Teaching Yourself Muay Thai At Home
Such a broad question I felt needed to write about this twice. Muay Thai is amongst the most popular martial arts on the planet. Practical in its application and deadly in its execution. More people want to know if you can train yourself in Muay Thai at home or with limited coaching?
In the world of multimedia and videos abound of every move, kick, punch and throw. There is no doubting the ability to teach yourself some Muay Thai techniques. But realistically, you will need others around you to avoid bad habits and truly learn this martial art correctly.
Muay Thai is probably the single most effective martial art I have ever trained in. Maximising the full use of your body’s capabilities in a real-world situation. I would place it at the very top in terms of the best martial arts for striking.
But to what degree can you learn Muay Thai at home, on your own or perhaps with a partner. Well, if you have an experienced partner then that is awesome. But if you are on your own, watching YouTube videos and reading some online Muay Thai pdf for training. You need to ask yourself the following, can I;
- Simulate getting punched while training at home?
- Get kicked training Muay Thai on my own?
- Get elbowed at home without a training partner?
- Simulate being kneed to the face and body at home?
- I work my Muay Thai clinch game without a training partner?
If the answer to most of those questions is a no, then I think you know what I am going to say! Yes, find yourself a Muay Thai gym and get some time in training with a coach and training partners.
What If There is No Muay Thai Gym Near Me?
I can speak from personal experience on this one. Back in the day, I grew up in the countryside, in a working-class family with no gyms at all in the locality. After a local guy who was a kickboxer returned to the area and began teaching, my journey in martial arts began.
But the classes soon ended and I was forced to teach myself (all be it badly) from some DVD’s and watching Thai boxing fights on Eurosport. So while I did not have a gym to attend, I made the most of what I had with a makeshift punching bag and a desire to learn.
And so, I did learn a lot from my solo training, but with that, I also learned so many bad habits. It’s really a trade-off, because if you don’t at least try, then if you ever do make it to an actual Muay Thai gym, you are going to be a complete novice. And at least a good coach can help you improve on your basic home trained techniques.
So What Can I Learn At Home?
For me, it’s really a question of what I cannot learn training Muay Thai at home. As I set out above all the scenarios that cannot be trained on your own. Let’s take a closer looks at what basics you can work on to prepare yourself for the time when you will hopefully find a club in which to train.
Always Warm-Up and Stretch
Before you being any type of physical training you should always do some form of warm-up and stretch. But this is especially true when it comes to Muay Thai.
The reason for this is that Muay Thai is an explosive fast action high impact sport. Add to that the kicks where you will be using your hips, back and legs excessively. Then it becomes clear as to why you need to be supple and ready to commit to the movement.
Whether at work or at home, one of the biggest worries in today’s world is that fact that we now sit down so much. Extensive studies show that the average person in the western world spends far too much time in the seated position.
And the issue with that is that your core becomes weak, while your hip flexors, the muscles that join the spine, hips and legs together, get tight. So when you try to do any extensions outside the usual daily range, like kicking at head height. You will soon notice either an inability to do so or even worse, pull a muscle in the process.
Stretches for Muay Thai Flexibility
Stretching is a critical part of your body being able to perform to the best of its ability, no matter what age you are. While younger athletes have the added bonus of less wear and tear. Fighters of an older age range need to take some additional care and stretch really well pre and post-training.
So here are some stretches you can do to maximise your Muay Thai training sessions, they include;
- Skipping – One of the bedrock warm-ups drills for any combat sport. Skipping will get the blood moving and open up the lungs in preparation of the Muay Thai training session.
- Head and shoulder rolls – Loosen up the neck, upper spine and connecting shoulders. It’s important to ensure your neck is warmed up and supple for any contact sport.
- Chest extensions – Arms out straight swing the arms at chest height in front of your torso, then backwards in an exaggerated clapping motion.
- Torso rotations – With elbows out a chest height, hands close to your chest. Rotate at the shoulders and hips, left then right. Make sure to move on the balls of your feet.
- Hip rotations – With feet spread a little past shoulder width, place your hands on hips. Rotate the hips in a clockwise and anti-clockwise direction to loosen up this important part of the body.
- Knee Rotations – Slightly crouched, hand son knees, rotate the knees in a clockwise and anticlockwise direction to warm up those joints.
- Hip Flexors and groin stretch – Rotate the knees up and out to the side in a motion which mimics checking a kick. This opens up the hips and helps stretch the groin area. Also, stand holding the wall or heavy bag and control swing your legs, one at a time from side to side in front of you opening up the inner groin.
- Front high kicks – Control swings your leg from behind out in front as high as you can go, like you are kicking a ball into the air, holding on to something for balance. Be careful not to overstretch.
- Back stretches – Lean forward and touch your shins or better again your toes to stretch the back. Also with legs spread our side to side control arm swings to loosen up the upper and lower back muscles.
Use any combination of the above and feel free to add some of your own. Just ensure that you are fully warmed up before your muay Thai training session begins.
Shadow Boxing at Home
Shadow boxing is really all about technique and if you have bad technique, then you will have bad shadow boxing. While it can look good in the mirror, it’s not something which will benefit you greatly and may even harm your development if done incorrectly.
So if you are doing it, then make sure you have good technique as set out by whomever you are watching or reading about when it comes to correct form and body positioning.
As I mentioned before in another article, my coach would always be on my back about checking myself out in the window. The shadow boxing is really for them to see how your form looks and where you are going wrong. Not how sexy I think my own technique looks.
Working on Striking Technique
Working on your form is a critical aspect of any combat sport. Poor form or poor foundation will lead to a shaky structure and bad technique. So my advice when it comes to this is keep it simple, really simple.
We are not looking for Buakaw Banchamek or Saenchai levels of brilliance quite yet. Get the very basics down as best you can. How you extend from the shoulder, how you turn over the fist before impact. You’re foot placement when kicking the punching. Don’t go for anything too outside the box from the beginning as they are things you can and will work on down the road in your journey.
Trust me when I say your training partner will not appreciate you landing an axe kick to the face during a friendly spar. Just search for a Wanderlei Silva gets angry during a sparring session, where his partner tries exactly that, no need to say any more.
Hitting a Heavy Bag
Well, hopefully, you do at least have something which you can kick and punch to simulate an opponent. Training your kicking and punching is the bread and butter of Muay Thai. If this is not down, then Heuston we have a problem.
The best thing you can do here is to focus on the very basic kicking and punching techniques. Don’t try to do anything too fancy, well do but not in the beginning and don’t overdo it. And by that I mean incorporate something like a spinning elbow that you then try to pull off in your first live gym sparring session.
Muay Thai Clinch Training
The Muay Thai clinch is a signature move in the martial art. And has been used with devastating results in pure Muay Thai, as well as in mixed martial arts. Where exponents such as Anderson Silva used it as part of their arsenal to dominate the sport.
If you can find a suitable partner to work on your Muay Thai clinch, then great. Being able to perfect this move will help you control your opponents head position with amazing results.
Closing Thoughts on Self Training Muay Thai
So I do think that you can definitely work on certain aspects of training Muay Thai outside of a gym environment. It is not a long term solution to learning the sport as it will require other training partners for you to learn and grow.
So, by all means, train some of the basics and improve your fitness levels before you make it to a Muay Thai gym. Be prepared for a rude awakening when you are faced with a training partner, as it is completely different than when you train alone.
Muay Thai is an individual sport which requires you to both give and take certain levels of punishment to your body. Taking punishment is not something which can be easily simulated during solo training. So work those techniques, but do your best to make it to a Muay Thai training gym when possible. It will all be worth it in the end.T: twitter.com/MMAmicks