Signing up for a Muay Thai class is one of the best decisions you could ever make for yourself. The art of eight limbs is a lot more than just learning effective ways to defend yourself with your fists, elbows, legs, and knees. Training Muay Thai is a lifelong journey that will lead you down the path of self-discovery, self-discipline, and self-confidence.
As is the case with most things in life, when you train Muay Thai, you get what you put in. All Muay Thai students aren’t equal. Those who dedicate themselves to the art and remain disciplined with their training are rewarded for their efforts.
Looking to become one of these people who make the most out of their Muay Thai class? Here are a few things you can do:
1) Set goals and follow up
When you decide to join a Muay Thai class, make sure you set some clear, achievable goals. That makes it easier for you to judge your progression, which in turns keeps you motivated in the long run. For example, if you’re overweight, setting a goal to lose “x” amount of weight is a good idea. Having a set goal makes it easier to customise your lifestyle to better suit your training. Continuing with the example used above, if one of your goals is to lose weight, making some changes to your diet would be an excellent way to complement the fat burn you get from your training.
2) Relax and focus on technique first
When learning Muay Thai, it is important that you leave your ego at the door. It’s isn’t uncommon for students to want to execute techniques as fast or as powerfully as they can, but that doesn’t help you in the long run. The techniques you learn while training Muay Thai or any other martial art are not magic tricks. These techniques are effective because they take advantage of the known laws of physics and leverage.
For example, anyone can throw a kick, but the effectiveness of many kicks used in Muay Thai is based on the power generated by the hip rotation that’s incorporated into these moves. Then, there’s the fact these kicks focus on striking your opponent with the hardest part of your leg: the shin. Rotating your hips, ensuring your shin hits the target first, and following through adds more power and speed to your techniques than simply throwing a kick as hard as you can.
Failing to learn how to execute techniques properly will hurt you in the long run. When you do things the wrong way, it eventually becomes a habit which can be very hard to break.
Instead, forget all about speed or power when training and focus solely on performing moves the right way. The speed and power will eventually come.
3) Always have a game plan before class
You should always think of the things you want to work on before each Muay Thai class. Everyone has a unique martial arts experience, and there will eventually be techniques or positions that you struggle with.
Ignoring your weaknesses won’t make them go away, so it’s best to be aware of what they are and work on improving them. Talk to your instructors and other students about the techniques you’re struggling with as their insight can be very helpful.
4) Listen carefully when techniques are being broken down
The greatest instructors that ever lived can’t improve your Muay Thai skills if you do not pay attention during classes. Listen carefully to what is being said and ask questions if there’s something you don’t understand. Asking questions makes your instructor aware of the things you might be struggling with.
You can also learn a lot of things from your training partners regardless of skill levels. Don’t be shy and ask questions if you see one of your training partners executing a move you are having a hard time with.
5) Help less-advanced students
Once you have some experience under your belt. You should start helping less-advanced students at your Muay Thai gym. Teaching someone a technique forces you to look at it from a more in-depth angle. That means the more you help others in the gym, the better your understanding of the techniques you are learning will become.
6) Drill, drill, and drill some more
Repetition is the key to mastering any martial arts. There are no shortcuts, you have to put in the work. If your goal is to become the best Muay Thai fighter you can be or possibly compete at some point, you need to drill techniques as much as you can.
Muay Thai gyms have open mat policies when classes are not in session throughout the day. Take advantage of such opportunities and get some extra bag work done when you can. You can also shadowbox at the gym or at home and refine your techniques.
As you gain more sparring time, you will eventually have a handful of techniques that work for you. Drill these endlessly. Remember what Bruce Lee once said? “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
The same goes for your weaknesses. For example, if you have a hard time breaking clinches, practice breaking out of the clinch relentlessly until it becomes second nature to you.