When you start training Muay Thai it’s tempting to try and fix it all during a single training session, especially if you are a perfectionist. Try and focus on fully extending your punches, pivoting on every kick, keeping your right hand tight on every left hook, all in one training session, and see how much you accomplish. Most likely, very little. Your brain will be trying to do too much at once, and instead of improving on your reach, your kicks, your guard, you’ll botch the whole ordeal and you’ll finish your training session frustrated and exhausted without having improved on anything. When the mind tries to tackle too many tasks at once it generally accommodates the overload of work by simply doing each task at a below optimal level. When it comes to learning Muay Thai, multi-tasking is somewhat overrated. Perfect technique takes time and patience. Fix one hole in your game one day at a time, and at the end of the week you will have accumulated improvements.
Try this: if you’re frustrated with your pivot, focus on that during your next training session. Tell your instructor that’s what you want to improve on the most and ask for their feedback. Don’t intentionally screw up the rest of your Muay Thai game, but don’t spend so much time worrying about the other stuff as that one thing—pivoting on your kicks. The idea is to make whatever movement you’re working on second nature. Once you’re fully pivoting on every kick, move on to another goal. You won’t have to think so hard about pivoting anymore; now, after having drilled and drilled and reaching a point where it feels awkward not to pivot, you can safely say that pivoting is ingrained. That’s when you move on to your next goal, say keeping your right hand in a tight defensive position during your left hook or making sure you fully extend your jabs and crosses (hint: I have not picked these examples arbitrarily.)
The human body needs to learn things slowly, one at a time. Obviously, no movement in Muay Thai occurs in a bubble; Muay Thai is an sport, a system, and all of its moving parts are reliant upon one another. But before you can a jab-cross-hook well, you first need to throw a jab well, a cross well, etc. Once you can perform each individual movement well you can put it all together. Think of a car: if the axles are faulty, or if the pistons are cracked and unstable, the car won’t run, or at least not well. Fix the axles, replace the pistons, and the car will run. Same goes for fighting.
– Coach Daniel Davis-Williams, CSCS, NSCA CPT
Editor’s Note – This is one of the reasons that we tell you, while it is okay to help your teammate you are partnered with in class if they are struggling on the pads, we don’t recommend giving them a ton of cues or getting really nit picky about their form, especially if they are beginners. That’s the job of your coach. Instructors know what to cue beginners on and when to give someone something new to work on, but there is a time and a place to tack on more techniques. What you are working on, may not be what your partner needs. It’s true in life and true in Muay Thai. Respect.
Our fundamentals classes at F5 give you a chance to focus on simple combinations and footwork while training Muay Thai. It’s a good class no matter what your level of experience, because focusing on the basics will always improve your Muay Thai.