Have you ever shown up at the gym only to find out that you’re the only one there?
Maybe your coach had an emergency and needed to step away, or your training partner bailed on you. You still want to get a good workout in but do you know how to structure your own training when no one is there to guide you?
If you’ve always had a coach there to tell you what to do and how to flow from one drill or exercise to the next, approaching an open mat or solo training session can be a little confusing. You can enter the training session with good intentions and strong motivation, but without some forethought and planning you might end up halfheartedly hitting the heavy bag for two and a half rounds before deciding to go home.
Training on your own is great; fighting, after all, is something that you ultimately have to do...
When it comes to fighting, there is no argument that it’s one hell of a tough sport. But how is toughness really built into fighters? Is must be all the long hours in the gym rotating through countless sessions of hard sparring, right? How many UFC and boxing highlights have we seen featuring fighters battering their sparring partner in the days leading up to a fight?
“Pain is the best way to learn,” they say. “Iron sharpens iron… Spar hard, easy fight.”
These adages are as old as time and exist across disciplines and sports. If you’ve ever trained to fight, you know these push-through-the-pain maxims by heart, mostly because your coach has shouted them at you in the middle of hard sparring sessions. Encouragement like this has been shown to help fighters move past their limits, mentally condition themselves to eat hard shots, and alleviate the fear of contact.
That said, hard sparring is...
When is the last time you got to shoot practice shots with Michael Jordan?
Can you recall the last time you swapped opening move strategies with Bobby Fischer? Or played a friendly round of 18 holes with Tiger Woods?
Have you ever been granted the amazing opportunity to learn from and practice with a real, live legend of sports?
Well, recently, my friends, I got to do just that. Let me tell you all about my Muay Thai private with the one, the only, the king of the cartwheel kick...
This wasn't my first time meeting Saenchai, but it was the longest private I've ever had with the man. And let me tell you: he is EXACTLY what you think he's like.
"Playful" doesn't begin to describe him. Where do I even begin?? When we sparred, every time he landed clean, he started counting me out... LOL. He's so loose no matter what he's doing or showing you. The constant "oooweee!" coming out of his mouth had me grinning...
I enjoy multi-purposed tools, especially in fighting. These 'swiss army knife techniques' tend to find themselves fitting into cracks that are too tight for other tools.
It ought not come as a surprise then that I find enjoyment in developing core muscles. Developed proper, they look nice, aid in movement, act as a great natural body armor, and, thus, all our bases are covered. Actually...not quite.
Picking one trait to develop is easy, for instance: getting a 6-pack. Diet properly and the fat will melt like polar ice caps and the 6-packs will rise to sea level. But what good are looks if they do not function? We're going to try to piece this puzzle together and have you reap all the good fruits it has to bear.
A strong core isn't just about a strong core, it's about the entire body (we're talking stuff like harder shins, bigger forearms and...
Nobody will ever forget their first fight, not ever. The pressure, anxiety, and excitement all jumbled up together in your chest is a feeling that can’t be reproduced.
Amateur fights are matched mostly based on experience, unlike professional bouts, which consider the level of the fighter and their style. If you are confirmed to make your amateur debut, your opponent is also likely to have no fights as well. (Sometimes they do, but no more than three.)
Taking that first step into the ring and hearing that bell ding for the first time is almost like stepping into an abyss – you’re not sure what to expect. Keep the following in mind during your first fight and you’ll always feel grounded to the mat (rather than floating above it).
So much of how well you do in a fight depends on your conditioning. If you have good conditioning, you can keep going. If you don’t, you’re as good as dead....
Well, maybe not in the moment when you're slamming your shin into your opponent's thigh (or worse yet, something bonier than that). That's always gonna hurt.
But somewhere early on in the development of Muay Boran and eventually of Muay Thai, clever practitioners learned that by conditioning their shins, they could turn the crippling sharpness into more of a deadened, dull pain that one can endure throughout the fight without giving up.
They also learned that conditioned shins heal much more quickly post-fight than unconditioned ones. Think about it this way: if you walk a mile every day, you'll not run out of conditioning if, one day, you're forced to walk two miles - or even three. But ten miles? Twenty? Fifty?? You're just not ready for that. For that, you'd need to start conditioning your body to be functional for those huge, marathon walks.
The same goes for your shins - an integral part of your arsenal in the Muay...
Muay Thai does not typically emphasize head movement. It is not commonly drilled as it is in boxing. This is due to the diversification of attacks from punching. Defending the head becomes de-emphasized when your opponent mixes in kicks to the body and leg. However, when faced with a volume puncher, a fighter without head movement could be at a disadvantage.
What do you do when someone asks you to move your head? Moving the head involves flexion and contraction of the neck muscles. The resulting head positions are up and down (nodding), left and right (shaking the head), and tilted (ear to shoulder).
“Why Muay Thai?” is a question I get asked a lot, so I’m going to try answering it definitively – by telling you why it wasn’t any other martial art.
Like many kids, I tried my hand at martial arts. I grew up on Kung Fu flicks and fighting movies, and like their protagonists, I wanted to be a bad ass. At the tender age of six, I ventured into Judo – my first door into the world of martial arts.
Image Source: MMA-Today
I was living in Beirut, Lebanon at the time. My instructor taught at my elementary school. He was young, fit, and charismatic. An absolute giant in my eyes at the time. I couldn’t tell you what I learned but I remember feeling incomplete. I remember thinking, “when am I going to hit stuff?” – not realizing that Judo is mostly throws and doesn’t really practice any strikes.
The only distinct memory I have with my Judo...
While it’s not absolutely necessary to run when you want to fight, it is necessary to do so if you want to perform well.
With running, you can opt between short, fast, explosive sprints or long, steady, long runs. This begs the question: which is better to do? What would help you more as a Muay Thai fighter?
Let’s get a few simple scientific terms and facts out of the way. There 3 types of skeletal muscle. “Slow twitch” are used when doing activites of low intensity, such as walking. They’re called slow because the muscles take a long time to contract, and can endure without fatiguing for a long time. Slow twitch fibers do not produce much force, so they’re not the type of muscles used to lift weights. (Ivyroses, n.d.).
“Fast twitch” muscle fibers are involved in activities that require short, fast bursts of power, such as heavy weightlifting or 100m...
A world champion may have the experience but not necessarily the communication skills to pass on their knowledge clearly. Quite the opposite, a regular fighter who may never be a world champion yet has the talent to see gaps and convey them succinctly may be a great coach.
It all comes down to the fact that some people may have a natural affinity for the physical aspect of fighting while others may gravitate more towards plotting the chess moves necessary to slay opponents’ kings. The physical and the mental — you can’t fight without both, working in unison.
When it comes to head coaching, there can be several factors that determine success, but the criteria of being a world champion should not be a core pre-requisite. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the...