There are certain key elements you are going to want to focus on as a beginner to the ‘art of 8 limbs’ known as Muay Thai.
Muay Thai is a full contact martial art that makes full use of the body’s contact points – fists, elbows, knees and shins/feet. In addition, you’ll be required to have strong mental agility and ultimate dedication. It is an aggressive style originally designed for actual warfare, therefore it is not the option for the faint-of-heart. However, there is a great spiritual aspect to the sport which some people proclaim will enhance not only your body, but your mind and soul also.
If you think you have what it takes to get in the Muay Thai ring then take a look at the videos below and take your first steps towards become a Muay Thai fighter.
Muai Thai is a high intensity sport and, as such, needs to be met with high intensity work-outs. Cardio is a pivotal aspect of your training. You should spend at least 3 – 4 days a week practicing jogging, sprinting, jump rope, swimming etc.
A typical Muay Thai fight will consist of 5 x 3 minute rounds, therefore it is a good idea to practice short circuits of high intensity training to condition your body for the ring. Take a look at the following video for a beginners work-out.
Stretching is an important aspect of any fitness regime, but it is all the more important when practicing Muay Thai. To be a great fighter your body needs to be agile, fast, strong and durable. Stretching is not only to prevent injury, it is also to maximize your body’s potential as a contender.
It is important to stretch your whole body. A good Muay Thai fighter will use multiple moves in quick succession, and will therefore need to be equally agile from their shoulders down to their ankles.
Take a look at the video below for a pretty comprehensive stretching routine.
It goes without saying that the food you eat will influence your ability to train and fight. As a beginner, you might not need to worry too much about diets and weight cutting, but it’s never too early to start preparing for the future by eating healthily.
Generally speaking, a healthy diet when training should consist of lean proteins (such as white meats, fish and eggs), complex carbohydrates (such as brown rice, oats, whole grain) and ‘good‘ fats (such as olive oil, walnuts and avocados). You should attempt to cut out sugars, saturated fats and alcohol.
However, different diets affect people in different ways. Here are some links and tips to examples of Muai Thai specific nutrition for you to decide which would work best for you.
4. Core Strength
Your core strength will determine your achievement level in martial arts. Remember that in Muay Thai you are using your whole body as a weapon against your opponent. It is pivotal that your core strength is at its maximum capability for you to succeed not only in offense, but equally in defense also.
A combination of core strength and plyometric work-outs will train your body to utilize itself for the best possible outcomes. You may also want to combine medicine ball training to boost your core strength even more.
Check out the videos below for routines to follow.
Core Strength for Beginners
Medicine Ball Training
When in the ring, the position your body takes will be a key factor in determining whether you win or lose. You want to maintain a perfect stance that allows freedom for movement mixed with power and pace.
Watch the tutorial below and practice moving in all directions with fluidity.
6. Punching (Fists/Elbows)
In Muay Thai you will use a combination of punches using both of your fists and your elbows as contact points. Obviously, you want the hits to be quick, sharp and powerful.
Today, Muay Thai uses a range of punches influenced by Western martial arts such as lead jabs, hooks, uppercuts and back fists. Elbows are used as both striking and defensive weapons to be utilized in a manner of ways, including to cut an opponents eyebrow so that the blood will block his vision.
Check out the videos below to start practicing your punching techniques.
7. Kicking (Feet/Knees/Shins)
Another vital component of Muai Thai offense is the kick. There are variations to the kicking move, including the foot jab and the roundhouse kick. Much of the power of the roundhouse kick comes from the rotation of the hips as the leg is raised and spun (another reason why stretching the whole body is so important).
Knees are also used as contact points. The boxer might choose to jump on one leg and strike with that leg’s knee or simply thrust the knee forwards in a bid to strike his/her opponent.
The shinbone is also instrumental in Muay Thai fighting. It is used to block a number of kicks and, therefore, must be conditioned to be as strong as it can be. Shin bones are conditioned by repeated striking of an object softer than your shinbone. Some of you may have seen the video of Buakaw Banchamek kicking down a banana tree using his shins, but this is not advised as a form of conditioning! Use Thai pads or a heavy sack filled with old clothes.
Check out the videos to start practicing your kicking and conditioning techniques.
8. Mental Preparation
In order to be fully prepared for any fight, your mind must be both focused and stable. There are a number of ways you can make sure you are mentally fit, as well as physically.
The idea is to flow. You need to be able to let go and not be analytical when fighting, and in order to attain this state you need to prepare both mentally and physically before hand.
Physically, you have to prepared to strike, block and counter-strike. You need to be confident and learned in your ability and technique. This can only happen through practice – a lot of practice.
Mentally, you need to be at peace. Meditation will allow you to learn to let go and live in the present moment. Practice sitting and focusing on your breath daily. Allow your consciousness to absorb your training.
When fighting, try to attain a similar state – fight in the now, trust your instincts, and don’t get lost in the analytical.
Check out the link for much more on this subject.
9. Respect Muay Thai Culture
It is important to remember that Muay Thai is far more than simply a fighting style. It has a history and a culture based on survival. The techniques were passed down from father to son for generations in a bid to protect their land and homes from invaders. Muay Thai is far more than a spectator sport.
To respect the culture of your style is to harness integrity in your style.
Be sure to check out the link and video below for far more on this subject.
Sparring is your opportunity to put your training to the test. It is the chance to prepare for the real fight with prior agreement with your opponent as to how you want to choreograph the battle.
You will want 3 – 6 months of intense training before you head into the ring for a real fight. Sparring is great preparation for that eventuality. Remember that your opponent in the real thing is going to have the exact same objective as you – so be sure to put all the training you feel is necessary before taking the leap!
Check out the video for information on sparring and sparring etiquette.
All the best on your journey of Muay Thai!