A big mistake coaches can make is to produce clones of their own style rather than developing fighters as individuals. As I discussed in my last post, the importance of individualisation, no-one has the same biological or psychological traits. You’re can’t duplicate the exact performance of someone with different stature, limb lengths, body proportions etc. You’re unique and you move in your own way.

There’s nothing wrong with emulating a successful fighter, far from it. But you should experiment with these movements to see if they fit for you. They may, they may not. Your technique should be optimal – for you. Everyone shouldn’t look exactly the same.

There are specific postures and positions that are important, but everyone’s technique doesn’t look the same. You must have a framework to work within, but also the ability to express it in your own way. This is equally true in the weights room as  in the Muay Thai gym. As strength & conditioning coach and Olympic Lifting specialist Tommy Yule says, “There are key determinants of performance, and then there’s style.”

The principles of correct technique should be applied, but you’ll have your own style. And it’s styles that win fights. It’s not always the best fighter who wins, but usually the fighter who finds their style messes up their opponent’s style the most.

Working within your physical, psychological and technical abilities you can adopt a mixture of aggressive, counter, elusive and tricky styles at long, medium, close and clinch ranges to find where you disrupt your opponent the most. Then exploit the combination of styles and ranges to best effect in your own unique way.

Using strategy and tactics that suit your own personal style makes you harder to deal with. Varying sparring/training partners will allow you to test style combinations and learn how to adjust ‘on the fly’. It will also help you continually progress by avoiding accommodation.

When developing fighters it’s important to coach the individual, not the sport – which isn’t something every coach is capable of. So try out several coaches, not only to find out if they can help you technically, but also to see if they can tailor their methods to suit your individual style and if you have rapport with them. The best coach is the right coach for you, the one that resonates with you individually, not necessarily the most highest ‘ranking’ coach.

So don’t try to fit in with the crowd, celebrate your differences. Exploit your uniqueness! Borrow ideas from as many sources as possible and thoroughly test them out yourself. Maximise your strengths and minimise your weaknesses, but always be yourself. Discover the power of being unique – and you’ll win fights!

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.” ~ Bruce Lee


    Don Heatrick BSc. (Hons) Level 4 Strength & Conditioning Coach, Muay Thai Coach

    Don Heatrick

    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 now a podcast host and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

    Don helps committed Thai boxers organise training for accelerated self development & Muay Thai performance.

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