Muay Thai is an intense form of martial arts that involves sparring one-on-one with an opponent. Most Muay Thai athletes have a gym membership and spend hours a week honing their craft. But, training in Muay Thai can be quite time-consuming, and gym memberships can be pricey.
So, can Muay Thai be self-taught? You can use online videos and supplemental readings to learn the basics of Muay Thai. Shadowboxing on your own is also a great way to keep in shape and practice your skills. However, training at a gym is ideal. It gives you the chance to learn from the pros and figure out what works on an opponent.
What’s great about Muay Thai is that there are some things you can do at the gym and there are other things you can do at home. So, let’s go over what you can teach yourself and what you should leave to the experts.
What You Can Do on Your Own
Even though it’s not the best idea to self-teach Muay Thai, there are some things you can teach yourself at home. Just know that this isn’t the best long-term solution. When you eventually do join a Muay Thai gym, there’s a lot more left for you to learn. And, you might actually have to unlearn some bad habits that you taught yourself along the way.
Let’s go over what you can actually teach yourself about Muay Thai at home.
Learning the Basics
The internet will be your best friend when it comes to self-teaching Muay Thai. There’s basically an endless stream of readings, forums, and instructional videos that can teach you just about anything you’d like to learn.
For example, you can tune into videos posted by YouTube accounts like FightTIPS. From there, you can learn the basic footwork, strategies, and stances that are common in Muay Thai. You might even want to watch some clips of real Muay Thai fights to see the sport in action. Choose your favorite athlete and learn a little bit more about their particular style and technique.
You can even download e-Books from Amazon if you’re more of a reader. Just keep in mind that it might be difficult to learn new skills based on just pictures and words.
One of the basics of all Muay Thai training is shadowboxing. This is a training style where you basically imagine yourself sparring with an opponent. This gives you the opportunity to work on form and balance for punches, kicks, and basic footwork. Shadowboxing would be your only way to try out the new moves you learned from online videos.
What’s great about shadowboxing is that you can basically do it anywhere. Better yet, it’s a workout in itself. Shadowboxing is a great way to improve your form while also working on conditioning and endurance.
For more advanced training, you can even invest in heavy bags. You can use these to develop more strength and power behind your punches and kicks, taking your Muay Thai training a little further than basic skill.
Additional Fitness Training
Muay Thai is much more than skill and technique. You also need to be incredibly fit and athletic. That means it would be a good idea to work on your fitness while you’re at home. Here’s how you can do that:
- Running, jogging, or biking
- Bodyweight exercises like sit-ups and push-ups
- Resistance training
- Stretching and flexibility work
Overall, your training regimen should consist of skill work and fitness training to see the best results in your Muay Thai training.
Why Training With Others Is Best
As you could see in the previous section, there are plenty of limitations that come with self-teaching Muay Thai. For one, you’re forced to train on your own and never get that one-on-one experience of sparring with an opponent. What’s even worse is that you’re only focusing on offensive tactics. There’s no way you’re ready to enter a fight!
Let’s talk about why learning with others is the best choice for Muay Thai.
Learning From the Pros
The best part about learning Muay Thai at a gym is that you’ll be learning from the experts. That means you’ll be getting in-depth knowledge from those who have proven themselves to be successful at Muay Thai.
Working with an instructor also gives you some outside motivation and dedication. After all, you want to impress your coach and prove to them just how much you’re improving with your practice. At the same time, there’s some extra accountability on your part. You’ll have to stick to your training and attend lessons several days per week to continue making progress.
Perhaps most important is that you have a skilled expert who’s able to provide feedback on your skills and form. You don’t really get too much insight when you’re just shadowboxing in the mirror. By self-teaching, you wouldn’t even really know if you were performing a skill wrong.
The pros can teach you exactly how Muay Thai works the first time around!
Practicing New Skills
The best part of going to a Muay Thai gym is that you get to spar one-on-one with other Muay Thai athletes. This will be the first time you can apply the skills you’ve taught yourself while you were at home. You’ll also begin to realize the other half of Muay Thai.
Up until now, you’ve only been working on offensive tactics. When you finally attempt a certain technique, you’ll get to see how an opponent might react. From there, you can learn how to counter-attack as if you were actually in a fight. You’ll also be able to learn how to defend yourself in a fight directly with an opponent.
Sparring with an opponent is the best way to figure out what skills work and what skills simply don’t. After all, what worked well in shadowboxing might not be able to hold up when you’re actually engaging with an opponent that can react. Working with more skilled athletes will definitely improve your technique and make you a better athlete in the long run.
Avoiding Bad Habits
When you’re teaching yourself Muay Thai, you don’t get any feedback regarding your form. You also only practice the offensive aspect of the sport. That means it’s incredibly easy to pick up bad habits that might be difficult to break. The longer you self-teach, the more you have to unlearn.
For example, you might attempt to catch your opponent’s kicks during your first spar. This is probably because you’ve never gone one-on-one and learned what to do in this situation. It’s only the natural response to protect yourself mid-fight. If you continue with this sort of habit, you’ll eventually find yourself injured or losing fight after fight.
By just learning from the experts in the first place, there’s no actual need to “unlearn” the bad habits that you’ve developed. That means you’ll have much more time to learn new skills and techniques instead of fixing your mistakes and habits.
While you definitely can teach yourself some aspects of Muay Thai, there’s only so much you can learn on your own. You’ll have to work one-on-one with a skilled instructor or expert to continue making progress. You can do this by joining your local Muay Thai gym and enrolling in lessons or classes.
But that doesn’t mean all of your training should be strictly at the gym. While at home, you can practice shadowboxing, working with heavy bags, and learn new skills and techniques from online resources. Just don’t depend on self-teaching to get you to where you want.
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