IMMAF confirms new stand-up & MMA ground qualifications

Photo: IMMAF.

The IMMAF Coaching Commission is confirming its commitment to a coaching pathway which welcomes specialists from other combat sports, whether stand up or ground based.

With successful pilot courses held in Australia in 2019 and 2020, IMMAF is now ready to roll out the programme worldwide.

“I have always been a big believer in encouraging coaches from other sports to consider MMA and we’re giving them a warm welcome to the MMA and IMMAF family," says Richie Cranny, chairman of the Commission.

"Based on the Australian pilots we have now finalised a coaching pathway into MMA for coaches from different styles and will offer split coaching qualifications for “MMA Stand-Up Coach” and “MMA Ground Coach”.

“We welcome specialists from sambo, judo, kickboxing, muay thai, wrestling and boxing to MMA. Their contribution to the methodology of coaching in mixed martial arts will be priceless," says Andrew Moshanov, IMMAF Development Director.

"They just need to be prepared to rethink the applicability of the techniques of their core sport, review it from a biomechanical standpoint and then adapt their coaching accordingly. It is not unusual for high-performance sport to create pathways that offer early specialisation, and we want ours to lead to a full IMMAF qualification at Level 1, 2 or 3.

"The sport will flourish if more coaches with  split qualifications take their expertise back to their clubs and gyms. “

In the early days, MMA provided a platform for various combat sports.  Over the years of its development, it became a melting pot in which skills from different combat sports underwent transformation and adaptation.

Today, MMA is well established as a sports discipline in its own right, clearly defined with specific rules and distinctive techniques “borrowed” from other sports but adapted to suit MMA.

During the evolution of the sport to date, very few athletes have trained purely as mixed martial artists. Most of them have evolved from a core style and technical repertoire as they established themselves as MMA athletes.

Adaptation takes time

Head coach of the Russian MMA Team, Gennadiy Kapshai, who was a former wrestler and professional Thai-boxer himself and is now a member of IMMAF’s Coaching Commission reflects on his own journey:

“It may take an advanced level athlete up to three years to adapt the technique of his core combat sport to the new format of MMA. As for a coach, it may happen sooner.

"I look back on my own journey from Thai boxing coach (with a decent wrestling base) to MMA coach, I can say it took me a year and a half to review my coaching means and methods to fit the purpose. At that time, I spent 5-6 hours a day in the gym teaching and coaching top athletes.”

IMMAF Board Member and Coaching Commission Member Bertrand Amoussou says as a former judo athlete, he knows that at the elite level, there are no equally skilled athletes in standing and ground based judo. 

"We see something very similar now in MMA. There is a common definition of MMA athletes as either strikers, wrestlers or all-rounders.

"It seems that their coaches display great competence in one area or another so what IMMAF proposes is an extension of that ethos.”

The IMMAF Coaching Commission also discussed IMMAF’s youth grading format and how to incorporate live drills. It is planning a series of Webinars about youth grading for members prior to the 2021 Youth World Championships, as well as proposed amendments to the coaching education syllabus.

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