Ma Strength Clinic Recap
I’ve known JianPing Ma since 2007, when I started graduate school at UNI. I started lifting with him on occasion, with Will. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time with JianPing, and he has always been a great coach to me. I was able to go to China with Coach Ma in 2010 and see firsthand the Chinese training methods at Beijing Sports University. It was an incredible experience, and one that I thought could not be topped. However, last weekend’s Ma Strength Seminar with Lyu Xiaojun, Liao Hui, and Coach Yu Jie might take the cake as the coolest experience that weightlifting has ever provided me. It’s crazy to think that same girl who struggled to snatch 35 kgs (I fell down, a lot) is now learning from some of the best lifters in the world. I was honored to be a part of their first visit to the US, and so happy to have the opportunity to participate in a seminar that included coaching tips from such amazing talent.
I’m familiar with Chinese training principles, but the seminar was a nice refresher in their philosophy that emphasizes impeccable technique, rhythm, and consistency. Coach Ma provided his background, and listed some of the credentials of Lyu Xiaojun, Liao Hui, and Coach Yu.
- 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist in 77 kg weight class (379 kg total)
- 3 time World Champion
- Current World and Olympic record holder in snatch and total in 77 kg weight class (176 snatch / 380 total)
- 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist in 69 kg weight class (348 kg total)
- 3 time World Champion
- Current World record holder for snatch, clean and jerk, and total in 69 kg weight class (166 snatch / 198 clean and jerk / 359 total)
Coach Yu Jie
- Recently named Head Coach of the Chinese National Team (previously coached Army team)
- Coaches multiple world record holders, including Lu Haojie and Tian Tao (in addition to Lyu Xiaojun and Liao Hui)
We started with an in-depth Q&A with Coach and the lifters. Recovery methods came up several times, and Coach Yu stressed that with as much experience as they have, Lyu Xiaojun and Liao Hui know their bodies very well and dedicate a great deal of time to recovery. Massage, ice, cupping, acupuncture, sauna, and stretching are methods they use regularly. We were able to ask the lifters about their training, diet, favorite lifts, what weaknesses they work on. Lyu Xiaojun states his core is an area of focus for him, while Liao Hui couldn’t come up with a weakness – must be nice! Lyu has been lifting since he was 13 years old, and under Coach Yu for the past 6 years. In 2006, his career as a lifter was not looking good, mostly due to injuries. He rejoined the national team in 2008 after making the change to Coach Yu. Since then, he has gone on to win a gold medal and set multiple World and Olympic records. Liao Hui has been lifting for 17 years, and the past 10 have been with Coach Yu. Athletes on the National Team in China can go home only once a week, so their coach and teammates really become their family. You could see that the athletes have a great deal of respect for Coach Yu.
After taking every last one of our questions, we moved on to technique. At this point Coach Ma, Lyu Xiaojun, and Liao Hui took the majority of participants through some technique training for both snatch and clean and jerk. Coach Ma translated the lifters comments and corrections of each participants form. Tips were given to correct issues with technique, and everyone had a chance to practice what they were told. I broke off into a smaller group with Coach Yu and Manuel from Ma Strength, who translated while we worked on snatch technique. Much of Coach Yu’s focus was on our start position, the bar path, and a solid catch. I won’t go into detail here, as the tips I received were specific to me, but it was awesome to have the man who has coached so many world champions showing me a better way to move. It was at that moment that it really sunk in – this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m willing to bet I don’t cross paths with Coach Yu again, so the word cool doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Seminars like this don’t happen often, and this type of hands-on learning is becoming archaic. Trust me, I understand that cost is prohibitive when it comes to experiences like this, but reading about it in a blog post just isn’t going to do it justice. I also get the irony that I’m writing a blog post about this seminar, but I hope you get what I mean. I could never put into words the cues and positions that Coach Yu, Lyu Xiaojun, and Liao Hui were demonstrating. I guess my take away from the clinic was how valuable hands-on coaching really is. Sure you can make decent progress with good programming, consistency, and recovery methods, but you can make great progress with an amazing coach.
I can’t say enough how grateful I am to have had this opportunity. A huge thank you to Ma Strength and Coach Yu for all the work that went into making this trip a reality, as well as to Craig at IHP for hosting it. SAA also invested a lot of time and energy in making it happen, so of course I’m thankful to them as well! Now I can’t wait to see Lyu Xiaojun and Liao Hui compete again!