The Way of the Fight
When most people are asked to explain what makes Georges different, most talk about his athletic ability. They say he’s a freak of nature, built out of muscle, and it’s his athleticism that makes him the best. I’ll tell you straight: Georges is above average in athleticism, but he’s nothing special. If Georges went to an NFL combine, he’d just be another guy. In fact, he’d be below the average at that level. Good jumping ability and explosiveness, but nothing crazy. I’ve seen many people with a better vertical jump than him. He has average endurance. Decent but not great flexibility. Average balance. He’s overall a good—but not great—athlete. No, it’s not his athleticism.
I’m fortunate to have a memory geared to my chosen
profession. I can remember every single important detail of a fight
and I can replay each moment in my head. My mind has always been
like that. And then there are things my body does that are
inexplicable but to me are second nature.
The brain has to be accustomed to being coordinated. This is how it learns to execute the movement. The brain must assimilate the movement before it can properly think of using it. The Superman punch? It starts with a fake kick, a hop, and is followed by a lunging punch. But it’s more than pure athleticism, as athleticism is traditionally defined.
Phil Nurse taught me the Superman punch. I’d had it in the arsenal for a number of years—every true fighter does—but I’d never got it right. Between my fights against Penn and Hughes, I was at Phil’s gym in New York—called The Wat, which means “temple” in Thai—and Phil saw straight away that there was nothing super in my technique. So he showed me, step by step, and we both soon discovered that it would become an important weapon in my repertoire.
The Superman punch is one of the good examples of how I try to fool my adversary, to keep him guessing. It’s a great tool because it’s not part of most fighters’ codes (more on “codes” later). Most fighters are not accustomed to seeing it in practice, and that affects the brain’s reaction time. They don’t recognize it well. It’s the kind of maneuver that starts in one body part but finishes in another. Tactically, there are at least six ways to start the move, and ten different endings. You can begin with a takedown feint and finish with a punch—it doesn’t matter how or where it starts, because it can end in so many ways.
People think athleticism is just physical, but it’s not. It’s connected to the brain and how the brain can learn to execute and see a movement or not. Especially at high speed. Being athletic is not just jumping and running and being powerful. It’s the nervous system that guides the body. The muscles don’t decide anything. The brain decides and makes things happen.
The Way of the Fight, by Georges St. Pierre will be released on April 23 and can be pre-ordered here.