By Stephen Strotmeyer
MuayThai is no doubt a physically grueling sport. Nakmuay require a unique combination of anaerobic and aerobic fitness. They must withstand the punishment inflicted by an equally conditioned adversary. But MuayThai is more than mere physical weaponry. An often overlooked component of the fight game is your mind. Regardless of physical prowess, the time will come when you are tired or injured, yet must continue fighting. The option to quit never enters the mind of real fighters. Rather, real fighters fight regardless of the circumstances they face inside the ring.
MuayThai is NOT an easy sport. Fighter conditioning consists of running hills, sprints, and torturous intervals, mostly solo, outside the gym, as it is generally not a team sport. Intrinsic motivation is critical and it must compel you to keep training whether preparing for an amateur tournament or a professional world title. Ultimately, it is your desire and intensity that will drive your physical training, it is your mind that controls how you train and how you perform. Sure, trainers provide extrinsic motivation, but even the elite trainers in the world are only as good as the students they train. A fighter has to have a mindset hellbent on success, where MuayThai consumes your thoughts, becomes your obsession and your life. If you adopt a laisez faire approach, rest assured that someone else will be passionately pursuing championship dreams. Remember, this is not a sport you “play”; this is a sport where you can get knocked out.
MuayThai is a sport for warriors, those that are strong both mentally and physically. You are often alone before your fight as your trainer may have multiple cornering responsibilities, so you try to relax, envision the fight in your head. Many fighters break at this point – doubt themselves, question their conditioning, and ask that “AM I READY” question. Remember, you are not alone, rather one of many fighters who face similar internal battles prior to the actual fight. You have to work on actively controlling these racing thoughts and anxieties. Be a stoic, remain calm, and show nothing visually. When fight time comes, these thoughts will quickly vanish and you rely on your training and fight your heart out. This is a major reason why MuayThai is a hard sport, because beyond the physical demands, the mental can break those with a weak mindset. The mind can play tricks on you. It can convince you to doubt yourself and your training. For this reason, you must train the mind to work for you, not against. You must use your mind to give you confidence. Achieving this state of mind is through experience and hard work and spending efforts to develop mental toughness. Experience teaches you how to overcome these nervous, anxious feelings, and comes from actual competition.
You must fight and continue to learn. If you lose or get knocked down, you must make the decision to get back up and fight. When a fighter loses, many are hypercritical and pass judgment, failing to realize that MuayThai takes time to learn and master the techniques. Part of the journey is learning from losses and living to fight another day. Whether or not you succeed is your decision. You can instill the mental toughness and perseverance required of a champion. Dig down, deep within yourself to hone these attributes. Train hard and believe in yourself. Through hard work, you gain confidence in your training. MuayThai is a sport that does not involve luck; rather MuayThai is a sport that rewards those that work hard and overcome obstacles.