A beautiful and highly technical martial art, Muay Thai is also known for its tremendous power, maximum efficiency, and raw simplicity. If you’ve ever seen a professional Muay Thai fight, you’d know just how exciting it is to see two highly skilled fighters attack each other continuously, showcasing their technical knowledge and strength and proving their mettle against each other.
If you’ve been training consistently at a fairly high level and interested in taking your love for Muay Thai to the next level, perhaps you should consider competing. After all, you’ve learned your share of complex combinations, clinch techniques and utilized them in your sparring sessions – why not step into the ring try it in front of a live audience?
Before you decide to fight
When you’ve decided to step into the ring, take the following into consideration:
- You must be willing to devote a significant amount of time (above and beyond your regular training repertoire) to fight preparation
- You must be in peak physical shape
- You must have great technical knowledge
- You will probably have to cut weight
- You will be tested mentally and physically
When planning your training camp, you should always assume that your opponent is as technical or as physically fit as you are, if not more. Thus, you must always prepare to be challenged. The better you train for a fight, the bigger your advantage will be over your opponent.
Talk to your coach!
Most importantly, you should speak to your coach about your desire to compete. Your coach is the only person who can assess if you are truly ready to train for a fight. Moreover, only he can properly guide you. He’ll make sure you have the training you need to prepare for your fight.
Professional Muay Thai fighters in Thailand train twice a day, 6 days a week at different levels of intensity. They train 2-3 hours in the morning and 2-3 hours in the afternoon. This includes roadwork and strength and conditioning. If you are planning to fight, you will need at least 6-8 weeks of the intensive training we’ve mentioned above.
Below is an example of a typical training day at Sityodtong Camp, Thailand:
If you think that competing is up your alley, here are some factors to consider before taking that plunge:
Is your endurance up to par?
The greatest Muay Thai fighters know the importance of good endurance. Having the energy to fend off an opponent and attack as well could certainly cause someone to gas out, especially if you’re fighting someone tough. If you’re having a tough time doing roadwork or simply finishing your rounds of jump rope, then you should probably work on that first before you consider fighting.
Do you have the time?
Deciding to fight takes a lot of time and effort – as we mentioned, you’ll need to train at least 6 days a week, training up to four hours a day. If you have a stressful job or currently have a lot on your plate, then maybe you should reconsider. Remember, it’s not only the actual training that will take a toll on your body – it’s also the 2-3 hours after hard training when your body is just trying to recover from all that work. If you have the time, then by all means, go for it!
How are your basics?
Your trainer always talks about how important the basics are, but when you prepare for a fight, their importance becomes even more evident. Without proper basics, your techniques won’t be effective. It doesn’t matter if you know how to do a cartwheel kick or a spinning elbow, if your footwork and balance is all off (or stance, for that matter), you shouldn’t be fighting.
What are your priorities?
Before you decide to fight, ask yourself: what’s important in my life? Are you the type of person who spends all their free time hanging out with friends? Do you have a newborn? Did you just start your job? You will need to balance fight training with all your other priorities, and sometimes, training will need to take precedence over these. Think about how you need to assess your priorities before making a major commitment.
How well do you do in sparring?
Apart from your endurance, your technical ability is one of the most important things to consider. If you’re doing relatively well during sparring, then a fight is definitely the next step for you! Also consider the variety of people you spar with and their styles – the more varied, the better!
How’s your defense?
Your opponent will come in and attack you at all angles. He’ll be using his legs, elbows, knees, fists — all of his 8 weapons to hurt you. If you don’t know how to block or defend these, especially when you’re tired (which you’ll likely be in a fight), you’re going to get knocked out.
There’s no doubt that making the transition from Muay Thai student to amateur/professional fighter is an amazing experience. Before you decide to fight, it’s best to think all these factors through first. Win or lose, deciding to compete will help you grow as a Muay Thai student, and will challenge you mentally, physically, and spiritually.