How to Become a Champion Fighter

muay thai fighter tattoos

I was not a likely fighter. I was twenty-four, soft, nonathletic and felt pretty uncomfortable in my own skin, let alone a boxing ring when I first started Muay Thai. I did however have one thing going for me; I was ridiculously disciplined. I would show up to train every day. I worked hard. I did my road work. I didn’t complain (much). This discipline was enough to develop skills and techniques that would make me a good fighter. But that was it, I was just good, not champion material yet. To be great, to be a champion and a professional I needed one more quality – Conviction. Conviction for me took time to develop. Due to my lack of previous athletic skills I was used to seeing myself as the same girl that was picked last in dodge ball and who sat the bench at varsity basketball games. These views of yourself take time to change, but eventually with enough hard work, self discovery and winning fights my confidence improved. I started to go into the ring thinking, “I got this!”, instead of “What the fuck am I doing in here?”

There are three qualities that make a great fighter:

Discipline, skill and conviction.

Now that I coach fighters I find I am often thinking about these three qualities. In my opinion to be a champion you must excel at all three. Of course desire is the fourth that all fighters must have, but I leave that out, as it’s obvious that the desire must be present or the fighter won’t even want to fight.

There are some good fighters out there that excel at just two of the above three qualities, and are simply average or sub par in the third. They can skirt by for a while, but eventually they get beaten by those that have mastered all three as they rise up the ranks.

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Overcoming Pre Fight Nerves

sealing the ring muay thai

“Sealing the Ring”

You can feel your sweaty palms underneath the gauze and tape your coach masterfully bound over your hands. You tried hard not to let your hands shake while they worked. You begin to stretch and warm up, shadow box and you notice your mouth is dry. The gloves get taped on by a commissioner, and you realize now there is no going back, not even another bathroom break. Maybe at this moment, you have a twinge of doubt. Why am I here? This is crazy! I could get hurt. We have all thought something like this before.

When you begin to hit pads your body feels “gooey,” legs a bit heavy, timing slightly off. You notice how that first couple minutes of pad work leaves you more breathless than you are used to in training, but you power through until the punches feel crisp and your kicks feel strong. Second wind, they call it. Once you have broken a sweat, you wait on deck for your name to be called. You hear the crowd cheering for the fight before you, maybe you glance at your opponent who is waiting too. What are they thinking?

Stepping over the ropes into the ring, you hope you don’t fall, you feel the knot in your stomach, the bright lights are jarring to your eyes. After the ring is sealed you are called to the center; now it’s okay to stare at your opponent. You look them straight in the eye, trying to project confidence, trying to instill fear. You take a good look; your mind is racing, you probably don’t even hear what the referee is saying, you just nod. Your mouth is still so dry. Clean fight, good fight. Okay, got it.

Back to your corner. This is it. The bell rings. Fight! There is only one winner. Will it be you?

…The answer lies in your ability to excel at overcoming pre-fight nerves.

No fighter is exempt from fight nerves. Some fear, some anxiety is a good thing. After all, you are about to do something dangerous, courageous and difficult; it’s important your senses are heightened, and you are extremely alert; something that a being a little anxious will do for you. The important part is how you deal with the fear. Will you use it in a positive way, channel it into your punches and kicks or will you let it own, making you tired, weak and ineffective?

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Dealing with Unwanted Breaks From Training

Athletes, Muay Thai, Kettlebells, Training, Rest Periods, Injury

For weeks ago I decided to sign up for my SFG Level II certification and immediately got anxious about being able to press a 22kg bell over my head. I was starting to map out a plan for how by May 10th I could get to where I needed to be. I was all riled up and ready to go…. then I got the flu for the first time in years.

I don’t even remember the last time I had a fever; it might have been when I was in high school. Fever, sore throat, the whole deal and I was out of work and training for a week. Then when I was finally feeling better, I went back to training, started light and everything felt heavy…. then and was hit with a relapse of my chronic back pain. Another couple weeks and a few chiropractor visits and I think I’m finally starting to feel right again.

For someone that only used to take one day off a week from training and not even take more than three days off after a fight. It got me thinking about how my views on setbacks have changed. When I tore my knee in 2009, I sat at home, drank bourbon and read all of the Twilight novels while sulking. As soon as I could walk, I was doing bench presses and pull ups. I booked a fight before I was even 80% better and just told myself I would be better. In truth, I was a bit nuts. Today, while I might be a bit peeved about an injury or illness, I try to put things in perspective. TRY being the keyword.

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How to Beat Sugar Cravings

Ask yourself these questions: Do you just have to have something sweet after meals?  Does the idea of living life without bread and pasta scare you? Does afternoon fatigue prompt trips to Starbucks or a candy binge on a regular basis?  If someone offers you cookies, cakes, ice cream or candy at a party is it impossible for you to decline them?  Is it hard for you to stop after one cookie, candy, etc.?  Is drinking black coffee or tea without sweetener out of the question? Do you obsess over your next sugary treat?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions you are probably addicted to sugar.

Sugar is addictive. Many doctors now recognize the damage of sugar addiction, although it might be several more years before we can sue Coca-Cola for pushing its “drug” on kids.  Maybe it’s not as noticeable as illegal street drugs, but sugar does give you a mild “high” – why else would we jokingly call it “kiddie crack”?  I’m not fanatical or preaching sugar abstinence.  I love ice cream just as much as the next gal, but I find that many of my clients are plagued by sugar cravings and feel out of control when it comes to their diet.  I can relate.

You’re talking to a girl who single-handedly picked every chocolate chip out of her roommate’s trail mix (sorry, Monica). I remember when I was little stealing cookies from the jar at my grandmother’s house and eating them behind the couch so I wouldn’t get caught. I’m pretty sure I also remember also eating an entire frozen pound cake – while it was still frozen. I am no angel when it comes to sugar.  My history with sugar goes deep into the core of my psyche – but although I love the occasional treat, I am no longer consumed by sugar. I rarely have insane cravings, and I can stop after just a couple bites. How did I achieve this you ask?

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