Practicing Muay Thai is best done in a well-equipped gym with knowledgeable coaches and enthusiastic partners. However, that doesn’t mean your learning is restricted to a gym setting. There’s various ways to diversify and accelerate your learning of the sport in the comfort of your home, while commuting or in a public park. In this article, we look at a range of ways you can do so, and thereby build your overall competence in Muay Thai by spending time on the sport outside of a gym or formal training setting.
Dedicating time and mental energy to learning the sport outside of the gym has several benefits, not least the fact that it will increase the speed of your learning. After all, you become what you think about the most of the time, so if you’re constantly thinking about Muay Thai outside the gym and then focus 100% energy and effort while inside, you will, with time and consistency, become great at it. Additionally, thinking about and practicing Muay Thai outside the gym gives you plenty of opportunity to be creative and experiment, which is not always possible in the gym.
Study the sport
There are various approaches to learning anything, yet one tried and true method is combining methods with a consistent study element. Studying does not have to be time intensive nor does it need to involve spending countless hours in front or a screen or set of books. It is an iterative process which you can build into your daily life, during the times you would normally spend watching TV mindlessly, commuting to/from work or when you have a spare 5 minutes in the day.
Studying Muay Thai can be done by watching fight videos, technique videos, fighter interviews and more. There are even books, blogs (like this one) and so much more written content on the web and in physical format that can form part of your study material. What’s key is that you are attentive and focused on the study material, analysing it and thinking about what you can take from it. Consistently think about how it can help you learn something new or bolster what you already know.
Often every gym training session includes a degree of shadow boxing. It’s beneficial for many reasons, not least the way it helps you warm up and freely think about movement and striking. This, and considering the fact it requires no equipment and very little space, is why you should frequently shadow box outside of formal training – whether it be as a warm up to a longer exercise session or simply something to get your mind and body working. Either way, it is one of the best ways to build your understanding and skills outside of the gym as it enables you to visualise, experiment and improve.
By doing so, you will arrive at your gym sessions with ideas around striking, combinations, defence, offense, movement and more. This preparation will help you maximise your gym sessions too and enable you to consistently refine and improve both in and out of the gym.
A useful ways of learning new skills, developing existing ones and getting unique perspectives is by talking about Muay Thai with fellow fighters and practitioners. Building a network, whether in person or virtually, of like-minded individuals with whom you have interesting conversations, where you can ask questions, contribute with ideas and debate, is a fruitful way of building your overall competence.
You can start by doing so at your gym. You will find conversation comes naturally there and is easy to get involved with. Outside the gym, expand your horizons and engage with people on platforms like Reddit and Facebook. Both platforms have a wide range of relevant groups dedicated to the sport where people contribute media, ask questions and share opinions. While you can learn by sitting on the side-lines and observing, don’t hesitate to pose a question and get the opinion of others on something you are deliberating. You’ll be surprised at how quickly and thoroughly people engage. You can get some great insight from people this way.
Develop your cardio
A key component of your Muay Thai effectiveness and ability to develop your skills in the gym is your cardio. If you cannot train intensively for prolonged periods, nor mentally focus on complex techniques due to exhaustion, you are missing out on learning and development. Remove that potential barrier by building your cardio outside of the gym.
Daily exercise is key to overall good health and using the days in-between training sessions as cardio focused sessions will contribute to that good health and your Muay Thai ability. There are a wide variety of ways to build cardio. Running, skipping, pro-longed shadow boxing and cycling are most popular for Muay Thai practitioners.
Be consistent and push yourself when building your cardio. Doing so will have a significant positive impact on your stamina and conditioning during training sessions.
Write down combination and technique ideas
It is often said that if you write things down, you’re more likely to remember them and recall what you wrote down when you need it. For most people, this applies best when writing things down by hand, so get yourself a notepad and pen dedicated to your Muay Thai learnings.
A good starting place is writing down some key techniques/combinations that you practiced in the gym earlier that day. That way you build a record of what you’ve practiced and can refer to it later for ideas. You can supplement this by writing down things you’ve seen online or watched others doing and want to practice yourself at some stage. You then build a list of things to try out in shadow boxing, freestyle pad work or bag work.
Taking this approach helps ingrain things into your mind and saves you having to remember things that you want to try out. Instead, make a record and take a quick look through before your sessions for inspiration.