Inside Prochazka's wild training regime: Punching trees and icy swims

Inside Jiri Prochazka’s wild training regime: UFC 295 star spent 72 hours in DARKNESS without food or water to ‘work with his demons’, punched a tree 500 times a day and suffered frostbite after one of his plunges in an icy lake

  • UFC star Jiri Prochazka has a number of unorthodox training methods  
  • Czech star spoke exclusively to Mail Sport about his philosophy and UFC 295
  • Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk fight details out THIS WEEK: Listen to The Hook

There have been some unorthodox training methods down the years, from Tony Ferguson kicking a lamp post to Ronda Rousey practicing on a trampoline. 

And Jiri Prochazka – ‘The Czech Samurai’ – can count himself among those UFC fighters pushing the boundaries when it comes to fight preparation. 

In addition to his regular MMA work with Jetsaam Gym in Brno, Czech Republic, Prochazka – who headlines UFC 295 against Alex Pereira this Saturday – has been known to take himself away to a forest retreat where he trains in isolation. 

Occasionally he shares footage of the weird and wonderful methods, including striking a tree 500 times a day. 

He previously explained: ‘This kind of training is very good for your body, for the stability. You can stabilise your punch when you’re punching the tree. 

Jiri Prochazka has an unorthodox to training in all kinds of different environments

‘But not a big tree like I punched in the video. It’s better to punch some smaller trees. That’s why I changed that.

‘Sometimes I’m using the tree, sometimes I’m using the makiwara. The makiwara is like, a wood stick,’ explained Prochazka.

‘It’s helpful for your body, to be more powerful in your punches, to be stronger. You have your core, your stomach, be stable and just better.’

Prochazka also used body weight exercises and kettle bells to work on his condition.     

‘Everything I need is here. Kettlebell, punching bag, makiwara, rope, rail, all the classics,’ he says. 

‘I’m repeating every week continuously, once in a week, minimum. Let the deep core stay there, the stabilisation system, this training has it all. 

‘The core, the movement, a flow, connection to everything of course through my antenna, and endurance, endurance power, maximum power, dynamics, all condition factors.’

One of the more surprising methods used to sharpen up his focus is sensory deprivation.

Prochazka worked on his reactions and vision with this unusual drill by the forest

Anthony Joshua and NFL star Aaron Rodgers are among the other high profile athletes to spend days in complete darkness, with Prochazka an early adopter of the practice. 

He explained: ‘It’s very helpful. There is just you and you. No other people. That was my first time when I did that without food, so just with water.

‘It’s much more strong when you’re without food. All the processes in your body is much stronger. Your mind’s working a lot, and you have to die here first.

‘And three days, four days, that’s not so much. But I’m using that just to recognize who I am really, and then I can start training and pushing to the next level with truly me, more honestly.

‘That’s all in darkness for three days, and there you can work with your demons and train what you want.

‘I don’t want to talk about a lot, because that’s like my personal things. That’s the biggest fun, because you have to go to the point where time is ending, and I can’t speak about that, because it’s so, not intense, for me, these things are so personal  and holy.’

The Czech fighter tried to improve the strength of his vision by reading with an eye patch

Prochazka spoke about training and living in darkness for three days without food or water

Fortunately there was a toilet and shower on site, also pitch black for the duration of the exercise.

Prochazka has spoken regularly about living his life by the strict code of Budisho – the rules by which ancient Japanese warriors held themselves to. 

‘When it came to my training my coach Jaroslav Hovezak gave me Five Rings,’ he previously detailed. It was an important moment because it gave me some rules to my life. 

‘From this time I started to learn about Chinese culture, Japanese samurai ideas and (started) on a spiritual journey. The timing, the rhythm, how to start to use my true power.’

Written by the Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi in the 17th century, The Book of Five Rings has been claimed to help martial artists in a variety of disciplines through a mixture of technical teachings and approaches to combat. 

He added: ‘[Bushido] is very simple rules which you can use for everything. It’s about what you believe in, what you love, how you want to speak with other people.

Prochazka (right) knocked out Dominick Reyes (left) back in 2021 and is an exciting talent

‘It’s about loyalty to, not your team, but loyalty to yourself to live by my truth, what I’m feeling inside. It’s very simple, but these things are [the] strongest.’

The 31-year-old pushes his body and mind to the extreme and filmed the aftermath of one particularly cold swim. 

He frequently subjects himself to icy plunges and on one occasion, suffered frostbite to his big toe. 

The nail froze and he shared a video of him plucking it off. 

It seems Prochazka uses the isolation to sharpen the mental side of his game, with specific MMA techniques reserved for the mat with his training partners. 

Yoga, breathing exercises and meditation are also essential for the former UFC light-heavyweight champion. He has also been filmed trying to improve his vision, wearing sunglasses to sway out of the way of a yellow cube tied to a string and reading a document while sporting an eyepatch. 

This week he has swapped the calm of the Czech woodland for the hustle and bustle of New York.

The former champion is looking to win back his old belt in his scrap with Alex Pereira

The bright lights of Madison Square Garden will be shining down on him and Pereira this weekend as he bids to reclaim the same belt he vacated more than a year ago.

He has been out of action for more than a year, rehabilitating a serious shoulder injury. At the time, Dana White explained on Paddy Pimblett’s podcast: ‘That night when it all went down and we had our doctor look at him, the doctor literally said in all the years of the UFC, this is the worst shoulder injury we’ve ever seen.

‘It’s pretty nasty. Him being the f****** savage that he is, he still wanted to fight. No, you can’t fight, kid. He tore it good.’

Self-proclaimed ‘weird guy’ Prochazka will put his wild methods through an acid test once again against Pereira. His unusual approach guided him to the title once before and it would be no surprise to see him repeat the trick. 

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