Are you getting the most out of your muay thai training? If you are the type of person who is always striving for perfection then you should ask yourself is your gym the right one for you? Most people who train in North America often train at MMA gyms that offer a bit of everything: boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiu jitsu and muay thai. One of the main issues with this type of training is you learn a bit of everything, but you aren’t focused on being the best at one particular area.
One thing I noticed from training at different MMA gyms is that many gyms disguise kickboxing as muay thai because they add the occasional elbow and knee to the combination. The reality is that kickboxing and muay thai are completely different sports. Although they are both standup sports and involve punching and kicking, the techniques used and style of fighting is completely different. Muay thai is a specific art form just like karate or any other martial art. There is good technique, bad technique and the wrong technique that can be used.
The funny thing about muay thai techniques is that depending on who you ask, everyone has a slight variation on the same techniques. This is especially true in Thailand, when you will have one trainer tell that you need to step forward when you kick, while you will have another trainer tell you to step to the side slightly. The truth is you have to use whatever works for you. Every trainer and fighter will have a slightly different style to their fighting game. There is no one style that can work for everything.
A common problem that occurs with people training at gyms that are focused on MMA is that you don’t end up learning proper techniques in your training. That typical class will have 20-40 students and maybe a head instructor and an assistant instructor. They will demonstrate a technique or a combination and the students are expected to replicate this movement. Ignoring the fact that most of the time people holding pads for you don’t know what the hell they are doing, you are not going to have someone telling you if your punch or kick is correct.
Although this problem is mostly unavoidable when training anywhere outside of Thailand, there are certain things that you should look for when choosing a muay thai gym back home (anywhere outside of Thailand). Here is my list of things that can be the difference between average and great training back home.
#1. An instructor that cares
Having a teacher that actually cares about your muay thai growth is the most important thing you should look for when choosing a gym. I’ve been to gyms where I asked a question and the instructor basically shrugged it off because I was not one of his “fighters.” This was very disheartening especially when I just started out learning muay thai. Look for an instructor that cares about everyone having good form and technique and learning muay thai with a solid base.
#2. Motivated Students
Going to a gym with other Muay Thai enthusiasts is something that will make your training so much better. Having people around you who love the sport and are willing to help you grow in your journey is extremely rewarding. This is great for developing a team around you if you are planning on fighting for your gym in the future.
Training at a gym that is filled with students who don’t care about Muay Thai, is going to drag your interest level down as well. You should try to find somewhere that has other passionate Nak Muays that are around.
#3. Experienced Coaches
Having an instructor that has experience fighting and teaching can help you bring your game to another level. If your teacher has never fought before then they won’t be able to offer you as much advice if you decide to take your first fight. Although not all good coaches are fighters, it helps to have some ring experience if you plan on preparing others to get inside the ring.
Having a trainer who has no background in real Muay Thai is going to make training unrewarding. Everything you learn will be a watered down version of the real thing. When you visit Thailand you will need to change everything that you learned while you were training there.
#4. Training Facilities
Having a gym that has good training facilities is another factor that you should consider when searching for a gym. Although, you should keep in mind that many of the most run down looking gyms often have the best instructors and classes. So don’t go to a gym just because it’s a new PLANET FITNESS center that offers muay thai instruction. Always choose a gym with good coaching before anything else.
However, you don’t want to train at a gym that has no cleanliness and doesn’t clean any equipment. These are bad habits that shows that the owner doesn’t give a damn about the place. Someone who keeps their gym clean and tidy is someone that cares about their students.
I mention location last because if you are going to a bad gym just because it is conveniently close to your home, you might as well not go at all. Even if you have to drive an extra 20 minutes to go to a proper gym that you love, the benefits you get from training are going to be worth it. The location of the gym should be considered last, unless you legitimately can’t make it to a location, then choose the next best option.
This is something you shouldn’t even factor in your decision unless it means training or not training at all. You should be willing to drive further if you want to train with the best guys. You shouldn’t put a price on your level of progress.
The most important aspect of choosing the right gym is the instructor. If you have a good instructor who knows what they are doing, the rest of the stuff won’t matter. Facilities, location, and everything else comes after your trainer.
The following list can also be used to find a gym in Thailand. No matter what gym you choose in Thailand most of them will have ex Lumpinee or Ratchadamnoen champions. Finding an instructor (Kru) that cares about you and your development is something that can be hard to find.