San Francisco 49ers Kassim Osgood uses capoeira to help find his edge on the field.
San Francisco 49ers special team standout Kassim Osgood has one of the most physically grueling jobs in football. The three-time Pro Bowler is a “gunner,” who charges down the field on kickoffs and punts and tries to wreak havoc on the ball carrier. To do so, he has to fight through multiple defensive backs that are trying to knock his head off.
Despite Osgood’s obvious toughness, the longtime MMA fan still isn’t inclined to step into the Octagon.
“Become a fighter? Hell no,” says Osgood. “That’s something you have to have the instinct for from day one. It’s kind of like somebody who’s been a basketball player all their life, then deciding they want to go play football. You’re going to be off. But in the case of MMA, if you’re off one second, you’ll get knocked out. I like the way I look. I don’t want my face all beat up.”
It’s not as if Osgood didn’t have an early introduction to MMA. As an All-American football player at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, Osgood became friends with former Cal Poly wrestler Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell.
“I’ve known Chuck Liddell since I was 18 years old,” Osgood says. “I met him around town and went into his gym and found out who he was and what MMA was. Watching him and watching the old-school guys like Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock, that’s how I got into it MMA, and I’ve been following it ever since.”
While he never actually trained with Liddell, Osgood has been training forms of martial arts most of his life. He started kung fu as a teen, but the Brazilian dance-fighting art capoeira captivated him in 2005 while playing for the San Diego Chargers.
“One of the guys who has a capoeira class in San Diego came down and did a demonstration at one of our camps for the kids in our foundation,” Osgood says. “I kind of remembered it from a movie a long time ago. It was intriguing. It looked like it was a lot of fun. He was explaining that it was good for cardiovascular health. At the time, I had a shoulder injury, so it was a great way to strengthen my shoulder. There are a lot of flips and handstands and stuff that you’ve got to do, and little positions and that help utilize your shoulders a lot. It was good rehab.”
Osgood hasn’t been able to practice the Brazilian martial art over the past few years while playing in Jacksonville and Detroit, but now that he’s back on the West Coast playing for the Niners, he plans on getting back into capoeira.
“Capoeira helps with speed, quickness with your hands, getting off the jam, and getting off blocks,” says Osgood. “Being able to block people and using your overall weight distribution is a huge benefit. It’s just one more thing that will give me an edge to keep playing in the NFL.”