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How Chuck Liddell Trains and How Chuck Liddell Fights — Learn from the 'Iceman'

By Cliff Montgomery,
We've all seen Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell in action, and have all been fascinated by his punching power, his deep looping punches which suddenly appear out of nowhere, and his wonderful all-round abilities in a tough match. How does he do it? That's what this article is all about.

Chuck Liddell Background

Liddell began taking classes in Koei Kan Karate at the young age of 12, and continued in his Karate studies while at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, California. But Chuck didn't stop there; in time he also became captain of both the football and wrestling teams.

And Liddell was good: in fact Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, University recruited Chuck for its Division I/Pacific 10 conference wrestling team. Chuck went on to attend Cal Poly University, and by all accounts remained a starter on its wrestling team as he worked toward a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business, which he received in 1995.

After graduating from college, Liddell began to seek continued combat competition in the form of Kickboxing, and was already forming an interest in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). He began training with John Hackleman of the "The Pit" in Arroyo Grande, California.

It didn't take Chuck long to win the heavyweight titles in the USMPA, WKA, and two national Kickboxing titles. Chuck's kickboxing record was 20 and 2 with 16 knockouts.

In 1998, Liddell was slated for his first appearance in the UFC. Chuck decided the best thing to do was to augment his Karate and wrestling skills by training in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. He studied under John Lewis of the J-Sect Brazilian Ju-Jitsu Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada.

So this is the background of Liddell's skills. Let's take a closer look at how Chuck maintains his abilities; what works for him--and what doesn't.

Chuck Liddell Training

Liddell likes to prepare for his fights eight weeks in advance. He feels this gives him the time to ensure his own skills are at peak strength, and allows him to properly study the strengths and weaknesses of opponents.

So what will a typical week of training be like at Liddell's camp? Chuck trains six days a week, and always ensures that his regimen includes the following:

Striking: Liddell is clearly one of the best strikers in the UFC. He possesses deadly punches, kicks, and knees. The Iceman's powerful, looping right can end a match in a second. Chuck's ferocious straight right hand is another weapon which often gains him victory.

Chuck maintains his awesome striking ability by practicing his array of punches, kicks, knees, and elbows four times per week.

Wrestling: While Liddell is best known for his punching ability, Chuck knows its his solid wrestling technique that maintains him in the close fights, and gives him the base he needs for his attack. He can maneuver well on the ground against decent grapplers, and has a textbook sprawl to frustrate many a talented wrestler. And like all good wrestlers, Liddell is able to get back to his feet quickly when taken down.

Liddell practices his wrestling skills 3 times per week.

Takedowns: Liddell tends to focus on the leg lock when he can't easily knock out his opponent. Don't be surprised; it's reported that he holds a Purple Belt in Ju-Jitsu.

Twice a week, Chuck conducts a workout in which he focuses exclusively on his "takedowns" and "takedown" positions.

Conditioning/Pacing: We've all seen great fighters who are awesome for the first few rounds, then lose ground simply because their effort exceeded their conditioning.

Chuck keeps his 6'2", 204-lbs. body in peak condition by various cardio exercises, including running sprints and jogging; running hills, stairs, or sand dunes; and swimming five times a week.

Liddell clearly keeps himself in top condition; but his lack of pacing is probably his greatest weakness.

Chuck is in many ways a stereotypical striker: a man who's terrible punching power is a menace to his opponent early in the fight (at the time of this writing), but who puts so much effort and energy into going for the quick knockout that he has a tendency to melt if the fight progresses.

The most experienced fighters try to use this weakness against Liddell, staying away from him early in the match and letting him burn himself out.

Strength training/Weightlifting: Chuck makes sure to perform a high-repetition weight workout three times every week.

Ju-Jitsu: Of course, you have to train in your primary fighting style--or all else is for nothing. Liddell works at his Brazilian Ju-Jitsu technique three times a week.

This is the essence of Liddell's training regimen. Could it make you the next Chuck Liddell? Only you and time can answer that. But perhaps the real trick is not to be the next Liddell, but to incorporate his techniques into your regimen, so you may perfect your fighting style.

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