There aren't many sports that offer amateurs the chance to train with elite athletes but, with MMA still a relative newcomer, the seminar circuit that sustained fighters when the wages weren't too good is still going strong. UK-based body Fighters Inc (which also hosts martial arts show SENI) has previously put on events with fighting pioneers such as Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson and Royce Gracie, but Chuck 'The Iceman' Liddell's arguably the biggest name they've ever hosted - a former UFC champion and Hall of Famer with 13 wins by knockout. So when MF heard he'd be teaching some of his moves at the ultra-classy Urban Kings gym in King's Cross, we immediately bagged ourselves a spot.
The Iceman kicked things off with a pair of his signature punches: a power left hook and the dreaded overhand right. The secret to both of these, apparently, is to 'imagine you're swinging a rock on the end of a rope' and keep your arm loose as you swing it - Liddell's arm actually makes a whooshing noise as he throws. He also covered some setups for both punches, and how to throw his seldom-seen spinning back kick. The trick is to keep your turn short, and hoof backwards like a mule.
Of course, having a lethal right hand is no good if you're helpless on the floor, so Liddell also demonstrated some of the jiu jitsu and wrestling that make it impossible to keep him on his back, including a couple of slick reversals from half-guard. With the crowd ranging from serious professional fighters to Tapout T-shirt-wearing fans the difference in abilities was huge, but Liddell was happy to answer technical questions and demonstrate variations on anyone who asked.
Whether you fancy your chances in a cage or not, this sort of seminar offers a much more personal experience than most sports fans ever have with their idols. And the next time I watch the Iceman try to knock someone out with a huge looping left, I'll rooting for my buddy.
Check out fightersinc.net for upcoming seminars and urbankingsgym.com for some of the best MMA coaching in the UK.