January 2017, 2 ½ years into my Muay Thai training and after 2 fights (and 2 losses) I’ve reached a familiar point a lot of people participating in combat sports may find themselves at. Just before Christmas I had one of ‘those’ training sessions where you finish a technique and think “am I actually getting worse?”
If you train at the same sport for a long time you may unintentionally pick up bad habits, or find motivation to try your hardest lacking. Perhaps because I’m not aiming to win world championships or headline shows makes me a bit of a “fair weather fighter”, taking the easier route to competing; only doing so when I feel like it.
Motivation is a difficult beast to master throughout life whether you want to learn a language, complete a course or get better at a sport. For me I had 4 ½ great years honing my craft at Taekwondo during university. My motivation when I first got my black belt was to become a better sparer. My record in competition was uninspiring to say the least, but looking back on older videos, it’s hard to argue I didn’t improve even if competition results never showed it.
I started Muay Thai as a way to start afresh. I wanted a new challenge after university and had always admired Muay Thai as an art form. A fantastic spectacle to watch and an intense regime to be a part of. In the beginning I relished that challenge.
Perhaps with Muay Thai being a different beast to what I had done before; with dieting, weight cutting and gruelling fight training, I could forgive myself for struggling to find my motivation after suffering the setbacks of the last 6-9 months?
Time to “get good?”
In 2015 I had my very first fight, and I trained hard. I felt motivated that I could overcome my opponent despite him already having 2 wins, being 10 years younger than me and being somebody looking to fight much more consistently than me. I feel I managed well despite of the result. Very few people would tell me I didn’t show good technique or composure under pressure. Enter fight number 2.
My second fight was again with an opponent 10 years younger. It was the same venue and he had actually lost to my first opponent before knocking out his 2nd opponent in around 1 minute. Training went fine, I felt fine and fight day came around. Going into that one feeling “fine” really made the difference. On the day I was nervous. After already losing once was I as good as my training partners and coaches believe I am?
I enjoyed a good first round; but the nerves ensured my body had nothing left for the remaining 4 and a couple of quick body shots midway through the 2nd round made me decide I didn’t feel like trying any more that night.
That experience had a prolonged effect on training. I was nervous to spar for months, I felt my techniques were suffering in class and above all, I wasn’t motivated anymore. The other people in my class always seemed to want to be better more than I wanted to be. Even in sparring classes, those who were smaller and had less experience were making me look ordinary (and the guys who were bigger with more experience found no resistance from me).
And so here we are, 2017, January and about to restart training for this year. What are my goals? Do I have a resolution?
…Well, not set in stone.
Last year I wanted to win a fight, it didn’t happen. Perhaps just wanting to find my motivation and get better at my craft can be the spark I need to get ready to compete again? Perhaps that motivation can breed confidence, and with that perhaps I’ll find that illusive first victory?
Maybe it won’t, but I guess that is the point of the journey, to find out and enjoy it.
This is going to be my journey back into Muay Thai; time to switch stance and find that spark.
Southpaw and proud