If someone is training Muay Thai long enough and reaches a certain skill level, should they take the next step and get into the ring?

The topic of fighting in Muay Thai is often heavily debated among Muay Thai practitioners. Given the fact that most people who train don’t fight, you can imagine that a lot of people have strong opinions on the subject.

Some people think that everyone who trains should fight (Almost every trainer in Thailand), while others think that fighting is only meant for a select few individuals.

A while ago, Muay Thai Guy made a facebook post that sparked a lot of opinions:

“If you train hard and train often, I think you’re doing yourself a disservice by not testing your skills. It’s like a baseball player taking batting practice everyday then never playing a game.”

Judging from the responses to this post, I noticed that most people were very defensive when it came to the topic of fighting.

Should You Fight or Not?

I will be the first one to admit that fighting is not for everyone. That being said, I believe a lot of people make excuses as to why they can’t fight when in reality they should be fighting. Excuses are often a way to mask the true reason they don’t want to fight: Fear.

Although nobody will ever admit  ‘fear’ being the reason they don’t fight, it is a factor in a lot of people’s minds. Given the fact that you can permanent injuries such as scars, broken bones, concussions, and even die in the ring, if you weren’t afraid, you wouldn’t be human.

The biggest issue with fighting is that most people build it up to something bigger than it should be. Instead of seeing fighting as an opportunity to grow and get better in the sport, they see it as a way to get hurt.

People often get caught up in the negative aspects of fighting, instead of focusing the many positives. Just because you want to have a fight doesn’t mean that you have to become a pro fighter and dedicate your life to it. While many people certainly do have aspirations to win belts, others simply use fighting as a tool to get better and test out their abilities in the ring.

Fighting doesn’t mean you to travel to Thailand to have your first fight against an unknown opponent. Many people often start off in the amateur circuit with full protection and limited rules. This is a great way to get ring experience while keeping the risk level to a minimum.

The decision to fight is something that should be taken seriously. At the end of the day, you are putting yourself in harm’s way in order to get better. For people who have families, careers, and other commitments, the risks of fighting often outweigh the benefits.

To help make your decision to fight a little easier, here are 5 Reasons You Should Have a Muay Thai fight:

#1: Your Trainer Thinks You Should

TrainerBefore you decide to fight your trainer should be the first person you consult with. A good trainer will have knowledge of their student’s skill set and abilities. This is especially true if the trainer has a good relationship with their student. If your trainer doesn’t think you are ready for a fight, then you probably aren’t.

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Your skill level is an important factor on whether or not you should fight. A good trainer will let their student know if they are good enough to fight or still need some work in training.

The moment your trainer approaches you and says that you should fight, feel flattered. It means that he sees potential in you. Fighting is going to help you realize this potential and get better. If you have a good relationship with your trainer and they ask you to fight, you probably should.

***If you are training in Thailand then ignore this first statement. No matter how good you are, trainers will tell you that you should fight because they have a financial incentive for you to fight. Rarely will trainers tell you that you shouldn’t fight in Thailand. ***

#2: You Want to Fight

how bad do you want itDo you find yourself thinking about fighting all the time? When you watch a fight do you imagine yourself in the ring and think of how you would react to different situations? Some people have a deep desire to fight from the moment they start training. If you really want it bad, then do it.

Anyone that really wants to have a Muay Thai fight should fight. Obviously, asking your trainer if you are ready to fight is important, but if you really want to fight, then you will find a way. People who want to have a fight are going to find a way to have one, whether it means traveling to Thailand or finding a gym that can get them a fight.

A strong desire to fight doesn’t mean you should necessarily fight right now, but it can give you a goal to work towards. (I admit that some people are delusional in wanting to fight, but it’s not up to me to say what they should or shouldn’t do) If you really want something bad enough, no excuse will get in your way. If you are too busy with work, you will schedule time off work and make it a priority in your life.

#3: You Want to Get Better

Amateur muay thaiIf you never fight, you will never realize your full potential in Muay Thai. Without ring experience, you can only reach a certain level. Everything you do in training is all designed to emulate a fight situation. No matter how many simulations you do, nothing can substitute being in the ring with an opponent who is trying to hurt you.

Fighting makes your game so much sharper and teaches you what actually works. This is where we begin to separate fact from fiction. What may sound good in theory, might not work in the ring.

Fighting teaches you exactly what you need to work on to get better and improve your overall game. Even though you might be sparring hard all the time, it will never truly simulate a fighting situation.

People, who want to be the best that they can possibly be in the sport, need ring experience. Fighting should be viewed as an opportunity to learn and improve. In order to get better, you really do need ring experience.

Side Effect of Fight Training: Next Level Fitness

If you think you are fit in training, wait until you start fight training. The level of fitness is night and day between regular training and fight training. Being able to go 5 rounds on the pads throwing hundreds of kicks, punches and knees with each leg and arm will build your cardio. I don’t care how fit you think you are, when you fight train your fitness level will go to another level.

#4: You Want To Be Tested

Fighting is essential if you want to see how good you really are.

Fighting is essential if you want to see how good you really are.

For me, training hard is like studying for an exam in University. No matter how much you study, you won’t know where you are at until you are tested. Being able to measure your progress is essential to getting better.

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If you are currently sparring and clinching with fighters at your gym, it is only natural to test yourself and see how you stand against others. Anyone who is at a level in Muay Thai where they are able to go toe to toe with seasoned fighters should test themselves in a fight.

There are many factors that determine how well someone will do in a fight. I’ve seen a lot of guys who look great in training struggle when they enter the ring. On the other hand, I’ve  witnessed guys who were nothing special in training, turn out to be awesome fighters.

Everything you do in training is designed to simulate a fight situation. Getting in the ring provides you with a measurable test of all the hard work you have put into training.

Overcoming the Fear of Fighting

I believe that fear is the minds worst enemy. If you have a deep fear of stepping into the ring, the only way to face this fear is to tackle it head on. You should never live a life that is dictated by fear. The best way to overcome a fear of fighting is prove to yourself that even though you are afraid, that fear will not prevent you from entering the ring. Fear is an emotion that can either be your ally or your worst enemy. It is up to you to decide how you use it. 

#5: You are Competitive 

Some people thrive on competition. Fighting is the ultimate form of competition in Muay Thai.

Some people thrive on competition. Fighting is the ultimate form of competition in Muay Thai.

If you are a competitor that likes to compete, then fighting is the ultimate form of competition. Anyone who is naturally competitive should consider fighting. Going head to head with another person who is trying to hurt you is a level of competition that cannot be matched.

People who are very competitive are the guys who are going to do the best in a fighting situation. The refusal to lose will often mean they will thrive and perform well under pressure. If you find yourself loving sparring and competing with other guys, fighting is only an extension of this competition.

Since most people who train Muay Thai won’t fight, make sure you read the next article: 

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Have a Muay Thai Fight.

What do you think? 

Should you fight or not? I know this is a topic with a lot of opinions so don’t be shy and let me know what you think in the comments below.