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

You just started doing Muay Thai and a few sessions in and you 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.

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