March 05, 2019
Starting anything new can a daunting experience, particularly if you’re walking into a Martial Arts gym for the first time. But with every daunting experience comes growth on the other end, especially when it comes to Muay Thai. Walking through the door is normally the hardest part and it’s never as bad as what you expect. I don't think I've ever seen someone not enjoy their first lesson!
We often hear the saying ‘every champion was once a beginner who refused to give up’ and how true that is! It’s important to remember that every person you see has stood in the same nervous, new person spot that you have. Whether you are considering giving it a go, had 2 lessons or even if you are months into training - check out my top tips for beginners to ensure you get the most out of your Muay Thai training.
Check out your training environment:
I can’t stress how important it is to find yourself a positive training environment where you can have fun but also learn and grow. Now when I say ‘positive’ I don’t mean that trainers won’t yell, people wont push you (even hit you, it’s called tough love) or you won’t leave some sessions feeling a bit average - this is normal! A positive training environment is somewhere that you feel both welcomed and challenged. Looking out for a good ‘club’ feel can be a top indicator for quality Martial Arts gyms, opposed to a commercially run business.
Ask yourself to following questions before choosing a place to train:
Am I made to feel welcome regardless of my level?
If you stand at the door and no one addresses you or helps you onto the mats, it may not be the right place for you to kick-start your journey.
Do students respect the trainer, the gym and the other students?
If you can see that ‘respect’ is present in your gym, awesome! A good training environment will show students respecting their instructors, peers and also the area in which they train.
Are there people that I can look up to and aspire to be like?
If you really want to get better, you can’t be the best person in the room. Most Muay Thai gyms will have fighters and also experienced trainers - check out their style, their work ethic and all round behaviour in the gym, if there’s someone you can aspire to be like then you are already learning!
Not a sales pitch to buy more, but something worth considering. Students who have their own gym gear often take more pride in themselves and their training. This can mean having your own gloves, shin pads, wraps and mouth guard (I hope no one ever shares this one?). You don’t have to buy it all at once, but if you’re going to stick it out having your own gear is crucial. You wouldn’t borrow someone else’s shoes to start running, so commit to your training and equip yourself with your own gear, after all you’re the one that sweats in it.
Also purchasing yourself a pair of Thai shorts can help make you feel invincible - I’ve watched students enthusiasm grow by 99% just by having a cool pair of shorts. If your club has a strong sense of comradery, grab yourself some club attire and join the team.
It still amazes me how many new students sign up and have never watched a Muay Thai fight or know what it even is, ‘hmm is it like boxing?’. I can guarantee you SANFL players will sit to watch and analyse AFL games. It’s important to see and understand what you’re actually learning.
Ask your trainer to share some videos of their favourite fighters, ask questions during classes and even attend some fight shows to support your club’s fighters and see the action for real! Doing all of these things can help you gain a strong understanding of the sport and everything surrounding it.
Develop your strong foundation of basics:
Any good trainer will tell you that without the fundamentals, you won’t get too far. New students can often get carried away with learning the spinning elbow or sweep sort of techniques but if you can’t throw a straight jab or pivot on your round kick, there’s no point to the fancy stuff.
Focus on the basic technique of a move before adding too much power or speed - these things will come with the right form and repetition. Make sure you consciously think about your techniques at all times - in your shadow boxing, on the bag and during pad work and drills.
Muay Thai or any combat sport, can be bloody hard to learn! There’s limbs flying everywhere, muscles pivoting different directions and confusion for newbies when a trainer yells ‘teep’ (what language is that!?), so be patient with yourself. If you are struggling to keep up in classes perhaps ask your trainer if they can take you for a 1on1 session to focus on your technique.
So, punch straight, pivot hard and enjoy your Muay Thai training!