Training But Not Fighting


By Angela Chang

Wherever people are engaging in serious sporting competition, you can guarantee there are also countless others practicing the same sport for recreation only.

For every Tiger Woods, there are a thousand average joes on driving ranges; for every Buakaw, Sitsongpeenong or Samart Payakaroon, there are droves of regular men and women practicing Muay Thai in gyms across the world with no intent of ever having a real fight.

It’s been said before and it will be said again: Muay Thai has something for everyone. This is one of the unique qualities about Muay Thai, that it invites onto the mats people from all sorts of jobs and backgrounds.

Let’s break down some of the benefits of training Muay Thai without any real intention of taking an opponent:

The Physical: “I Want To Get Jacked/Healthy!”

Muay Thai is a great way to get in shape. It burns tons of calories while giving you a full-body workout. It works your arms, shoulders, core, and legs.

Because of the intense and high-speed nature of Muay Thai, it helps build the cardiovascular system, helps you lose weight and body fat, and get strong and toned. This makes it very appealing as a lot of people are interested in at least one of those aspects.

Muay Thai is challenging and may put off a lot of people at first, but they soon learn that’s what makes it so effective and rewarding. Aside from the superficial benefits, Muay Thai helps to strengthen joints and increase mobility, especially in the hips! Stiff joints and muscles often lead to pain and functional imbalance. A lot of people who sit all day may feel weird types of soreness or stiffness, so they could really benefit from getting stronger and increasing the mobility of their joints.

The Mental: “I Want Stress Relief/Mental Toughness!”

There are few things that give more relief than hitting something really hard!

After a long day, you may be feeling stressed. Maybe you have deadline to make or test to study for, and you have a lot of pent-up frustration. Take it out on a bag! Muay Thai is excellent for stress relief, and lower stress levels means you’ll be able to concentrate better outside the gym.

Along with stress relief, it also helps to build mental toughness. Being pushed beyond your limits, your body will be begging your brain to give the cease fire. But you know there is reward waiting to be reaped from every class you finish. In the beginning, you may think it’s impossible to throw 30 kicks in a row, but consistent training and commitment will get you there.

Just imagine how accomplished you’ll feel and how unstoppable you’ll be!

The Community: “I Want Lifelong Friendships.”

While the initial appeal may be for selfish reasons, many people eventually find out that the Muay Thai community is especially close-knit. In a fitness gym, running on a treadmill next to a stranger for an hour doesn’t exactly elicit a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie. But spend hours and hours slugging it out with your sparring partner in a Muay Thai gym and you’ve made a friend for life.

The people you train with in a gym become like a second family. It’s very easy to become good friends with your training partners, and you may make types of friends you never would have otherwise.

The great thing is that you connect with people based on mutual goals. You’ll see that everyone helps one another and works together. There is no greater joy than learning and improving from training with better athletes, minus the judgment and feelings of inferiority. On the flip side, you can give advice to those not as experienced as you, and show them some tips you’ve learned along the way that have helped you.

That, for many, is the ultimate pitch for Muay Thai:

Forge unbreakable bonds over your spilled tears, sweat and blood.

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