Muay Thai – The team sport for individuals

It’s coming towards the end of January and a lot of Facebook friends in the Muay Thai community are announcing upcoming fights in the first few months of the year, including my own team mate (Matt) at Red Kite in Preston.

Despite Matt being the only person currently scheduled to compete at our club, there is a contingent of people who are now regularly training hard, attempting to up the intensity to fight camp levels. This is our way of supporting Matt’s own training. That support is something which I’ve also benefitted from in the past, and something that makes what seems a lonely situation much more manageable.

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Medical issues

Having visited the doctor this past week regarding a knee problem I suffered in November while playing football (which has given me far more injuries in my lifetime than Muay Thai), I was told I’d need a steroid injection.

Thankfully this sort of treatment won’t keep me out of training. After starting a new year of training, the last thing anybody would want is immediate time on the sidelines. In my own experience training is a huge mental boost and avoids that feeling of isolation (one I have felt in the past).

With the solution to my knee problem being simple, it allows me to do my part for my teammate while still achieving my own goals for the early part of the year. In my last blog I faced 2017 with the intention of improving my Muay Thai, attempting to lose some excess weight I collected after the comedown from my previous fight. I have lost my first kilo this past week and find myself training at least 3 times a week, running 3 times a week and enjoying a little football with friends to diversify from Muay Thai.

 

The loneliest team sport

In the weeks that followed the Christmas break, I tried to control my diet better and exercise more; firstly to shift excess weight, secondly to prepare myself for upcoming inter clubs. The intention alone is positive and while the first week went well, the second week saw me miss a couple of classes (not the best example of commitment right?)

However, when I trained at the end of that second week, I found out my teammate was due to fight and had begun his fight camp. We trained, he tried hard and in turn so did I. The fact somebody in my circle is training hard has already given me that little extra. In the following 2 weeks, I’ve been just as active as I wanted to be.

This is an example of the very odd “team” aspect of what is essentially an individual sport. I won’t be inside the ring to help Matt in a couple of months, and he won’t be there to help me in any of mine; but in the build up you can rely on them being there to push you and train with you.

I find that training partners project positivity onto you, spurring you on. Anybody involved in an active Muay Thai club can attest to that when preparing for fights, your team will do everything they can to work you hard and put you in a good mental state.

For my first fight I was worried I’d be sub par and not look the level I am. Because of this my coach asked me for 10 reasons I would win, and 10 reasons I wouldn’t. After filling in some paper and leaving it on her desk I came back to find my team had scribbled all over the paper. They debunked the reasons I’d lose and added twice as many reasons I was going to win. That exercise alone showed the kind of support I had access to when preparing for such a hard task.

 

Give and take

If you were thinking of fighting and are concerned about your preparation, I would be willing to wager any good club has the same types in it to help you. You may not win (I have lost twice) but those training partners have been there and will be there again in the future, whether I win every fight in the future or lose every fight.

Muay Thai clubs carry a great camaraderie, most likely due to the nature of the sport being tough. While you have to carry your own weight when the bell sounds, your team will do everything they can to drag you over the line (and that includes shouting enthusiastically in your direction when you finally step through the ropes).

Because of this togetherness, it is a positive feeling to be part of that give and take relationship. You give your all for your team, and they give it back. It’s a little bit like a gym version of Sandford. Everybody pulling together “for the greater good… The greater good”.

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