Articles

Muay Thai related articles from our contributors.

muay thai: 

Muay Thai online shops

List of online shops which sell muay thai equipment and accessories.

Muay Thai SG Online Store

The Muay Thai SG Online Store provides muay thai equipment in Singapore - has in stock boon sport handwraps, gloves, shinpads, mouthguards, groin guards, twins gloves, ankle guards, kick pads, focus mitts and a lot more.

KombatGear

Design your own muay thai shorts!
KombatGear

Immortal Martial Arts


Click Here To Visit Immortal Martial Arts

The shop at ImmortalMartialArts.com has muay thai gloves, mostly Windy; protective gear: shin guards, head, elbow and groin; hand wraps, ankle supports; pads and shorts. My favourite:



Boxing Trunks, Muay Thai - Windy flames
Price: $52.95
Cut extra wide and short for kicking and uninhibited movement. These trunks are in-stock and ready to ship. Made of 100% nylon. Dry clean only. Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL. Please refer to sizing chart.
Buy At immortalmartialarts.com



eThaiCD.com

Buy muay thai T shirts, shorts, music and DVDs

or search:

Search



MuayThaiStuff

Has lots of gloves, shorts, t-shirts and accessories.
MuayThaiStuff.com


RevGear

Revgear Sports manufactures and distributes their own lines of professional Muay Thai equipment and apparel.


Muay Thai music, apparel and gear at Amazon

Muay Thai at Amazon



CafePress

Get Muay Thai T-shirts from CafePress



muay thai: 

A trip to a muay thai camp

Son, me, Sinbi.JPGBy Hansen Bay

Dropped by Sinbi Muay Thai during a short trip to Phuket last week.

Sinbi Taewoong is the Korean fighting name that Sing (born Thopadak Wanchalerm) uses when fighting in K-1. Sinbi means "mysterious" in Korean language and Taewoong is the name of the gym in Seoul, Korea whose owner brought him to fight in K-1. Sinbi is the head trainer and manager at SINBI MUAY THAI Camp.

Sing has got extensive experience in teaching foreign Muay Thai students, he worked in England, Korea, Australia and South Africa as a Muay Thai trainer and held seminars for students. He also worked in Thailand as a Muay Thai trainer for foreigners and Thai fighters for several years.

I have trained at most camps at Phuket while I was working as a divemaster there a few years back and was looking forward to an opportunity to train here as well. I was quite impressed with his fights in Korea that I saw on youtube.

It's a great training ground. My only complain is that it is not conviently located.(Then again so are most good stuff!) Sinbi had to pick me up from the nearby Rawai Gym himself as I lost my way trying to follow the so called "map" that i printed out from the web.


training facility 4

Unlike most gyms in Phuket which are usually dark and stale, Sinbi's refreshing as it is situated on a small knoll. The gym's one of the most spacious I have seen. It's high zinc roof allows for lots of sunshine and fresh air. Definitely a comfortable environment to train in.
training facility 3
Had a pad workout with Son and like most good Thai trainers, he corrects your fundamentals such as you fighting stance and how you should shift your weight when you are striking. Gosh! I didn't realize that I had forgotten so much of my basics!
Click on the image bellow to see the video clip:
Hansen with trainer Son

Guys! This gym is worth your time. No slip-shot trainers here that teach you fanciful but "useless" stuff. You will get a good workout and get your fundamentals reinforced.
K1 Max fighter who lastfought JWP
training facility 2
training facility 1
living quarters of the fighters

muay thai: 

Bruise treatment

How to properly treat a bruise, many members helped to this article.
First one courtesy of dragonslayer.

Definition of Bruise - usually this is due to the damage capillaries resulting in blood flowing out from those damaged capillaries and flowing to the neighbour tissues. Normally, a blue/dark colour indicates deeper damage that may reach the bone level while green colour is around tendon level. Yellowish colour indicates superficial bruises.

Other bruises variations;

Firstly you need to identify whether the bruises is classified under ' bruises with open wounds" or not. If with open wounds, better is to take care of the cuts i.e dressing first. In this case, besides stopping the blood flow & applying antiseptics, there is nothing much to do till the wound is healed.

Steps on Treatment

1. Apply cold compression or iced the swell location every 15 -20 mins for a while ( books usually suggest 15 mins with some intervals in between till 12 hrs). This technique is only applicable to just bruises without any open wounds.

2. Apply light massage around the bruise. However, if the bruise is not too painful, you can perform light massage on the bruise itself . This is a form of lymphatic drainage massage to aid the removal of toxins/waste and thus speed up the recovery. If the pain is excruciating then best to avoid the area to avoid further damages to the tissues. You can still perfom light massage surrounding the bruise to aid the draining of toxins/waste away from the bruise.

3. Perform a normal massage or deep tissue massage when the swell subsided and that area is not painful. This will not only help to removal an scar tissues or fibrosis that may develop as a result of the bruise but also prevent further damages to same area in future.

4. Upon full recovery, depending on the location of the bruise, it may help to start strengthening and stretching exercises to this area to improve the strength/elasticity of the muscles in that area.

If you wished to tie in with aroma oils, then I recommend usage of some essential oils that will help alleviate the pain or speed up the recovery process. Some essential oils being used to relieve musular pains..etc are lavender, peppermint; rosemary; chamomile; ginger , wintergreen and many others... Up to you to add on or just say " appropriate essential oils to treat the bruises because some essential oils that can help muscle pain cannot be uused on hypertension person i.e rosemary is one good example..etc

In Thailand we use a lot of lemon-grass and ginger, well of course traditional eggs does helps to actually spread out the blood clotting on the superficial tissues. Oh... I remember "Counterpain" is also widely used but remember not on open wounds.

Anyway during a fight normally at the ring, I will be bringing along lots of Ice packs... for immediate treatment ..But remember n be-careful no "frost bites" .. cheerios.... hopes this article I share helps all of you.
---------------------

Basic injury procedure from sufyanN. for any injury is the first 48 hrs tt is very impt. btw this is for soft tissue injuries. this method is called RICER.

Rest the injured spot.

Ice the spot with a packet of ice wrapped in a towel. no direct contact of skin and ice. may cause irritation or frostbite. do this for 48 to 72 hrs till swelling is down.
Purpose: icing will slow down the blood flow to the injured spot.

Compress the injured spot after icing with bandage. cover the area well. only during this time which u may apply some light massage. the word here is LIGHT.
Purpose: ease out the blood swelling

Elevate the injured spot.
Purpose: prevent excess blood flow to injured spot.

Referral, seek professional help.

Hope it helps.
-------------------
Also some links from Priss http://muaythai.sg/anyone_here_nurse_or_phisician#comment-12936

Conditioning and Nutrition for muay thai fighters

A while back Mitch wrote this article called "Creating the Perfect Combat Athlete" on his blog:
Part 1: Conditioning
and Part 2: Nutrition. I thought to be a good idea to link it from our Articles section so our new members can find it easily. Another reason is that it has a lot of excellent info and holds answers to some of the questions in the Beginners' and Training forums.

Happy training!

Exercise and Nutrition during Ramadan (Muslim Fasting Month)

Contributed by Vinz Low

During the period of Ramadan, many Muslims would abstain from food & water during the period from dawn to dusk. However, the fasting period does not necessary warrant a “non-exercise” philosophy. Here are some guidelines which you can use in order to continue to stay trim, fit and safe as you workout during Ramadan.

Embarkation- Right time to exercise

Just like there are specific times for passengers of a vessel or aircraft to board (embark), the choice of the timing of your training is just as essential.

The ideal time to train would be after the two “break fast” meals ie. Before dawn or after sunset. This, of course, is dependent on your schedule and work commitments.

Ramadan- Time to workout

Nutrition- Right pre-workout food to break fast with

For pre-workout” break fast” meals, I would prefer food with a high glycemic index (GI).

Using baseline index of glucose as 100, GI is an indication of how fast a food is likely to raise your blood sugar over a specified time period. Food containing monosaccharide (simple sugar) would thus have a higher GI and are excellent choices for raising the blood sugar level and ensuring that you would minimise the risk of fainting spells due to low blood sugar during your workout.

Ramadan- Choice of food

This would also minimise the amount of muscle glycogen being synthesised for the workout.
Choice of food (for pre-workout) can thus include: protein shakes, fruits such as dates, banana or apples, eggs or mixed nuts. Some of the GI values * are: banana (56), watermelon (72) and dates (103).

Hydration- Right amount and timing of water intake

This could not be stressed more. Water is certainly essential once the food and water in allowed to be consumed. Do drink beyond point of thirst before and after workout.

Ramadan- Importance of Hydration

Also bear in mind to hydrate during the workout itself. Dehydration is definitely something you want to avoid in your workout.

Moderation of fitness expectation

The last thing in your agenda would be to set a new benchmark in your workout routines. If you are used to doing 3sets @ 60-70% of 1 RM (Refer to Section 4 Slow start of “Making your workout work” for explanation of RM. Click here to jump to the article), you would not want to increase your load. Probably

I might even suggest the rest interval between sets to be increased by 20-25% if you do not want to over-tax the body.

Conclusion

In summary, the period of Ramadan is indeed a critical time for proper nutrition and exercise. Finally, I would like to wish all our Muslim readers a blessed Ramadan.

Authored by
Vinz Low
Principal Instructor
Zesty Kickz Kickboxing Singapore
©Zesty Kickz Kickboxing Singapore

*Source: Jennie Brand-Miller, PhD, Thomas M.S. Wolever M.D, PhD, Kaye Foster-Powell M.Nutr & Diet, Stephen Colagiuri M.D, The New Glucose Revolution: The Authoritative Guide to the Glycemic Index, , Marlowe & Company, 2003

Muay Thai Boxing Gyms in Singapore

In case you missed it in the menu, here it is, the list of Muay Thai Boxing Gyms in Singapore with contact info and location map.

muay thai: 

Muay Thai Glossary

Thai-English dictionary for the nakmuays!

Aenken
    Anklet, protecting instep and shin
Am-Nuay Phawn
    Blessing
Andap
    Ratings
Ao! Jai! Sai
    Pay attention
Baak
    Mouth
Bat
    Block
Book!
    Attack
Buok
    Shin Block. Also called Kaak.
Cha Kwa Nee
    Slower
Chaikrong
    Floating ribs
Chaiya
    A small town in the Surat Thani province of southern Thailand. The place is the origin of the Muay Chaiya style of Muay Thai.
Chohk!
    Fight
Choraked Faad Haang
    Turning kick
Daihoo-uk! Jy! Or Daihuachai
    A vital point just under the heart
Djab Ko
    Clinching/grabbing
Djog Yan
    Piercing bellows
Don!-Tree Muay
    Music accompanying the fight
Dtah
    Eyes
Dtee
    Hit
Dteh Kradot
    Jumping roundhouse
Dteh!
    Kick
Dteh! Kao
    knee kick
Dteh! Pub Nok
    Kick to the outside of the knee
Dteh! Tad
    Low sweeping kick.
Dteh! Wiang
    Roundhouse kick
Dtoi
Dtoi Lom
    Shadow Boxing
Duhn Na
    Advance or move forward
Ekk Thee
    One more time
Faad
    To thrash, wipe, swipe
Fai Daeng
    Red corner
Fai Namnerng
    Blue corner
Fet Rao
    K.O.
Focus mitts
    Muay Thai accessory used for developing punching power, elbow strikes, etc.
Gaan Dadsin
    Judging
Gamagan
    Referee
Gangkeng Muay
    Boxer's trunks
Gawn Welaa
    – Literally before time. “Gawn welaa” bouts are reserved for novices, and are held before the program starts
Grajab
    Groin guard
Grammon Srisa
    Top of head, a vital point
Grasawb
    Bag, punching bag
Groin guard
    A Muay Thai accessory to protect the groin. It is made up of steel and leather.
H2H
    Hand to hand.
Hook
    The hook, as used in boxing
Hua
    Head
Huajai
    Heart
Jad
    Promote
Jamook
    Nose
Jang! Wa!
    Timing and rhythm
Jod Muay
    It is the basic Muay Thai fighting posture.
Kaa
    Leg
Kaen
    Arm
Kagangai
    Jawbone, a vital bone
Kaht! Kwahng
    To block
Kai Muay
    boxing camp
Kamab
    Temples, vital points
Kao
    Knee
Kao Dode
    A knee technique used in Muay Thai fight. The fighter jumps on one leg and strikes with the knee of that leg.
Kao Drong
    Front knee
Kao Kong
    Overarm knee
Kao Lod
    Low knee
Kao Loi
    A knee technique used in Muay Thai fight. The fighter jumps up or takes step(s), springs up off one leg and switches to the other knee to strike in the mid-air.
Kao Loy aka Kao Loi
    Flying knee
Kao Noi
    A knee technique used in Muay Thai fight. The fighter hits the inside upper thigh - above the knee - of his opponent when clinching.
Kao Tone
    A knee technique used in Muay Thai fight. The fighter simply thrusts his knee straight upwards.
Khloom! Khloom! Wai!
    Cover up.
Khuen Kru
    Ritual through which the Kru
Krabi Krabong
    An ancient Thai combat style with a sword in one hand.
Kreung Rang
    It's a special amulet that the fighter wears around his neck. Kreung Rang is believed to carry special magical powers. It may contain written inscriptions, or might carry the image of Lord Buddha (or other highly-revered monks).
Kru
    The Muay Thai trainer/teacher. Also called Kru Muay.
Lang Tao
    Instep
Limpee
    Solar Plexus, a vital point
Lop
    To duck
Lopburi
    A city in Thailand, it is the capital of Lopburi province of the country. The place is the origin of the Muay Lopburi style of Muay Thai.
Mae Mai Muay Thai
    Muay Thai techniques.
Mat
    Fist
Mat At
    Uppercut
Mat Drong
    Straight punch
Mong Kon
    A headgear worn by the Muay Thai fighter. The fighter is never permitted to handle his Mong Kon himself. His Kru presents him his Mong Kon before a fight begins. And removes it after the end of the fight.
Muay Acheep
    Professional boxing
Muay Boran
    The direct predecessor of Muay Thai. Literally means “Ancient Boxing”. Itself originated from Krabi Krabong . Muay Boran's aim was to help a soldier fight empty handed after he would lose his weapon. Though originating from Muay Boan, Muay Thai's techniques differ from the former's.
Muay Plam!
    Wrestling
Muay Sakon
    International-style boxing
Muay Thai culture
    It collectively refers to the distinctive customs, conventions and practices associated with Muay Thai from its nascent days. These include everything like pre-fight rituals, attire, superstitions and magic, etc.
Muay Thai techniques
    The fighting techniques used in Muay Thai. These include the use of virtually the entire body including fists, elbows, shins, feet and knees. And are called “The Science of Eight Limbs”.
Muen Muay Man Mudh
    One of the military titles that the Muay Thai fighters would get from the king. Though virtually untranslatable, it is something at par with Major of Boxing.
Muen Muay Mee Chue
    One of the military titles that the Muay Thai fighters would get from the king. Though virtually untranslatable, it is something at par with Major of Boxing.
Na Kaeng
    Shin
Na Paang
    Forehead
Nai Khanomtom
    Thailand's legendary Muay Thai hero. This great 18th century fighter was taken into captivity by the Burmese army after a battle or skirmish. In captivity he surprised the Burmese king by defeating all the top Burmese fighters one after another. Impressed with his fighting prowess, the king granted him freedom.
Nak Muay
    Muay Thai fighter.
Namnak
    Weight
Naresuan
    It is during the reign of this 16th century Thai king that Muay Thai first gained mass popularity as a sport. The king made it compulsory for every soldier to learn the skill. And this helped in the growth of the game.
Neb
    Pecking kick with the ball of the foot
Nuam
    Gloves
Oon!
    Warm-up
Paa Pan Mue
    Bandages worn under gloves
Pang Nga
    Evade
Pankration
    An ancient sport introduced in the Greek Olympics. Ancient Pankration combined elements of both boxing and wrestling. And thus it created a broad fighting sport resembling today's Mixed Martial Arts .
Paos
    Thai long pads
Pee Liang
    Seconds
Pong Malai
    It is a floral wreath given to a fighter by his fans or friends before the fight.
Pra Jiad
    It is an armband meant for good luck and confidence. The fighter wears either one Pra Jiad or two. In some western Muay Thai gyms you will find Pra Jiad to be of different colors. It is done to give ranks like in a colored belt system used in Karate.
Prachao Sua (a.k.a. Tiger King)
    The Thai King known for his love and passion for the martial art. He would often fight incognito in village contests, beating the local champions.
Raigaan Muay
    Boxing program
Ram Muay
    It is a pre-fight dance by the fighters with traditional Thai music in the background. It originated just as a warm up procedure. But now it is an integral part of a fight.
Rama V
    This Thai king's reign saw the first setting up of the proper Muay Thai training infrastructure. Training camps were set up for Thai boxing enthusiasts and talent scouts went around to spot potential fighters from far-flung regions. These boxers would fight in great matches awarding big prizes and honor.
Ramon Dekkers
    This Dutch Muay Thai fighter has the distinction of being Muay Thai world champion for 8 times. He also happens to be the first non-Thai to win “Muay Thai Fighter of the Year” award.
Reh-O
    Faster
Sanam Muay
    Boxing stadium
Sangwien
    Ring ropes
Sawk
    Elbow
Sawk Chieng
    Variation of Sawk Tad
Sawk Hud
    Rising elbow
Sawk Klab
    Reverse elbow
Sawk Ku
    Double elbow
Sawk Kun
    Uppercut elbow
Sawk Lon
    Downward elbow
Sawk Sab
    Chopping elbow
Sawk Tad
    Cutting up elbow
Sawk Ti
    Cutting down elbow
Sawk Tong
    Downward smashing elbow
Taitai
    Nap, a vital point
Tao
    Foot
Teep
    Push kick
Teep Dan Lang
    Foot thrust to the rear
Teep Drong
    Straight forward foot push
Teep Duen Son
    Heel push
Thai Boxing
    Another name for Muay Thai.
Thai language - the real essentials
    Polite particle added at the end of a phrase:

    males add "krab"
    females add "kaa"
    Hello - Sawadee krab/kaa
    Thank you - Korb khun krab/kaa
    My name is - Phom/Chan cheu
    What is your name? - Khun cheu arai?
    I (male) - Phom
    I (female) - Chan
    You - Khun
    He - Khao
    She - Ter
    It - Man
    We - Puag Rao
    You (Pl.) - Puag Khun
    They - Puag Khao
    To train Muay Thai - Sorn Muay
    Muay Thai Trainer - Kru Muay
    Muay Thai fighter - Nak Muay
    I come from ___ - Phom/Chan maajag _____
    How old are you? - Khun ahyou tau rai?
    I am __ years old. - Phom/Chan ahyou ___ bpii.
    How much does this cost? - An nee rah kaa tau rai?
    I would like water please. - Khor nam krab/kaa.
    To pay - jaai
    To buy - sue
    To go - bpai
    To go out - bpai tiau
    tonight - kuen nee
    Are you going out tonight? - Khun bpai tiau kuen nee?
    today - wan nee
    tomorrow - prung nee
    yesterday - muea wan
    last night - muea kuen
    day - wan
    night - kuen
    week - atid
    month - duean
    year - bpii
    How many weeks? - Gii atid?
    Where do you stay? - Khun yu ti nai?
    Where - ti nai?
    How - yang rai?
    How much - tau rai?
    How many __ - Gii __?
    When - muea rai?
    what - arai?
    good - dii
    wrong - pid
    is this good? - Dii mai?
    is this wrong? - pid mai?
    To do - Tam
    What are you doing? - Khun tam arai?
    I love you - Phom/Chan rak khun
    one - nueng
    two - sorng
    three - sahm
    four - sii
    five - haa
    six - hog
    seven - jet
    eight - paeht
    nine - gao
    ten - sip
    eleven - sip-et
    twelve - sip-sorng
    thirteen - sip-sahm
    twenty - yee-sip
    twentyone - yee-sip-et
    twentytwo - yee-sip-sorng
    thirty - sahm-sip
    one hundred - roi
Thai pad
    A Muay Thai accessory used for practicing punches, kicks, knees, and elbow strikes.
Tiger King
    Tiger King
Ting
    Throw
Tong
    Stomach
Tong Noi
    Lower stomach, a vital point
Wai Kru
    It is the ritual of performing three bows before a fight. During the third bow the fighter concentrates on thinking about somebody very dear to him. Wai Kru is the way through which the fighter expresses his respect to his family, his gym or his Kru.
Wehtee
    The ring, a stage
Wong Muay
    The orchestra that plays during matches
Yaek
    Break, used by referee in the ring to separate fighters
Yang gan fan
    Mouth guard
Yang Saam Khum
    Three strides movement. Footwork drill
Yok
    Round
Yud
    Stop

muay thai: 

Muay Thai Hand Wrapping

With the help of Joy, the Thai instructor at BXG, we made this short clips - how to do the muay thai hand wrapping. This is not the ultimate guide, we show you here two methods which you can use to wrap your hands for bag/pag work. There are tons of other ways to do it, probably every gym in Thailand has its ways.
Method 1 - easy, fast and simple:

Method 2, assuming you don't have the hook for the big thumb of you just want more knuckle protection

'njoy!

muay thai: 

Muay Thai Resources

Here's a directory style website and search engine focused on muay thai. They collect, index and show only quality muay thai websites, the search is powered by Google and restricted only to those websites, so you won't get all that blog spam or spam links.

This is the address: http://muaythaibot.com/

The sections are:

Muay Thai associations
Muay Thai camps
Muay Thai fighters
Muay Thai gear
Muay Thai movies
Muay Thai online games
Muay Thai reference
Muay Thai schools
Muay Thai techniques
Muay Thai training
Muay Thai video clips
Muay Thai women

muay thai: 

Muay Thai Wai Khru Music

Download from here:

http://muaythaibot.com/files/wai-khru-music.mp3

About 14MB, 9:48 minutes.

Right click on the link then "Save link as.."

muay thai: 

Muay thai scoring and judging


A while back Mystiq found an interesting article about Muay Thai Judging and she posted the main points, including scoring techniques, fouls, scoring and decision.
It's a must read for any muay thai fan.
muay thai: 

Muay thai weight categories

Weight divisions

Category Weight (up to)
Super Heavyweight 209 lb+ (95 kg+)
Heavyweight 190 lb+ (86 kg+)
Cruiserweight 190 lb (86 kg)
Light Heavyweight 175 lb (79 kg)
Super Middleweight 168 lb (76 kg)
Middleweight 160 lb (73 kg)
Junior Middleweight 154 lb (70 kg)
Welterweight 147 lb (67 kg)
Junior Welterweight 140 lb (64 kg)
Lightweight 135 lb (61 kg)
Junior Lightweight 130 lb (59 kg)
Featherweight 126 lb (57 kg)
Junior Featherweight 122 lb (55 kg)
Bantamweight 118 lb (54 kg)
Junior Bantamweight 115 lb (52 kg)
Flyweight 112 lb (51 kg)
Junior Flyweight 108 lb (49 kg)
Mini Flyweight 105 lb (48 kg)

The minimum weight to compete is 100 pounds (45 kg).

muay thai: 

Phuket March 2008

Took a week break from work and returned to my favorite island recently. The trip coincided with Zach's fight at Bangla Stadium and also the opening of Jomhod's new gym in Phuket-J.Prapar Thai Boxing Kiatadisak Gym.

Zach's Fight at Bangla

Dz_hans_zach

Zach won his fight by TKO when his Thai opponent injured his ankle and could not continue after being flung to the canvas from the clinch. Dazabar from the Contender Asia was cornering the fight for Zach.

The "King of The Ring" at Phuket

king of the ring

jomhod_hansen



A special mention about Sam from Patong Muay Thai Gym

sam_hansen

A former stadium champion, Sam is an awesome trainer and impressive fighter even at 41 years young! Those of you who want want more than a pad workout should train with him. I learnt lots of practical tricks and tips from him. He is an inspiration! I have decided to compete again after seeing him fight at 41 yrs!

He recently fought a guy 20kgs heavier than him and more than 10 yrs younger than him! It was an awesome fight! Here's the videoclip in HQ: http://muaythai.sg/sangthong_vs_cris

Here is the next gym that i am gonna visit when i visit Phuket in May/June
Suwit Muay Thai

muay thai: 

The Tao of Muay Thai

It is common knowledge that Muay Thai training is one of the toughest in the world of sport. Some sports physiologists even feel that it is too stressful for the nervous system to go through two sessions of anaerobic training a day like Muay Thai practitioners do.

I believe that it is not the physical alone that makes Muay Thai such a formidable art. Muay Thai’s prowess lies in the unique combination of physical strength and mental power. Most people and even the athletes themselves often overlook the mental training or psychological aspect of Muay Thai.

Muay Thai has a long history and is an integral part of Thai culture. Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam have influenced the rituals and traditions of Muay Thai. From the Mong Kon, Ram Muay and Wai Kru to the recitations before the fight, there is a very spiritual element to this sport. During my training and study of Muay Thai in Thailand, I noticed that many elements of these traditional practices actually mirrors closely with modern sports psychology, especially in the theory of optimum arousal and visualization.


OPTIMUM AROUSAL

Arousal is closely related to anxiety, attention and stress. One finding with respect to arousal is the Yerkes-Dodson law, which predicts an inverted U-shaped function between arousal and performance.

A certain amount of arousal is necessary in order to perform at your best. But too much or too little would most certainly work against you. In sports, a player who is playing great is at the optimum arousal point and is said to be "in the zone."

Many inexperienced fighters may suffer from pre-fight jitters causing their anxiety to increase. Instead of bringing down their arousal level in order to control anxiety, they get even more aroused by psyching themselves up with some sort of aggressive ritual such as slapping their own faces and shouting out loud. These fighters usually allow anxiety to get the better of them resulting in silly mistakes and tiring easily.

I remember my first fight in Thailand. Physically, I was at my peak. I trained twice a day for almost six weeks. All the physical conditioning came to nothing when I allowed adrenalin to take over. By the end of the second round, I was too exhausted to even lift my hands up! Sure enough, I lost my fight.

I observed that many of the more experienced fighters seemed to be in a meditative state when they are fighting. They seemed to have so much time to react to almost anything that their opponents threw at them. Fighting in the ring seemed almost like a walk in the park.

Ring experience definitely contributes to their mastery but when I began paying more attention to the rituals and practices associated with the sport, I came to realize that mental training plays an equally important role as well.

Note: There are also fighters who need to have a higher arousal level to perform well. So this arousal level actually differs in every athlete. Ultimately, the athlete has to find his/her own “magic number” – optimum arousal level.

Meditation

Meditation is often defined as “a state of relaxed concentration on the reality of the present moment.” Many Muay Thai fighters meditate regularly and some even go on temple retreats where they shave their heads and eyebrows and spend their days meditating and doing mundane chores. They hardly speak to each other and are discouraged from making eye contact. Apparently, these practices help them to cultivate their minds and spirits.

It is indeed a challenge to remain alert and relaxed during a fight. You are put in situation of real threat where you could be injured or knocked out anytime, yet you have to remain calm and composed. Meditation actually increases alpha wave activity in the brain, which is responsible for a calm and relaxed state of mind. This in turn helps one to bring down the heightened arousal levels during a fight to the optimum level.

Distance Running

Professional Muay Thai boxers typically run an average of twelve to fifteen kilometers everyday. Long distance running and other repetitive and rhythmic exercises such as swimming and rowing increases alpha-wave activity in the brain as well.

Wai Kru

A dance-like routine performed by the boxer before the fight, the Wai Kru’s movements are slow, focused and controlled. (Almost like a form of Taiji) It is performed to the almost meditative and trance-like sounding music from traditional Thai pipes and drums. Not only does the Wai Kru serves as a warm up, I believe it helps to control the boxer’s arousal levels and gives him some “private space and time” to focus before the fight begins.

VISUALIZATION

Visualization involves the training of the right brain, which is closely linked to athletic ability, creativity and relaxation. The right hemisphere is also associated with emotional and subconscious learning. In other words, visualization helps to train the subconscious which has been repeatedly proven to be an effective and powerful strategy for athletes seeking to improve their sporting performances.

The power of visualization can be best illustrated by a famous and well-documented experiment conducted by an American psychologist, Dr. Alan Richardson.

Dr. Richardson divided a team of basketball players into three groups. They were tested on their accuracy in free throws, and each group’s results were recorded. The first group practiced free throws in the courts everyday. The second group skipped training altogether and the last group stayed in their rooms and mentally “saw” themselves taking free throws.

After a month, the three groups were tested again and the results were astonishing. The second group’s (They did not practice at all) results did not improve at all while the third group who had only practiced in their minds improved as much as the first group. (Practiced shooting everyday)

Shadow Boxing

Two keys to successful visualization are to practice regularly and to practice it as if it is in the “now.” Shadow boxing is actually a form of “active” visualization. When shadow boxing, we should behave as if we are in a real-time “now” event. Be focused and relaxed- exactly how you want to feel during a real fight. Imagine yourself actually sparring with a real opponent-you lean back to avoid a punch and counter with a combination of your own. You see an opening and throw a big elbow at your opponent!

Also, put lots of feelings and details into the practice. For example, actually feel your gloves knocking back an opponents head as you deliver a knockout punch and literally feel your opponent fall onto the canvas as you are sweeping him off his feet with a low kick!

Shadow sparring is an integral part of Muay Thai training but many boxers do not seem to take it seriously. It is more than just a way to warm up; it is an awesome form of mental training. Each time you practice, you are programming your subconscious and the images become clearer and more potent. Eventually, these images and actions will be internalized and you will react instinctively during a real fight.

In addition to shadow sparring, we should also practice “passive” visualization at least once a day. See your thoughts and actions being put into practice at night or when you wake up in the morning.

MIND, BODY and SPIRIT

Many non-practitioners of the sport perceive Muay Thai to be purely aggressive and a no-brainer. We cannot blame them for having such perceptions as aggression is more blatantly displayed in this sport as compared to say Table Tennis for example.

However, I reckon most practitioners of the sport will agree with me that Muay Thai is not purely about aggression. It is about controlled aggression and patience. You hardly see any boxers chasing and brawling at his opponent when his initial strikes fail to find the target. He will most probably go back to his fighting stance and wait for another opportunity to strike.

I believe that the practice of Muay Thai helps to simultaneously refine one’s mind, body and spirit, which I personally refer to as The Tao of Muay Thai.

Written by Hansen Bay with Grace Yip, Sports Psychologist

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The best cardio in the world!

By Hansen Bay

Singaporeans often struggle to stay fit and healthy mainly because they cannot seem to stick to an exercise program, at least not for long. The main problem lies with motivation. Regular routes to fitness like joining a gym and jogging may not exactly be the best way to keep your motivation going.

During a recent Muay Thai session, Mitch Chilson, one of my training buddies at BXG Fitness exclaimed, “Muay Thai is the best cardio in the world!” This statement sums up what practitioners of the sport know all along… Muay Thai is one of the best ways to keep you motivated to stay fit and here’s why…

Pick up a new skill

One of the best ways to start getting fit is through the process of learning a new skill. Novelty is a powerful tool to arouse interest and motivation. When you train in Muay Thai, you have to be physically involved and you will definitely get fitter in the process. Some beginners find themselves feeling so much fitter without even realizing it because they are so psychologically “involved” in learning new skills that they forget about the pain of huffing and puffing that is often associated with exercise.

Self Esteem

The mastery of new skills does wonders to the self-esteem! You feel a sense of achievement that translates to increased confidence. Besides, Muay Thai is recognized as one of the most effective martial arts in the world. Being good at it also means that you will be in a better position to defend yourself when the need arises.

Fitness Goals

What happens when the novelty of it all wears of? The thing I like best about Muay Thai is that you can never stop learning! There are just so many variations of the same techniques and combinations to master. It is an art that can be constantly improvised. Everyone can learn Muay Thai but express it differently!

An awesome way to keep track of your progress and keep yourself motivated is to constantly set specific and realistic goals. You may want to break down the techniques that you want to learn into 12 progressive bite-sized monthly goals. For example, you may want to learn the basic footwork in January followed by how to throw some basic punch combinations in February.

Fun and Variety

You should realise by now that Muay Thai is FUN! You can add variety to your solo jogs and make new friends when you train in Muay Thai as classes are often conducted in groups. Participants often practice their strikes by hitting Thai pads (focus mitts) in pairs. Training in pairs often adds to the fun and motivation especially when your partner is screaming at you to put more power into your strikes when you are fatigued. You get a personal trainer at no extra costs!

Singaporeans are frequent travelers to Thailand. Add variety to your regular shopping and sightseeing visits! The next time you visit Bangkok or Phuket, add a training session at one of the authentic Muay Thai gyms or a visit to the Muay Thai stadiums to your itinerary.

Stress buster

Muay Thai practitioners often find it an excellent and healthy way to relieve stress. You will be surprised how much better you feel and how your thoughts are so much clearer after exercise. It is also an excellent release for your frustrations especially after a lousy day at work. Releasing your pent up frustrations by hitting the punching bag is definitely a healthier alternative to dragging on cigarettes and lifting beer mugs!

The author, Hansen Bay is the owner of Vitage Fitness Consultancy and trains Muay Thai at BXG Fitness.

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