There is 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 will find that it is that sense of community that spurs you on when you are 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 create that friendly, communal vibe. This means, first and foremost, being respectful towards your coach and training partners.
Here are some things you can do 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, kicks, knees, and elbows. In others, you only need to use your gloves during drills. Regardless, the principles remain the same.
It is 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.
You can see the importance of proper pad holding in the above video featuring ONE Women’s Atomweight Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Champion Stamp Fairtex training at Fairtex gym in Pattaya.
#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 is always best to spar light. Keeping it at around 50 percent of your full power is usually a safe bet.
In the above video, ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian “The Warrior” Lee and his sister ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee do some light sparring, being very careful not to hurt each other during training.
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#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 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 will improve.
Despite the rigorous daily training, Muay Thai legend Yodsanklai “IWE” Fairtex keeps a positive attitude.
#4 Keep Your Opinions To Yourself
Unless you are Yodsanklai “IWE” Fairtex explaining how to do his trademark body kicks, do not offer unsolicited advice to your sparring partners. Doing so only makes you come across as an insufferable know-it-all. Unless you are extremely experienced yourself, it is 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 is especially tough on people with no martial arts experience or who are using it as a means of getting fit. Jumping rope for 10 minutes at a stretch as a warm-up, or doing twenty burpees as a conditioning exercise at the end of the session, might seem impossible at first, but do not give up.
Staying focused and trying your best to keep up with the class will earn the respect of your training partners and inspire them to keep going too.
ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen is the prime example of someone who gives it his all in training.