There’s a reason why so many martial artists have come to regard the people they train with as their second family. Sweating it out with the same group of people a few times a week has a way of building camaraderie, which you will be hard pressed to find in any other social environment. As you progress in your training, you’ll find that it’s that sense of community that spurs you on when you’re at your laziest and most unmotivated.
It should go without saying that each and every member of the gym has a part to play to creating that friendly, communal vibe. This means, first and foremost, being respectful towards your coach and training buddies.
Here are some things you can do to make sure you’re helping to create a fun and safe training environment for everyone else.
#1 Learn How To Hold Pads Properly
In some gyms, students will need to use boxing or kicking pads to help catch their partner’s punches. In others, you only need to use your gloves during drills. Regardless, the principles remain the same. It’s important to know how and when to keep your wrists locked, and to move your arms forward slightly to absorb the strikes. Not only is it annoying to train with someone who is unable to do this properly, the risk of injury is also significantly higher (both for the active partner, and the one catching the strikes) with bad pad-holding form.
#2 Keep Sparring Light And Fun
Remember, the point of sparring is to sharpen your technique in a live situation – not to knock your partner out. Unless you or your partner are training for a competition and both agree to go hard before that, it’s always best to spar light, and keeping it at around 50 per cent of your full power is usually a safe bet.
#3 Be A Good Sport
No one likes being dominated or hit too often during sparring. But if it happens to you, keep your ego in check, and take it in your stride. Tantrums and outbursts of anger will usually not be tolerated at the gym. Instead, ask your coach for feedback as to what you could have done better, and start to work on the weaker aspects of your game. This is the only way you’ll improve.
#4 Keep Your Opinions To Yourself
Unless you’ve specifically been asked for feedback, don’t offer unsolicited advice to your sparring partners. Doing so only makes you come across as an insufferable know-it-all, and unless you’re extremely experienced yourself, it’s best to leave the teaching to the expert – your coach.
#5 Be Focused And Always Give It Your Best Shot
Learning Muay Thai is not easy, to say the least, and it’s especially tough on people with no martial arts experience or who are using it as a means of regaining their fitness. Jumping rope for 10 minutes at a stretch as a warm-up, or doing 20 burpees as a conditioning exercise at the end of the session, might seem impossible at first, but don’t give up! Staying focused and trying your best to keep up with the class will earn the respect of your training buddies, and inspire them to keep going too.
Images: Mark Teo
Venue: Juggernaut Fight Club