Do you remember that feeling when you were a kid at the top of a snowy hill on your sleigh, and you were scared to go down it, but you did it, and it was terrifying and glorious at the same time after you got to the bottom you ran back up and kept doing it again and again for hours? No? Okay, well maybe you lived in a warmer climate and there was some big rock your friends dared you to jump off of into the water and you were so freaked out, but finally you did it, and it was so much fun that you told everyone about it and maybe started to recruit other people to do it, and maybe you teased your friends who didn’t want to jump.
Well, that’s kind of what sparring Muay Thai is like… kind of. At least that the best analogy I could come up with today.
Post Muay Thai Sparring Smiles with my team at F5 Fitness
I will say that learning to spar is one of the hardest things I’ve accomplished in my life and also the most rewarding. I’ve written before about why it’s okay not to spar if you don’t want to and still train Muay Thai with pad work, but I wanted to write about why you should along with the mental and physical benefits of sparring Muay Thai.
Obviously, sparring makes you better at the sport of Muay Thai, but what can it do for your life in other ways?
I grit my teeth and hit “publish” and the familiar, yet never an easier sensation of excitement and anxiety consumes me. It’s a feeling similar to entering the ring to fight. I don’t fight anymore, I retired in 2011 from fighting Muay Thai, but writing, something I have done all my life is a constant reminder of what I love about fighting.
Fear. We all have it. Fear will never completely disappear. We just have to find a way to own it, to cut through its thick air with a knife.
My fighter Emily fought last weekend. We had just finished the last round of pad work to warm her up. She was greased up and ready to go, the first glistening sweat on her brow, her second wind getting ramped up, her mouth dry and her eyes full of feeling.
As I talked her through some mental visualization techniques to keep her energy focused, I was reminded of what has been missing in my life these past few months: fear; or more specifically stepping through fear.
I wrote this article in July of 2010 when it was printed in Caged360, an online publication no longer in operation. I have re-issued it with a few changes and updates here.
Conditioning for Fighters
When I first started fighting 10 years ago I got up every morning and ran 3-5 miles. I did this because a) I wanted to keep my weight down b) I wanted to have good cardio c) my trainer told me to. After my run, I would have breakfast,sometimes take a nap, then train again around 4pm for a couple of hours. This was my routine 6 days a week, with sometimes a longer 5-6 mile run on the weekend.
My cardio routine looks very different now. Today I know that although the long runs I did in the morning may have done something for my character, they did very little for my goals of maintaining a healthy fight weight, staying strong and improving my fighting cardio in the way I wanted it to. Plus my knees hate me today. When I first started Muay Thai I didn’t have the health & fitness knowledge I have today. In my naive fitness days I was always hungry (living on a high carbohydrate diet), never satisfied, always worried about making weight and definitely not as strong as I could have been.
“But running is good for me, right?!” “It makes me fit and improves my wind!” Well, not exactly. Let me explain.
We all want to maximize our time in the gym. It doesn’t matter if you are a fighter or a weekend warrior; training for optimum performance and desired body composition is always a top priority. We also know that Muay Thai and martial arts training is some of the most intense demanding exercise you can do, so treating your body right means you can train longer, workout harder and hopefully get better results. I’ve been training in Muay Thai and MMA gyms for almost 10 years now and I see plenty of people, even non-fighters putting in some serious time training time, 10-15 hours a week sometimes. Is it possible for your body to recover and perform well while meeting goals with that intensity and volume without supplementation? How much does supplementation help and what are the long-term effects, if any? In this article I will address some of the main issues surrounding supplementation and also give guidelines for smart supplementation.
I’ve dabbled in almost every legal supplement and training method over the years in search of the best way to train hard and get results and what I can tell you is this. If you do not first have a handle of your nutrition and sleep any supplement you take is almost useless.