Coming out of your comfort zone and into something a bit more challenging or unordinary like Muay Thai can be just the change you’re looking for in your life.
Originally posted by Roxy of “Lift, Fight, Love” which had 20 Muay Thai tips, this post is condensed into our most important 10 tips (and a bonus).
- You don’t need to be in shape to start training Muay Thai. Muay Thai is a skill-based sport. If you focus on the techniques you are being taught, drill them with focus and patience. You will naturally get more conditioned as you practice, being able to do things faster and harder as you get better. If you are gassing out on the first round of pad work try going lighter, it will help you focus on your technique anyway. No one expects you to be in top shape coming in and no one will make you feel bad if you aren’t.
- Expect to Suck at First. Every great fighter sucked at some point. My first coach used to say, “If it was easy everyone would do it.” I tell this to my students all the time. Learning how to use your body as a weapon in a rule-based sport is not an easy task. Instead of getting frustrated by not being able to do a strike or combination perfectly, get FASCINATED by the sport and use that drive and passion to focus your practice.
- You don’t have to fight. You don’t even have to spar. No one is going to think any less of you if you don’t want to. Crazy people like training that involves getting punched in the face. Fighters are insane, we acknowledge this and don’t think any less of people that want no part of it. Sparring will definitely improve your Muay Thai, but it’s not necessary to being a welcome contribution to your gym.
- It’s okay to stick to the basics. Don’t get overwhelmed, tell your partner or pad holder you just want to focus on the first strike or two to make things easier since you are new. They will understand. Don’t just drill the strikes incorrectly over and over because you are trying to get a workout. Take the complex and break it into small pieces, putting them together one at a time paying particular attention to the transitions.
- Come early, stay late and ask questions. Want to be good at Muay Thai? Be a fight nerd. Get fascinated by the sport, do extra work, take advantage of open gym, ask your instructor lots of questions, no one will think it’s weird. Every great Muay Thai fighter had been obsessed with the sport. The only way to get good is to care too much and put in work.
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- Don’t buy cheap gear. I can understand why at first you might buy a cheap pair of gloves because you are not sure if Muay Thai is for you. But once you have been training for a bit and want to take it seriously you’ll want gear that lasts and is protective. With most gear the price indicates quality. So yeah, that $50 pair of gloves will wear out much sooner than the $100 pair.
- Be a good partner. Learn to hold pads well. Not only will being a good pad holder make your fellow students appreciate you but it will also make you stronger. You don’t have to think of exciting flashy combos to call out for your partner. Some of the world’s best pad holders keep it straightforward and basic. Just call basic punches kicks and knees, keep the pace up, work on your footwork while holding and hold pads with a good amount of resistance. Communicate with your partner about the right height, angle, and resistance of the pads. They will be grateful for your thoughtfulness.
- Don’t forget to breathe! Breathe out when you strike, breathe out when you hold pads, pushing against your partners strikes and breathe out when you get hit in sparring. You don’t have to make funny grunting noises if you don’t want to, but at least breathe out and tightly flex your abdominal wall. My first coach told me to say “hush” when I strike. It helps your power in a big way, and ’til this day I still make kinda funny “hush” noises all the time.
- Don’t expect to get proficient at Muay Thai training just once a week. If you want to get decent at the sport, start training three days a week. If you want to get good at Muay Thai, train five to six days a week. If you want to be great, get so obsessed with Muay Thai that at least once you get asked to stop training because the gym is closing.
- Your shins will hurt. You will get bumps and bruises. There are a lot of strange “wives tales” when it comes to shin conditioning. My take on it is this: 1) Kick the heavy bag often. 2) When you do get a bump, bruise, or pain of practically any kind on your leg, shin, or foot ice it. 3) Rub out your shins and legs with Thai oil before training. Massage out the bumps and bruises (yes this will hurt a little, but nothing worth having comes easy, remember?).
*BONUS * – Support your team. To get the most out of your Muay Thai gym you have to be a part of the community. Go to your gyms events, parties, and especially go see your gym’s fighters compete. One of the best parts of Muay Thai is the community. If you just come to your 2-3 hours of class every week and keep to yourself you are missing a vital part of the experience.