STAY FLY! MUAY THAI in Philadelphia | Stay Fly Muay Thai

Philadelphia's Muay Thai Mecca

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What is a Fighter? - Stay Fly Muay Thai - Philadelphia

There are different levels of being a fighter. A person will call themselves a fighter, even if they have never stepped in the ring. Even more commonly, a person with a fight or two will identify as a fighter. Some fight professionally, having a solid list of fights under their belt, and still hold a day job to pay the bills.  Few ever can make fighting their primary job. 

Being a fighter comes at a price.  A fighter sacrifices many things. They can't always eat or drink what they want.  Sometimes, they can't take time to relax. At fight time, they can't spend the night they way they might like to with the person they might like to. Lots of stuff get sacrificed. 

The fighter also will certainly experience bumps and bruises, sprains and strains. They'll have unhealed sore spots and maybe an scary itchy or warm sore pimple-like spot that will warrant trips to the doctor. 

No matter what the level of dedication, fighting definitely takes its toll on the body, and sometimes the head. 

This is what I want to focus on for a bit. We've all seen the shakes of Muhammed Ali and Freddie Roach.  While you can often see the puffy ears, flattened noses and scarred faces of a career fighter clearly from several feet away, it's a scarier thing to see the cumulative effect of a fight career on a person's speech.

Having met many Thais with hundreds of fights, I've seen only handful of Muay Thai fighters who are "punch drunk" or "punchy". Having only met a handful of top-level boxers, I've seen the majority of them with visible wear to their brains. The MMA fighters I've known are somewhere in the middle. 

So, why is it that the boxers I know, with 20-40 fights show more wear than Thais with 200+?  Of course, boxers take more head hits in each fight, but that still doesn't account for the disparity. So, what is it? Who knows... There isn't much research on the subject. But, as far as I can tell, it's more about the training. 

Thais don't try to hurt each other during sparring. They want to get better, practice being in a fight against an opponent who is trying to avoid being hit and hit them. If someone gets caught in Thai sparring, the other fighter lays off, taking it easy. If you drop your sparring partner to the body, you poke fun at them and help them off the canvas. If you wobble your training partner to the head, you totally lay off. If you drop your sparring partner to the head, you are an asshole, or at least feel like one. You apologize. You make sure they are ok. You help them up, make sure they take it easy, get them water and check up on them.  

They are done for the day. they take it easy for the next few days before sparring again, at least. 

This is not true for boxing gyms and some MMA gyms. Here, it's regular practice to knock out training partners. If you wobble your sparring partner to the head, you step on the gas pedal. If you knock your sparring partner out: good job, it's what you're supposed to do. 

This is the problem, in my opinion. Boxers and MMA fighters are taking beatings in the gym that Thai fighters never would. Thai fighters save it for the ring and can therefore fight more often. They remember their times tables and don't stutter when they have had 40 fights. They can remember how to tie their shoes and can keep their hands steady enough to do it for themselves.

Fighting comes with risk, with sacrifice, and at a price. But if done right, a fighter can be safe during training. It's important to the longevity of a career and to having a chance at enjoying life after competition. 

Please spar safely, boys and girls. Punch your friends like they're your friends. 

Fight in the ring, learn in the gym. 

Stay Fly Muay Thai - Muay Thai Philadelphia

As a coach, I've gotten every question under the sun. I try my best to not roll my eyes at every question. In general, I've tried to be less quick to judge people in my life. For some reason, Muay Thai has garnered some sense of mysticism. There are myths of kicking trees, hitting shins with baseball bats, and even the old rope and glass myth like the epic battle of Tong Po. 

Most of these myths and misconceptions are based in a small bit of truth that end up getting blown out of proportion. Most of those who present queries like this are just a bit naive and put a little too much stake in the word of the Internet and their YouTube obsessed friends. 

Recently a video of a coach punching his students in the face with gloves on as some sort of 'drill' has infiltrated my Facebook feed. I immediately 'unfollowed' the person who first post it, but I've seen a dozen more repetitions of it since. 

I'll post a bit tomorrow about the scariness of head trauma as well as my beliefs about the role of sparring and contact in training. Today, I just wanted to give a bit of advice. 

Don't believe everything you see on the Internet. Don't believe your friends when they tell you about 'what Muay Thai is' or 'what Muay Thai fighters do'. As a general rule of thumb, you can usually immediately disregard any statement that begins with the phrase "you know what I heard?..."

If you are trying to toughen yourself up for Muay Thai, or prepare yourself in any way for another sport, here is my advice. Ready for it? Here it is... Ready?

Seek out someone who is well-known, highly respected, and trusted by the community of whatever sport you are interested in. Do some research, and pick someone who has pedigree and some results to show for their efforts. Find a coach or a mentor who either has themselves achieved something that you are looking to or has helped others under their tutelage achieve similar goals.

Most things that you would be interested in achieving have some sort of a precedent. Don't make stuff up, just listen to someone who has done it. Put faith in those who have achieved what your goals are before you. Follow closely. Do not try to reinvent the wheel. 

Every time someone tells me a story of something the saw or something they heard, I put it to the same litmus test. 

I ask what the desired effect is. I ask about safety. I weigh benefits and risks. And, most importantly, perhaps, I ask about the source. If it doesn't seem to make sense, I roll my eyes and tell the person asking the question that they're an idiot. Ha. 

But seriously, don't make stuff up. Just stay close, we'll show you how it's done.