Jorge Blanco is the former Spanish National Kickboxing Champion, AKA ‘The Spaniard’, who became coach to UFC legend Georges St-Pierre.
When not masterminding Georges’s victorious comeback to the sport he trains the NHL ice hockey players that flood his way every off-season or A-List celebrities like Drake.
The Spaniard says that his approach to passing on the dogma of close combat is to impart new methods; start feeling instead of over-thinking and turn pressure into power.
As he tells, RSNG, Jorge believes we all should add an MMA workout to our weekly routine and suggests specific fight skills to learn to develop all round flexibility and fitness…
Jorge Blanco was raised in Zaragoza, where he took up judo as a junior before segueing into kickboxing and boxing in his teens. He now he lives in Canada where he teaches his tailored Spaniard training system.
Jorge recently began sharing his wisdom as a resident trainer for movie star Chris Hemsworth’s health and fitness platform Centr, a personalised digital health and fitness program. We wanted to know why he thinks combat skills are so key, even if you’re not having a scrap?
RSNG Why should we add an MMA workout to our fitness routine and how?
JORGE BLANCO, MMA COACH ‘Weight loss is one of the main reasons an MMA workout should be added to your workout routine. It’s a high-intensity sport, it requires full body conditioning, it will make you work from head to toe.’
‘I would say that kickboxing, which is a specific form of MMA, is the most efficient way to lose weight, that’s because it incorporates a variety of physical exercises, from punching, to fly-kicks and jumping – all very demanding of the body.’
‘MMA can aid your quality of mental health, by boosting your confidence, releasing endorphins and not allowing you time to think of everyday qualms’
RSNG There is more to MMA than simply getting fit through fighting then?
JB ‘Absolutely. MMA can also aid your quality of mental health, by boosting your confidence, releasing endorphins and not allowing you time to think of everyday qualms when punching a moving target!’
‘Another key reason to add it to your workout routine would be that it improves self-discipline. The physical tools and exercises used – whether that be wrestling or avoiding a punch, for example – are used in a control manner.’
RSNG What is a specific MMA skill to learn that will improve an element of all-round flexibility or fitness?
JB ‘MMA requires you to constantly be on the move, there is no other sport or discipline which requires the same level of movement. When you throw kicks, you have to have a certain level of flexibility to effectively carry this out. One way to do this is simply by stretching out your legs daily, or even after every workout.’
‘The sport doesn’t just improve your flexibility. Working on your punches and kicks enhances your hand-eye coordination. This is because it improves your timing – if you’re trying to hit a moving target and you miss you can hurt yourself. Even a punching bag moves, so your hand-eye coordination is constantly being developed.’
‘George St-Pierre is known for throwing a superman jab – we practiced that, followed by a rear low kick’
RSNG What kind of work do you do with George St-Pierre?
JB ‘I was one of George’s head coaches for the striking component of his game. We worked heavily on jabs, which is the most important punch in combat sports, period. We would focus on drilling the jabs and I would combine this with other techniques used in MMA.’
‘For example, we would be practicing jabbing, which would move into knee-hits, to takedowns, to elbow punches. The jab is the foundation of these various MMA skills. I would incorporate a range of drills into the jab, from jab halt to jab step.’
‘George is well known for throwing a superman jab – a flying one. We practiced that, followed by a rear low kick. He’s also renowned for his transitions to takedowns. The reason why he’s so successful at these is that he has a great jab, which he practices often.’
RSNG How has your work with the NHLers come about?
JB ‘Matt Martin, who played for the Maple Leafs (Toronto NHL team) at the time, originally reached out to me on Instagram, having noticed a growing trend of NHLers using combat sports – and MMA specifically – as part of their training.’
‘It’s grown from there, with more and more NHLers wanting to train with me. I’ve also worked with the likes of Dallas’ Tyler Seguin, Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds and Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner.’
RSNG But it’s not out and out fighting you’re teaching them?
JB ‘I’ve tried to show the players elements of MMA that can help them in their field. As with boxers and MMA fighters, skaters work in shifts – it’s full-on, you get rest and then you jump back in.’
‘So, I make them focus on their breathing – without it you can’t mentally be present. I also make them focus on their balance. I want them to learn something new so that they can become better overall athletes.’
WHAT NEXT? Follow Jorge’s MMA Workout Challenge for yourself…
Jorge Blanco is a resident trainer for Centr, Chris Hemsworth’s personalised digital health and fitness program, which is available from the App Store for iPhone and Apple Watch or online at centr.com
Comments are for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.