Every element within your being constantly swings between two opposite extreme states like a pendulum. This fluctuation is normal as your body strives to maintain balance. But, if the pendulum swings too far, balance is lost, problems arise and breakdown is inevitable. This principle is true at every level of existence, from the solar systems to the cells in your body.
This ‘synchronisity’ has been beating me over the head recently, repeatedly popping up in my life from all quarters. And so I’m led to share these considerations with you today. As I’m writing this I’m reminded of quotes from Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, so I’ll drop a few ‘Tzu bombs’ where I think they’ll help.
Every quality you can think of has a duality between one extreme and another. Not a black and white binary condition, rather an analogue scale of conditions or shades of grey. The extremes exist because by definition one can’t exist without the other – there can be no light without dark.
“Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness. All can know good as good only because there is evil.”
~ Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Muay Thai demands a balance of multiple, extreme qualities at many levels, presenting both a holistic challenge and a substantial pay off (that I’ll come back to a little later). I’ve previously discussed the analogy of spinning plates when considering training multiple physical qualities, you’ve got to pay attention to all the plates or some will falter and fall.
Preceding phases of training build specific, complimentary qualities that better prepare the body for each subsequent phase. Considering all the training phases as a whole should reveal a holistic balance matching the demands of the sport. But Muay Thai is far more than just your physical qualities, that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Consider the following general elements and where on the scale you sit for each:
- Physical conditioning and technical skill
- Strength and endurance
- Mobility and stability
- General motor patterns and sport specific patterns
- Decisive aggression and humble respect
- Conscious analysis and unconscious flow
- Physical practice and visualisation
- Muscular tension and relaxation
- Stress and recovery
Some of these various levels can be objectively measured to help coordinate your training, and others are more subjective (in future posts I’ll share some of my methods for establishing were you sit on such scales). Awareness of your current status with respect to the various scales will serve you well. Yin and yang together create balance; Muay Thai’s ferocious physicality is balanced with humble respect for both teachers and opponents. Such balance is not only physical, it’s psychological and spiritual.
“Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.”
~ Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
The pendulum swings in a constant state of flux, but must stay within controlled limits. Either extreme has consequence, equilibrium is the natural order of things. Fail to understand this and you’re going to have problems.
With honest reflection, Muay Thai is a fantastic vehicle for finding your own balance within all the extremes it encompasses. I believe this is why I’m personally so strongly drawn to it. If taken beyond face value, Muay Thai offers you the opportunity to not only learn about others but to truly understand yourself – if you are honest and open-minded – don’t waste it.
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.”
~ Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning
Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.
Don helps ambitious fighters & coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.
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