Why You Shouldn’t Skip Martial Arts Training in Winter

It’s easy to make excuses to miss training in winter. You’ve got the weather to blame on top of all the usual alibis of family, work, and social commitments. 

But, just as with the rest of the year, it is important to maintain your focus, to stay disciplined, and to keep training throughout the winter months.

Here are just some of the reasons why you shouldn’t skip your Martial aArts training in winter.

You’ll Lose Momentum

There is a strange dynamic that seems to run through life at times – a bad habit is easy to pick up, while a good habit only comes with difficulty.

Training in the Martial Arts is one of the most physically, emotionally, and even (dare I say it!) spiritually rewarding activities a human being can engage in. 

It is all these things. However, one thing it is not is easy.

If you are already training in the Martial Arts consistently, then you will already have built up some momentum. 

Protect that momentum. Don’t lose it by skipping class in winter. It is much too valuable for that.

You’ll Fall Behind

Training in the martial arts is about consistency. It’s about the incremental accumulation of skills through the repeated practice of those skills. 

Skipping class in the winter won’t only prevent you from improving upon your current skill level, it will see your current skills deteriorate too. 

Meanwhile, your diligent training partners who train consistently over the winter will continue to make progress. While you lounge on the couch at home, your classmates will be sharpening their skills in your absence. 

Miss your winter training and you will have a gym full of smiling killers awaiting your return come spring!

A lot of fun for them. For you? Erm…not so much!

You’ll Lose Self-Respect

One of the greatest gifts training in the Martial Arts gives us is our self-respect.

As we train, both our bodies and our minds grow stronger. Our self image improves as a result. As we learn to persevere, we discover the potential for growth we possess and our self-esteem grows as a result. The Martial Arts fuel our self-respect.

However, along wIth this wonderful gift comes the responsibility to pay tribute to the arts in return. We must show respect to our training by persisting in it in spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

Ultimately, to neglect our training is to neglect ourselves. 

Winter Is For Training, Not Hibernating!

As hairy as you may or may not be, if you are reading this you are not a bear. Winter is for training, not hibernating. 

If you have ever given in to the urge to skip class, you’ll already know: it’s often a skipped class is regretted, but it’s seldom that a class attended is regretted.

This winter, as the cooler weather draws in and the warm siren call of the couch and TV beckon, grab your gym bag and get to class. You won’t regret it!

3 Reasons Training in the Martial Arts Gets Better After 30

It’s an inevitable slow decline as we age. Right?

Not necessarily so. Too often we think of training in Martial Arts like Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as exclusively a young man or woman’s game.

And while youth offers some undoubted advantages to practitioners of combat sports, with age comes some distinct advantages too.

Here are just a few reasons why training in the Martial Arts actually gets better after 30.

Maintain a Strong Mind in a Strong Body

Younger athletes often focus on the competitive aspect of the Martial Arts. They measure their progress solely on how they stack up against others.

As you move into your thirties and beyond, the realisation dawns that your biggest opponent you can face is actually yourself. You begin to gauge your progress by measuring your performance today to your performance last week, or last month, or last year.

This is the maturing of the Martial Artist. Not only does training build physical strength, flexibility, and endurance, but it strengthens our mental faculties too.

Training Martial Arts in our middle and senior years helps us build a stronger mind and body that will see us well placed to resist the worst of the ravages of aging.

Widen Your Social Circle

In our teens and twenties our lives are often a whirlwind of socialising. The same can’t always be said of our thirties and onwards.

Family commitments, work obligations, the hustle and bustle of daily life can mean it is difficult to find the time to nurture existing friendships, nevermind create new ones.

Training in a Martial Art offers wonderful opportunities to widen your social circle as you mature in years. The intensity of training often sees firm friendships forged must faster than in the normal world outside the gym too.

Friendships formed on the mats or in the ring are just about as real as they get and can last a lifetime.

Lead By Example

As kids we may have defined ourselves by playing guitar in a band, or coming first in the 100m. Later, perhaps, what defined us was our role as a parent, or our position at work. The primary roles we play change as we move through life.

As we move into middle and old age, the important position of role-model emerges. Younger people in our circle watch and emulate us. Training in the Martial Arts after 30 serves as a great example to younger athletes.

Getting on the mat or in the ring with the youngsters serves to remind them that the distractions of life, the litany of excuses for not training that are available, simply don’t wash.

To younger family members, your training throws down the gauntlet of self-responsibility and serves as an inspiration that could well set them on a path of self-improvement.

These are just a few of the reasons why training in the Martial Arts gets better as we get older. It’s worth mentioning that the Martial Arts are designed to empower a weaker person to defend themselves against a stronger person by the application of superior technique.

What greater expression of this can there be than a wily old dog going toe-to-toe with the young pups?

Training Muay Thai for the over 30’s

Are you over the age of 30 and know that you should be doing something to stay fit and active but don’t know what? You’ve been to a weights gym but find it boring and results are minimal. You want something a little more edgy and engaging that doesn’t feel like you are actually exercising. You want to do something for yourself and that you enjoy. What about training Muay Thai? I know it sounds daunting entering a unfamiliar environment and may think you will get beat up and it’s only for young guys, but I’m here to tell you otherwise.

This year I turn 37 and still actively train Muay Thai, Boxing and BJJ on a daily basis. It has become apart of my daily routine and enriched my life in so many ways. I’m big on goal setting and believe that to be successful in anything you have to set clear goals and work towards them everyday. This year I even graded to brown belt in BJJ which bought me one step closer to my lifetime goal of one day earning a BJJ Black belt. Three times a week I still train in Muay Thai and Boxing and have been doing so for the past 15 years. Below I’m going to share with you some of my tips for Muay Thai training in your 30’s

Listen to your body.
It’s a fact of life, at 30 our bodies don’t recover nowhere near as fast as when we were 18. It usually takes a lot longer to recover from big sessions and injuries. With age also comes wisdom (I hope) so that means listening to your body and allowing it to recover. Self maintenance, diet, stretch, and sleep all play an important role in recovery. If you are struggling to walk after your last session and fatigued from working a 12 hour day at work then maybe you should rest. We’ve got to train smarter as opposed to training harder.

No need to compare yourself to others.  
So many of us get caught up with comparing ourselves to others, especially in Muay Thai. Sometimes we even engage in negative self talk when we “lose” a sparring round, or get caught in submissions in BJJ. It’s in human nature to always compare. But rather than comparing yourself to others lets shift the mindset to comparing your current self to your former self. Take a look at how much fitter and technical you are today compared to what you were like a year ago or even 3 years ago. Looking at old videos of yourself is a great way to see how far you’ve come. Remember, Muay Thai is about personal development and being better than you were yesterday. So stop comparing yourself to the hungry young lion at the gym who has a endless cardio engine and start reflecting on how far you have come. Celebrate your personal wins no matter how big or small they are. As Mark Twain once said; comparison is the death of joy.

Mindfulness in Muay Thai
We all have busy lives trying to find balance in work, family, relationships and social life. Sometimes it feels like we just don’t have time for ourselves anymore and spend most of the time doing things for others. We overthink about events in the past and stress about things that haven’t even happened and forget to live in the moment. We have all heard the benefits of mediation and how it promotes mindfulness, but if you are like me and your thoughts race it’s often difficult to sit still for 10 minutes. The only time I feel truly mindful is through practising Martial Arts: hitting bags, sparring, or grappling rounds. Practising Muay Thai gives you time out of your day to focus completely on yourself. It’s an opportunity to destress and forget about your problems for the hour and then have clarity after the session to address them with a clear mind. Whether you are a small business owner or work in a stressful corporate environment then you should definitely give it a go. What have you got to lose.

It’s journey not a race.
Many Martial Arts today belong to the Japanese Martial based arts known as Budo. The spirit of Budo sets higher goals than just winning in combat, but refining technique through constant training is the path to perfecting one’s character. This means that your Muay Thai journey should be a lifelong one of constant development and improvement through consistent training. In our society of instant gratification people tend to lose sight of the true values of Martial Arts training and not enjoy the journey because they are focused on quick results. I often tell people new to the gym that they won’t reap the real benefits of training until about 6 months in. Don’t stress if you aren’t pulling off techniques 2 weeks into your training. Enjoy the journey and believe in the process and it will come together.

Think about the health benefits.
We live in the age of sedentary lifestyles and increasing obesity rates amongst adults. This should send alarm bells for us to get active. Muay Thai is a complete body workout and one of the best calorie burners when compared with other forms of exercise. Not only does it do wonders for your body but it’s great for the mind too. It helps destress, and increase mental focus. Some may think it’s too exhausting after a long day in the office but you will find you get more energy throughout your day through consistent training.

A few months ago I had a high school reunion with some old friends. I hadn’t seen some of them for close to 20 years. They were all amazed at how young and healthy I still looked and I told them it’s because I live a healthy lifestyle and train everyday. Like most people they had the misconception that it was a young man’s sport or that you had to be super fit to start. I told them it all came down to goal setting and consistency.

For those of us in our 30’s or even older it’s important to stay active and live a healthy lifestyle. If you’ve always wanted to try Muay Thai most gyms offer trials. Try them out and see what they are like. You have nothing to lose. You can keep doing what you are doing, or you can be a better version of yourself by starting today.

5 quick ways to stay motivated to train Martial Arts over the Christmas period

Christmas is upon us and as the festivities and free flowing drinks start to ramp up and our training usually begins takes a back seat. Gyms start to get quieter as peoples social calendars begin to fill up with work Christmas events, family parties, and end of year drinks. Here are some sure fire ways to keep you motivated over the December period.

1. Make a promise to yourself and tell someone to hold you accountable. Remain consistent over the break and make a promise to yourself you will attend 2 classes of either Muay Thai or Kickboxing a week. Consistency is the key to success in anything in life. Taking 1 month off training is a terrible mistake and leads to a long hard road back in January 2018. It’s taken you a year to get where you are now, so don’t let it all go to waste. Did you know that de conditioning starts happening a week after no training!
How to action: Message your coach or training partner now and tell him you will commit to the 2 sessions per a week over the December period. Be specific! Eg I will commit to Monday 7:15pm Beginner Muay Thai and Thursday 7pm Muay Thai all throughout December.

2. Get a head start on your 2018 goals. Set your 2018 training goals early and get a head start. Who says you have to wait for January 1st to start? If you start now you will be 3 weeks ahead of schedule. Accountability is an important factor when it comes to setting goals. There is no point setting them if no one is keeping you accountable. Sometimes keeping yourself accountable just isn’t enough. Tell your coach your goals or post them on a public forum!
How to action: Set 2 short term goals. One to be achieved before December 31st 2017 and one to be achieved by January 31st 2018. When you have goals you have direction. Make sure your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time bound. Eg: I want to train 3 hours a week every week until December 31st & I want to drop 1.5kgs by the end of January 31st 2018.

3. Change your mindset. So many people see training or attending classes as a chore or something they “have” to do. How about changing the way you think through positive self talk, reinforcement and changing the way we think about training. “I WANT to go to training because it will leave me feel more energised” or “I WANT to go to training because this is my time to do something I enjoy”. Next time you catch yourself saying “I can’t be bothered going training tonight but I know I have to” replace it straight away.
How to action: Like with everything, this will take practise. Everytime you catch yourself pre framing training in a negative mindset use your positive self talk to pre frame it in a positive light. This type of positive reinforcement will make guaranteed changes to the way you think and approach training.

4. Muay Thai / Kickboxing / Boxing are one of the highest calorie burners. This fact alone should be enough to get you into the gym! Did you know that a kickboxing session will burn twice the amount of calories compared to a light paced jog. So would you rather spend 1 hour doing a boring slow paced jog or 1 hour training in a fast pace, high intensity Kickboxing session?
How to action: We are all so busy this time of year so why not maximise your work out time by engaging in activities that will get the best results. If you know you have a Christmas party on a certain date, schedule in a Kickboxing class the day before. 

5. Reflect and look back at why you started. This time of year is a great time to look back at where and why you started training Martial Arts. Why is this important? Because it give you an opportunity to look at how far you have come and if you achieved the goals you set out to achieve from day 1. We get so caught up in our busy lives that we forgot to sit down and reflect on out journey and our achievements.
How to action: Set aside 10 minutes at the end of the day to sit down and think about why you started training Martial Arts. Take a journey back to your first session. Fast forward to where you are now and look how far you have come. Don’t compare yourself to other people because we are running our own race.

Progressional learning and long term athlete development in combat sports

The old way of doing things in combat sports especially boxing and Muay Thai has been to skip, hit bags, hit pads, hit people, and do a few hundred push ups and sit-ups. They’ve done it for centuries so it must be best practice? Not necessarily. Too much open ended training (e.g. open bag work is throwing any combination you feel like, open ended sparring is sparring with no intention or purpose and just doing what ever) lead to slow and minimal results for the general population. Of course if you spend long enough doing something you will eventually make some improvement, but what if there was a better and more efficient way?

I recently attended a Boxing certification course that was run by Boxing Victoria and presented by two coaches who were involved with the Australian and Victorian boxing teams. They used the term “performance outcomes” in many of there coaching philosophies and coaching methods. Performance outcomes are a pre determined result that you want to achieve from a situation e.g. sparring round or training session. They would let an athlete know that there performance outcome for a set sparring round would be to work the lead body shot. This meant the athlete would spend the entire round of sparring focusing entirely on the lead body shot, and in turn would make improvements through focusing on the single performance outcome they are trying to develop.

Normally, during “open” sparring rounds, beginner to intermediate level combat athletes always get overwhelmed with the amount of things they needed to think about e.g. footwork, guard, punching, defence, and cardio. This usually results in them under performing and not being able to put anything together. They simply don’t posses the motor neural skills to work everything in sync let alone use them effectively. Intermediate to advanced level athletes tend to stick to only practicing things they are good at because they don’t feel comfortable working on weaknesses, or might be a blow to the ego to not be good at something all over again. Perhaps it’s a bit of both. Eventually this leads to gaping holes in there games when it comes to competition, and by that time it’s too late. There weaknesses are exposed in the fires of competition. As a coach it’s our role to identify these weaknesses and minimize them before competition.

Another coaching methodology I’ve been implementing in my athlete development is progressional learning. This is training with purpose and gradually building up to meet your final performance outcome. Here is an example from one of the classes I ran. During this my performance outcome as a coach was to teach people the following 3 skills:

1. Slip outside opponents lead straight & counter rear straight
2. Slip opponents outside rear straight & counter lead hook
3. Weave opponents lead hook & counter rear straight.

Here is a breakdown of how the class worked:

Footwork is the foundation of all combat sports and the single most important factor to everything you do. I worked a few drills to get people moving there feet and upper body for slipping and punching.

It was a smaller class today so we practiced shadow boxing singular punch technique then moved onto the bags to practice the punches. I had the class focus mainly of the punches they were going to use today.

I demonstrated the technique to make sure everyone understood the techniques and had partners practice each combination individually so that they could perform it perfectly with minimal stress and no other variables. The practice involved turn for turn punching combinations into the partners gloves. The combinations practiced were as followed:

1. Slip outside opponents lead straight & counter rear straight
2. Slip opponents outside rear straight & counter lead hook
3. Weave opponents lead hook & counter rear straight.

Assuming that everyone was able to perform each set skill individually and properly this is where I started to introduce different variables.

Stage 1 – Perform the 3 combinations with a partner in sequence. Heart rate starts to increase and athletes feel more pressure to perform. If athletes can’t perform at this stage (delivering all three combinations in sequence with minimal error) then we slow it down or go back to singular combination practice. During this stage athlete A is a feeder and athlete B is the boxer. They stay in there roles for the entire round.

Stage 2 – Assuming the athlete can perform Stage 1 close to perfect we introduce the next variable. Randomization. The combinations are no longer in sequence and athlete cannot anticipate and must now react. There is a short pause between combinations and gradually reduced if the athlete can handle the new load. During this stage athlete A is a feeder and athlete B is the boxer. They stay in there roles for the entire round.

Stage 3 – Assuming that the athlete can perform Stage 2 close to perfection then we introduce the next variable. Randomization but turn for turn based. This is even closer to simulating sparring, but athletes only have to work 3 different punches and only 3 counters. Short pauses are mandatory between each combination and gradually reduced as the athlete begins to master this stage.

At each level I introduced more variables to stress the athlete and constantly test them. If they can’t perform at a certain level then we slow it down or even move back a level. Did I meet my performance outcome of teaching my 3 skills I wanted to athletes to develop? Yes. More importantly I coached them to think for themselves a lot of the time rather than spoon feed mindless technique.

At the end of the day this style of coaching won’t suit you if all you’re after is a scripted fancy pad work video you can post on your Facebook to impress your friends. My gym is about world class coaching for everyone. Learning like this will make you a better boxer in the long term. So many “coaches” these days live off old glory days and stick with the same old format and try to smash there athletes with 10 rounds of pads to impress others. That’s cool that you can hit 10 rounds of pads with someone barking mindless combinations. I’d rather my athletes be known as technical, intelligent fighters with beautiful technique rather than the person who can do 10 rounds of lousy technique on the pads.

How to overcome that Winter rut

mr-freeze-gotham-fox-wb.jpgIt’s been freezing cold all day and you just got home from work. All you can think about is what you are going to have for dinner and how good its going to be to lie down in your cozy bed. Oh wait… you still have to go training. The inner dialogue begins “I’ll just train tomorrow instead….it’s too cold to leave the house tonight…they won’t even notice I’m not there” and you gradually talk yourself into not going. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there before. Why is it that people struggle to stay motivated to train in winter? Don’t stress because you are not alone. Here are some ways to help you get over that winter training rut.

Set some short term and long term goals
One of the first things your should do is set some short term and long term goals. I talk about this a lot in my posts mainly because I think it’s very important when it comes to Martial Arts training. You should always set goals from the beginning both long term and short term. They need to be S.M.A.R.T; specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Set yourself some short term goals over the winter to keep on track with your training. They can be things like “I will commit to training 2 days a week over winter” or even something that will span out over the winter period like “I will start boxing over the winter and commit to training 1 boxing class per week”. Here is my challenge to you: at the end of this article set yourself the following: a 2 week goal, a 1 month goal, and a goal to be achieved before the end of winter.

Start Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
If you’ve only ever trained Muay Thai then how about trying a completely different Martial Art. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? The plus side is that you get to train in a very warm looking uniform and it’s something completely different. Things will definitely feel uncomfortable from the start because like picking up any new skill it will take time and dedication. You will feel like a complete beginner again but that’s the beauty behind Martial Arts, it’s about constant learning and personal growth. Sometimes training a completely different Martial Arts breaks up the monotony of your current training regime and can be just the thing your soul needs to reignite your passion for Martial Arts.

Treat yourself
Treat yourself if you’ve achieved a goal. I’m not saying going on a binge drinking bender and a bucket of KFC. I’m talking something more along the lines of doing something for yourself like buying that new pair of shoes you’ve been eying off. In this day and age we are so quick to buy presents and gifts for other people but rarely treat ourselves. You are the most important person in your life so why not spoil yourself every now and then. Buy yourself those new pair of gloves because you committed to training 3 times a week over the winter period.

Make some friends at your Muay Thai gym
You will meet a lot of like minded people when you train Muay Thai. When you train regularly you will end up spending a lot of time with them and get along with some really well. Next time you come into the gym start chatting to people and make some new friends. The good thing about this is that you start forming bonds and keeping each other accountable. Set some days with your training buddy where you both show up together. That way you both train together and develop together. Most importantly you will get that reminder from them “are you coming training tonight?” and also “I didn’t see you at training tonight? Where were you?” Sometimes it’s small things like these messages that will keep you consistent and on track.

Tap into technology
In this day and age there are so many apps and gadgets on the market that are geared towards fitness and Martial Arts. Heart rate monitors, FitBits, Apple Watches and even Hykso boxing punch sensors just to name a few. All these devices are a great way to monitor your progress and it’s the small achievements that will keep you motivated. I bought myself a polar heart rate monitor a year ago and use it to monitor my calorie expenditure during work outs. I have a daily calorie expenditure target I need to meet and can track it very accurately using the heart rate monitor.

Overhaul your diet
We all know that we tend to over indulge over the winter period. The problem with this is that combined with a sedentary lifestyle and very little activity we end up piling on the weight. Rather than waiting for summer to do something, why not overhaul your “diet” in winter. I don’t like the word “diet” because diets are unsustainable. I prefer using the word “lifestyle change” because it’s something you want to be able to maintain for ever. Things like cutting out sugary soft drinks entirely or only having a alcoholic drink once a week are a great way to start.

The good thing with the Australian winter is that it only lasts for 3 months. If you train hard and consistently over the Winter then you will reap the rewards over the Spring and Summer. So many people leave it too late to “get fit” for summer because by the time summer comes around it’s already too late. There is that old saying that summer bodies are built in winter. At the end of the day the weather shouldn’t affect your training habits. Hopefully some of these tips will help you overcome the temptations of staying at home in front of the heater and keep working towards achieving those goals.

A beginners guide to surviving your first month of Muay Thai training

You just joined a Martial Arts gym and they offer a Muay Thai program. You’ve done a few sessions and feel like you’re getting the hang of things. You’re finally learning the basics but getting a bit overwhelmed with all the combinations, techniques and what to use when. Don’t stress because you are not alone! You have embarked on a lifelong journey and aren’t expected to know everything straight away. As ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu best put it “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. Here are a few tips to help you survive your first few months of training.

1. Make a two day a week commitment for training
“The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.”
– Tony Robbins

This is a commitment to yourself and your gym that you will commit to a minimum of 2 days a week of training. This is a great way to start building a habit of training consistently. A lot of people make the mistake of training too hard too often when they first join up and end up burning out 2 months in and end up quitting. You are still new to it so take it slow and enjoy the journey. Make these 2 days your #1 priority and stick to it. Now, even when your friends ask you out for dinner or when you are dead tired from work then you will stick to your training if you have made it your #1 priority. It will be tough to stick to at the start but things will get easier, because people will understand that it’s your time. The problem with having no set days is that you always put training off to the next day. Then comes along Friday and you put it off to next week. Next thing you know it’s been 2 weeks and you are struggling to find the motivation to get back into it. If you had built the habit from the beginning you wouldn’t have this problem. The 2 day commitment builds consistency, and it is this consistency that will be the key to success in your Martial Arts training. Be consistent and you will reap a lifetime of rewards.

2. Set short term and long term goals
“What keeps me going is goals.”
– Muhammad Ali

What are your Martial Arts goals in the next month? What are your Martial Arts goals for the next year? Haven’t thought about it? Then it’s something you definitely need to think about. If you don’t set these goals then you could be setting yourself up for failure. I go on about goal setting because I think it’s one of the most important tools to success to anything in life. Goal setting needs to be specific, realistic and measurable. A bad example of poor goal setting would be “get good at Muay Thai”, “lose weight” or “I want to fight more”. It doesn’t set a time line and isn’t measurable. A better example would be “I want to train a minimum of 3 days a week in 2016”, “I want to drop 5kgs by August 2016” or “I want to have a Muay Thai fight by the end of 2016”. All these examples are realistic, achievable and set a deadline. Try to be realistic with your goals. Don’t write something like ‘I want to have my first pro Muay Thai fight’ when you know you don’t have the commitment to train hard enough for it. Set achievable goals and ask yourself are you really willing to pay the price for it, before you commit to it otherwise you are just setting yourself up for failure. Next time when setting a goal think SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

3. You are running your own race
“Comparison is the death of joy.” 
– Mark Twain

Everyone of us is different and we all learn at different paces. We have different strengths and weaknesses. Don’t get frustrated when you can’t perform a particular technique and everyone else around you can. It will take time and commitment. Avoid comparing yourself to those around you because they may have been doing it longer than you. It’s good to have role models to look up to but unhealthy to obsessively compare yourself to others. Focus on the achievements you have made no matter how big or small. Think about when you first started and how you struggled to even get your leg past waist height for a round kick. Now you are kicking rib height with good power too. Think about how you struggled to do 5 push ups at the start and now you are completing 10 push ups between every pad round. Be patient with how far you have come and your progress.

4. Make some new friends
When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.
– Howard Schultz

When you come to the gym you are surrounded by a group of like minded people. You all embarked on this journey because you have similar goals and aspirations. You were all attracted to Muay Thai because you had common interests. Even though you are new and the idea of chatting to a complete stranger in the gym might sound daunting you’ll discover that you have a lot in common when you do start chatting to people. The other side to making friends at the gym is that you will keep each other accountable for training. When you make friends at the gym you start to set up regular nights to train together. You both grow together and help each other along the way.

Over the years through running Team Nemesis I have witnessed many lifelong friendships being formed and even couples that have married through meeting at the gym. Start a conversion with someone today and you will never know where it will take you.

5. Listen to your coaches.
“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.”
– Tom Landry

If you jump online these days and type “Muay Thai” in google you are bombarded with pages upon pages of how to guides, technique videos, highlight reels, blogs, and much more. Gone are the days where a students only source of information was the coach, because now the internet has become another huge source of information, some of it good and a lot of it bad. One day I was running classes and noticed one of the beginners working some sort of strange variation of a long guard which seemed completely impractical. I asked him what he was doing and he responded with “I saw Mr X use it on a technique video he posted up online”. The problem with things like this is that ANYONE can claim to be a Muay Thai master and post up videos online.  Even if they have legitimate credentials certain things just won’t work for everyone because of factors like experience, flexibility, body type and skill level. A good coach knows exactly what you are like and your limitations. They are a wealth of knowledge and experienced in the art of Muay Thai. They have traveled the path you are on now and made mistakes that they don’t want you to make. Everything they teach you is tried and tested so listen to the advice they give you and things they teach you. Forget about the spinning flying elbow technique tutorial you watched online and start listening more.

These are just some tips to follow when starting out in Muay Thai. It will be an exciting adventure and a life changing experience if you stick at it. It’s not something you just try out for a month or two, it’s a lifestyle change and the beginning to a better you. Enjoy the journey you are on, you will meet some great people and the after effects of your consistent training will flow into every aspect of your life.

A review of Yodyut Muay Thai – Koh Samui, Thailand

In September 2016 I took a team of 5 people from Team Nemesis to train at Yodyut Muay Thai in Thailand. The group consisted of members from a wide demographic and skill level. What they all had in common was a passion for Muay Thai. I usually train in Thailand myself on a yearly basis, but for this group of 5 it was a first time experience.

What to do around the island?
If you are like me and love your sun, pools, and beachside lifestyle living then Koh Samui is the place to go. I’ve been coming here for the past 10 years and just keep coming back. The island has so much to offer from all the touristy type day trips like elephant rides, shooting ranges, and snorkelling to relaxing poolside at your resort and quiet little hide away beach side restaurants. For this trip I decided to stay at the Imperial Boathouse Resort, which was absolutely amazing. It’s located in Choeng Mong and a 2 minute scooter ride from the gym and about a 15-20 minute walk. A scooter will cost you between 200 – 300 Baht per day ($8 AUD) and definitely worth the investment if you are confident in your riding and like to explore the island at your own pace. There are a whole bunch of night markets that operate on different nights including the Bophut (Friday night) and Lamai Market (Sunday night). If you are there for training then the stadiums are definitely one to check out. The fights are hit and miss with some complete mis matches and some very good quality bouts. Check out Chaweng Stadium and Samui International Stadium.

What is the training like?
Morning 8am – 10am
– Skipping or running around the gym
– Joint rotation warm up
– 2 rounds shadow boxing
– Pad work / Bag work. 4 x 3min rounds
– Technical sparring/partnered technique drilling/
– Conditioning consisting of sit-ups, squats, pushups, kicks on the bag
– Stretching

4:30pm – 6:30pm
– Skipping or running around the gym
– Joint rotation warm up
– 2 rounds shadow boxing
– Pad work / Bag work. 4 x 3min rounds
– Boxing sparring / Bag work / Technique work
– Clinch sparring
– Conditioning consisting of sit-ups, squats, pushups, kicks on the bag
– Stretching

Who is it suitable for?
Yodyut is a gym that caters for people of all levels. Our group consisted of people with different athletic abilities and Muay Thai skill levels. The trainers were able to work with everyone in the group and provide them all with an enjoyable learning experience. Sometimes the groups within the gym were split to accommodate the differing skill levels. Eg; the more experienced members and fighters would clinch while the newer and beginner levels would be working technique work with the trainers. Even though the gym caters for complete beginners to the seasoned pro I would advise that you arrive in good shape and have a good understanding of the basics of Muay Thai.

You will get the most out of training when you arrive in shape because you aren’t letting your fitness hinder your learning. I would also advise that you currently have a good technical understanding of the basics in Muay Thai before training abroad. You will get a lot more out of the one on one training and pad rounds when you have a good understanding of the basics. The Thai trainers are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to ring craft and how to execute and set techniques up effectively.

What are the positives at training at Yodyut Muay Thai?
The actual gym itself if located in Choeng Mon. Away from the busy districts like Chaweng and Lamai but close enough for a short bike ride. Close to beaches and pools this is the perfect area for those who don’t like to be right in the midst of the busy tourist areas.

All good gyms have a great vibe and atmosphere to them. The people, the trainers, and culture of a gym is what makes it great. This is exactly what you have at Yodyut Muay Thai. Friendly and welcoming trainers who will go out of there way to help and teach you. They are passionate about what they do and it’s evident in there coaching. The gym still has a very Thai style method of training. Skipping, pad rounds, bag rounds and clinch work. No secret formula, but just good old fashion hard work. They have a number of currently active Thai fighters who work in with the general population, giving guidance and advice.

One of the best things about Yodyut is that you rotate through all the trainers on the pad rounds. Each day you will be allocated a different pad holder. Each trainer has a speciality and there own style. The best part about working with different pad holders is that you can take something away from each of them.

Who are the trainers?
Son – Owner

Son is the owner of the gym and has had over 250 fights. He has a technical but aggressive style of Muay Thai. He has been training people for over 10 years and has taught all over the world. Within Thailand he has worked at Sinbi in Phuket and Kiatphontip in Bangkok.
He is quietly spoken and has excellent english skills.

NongBee is a former Lumpinee and World Champion. Having had over 150 fights he is renowned as being a technician in fighting and also in coaching. He has fought some of the best in Thailand including Thongchai To Silachai, Anawat Kaewsamrit, Orono Muengsima,  and Saenchai. At first he comes across as shy in demeanour, but once you get to know him he is warming and friendly. He is a fantastic pad holder with good enough english to explain the intricacies of some of the finer details. His style of pad holding is technical and likes to throw in the occasional power technique.

P’Chit is one of the OG’s of Muay Thai. He has very limited english, but for what he lacks in the language department me makes up for it with his friendliness and eagerness to teach even with language barriers. As a trainer/pad holder he is better suited for the more advanced students with good understanding of Muay Thai. He is a Thai stylist when it comes to pad holding. His pad holding focused on singular strikes, smaller combinations, and counters.

Wirat is a seasoned Muay Thai fighter who fought mainly on Channel 7, and Lumpinee. He is tall for Thai standards and in my opinion, is one of the best pad holders in the gym. When you hit pads with Wirat it’s not just a constant barrage of powerful technique to make you feel good. He likes to fire back with punches and kicks to keep you honest. Some of my best pad rounds were with Wirat because I knew I had to be completely switched on when doing pads with him. He is a great pad holder for the more advanced guys. He has good english.

Eyat is Wirat’s younger brother. He is a retired fighter who was also previously ranked at the Mecca of Muay Thai, Rachadamnern Stadium. He has been a trainer for over 10 years and has previously worked at Sinbi and Promthep gym in Phuket. He is very welcoming and fun natured at heart. He is extremely friendly and likes to have fun in his sparring rounds and pad rounds. His pad rounds focused on flow techniques with longer combinations and chaining a lot of smaller counters and combinations together. Eyat has excellent english ability.

Chat is a former Muay Thai fighter who fought regularly on Rajadamnern and across the south of Thailand. He formerly worked at Phetchyindee in Bangkok and Rawai Muaythai in Phuket. At Yodyut he worked very closely with the Thai fighters preparing for fights. Chat is a solid pad holder focusing on short powerful combinations and elbow techniques. He is patient was very helpful with explaining the finer details of the techniques. He is great to spar with, especially for the more advanced students. He is a absolute machine and still very sharp and technical in his sparring rounds. Chat has excellent english ability.

R is one of the newer trainers at Yodyut. He comes across as very quiet when you first meeting but then warms up after he sees you regularly. He is a former Southern Thailand Muay Thai champion. He likes to focus on short sharp powerful combinations and countering techniques. He will explain a technique where needed but relentless with aggressive style pad holding. The good thing about doing pads with him is that he likes to get tricky by firing off kicks of his own at you during the pad rounds. R has excellent english ability.

Firstt & Owen
Firstt and Owen are both currently an active fighter who have also taken on the role as a trainer/pad holder. I had actually met First many years ago at Kiatphontip in Bangkok and it is good to see him all grown up. They are both fairly light but very technical and methodical in the way they explain things. They younger trainers come across as shy at the start (I think it comes down to age and perhaps even confidence because of language barriers) but once they open up they are warming and very keen to teach and show you the sweep they dumped you with in the clinch. Clinching with these 2 was a humbling experience because even with my weight advantage there was nothing I could do against these pure technicians. They have a excellent clinch game and very open to explaining techniques.

Final thoughts
I would highly recommend Yodyut Muay Thai to anyone looking to train Muay Thai in Thailand and still enjoy the beachside resort lifestyle. You will not only get some good quality Thai style training but be close enough to the beach or pools for some much earned relaxation time. If you have never trained in Thailand before then this is a great starting point. Below I have posted some videos from the other members of the trip on what they had to say about training at Yodyut Muay Thai. Enjoy!


The coach yells change partners at the end of a sparring round and there is always that one guy left out or stuck with the same partner. Why does it seem like no one wants to partner up with “that guy” in sparring rounds? It’s probably because people have caught wind of his reputation of treating each sparring round like a world title fight.

Sparring in Muay Thai is a very important tool if used correctly. It allows you to develop your skills and try techniques, work on your timing and accuracy, and put everything you’ve learnt together. For the 99% of the general gym population who aren’t professional fighters it should be light to medium intensity, and controlled. There should be no ego in sparring. Sparring is about learning and as soon as you let ego take over, all you are focused on is winning the round and not learning anything. Muay Thai, like all martial arts is a life long journey. To prolong that lifetime journey we want to be constantly learning and evolving. Winning a few rounds in sparring is meaningless when you look at the bigger picture. It is not a test of strength or power, but the ultimate test of control and patience.

Here are my top 5 do’s of sparring

1. Listen to your coach.

He is there for a reason. He knows your strengths and weaknesses and is a wealth of knowledge. Sometimes in the heat of sparring you will be fatigued and not able to see things your coach can see from the outside. A good coach will give you advice and tips on how to further develop your skills and improve.

2. Stick to things you’ve learnt in class.

“Did you watch that cool spinning jumping elbow knockout that John posted up on facebook last night?” Don’t bother trying it in class. A – because you will probably seriously hurt someone (or yourself) and B – the people in those videos are usually high level professional fighters who trained in Muay Thai for 10 years. The things your coach teaches you are high percentage techniques which will work the majority of the time. They know what works and what doesn’t.

3. Keep your hands up.

This is the #1 rule in sparring. If you are sparring with your hands down to your waist and chin up then you probably shouldn’t be sparring. Of course we all get tired and shoulders will start to burn, but KEEP YOUR HANDS UP. It’s the only barrier of defence between you and a head kick.

4. Keep it safe.

Let your common sense prevail. If you catch someones kick and sweep them onto the concrete floor, I’m pretty sure you will hurt them. Avoid using power or dangerous techniques during sparring rounds because you’ll end up injuring people and losing a training partner. Un padded spinning elbows and heel kicks at a 100km per hour to the face are not on. You and your partners safety should be your #1 priority in the sparring round.

5. Respect and look after your partners.

With out your sparring partner you would have no one to train with, so look after them. They have volunteered to lend you there body to punch and kick so treat them with respect. They are there to learn with you as well. If you are partnered up with someone who’s skill level is far below yours then help them with some basics. “Hey John make sure you keep your hands up”

Here are my top 5 DONT’S of Muay Thai sparring

1. DON’T treat it like a world title fight.

There is no money, or prize up for grabs so why are you swinging for the fences? A true martial artist has nothing to prove in sparring rounds. Sparring is about developing your skill set and IS NOT A FIGHT. It’s not to test yourself against others in the gym and to see who will come out victorious. If you walk away from a sparring round injured and bruised then your partner has gone too hard. You should walk away from every round having learned something and that 0.1% better.

2. DON’T be the mat shark.

Every gym has one and it’s usually that bigger guy who always partners up with the smallest guy in the gym. 1 because they don’t want to be pushed too hard and 2. They want to be the big man on campus. Muay Thai is a sport with weight divisions. Even though you should spar with everyone in the gym, don’t be “that guy” who targets the little or new guy.

3. DON’T be the over coacher.

Ever partnered with someone and all they do is over coach you on ALL your weaknesses and what you SHOULD be doing in sparring even though they are not that great themselves? Don’t be “that guy”. It’s OK to give tips here and there but don’t spend an entire round explaining the intricacies of how to check a kick just because you tagged them once.

4. DON’T be the Kung fu guy.

Muay Thai sparring is about sparring Muay Thai. Don’t bother trying the Kung Fu sticky hand crescent kick that you learned 10 years ago because sparring is about developing what you have learnt in Muay Thai, and not showing your coach what you already know. Save that for your facebook posts. I remember many years ago I had a guy come into the gym from a kung fu background. Upon glove touch he assumed one of the lowest crouching tiger stances I’ve ever seen with hands fanning around like he was in a high school musical. I don’t have against Kung Fu but we are here to spar Muay Thai.

5. DON’T be the one trick pony.

Everyone has a go to move or combo. If you like to box then don’t just always try to box with someone. You need to broaden your skill set. If you have a favourite combo that always lands then try another combo or work a different setup. The one trick pony guy might get away with is the first few times but usually gets left behind because they don’t work on other aspects of there Muay Thai game.

These are just some Do’s and Dont’s of Muay Thai sparring. The art of Muay Thai is beautiful and about respect. It’s not a street fight or a tough guy proving ground. So next time your primordial urge to rip off your shirt, beat your chest and give John at the gym the beating of his life remember one thing. If you injure him or put him off training then you have one less person to train with. If you keep being “that guy” at the gym then one day you will have no one to train with. Respect your training partners and keep it safe on the mat.