“What special tricks did you learn?” is a common question others ask when you return from training in Thailand. But, if you want to be the best you can be, it’s the wrong question.
An expert uses the basics – done exceptionally well. Advanced “tricks” are simply the icing on the cake, not the foundation of their structure. There’s no short-cut to be found with flashy moves. This is not only true in the ring, but also in the weights room. Basic strength and conditioning, enhancing strength, power, endurance, agility, mobility and stability are the trademark of the expert.
Regardless of which World class athlete you chose to examine, you’ll find this trait. If you watch Thailand’s Yodsanklai Fairtex fight, he doesn’t use a myriad of tricks. He punishes his opponent from a rock solid foundation with basic techniques thrown ruthlessly well.
Even flamboyant, tricky style fighters like Saenchai can only reliably pull off their legendary moves because of a dedication to fundamentals. At the heart of his versatile and apparently complex style is a rudimentary, principle based approach. Without such a foundation he couldn’t be successful, his moves would be a ‘house of cards’ easily collapsed.
Returning from training at Mr Thakoon’s Sasiprapa Muay Thai Gym in Bangkok, our group of 7 Thai boxers sat around the hotel swimming pool discussing what we’d all learned from our respective trainers that morning. All had different aspects of their technique improved, something unique to each individual, something simple.
The real question is “What do I need to do better?”, and it isn’t likely to be the things you enjoy doing (because they come easy to you). To make real progress, push your training into the areas you don’t like – strengthen your weaknesses. Don’t fall into the trap of the gaming generation – real sport is not like the X-box. Executing a (special move) key-press combination won’t win you the fight. Hard work and attention to the basics will.
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), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.
Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.