This is a problem that many of us die-hard Muay Thai trainers are faced with. Many of us are ex-fighters and have learned our Muay Thai the “Old school” way; long hard training sessions and hard-core sparring.
Usually our goal was to fight either in the ring or out in the street if the occasion presented itself. Ultimately we got hooked by the game and stayed with it as it became part of our life-style. Consequently, in time, we experienced the many other benefits of intense training.
The benefits of training in kickboxing are many:
· Great for fitness
· Excellent weight management method.
· Very skill intensive, thereby, developing both the mind and the body.
· Confidence building form many angles.
· Health benefits that include, cardio-vascular fitness, strength development and coordination.
· In addition, the whole Muay Thai training experience is interesting and presents a personal challenge in every training session.
It is these benefits that I, as a teacher, want to make available to all people who want to learn the art of Muay Thai, but at the same time wish to maintain the authenticity of the art and not allow it to gravitate to the “McDojo’s” level of martial arts school that offers systems that are ineffective and useless.
However, experience has shown that the single most dominant factor in the attrition of students from contact sports, particularly the martial arts, is that of sparring, and this is certainly the case with Thai boxing.
No matter how hard us trainers try there is always the problem with ego from stronger students, that gets in the way of keeping the sparring to a level that a student who is interested in the more lifestyle skills and training regime that Muay Thai has to offer. It is a problem that training in martial arts has faced since it first appeared in the west. Existing students and many instructors working with the belief that there had to be a rite of passage to learn a martial art and students who forgot where they started from, once they have reached a level of competency, going too hard on new practitioners.
This couldn’t be further from the truth as the martial rats were developed from military fighting techniques and distilled into systems that developed the whole being, both mind and body.
The goal was to give any body the skills and attributes that the martial arts offered so that they would benefit with greater health, confidence and ability to defend themselves against thugs.
It is with this philosophy in mind that I teach all of my martial arts systems at the Academy of combat in Christchurch. I teach with the maxim “Most students who come to learn, from me, already know how to get beaten up; they come to me to learn how to not get beaten up!”
In order to address this, sparring is offered as an optional part of training and now I am going to trial a system in which it is performed at two distinct levels; touch contact and fighter preparation contact. Both are heavily controlled by a third man. The goal in mind is for those that wish to spar will have an enjoyable and rewarding learning experience, in which both participants gain something of worth, not engage in an ego driven slug fest in which no one learns anything.
Watch this space for an update on how it works out.