Of the many sparring sports in the world, there is likely a form of sparring for most people looking to enter the ring. Among them, Muay Thai is a respected sparring form developed several hundreds of years ago, and has conquered the test of time ever since. Muay Thai, or “The Art of Eight Limbs,” turns your body into a tool.
In fact, Muay Thai helps you utilize various limbs as makeshift weapons. This includes using your hands as a sword and dagger, your elbow as a mace or hammer, and even your forearms and shins as armor to absorb blows. It’s understandable to see how this may appeal to anyone looking for an outlet, to join a sport, or simply protect themselves. What are some good tips for learning this form, though?
1. Loosen Up
Going into a new experience can inspire a bit of fear or stress. Naturally, this leads to many beginners tensing up their muscles, which actually slows response time and reflex precision. This can lead to you receiving a few good licks from your sparring partner. Plus, a relaxed body can help you conserve energy, instead of wasting it on being all tensed up and prematurely exhausting in the middle of your session.
To combat tenseness, you should focus on learning to control your breathing, developing the ability to stay calm under pressure, and creating a type of rhythm to your movements. If you watch a Thai fight, you may notice how their bodies tend to sway to and fro, almost like a dance, which helps the fighters remain in control.
2. Focus on Improving Your Weaknesses
This tip applies to most facets of life, as well. An important factor of improving yourself is to correctly identify your weaknesses. Everyone has them, and overcoming those downfalls can make you stronger, more capable, and generally more experienced than some. This can even apply to the most experienced of professionals, as well.
For instance, if your favor your right hand, then perhaps you should try practicing or leading with your left hand. Trying new things and challenging your tried and true formula is the key to enhancing your understanding of Muay Thai.
3. New Partner, New Challenge
Finding a good sparring partner is great. You become familiar with their moves, their weaknesses, and the best ways to conquer them in a match. However, this is incredibly detrimental to a Muay Thai trainer, as it creates a comfort zone in which you quickly stop learning new things and become accustomed to a very specific move set.
Finding a new, unknown sparring partner will put an end to this issue, as different partners keep you on your toes and offer new lessons about how to handle different people.
4. Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously
Everyone has pride. While it is a natural feature of humanity, it can be a real shackle that binds your potential up tight. You can become so concerned with proving that you’re capable that you ignore all of the teachings that come along with training. Ironically, your desire to become the best prevents you from getting there.
When you set out to train, you need to forget about yourself and how you look, and focus on how what you’re experiencing can help you in the long run. Looking a bit silly today is well worth being the best you can be tomorrow.
5. Never Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Say you find a good sparring partner and they absolutely wreck you in the sparring session. You should absolutely not see this as an embarrassing moment, but rather a golden opportunity to learn all you can. After the session, you should always see if you can ask a few questions about how you handled yourself, and whether or not they have any good advice for you. Anyone who can best you in Muay Thai has the potential to be a good teacher.