Former UFC Fighter Pete Williams (12-6) stepped away from the cage nearly eight years ago due to a number of training and competition related injuries that he could not seem to shake.
After years of intense shoulder pain, Williams has discovered a way to heal his body, build strength, flexibility and explosiveness along with a passion to share this knowledge with others. No supplements, no shots, no surgery. Just a series of movements designed with the intention to align the body and strengthen it from the ground up.
Williams currently resides in on the island of Oahu where he works, among other things, as a personal trainer. His training facility is based in Honolulu. It is no, big UFC gym, but it is perfect for him to assist his clients in completing what may be called “proper body exercise,” for lack of a better term. Williams adaptation the type of training he encourages was inspired by professional conditioning coach Marv Marinovich.
“He (Marv) doesn’t really have a name for his system. He is really informal and he approached it from a standpoint of marketing. He not a salesman or a marketer, he is just a genius at what he does. That’s his strong point,” Williams told SciFighting.com. “It is a more scientific method of working with the body, understanding the nervous system itself rather than just the muscles. It’s really the nervous system that controls the muscles and how they fire.”
Neuromuscular training and awareness is key to joint stability. Neuromuscular control is an unconscious response to joint motions that occurs without awareness. This is how a lot of injuries that could be temporary end up sticking around. The body naturally makes small adjustments to take pressure off of injured areas. When those movements continue over an extended period of time the body strays from its natural, healthy form.
Joint awareness relates to the ability to detect joint position, movement, direction, amplitude and speed of motion. A joint that possesses a high level of neuromuscular control and awareness should be able respond appropriately to variations in forces placed upon it during activity and decrease risk of injury.
The approach Williams takes to building healthy joints and an aligned nervous and muscular system involves the use of full range motions that engage large portions of the body, which are structured to align during the movements. Light weights are used during some exercises to encourage deeper range.
“How this applies to any sport or even just general health is that you are approaching a workout from the standpoint of joint health rather than muscles size or strength per-se. Muscle strength is kind of a secondary effect of muscle health. When muscles are working properly you can increase the load that you are working on and build that strength. If you don’t have flexibility, balance and joint function then you are building on a foundation of sand. You want those elements that are going to prevent injury,” said Williams.
“Where do you begin? Where does power begin? It starts with your contact with the Earth. We draw our power from the Earth and resisting its gravity. Your feet are the first step to having a solid contact with that mass going into the joint of the ankles up to the knee with each joint being addressed and being put through its range of motion so that in real world activities your foot fall isn’t always the same. You can train using squats, where your feet are in a stationary position, but in the real world if you look a fighter’s movement and his feet on the mat, they don’t resemble a squat whatsoever. That’s where the practicality of it comes in. Looking at what actually happens in the sport and using movements that more closely resemble that. Not just the movements themselves but the quality and the type of movement, so it is not just a slow heavy-weighted contraction of the muscle, but a quicker and explosive one.”
One of the first exercises demonstrated is structured with the intention of strengthening the muscles in the feet through a series of jumping movements to activate the toes followed by balancing single-footed on a slanted block with the opposite arm raised in the air. This motion engages the whole body through alignment of the foot through the leg, hip, torso and arm.
“This is the intro to working with machines and more weight,” said Williams. “This is the foundation to add resistance. This workout really addresses the smaller muscles and the joints that are holding the muscles together so that the joint can work properly and produce strength.”
“All bodies are generally built the same. We are working on the same structure, just at different levels and that it what the workout is great for. I can attenuate it to someone who is elderly or injured and tailor it to someone with limited ability or ramp it up to train elite athletes. We are training the same system. We are still training the same nervous system and people’s joints still operate the same way.”
Once the techniques are mastered, Williams ramps up the intensity to form and interval training regimen. This ads the much needed cardio component to any fighter’s workout.
“There is that endurance component of it, but there is that anaerobic firing of a punch of a kick, a quick engagement on the ground that kind of follows with a resting, and this is the kind of training we trying an mimic,” said Williams. “That anaerobic explosiveness or fast twitch and the recovery in between. We add the aerobic on the end after the anaerobic to supplement the energy recruitment system.”
Pete “El Duro” Williams is legend in the list of athletes who have graced the cage. After years of competition he retired due to injury following a severe shoulder lock issued by Frank Mir in 2002. One of many feats for which Williams will be forever remembered was having the first head kick knock out in the UFC, which he administered to the noggin of Mark Coleman in 1998. He has since found his passion in helping others to heal their own injures and maintain that health.
“It is the path that was presented to me. I didn’t have access to this type of training then and without me having that access and having to retire due to injuries and due to doing it the wrong way I may not have found this path to fixing my own injuries and of following my passion. I now understand the body and the preventative medicine without pills or surgery, addressing the problems before they become problems, which is something that I did not do. It has worked out that way and who know would have happened if I didn’t have those injuries and didn’t get into this. I am really enjoying this stage in my life and in my career. Things play out the way they should some times,” said Williams.
“I have always had an interest in physiology and biology as well as health and fitness. You basis for health is your body’s functions working correctly and there is no pill for that there is only exercise.”