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.