by Don Heatrick

We all come to Muay Thai for our own (equally valid) reasons.

A few know they want to fight straight away… but most just want to train – and never intend to fight at all.

Both of these motivations are correct!

In the West, Muay Thai is NOT a career, even for a pro fighter. It won’t pay all the bills, you need another income to stay afloat.

The majority of Westerners train because they love training. It brings something to their lives that isn’t fulfilled in any other way. Something that most Thais don’t even understand.

On my first trip to Thailand, I still remember the looks on the faces of the old, local Thai women, as I ran past them along a dusty track at the edge of a field with two other farang boxers.

With confused expressions, they pointed at our shorts, and gabbled in Thai. And all I could make out was, “Nak muay”.

Chatting to our trainers afterwards, they explained that the women weren’t used to seeing farang nak muay. To them, foreigners are rich, why would they need to fight?

We fight not because of the basic physiological needs of food, water and shelter (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs)… But because we can afford to indulge in self-actualisation needs, to become the most that we can be.

This is the reason Western boxers train, and why some choose to fight.

If you’re an “ambitious beginner”, you’re reason to train is just as valid those that choose to compete.

We all come to Muay Thai with a unique training history, and injury history.

I’m lucky to have the opportunity to help Thai boxers of all levels to make the quickest progress possible in their training. Whether that’s an ambitious beginner, or a seasoned pro fighter.

And everyone’s relative progress is just as much a priority, to each individual, and to me as a coach.

Egotistical glory is not the objective. Long-term, life-affirming personal growth is.

So regardless if you want to fight or not, don’t feel the need to apologise for that. If it feels right, and the time is right, it will happen.

Simply training like a fighter will tick the boxes for most…

Those that feel ready to test themselves in a non-decision smoker or inter-club, will take the opportunity. And some will take things further and fight competitively.

If you’re willing to test yourself in the ring (at whatever level), I guarantee you’ll learn more about yourself than you realise. But don’t feel you have to.

If you’re improving, you’re winning.

In fact, for those over 40 years old, if you’re not declining you’re winning!

Your goals are unique to you, don’t compare yourself to anyone other than yourself yesterday.

  • Improve mobility and movement.
  • Improve strength, power, and speed.
  • Improve endurance.
  • Improve Muay Thai skill and IQ.
  • Improve your mindset.

Target progress and your motivation will soar, even if you don’t have a fight coming up.

Make this next year all about breaking limits, personal progress – your own relative progress – and you’ll be winning.

P.S. If you’re looking for something to get you started in your training this year, here are a couple of free resources to kick things off for you…

If you’re looking for my best recommendation for those starting out with Muay Thai strength & conditioning, then check out my Muay Thai Strength & Conditioning Accelerator Program

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), 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.

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