_Fedor: The Fighting System of the World's Undisputed King of MMA_ is one of the best books I've read in regards to the basics of fighting. It contains over 200 pages of techniques covering all three of the major fight ranges (striking distance, the clinch, and grappling). These techniques are explained both through the use of multiple full-color photographs and informative captions. Together, they do an excellent job of allowing readers to understand what they are reading so that they can duplicate it while practicing. This is the textbook for Mixed Martial Arts 101, and should be in the library of every new student of the fighting arts.
The book's strength as a beginner's guide, however, is also its biggest weakness. The authors devote an entire page to showing readers how to get into the proper stance; two more pages and 12 photos on how to throw a straight snap jab; two more pages and nine photos detailing how to throw a straight long jab; two pages on how to throw a left hook; etc, etc, etc... Beginning fighters should love this, as it will allow them to understand almost exactly how Fedor fights; more experienced fighters with their own styles will find themselves skimming page after page of this book trying to find something that they don't already know. Those nuggets of gold are in there, but they tend to be rare because so much of the book is devoted to the basics. With such a grand title as "The Fighting System of the World's Undisputed King of MMA," many readers will expect a book that has more uniqueness to it. What they get is an excellent guide to the basics of Fedor's style, but little else beyond a beginner to intermediate technique manual.
The exact contents of the book are 90 pages devoted to striking, 53 dealing with the clinch, and 100 concerning ground techniques. The contents can be additionally broken down as follows:
- 24 pages on punching. Everything from multiple versions of the jab to the stepping in uppercut are covered.
- 8 pages on kicking. The kicks are very basic and do not go above middle-height.
- 9 pages on checking. This is a form of blocking strikes.
- 33 pages on counter attacks. This section puts together what was taught in the earlier striking sections. Strikes that happen after or while the opponent is attacking can often surprise an opponent and result in stronger blows.
- 12 pages on combinations. Multiple strikes thrown together as a combination often lead to a knock-out. My favorite is the setup for the "superman punch" that starts on page 106.
- 8 pages on combinations from the clinch. The short distance between opponents means that strikes must be thrown in a slightly different way to be successful.
- 8 pages on the Muay Thai Clinch. The Muay Thai Clinch could actually be a book in itself. The authors cover the basics of how to throw knees from it, counter it, and escape it. That's it.
- 32 pages on throws. Taking an opponent from the clinch to the ground can win a fight. This section covers throws from wrestling, judo, and other martial arts and applies them to MMA.
- 5 pages on takedown defense. There are only two techniques here: the basic sprawl to rear naked choke and the single leg defense. This section seems a bit empty, but takedown reversals have also been covered in other sections.
- 100 pages on ground techniques. This section is a mixture of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, and other grappling techniques. There are some interesting chained sequences in this section, but there is also one big failing: the basic positions of grappling such as the guard and mount are not significantly explained. Considering that the simple jab got a two-page treatment, I'd have thought something as important as the guard would get at least one - but it didn't. It seems as if the authors just expected everyone to have some prior experience in jiu-jitsu. The moves in this section tend to be relatively advanced, so I'd recommended someone new to jiu-jitsu pick up an additional book if they need to learn the very basics of ground fighting.
My final verdict on this book is: it is definitely worth purchasing if you are a beginning fighter or MMA enthusiast. More experienced fighters may be disappointed with the lack of advanced moves, but they will still take something away from this book if they read it completely.
Note: For those that don't know, Fedor Emelianenko is a professional MMA fighter that, at the height of his career, was considered the best heavyweight in the world. He has fought in organizations including Affliction, PRIDE, Bodog, and Rings, but not in the UFC (at least not at the time of this writing). He has wins over name fighters including Renato Sobral, Heath Herring, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Gary Goodridge, Mark Coleman, Mirko "CroCop" Filipovic, Matt Lindland, Tim Sylvia, and Andrei Arlovski.