An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

National Fitness Month: To do and to coach MMA

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jette Carr
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
- In celebration of National Fitness Month, athletes from Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., will be spotlighted each week during the month of May 2013.

"Just bring heart and water, nothing else," he said. "Don't think; let me do the thinking."

Master Sgt. Claude Lawson, 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron military personnel flight superintendent, remembered speaking these words to a mixed martial artist he agreed to coach. Over the years, Lawson has been making use of his MMA background to teach and train a new generation of fighters.

"I've been doing martial arts since I was 5 years old," he said. "I've been trained in about 20 different martial arts, starting with Kajukenbo and then moving on to kick boxing--after that, the transition to MMA seemed like the natural thing to do."

During his competitive days he suffered only one loss; it was to a man of 6 feet 4 inches, nearly a foot taller than Lawson. Doing extreme body building and competing in MMA, Lawson put himself at a slight disadvantage--he had to fight in the heavy category because of his muscle mass.

After deciding his fighting days were over, this burly athlete decided to put his personal training certification to good use. Since being stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Lawson has trained numerous individuals to condition themselves for the rough-and-tough world of MMA.

"MMA is a full spirit workout," said Lawson. "To train, we do workouts that take you to where a fight takes you. In a match you may go from stalling, holding a position so you don't get hit, or it could be an all-out race to put someone in submission. These require different types of cardio so you have to train your body to be efficient through a wide range of motions."

The normal workouts Lawson takes his fighters through are generally non-stop to help build cardio strength and endurance. One workout involves running 100 meter sprints 10 times, between which the athlete will hit mitts and do sprawls--the technique of taking an opponent down by pressing their head and upper body into the mat. After this portion is done, they head into the gym for more exercises.

Lawson said he is willing help anyone who wants the training, so long as they come in with the right attitude.

"Attitude is a big thing for me," he said. "My current fighter has a great attitude--really humble, but confident. I love to train people like that. You don't have to be an alpha male all the time--know when to turn it on and turn it off."

A highlight during his time at Cannon was coaching Staff Sgt. Marc Hightower, now stationed with the 8th Maintenance Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea. While under Lawson's tutelage, Hightower won every MMA match he competed in, even beating a Golden Gloves boxer.

"Claude Lawson is a strength strategist and precision juggernaut," said Hightower. "He taught me how to move while grappling and boxing, keep my composure and 'turn it on' when the time was right to finish my opponent. His guidance and structure have made me not only a better all-around fighter, but also a more complete person."