Ludwig talks. He is, like other great trainers I have talked to, not the type of person to give away information for free, even in an interview. When it comes to fighting technique, he likes you to arrive at the answer at least partially on your own.
For the record, Ludwig did go on to say that stance-switching is something that all of his fighters have to be comfortable with.
Some fans expressed concerns after Dillashaw's victory about his tendency to cross his feet when circling, and to give up his stance. Bang insists that such things are all part of his system. "[Dillashaw did that] to bait him, to turn him, to get him off-balance, to create that angle. . . But yeah, if people are gonna tell my guys not to switch [their] feet, not to step, or do things, they can get the f*ck outta here."
One of the first things that Ludwig talked about was the difference between athletes and martial artists. He gives the members of Team Alpha Male their due when it comes to work ethic, coachability, and athleticism, but is proud to say that he is responsible for helping turn them into the kind of people who will act respectfully and do the right thing no matter who's watching.
"I have committed, world-class athletes that are turning into martial artists," Ludwig told me. "They weren't martial artists when I got there. I will take credit for that."
Listen to the full interview below. For more like this, check out Heavy Hands, the only podcast dedicated to the finer points of face punching. Also be sure to check out Steph Daniels', aka Crooklyn's excellent interview with Ludwig, and thanks to Crooklyn for making this interview possible.