Like many things in life, there is more than one way of performing a task to reach the desired goal. In order to get to work in the morning, for example, some of us will walk while others will drive. Those among us with a motorbike may prefer to use it to reach their destination, while others prefer to rely on public transport.
What separates each and every one of us when it comes to making it from Point A to Point B are things like distance, if we own a car, and if we can even afford the price of a bus ticket. If we live close to the workplace, walking is the better option. If we live far, taking a train may be more cost-effective while also cutting down on time compared to a bus.
In Muay Thai, the same principles exist. We use what we have at our disposal providing it fulfills the desired goal, is more convenient and gets the job done in the most efficient way possible. Not all of us have long limbs or God-given athleticism, while others can only pray for power. The key is recognizing what you have and using it to your advantage.
Understanding and Developing Your Style
Grasping what style works for you is not something that can be done at the drop of a hat. When it comes to Muay Thai, the process of development comes with time, effort, and patience. Sharpening your skills and identifying your flaws requires constant practice, drilling, and the right input from your coaches and teammates. You may believe that your body style and skill set suit a particular style, only to find that you are wrong.
Beginners to Muay Thai must learn the fundamentals before they can even think of honing the veneer of their attacking and defensive platforms. Once the elemental stages of a fighter’s development have been achieved, there will be ample time to concentrate on working towards a more effective style in combat.
While there are no shortcuts in Muay Thai, there are certainly ways to improve things such as your efficiency, accuracy, and limiting your vulnerabilities inside the ropes. The only way of finding the right style and understanding the sport from the perspective of an advanced fighter is, well, to work yourself into that position first.
Using Your Body to Your Advantage
Once you have nailed the fundamentals and are operating at a stage where you are sparring regularly – and even competing in bouts – you should have more technical input from coaches/trainers and teammates.
One of the greatest things a true coach can introduce into your game is how to use your body type and the physical attributes that come with it to your advantage. For example, if you are short, yet light-footed, fast, and technically skilled – but lack serious power and the ability to take heavy shots – the Muay Femur (technician) style might be one that comes to mind. That said, this is arguably the most difficult style to master.
A tall and rangy fighter with an excellent ability to land knees, elbows, and operate inside the clinch would be more suited to the Muay Khao (knee fighter) style. The smaller fighter that struggles with taller opponents and lacks the power to cause significant damage would not be suited to this style. Why? Well, their physical attributes are not in line with what this style is known for.
One of the most important things for beginner-to-intermediate competitors is to understand their body type. We have all admired particular fighters and aimed to incorporate their respective skills into our own game, but, would attempting to fight like Ramon Dekkers really suit someone who would be better off using their height and long limbs to fight from range?
Doing Your Homework
The input of trainers and teammates is crucial to your progression as a competitor in Muay Thai. It is important to work with those who are conducive to your development as a fighter, but you have to put the graft in yourself. Expecting anyone to hold your hand and guide you – whether this is when you are drilling in the gym or in need of answers to the technical side of the sport – won’t happen.
You must be prepared to do your homework when finding the right style for you. Some lessons are going to be more painful than others – such as finding that your short limbs are not exactly tailor-made for outside fighting – but a smart fighter that conducts his work with passion will achieve.
It is important to invest time in reading about the various styles in Muay Thai in order to understand how they are best used. To expand on that point, reading, watching videos, and finding breakdowns on how the fighters who used these styles executed them to perfection will help you in your efforts, too. You will learn a lot from sparring and training, but it is crucial to also invest in the theory of Muay Thai.
Check out this breakdown of the four main styles of Muay Thai. This will certainly help you in your efforts. Additionally, watch as many YouTube clips of the legends who demonstrated how best to use these styles to their advantage. Pay close attention to their body types, height, and if they placed a higher emphasis on things such as power, volume, or particular strikes.
Putting it All Together
The beginning stages of your Muay Thai journey should be exciting and full of hope. The slight knocks and doubts you encounter, remember, are part and parcel of developing in the sport. See every little knockback as a test of character and an examination of your willingness to succeed. Failure, after all, is the forerunner to almost every single success story worthy of mention.
With the right application and dedication, you will soon find what works and what does not work inside the ropes. Muay Thai deserves nothing less than your absolute respect and will not give back anything less than what you put in.