Wednesday, July 15, 2009

UFC Champ GSP Plays Chess

Super female martial artist and journalist Phoenix Carnevale wrote an amazing piece on UFC champ George St. Pierre....He gave a glimpse into his super strategic mind. Among other things, he talks about chess. Enjoy!!


George St. Pierre and Thiago Alves aren't talking any trash about each other. They don't have too! Thisfight hype is based on skill! This fight hype is based on the CHESS match that great fights are made of.

If you were to Google the word Competition, wikipedia will tell you that the etymology of the word is "to seek together or to strive together". The better your opponent the better you have to become.

Competition gives high incentive for self-improvement. Without question George St. Pierre has dealt with some hefty competition so he hands. Thiago Alves a huge complement when he says Alves is his toughest fight yet.

George begins to tell me during a Phone interview last week. "He brings to the table a lot of stuff that I haven't seen before. He's a great striker. Very good on the ground He's very well rounded. I haven't fought someone as dangerous and as strong as big as him, But then again he's never fought a guy like me before either. We're both gonna fight a guy like we've never fought before'

Thiago has shown excellent take down defense in his recent fights with Josh Koscheck and Matt Hughes. If the game of fighting has taught anyone anything its that an opponent should never be taken lightly.

"He's the number 1 contender so there's not to many holes in his game. But I can see there's some things he's not as strong at'". When George trains he losses the ego. The strategy is somewhat like get your butt handed to you in training so you don't get it kicked on fight night.

" I train with jui jutsu with better guy than I. Muay Thai with better Thai fighters than I. I box with better guys boxers than I"

In his search for the best of the best he found one of the best Muay Thai coaches in the business Kru Phil Nurse, owner and head trainer of The WAT gym in NYC. George heard about Phil through word of mouth while he was training at the Gracie Academy in NYC. Phil says he's adjusted his Muay Thai for MMA and that's made the Art fresh, new and exciting for him. This is the reason top UFC fighter like Rasheed Evans and Roger Huerta have sought Phil out to train them.

When Phil trains with GSP he tries to come at George with strong strategies. I was lucky to also get Phil on the phone that week to talk to him about what its like training with our current welterweight champion. "I try to do things to him that his opponent might try, to make him react and defend". Phil says. "We're always pushing the boundaries. "

Muay Thai is known to be stand-up art of choice for mixed martial artists. Knowing that George also has a Kyokushin background I ask him what is the main difference between Kyokushin Karate and Muay Thai. "The focus on Karate is a lot of footwork. Thai Box has some amazingly lethal kicks and elbows. They are both great arts but different. It's important to know that only one martial arts is not enough. You need more than one."

Phil Nurse talked openly about George's as he student of the fighting arts. "The thing about George is he's always evolving. He's a true athlete that's always learning new things. I could show him something today a few times and the next day he will come in and pull it off on some of my best guys. That quick adaptability is very hard for people to do"

George knows that he has to constantly expand and adjust. George's method and strategy for training changes for every opponent."Every fight I learn new stuff. I always fight my opponent where he's the weakest. I study tapes. But I know he's gonna be a better version of who he was in his last fight. It's a big problem but I believe I can solve it."George says with confidence." I'm not gonna fight Alves the same way I would fight Hughes and BJ Penn'

Another strategy contributing to GSPs well roundedness is his breaking his training up into segments and then ties it all together. "I do a lot of different disciplines but the closer that I get to the fight I train MMA."

Phil Nurse talked to me about GSPs diversity of Martial arts knowledge.
"All of his other styles are not gone. He has all of that older stuff in his arsenal. He just keeps adding on."

I read somewhere that there are no superior martial arts. Only superior martial artists. George is known for mixing it up. I was curious to know why it was so important for him break up his training.

"I do believe that you cannot train MMA. To be in an MMA fighter you have to specialize in something. If you don't specifically work on certain skills you will try to do everything but it wont be sharp."

Everyone is always talking about what a physical specimen GSP is. He's graced the cover of many Men's Health and Fitness Magazines. But what does he do to keep in good mental shape as the stakes get higher and higher?

" I do a lot of imagery. I started doing a lot more recently. I see myself winning I see myself getting out a bad position and coming out on top.
It's all mental. Every day I do imagery. And its something I think in training is very under rated."

All this talk about the mind and strategy made me think about CHESS, I ask George, Do you play? "I do play chess. But I don't have anyone good to play with right now. I'm a pretty humble guy but I've beaten everyone in my entourage"

I laugh and say "kinda like how you've beaten everyone in your welterweight division. If you get through Thiago are you considering testing the waters at middleweight? A Super fight Anderson Silva would certainly be the biggest fight in MMA history!"

"Well right now my primary focus is Alves. So it's the only thing I am focusing on."

George is such a tease!! Well a girl can dream can't she! Speaking of girls, I ask GSP what he thinks of women in the sport?" I love to see women training! And a women who's in shape is a women who looks good and I like that" George says playfully.

"Right now there are more men then women but I think its gonna be like boxing and they're will be more and more girls! And that's awesome!"

George has watched the UFC since the beginning days of Royce Gracie and here he is and here we are ready to watch his next and biggest battle at UFC 100!

"It's a great honor for me because there's always a significant meaning to the number 100"

The significance of the number 100 is the number associated with perfection. And to a lot of People George is that perfect athlete. Needless to say but I think GSP and Thiago Alves will be giving 100 percent of themselves on July 11th for the milestone event UFC 100 .

Phoenix Carnevale is a NYC based Fitness Expert, Martial Artist, Writer and On-Air Personality. She has been featured on CW11, Spike tv, Lifetime TV,Fox 5 and American Latino TV.

Phoenix currenlty teaches group fitness for New York Health and Racquet Club and Equinox Fitness Clubs. She regularly conrtibutes to Latina Magazine,, and As on camera host and producer she is regulary featured on INSIDE MARTIAL ARTS (

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