Well, I just got back from Milwaukee where I spend the last few days training at the Roufusport HQ. I only had 3 days there but man, I learned a LOT. I got 5 sessions in and in each session there had so much content and attention to detail it felt like a weeks worth of training.
A lot of the stuff Duke teaches is pretty similar to what I teach as well, but he has a lot of insight into the "small" things, and like they say, the Devil is in the Details! I'll go through some of my thoughts on what was taught to me personally, and some of the ideas and concepts and tactics that make Roufusport one of the best Striking gyms in North America.
1. Extension and Snap
One of the many things Duke had me (and everyone else) working on was getting more extension on the punches. It's something I often have to tell students as well but at Duke's they really take it to the next level. The basic 1-2 (with footwork) is practiced for about 5 minutes EVERY class with a focus on proper hip rotation and extension. This is for everyone from White Belt to Black Belt. I also made a point to shadowbox my right cross for 5 minutes, twice a day to help drill it into my head and make it a natural part of my behavior.
As for the snap, everything from punches to kicks to even parrying punches is done with smaller movements followed by a defined "snapping" or bouncing of the technique at the end. This made a big difference in my defensive parry and especially my lead hook. I couldn't believe how much more power I got from it, even though I wasn't winding up or over committing on it. Still need a lot of practice, but man... does it have some kick now!
2. Guard and Stance
This was another small but significant adjustment Duke got me to make. He advocates more of a "hanging" guard, where the hands are a little further out. I have gotten used to keeping a tight guard which I keep my hand close and tight. With the hanging guard you don't get as much power from the distance traveled, but with the proper "snap" of the strike at upon contact, you don't really need to worry about loading up. The basic idea is that the punches travel less distance so you can get more in, and the proper technique (snap) will help with the power. He also got us throwing punches in bunches (along with quick kicks) -aka Machine Gunning- and looking to fit our strikes into the small openings that are created when volume striking. I could write a whole essay on this, but if you want to really learn it from him I suggest checking out his online University/Striking Formula - Duke Roufus Striking University. (that's the link to the 1 Week/1$ Trial)
It seems I have gotten into the habit of trying to breath out on every punch or kick. That's fine if you're only throwing a few at a time, but Duke would often get us to throw 8,9,10 (or even more) strikes at a time. If you try to breathe in and out on each one you'll probably start hyperventilating! And then the speed of your strikes is limited but how quick you can breathe in and out. Instead we'd breathe one continuous breath while throwing a combo, then using our breath to help with the Broken Rhythm. It's nothing crazy, concept wise, but it was one of the little details that just makes things flow so much better.
"What do we teach here -Offense, Defense....Strategy?". Duke asked "We teach Behavior!". This one isn't so new to me, as I pretty much say the same thing almost every class I teach. The idea is to make your training as realistic as possible. Doing a defense drill? Well, the person throwing the attack should make it as true as possible - as if they were sparring. Hitting pads? Don't just walk up and throw a 1-2 and stand there - use footwork and feints before you start, and bring your guard back and use proper footwork at the end of the attack as well. Make every attack, defense, every movement meaningful, EVERY TIME, and you'll make the proper way of doing things a natural part of your behavior.
So those are just a few of the things I picked up there. There was a LOT more, and if you're interested in learning more then I highly suggest checking out the Striking University. There's a 23 week curriculum to work on, Member Only Videos (whole classes at his gym being recorded, behind the scenes stuff at Glory and TUF) and an Ask Duke section in the forums. He replies quickly and has even made videos lessons to answer specific questions posted there which is pretty awesome.
Dan Slobodin -