The foundamental training principles of Muay Thai
by Marco De Cesaris
years ago, at the end of a very hard training session in which the fighting
techniques were alternated non-stop with strikes to the paos for more
or less two hours, a grand master named Phaosawat Saengsawan approached
me while I tried to quench my thirst with a little water, and handed
me, almost sneakily, a piece of paper; on that piece of paper, he told
me, there was written in the Thai language a set of eight rules, what
every true Muay Thai practitioner had to follow in “the long run”
during his practice. The master was referring to the martial practice
of the Art, what should accompany us during our whole life and not only
for a brief period during our youth. It made me realize that the professional
Thai boxers in the mother country of the discipline followed these rules
to the maximum, perhaps differently from what Western practitioners
did. In reality, Muay Thai, and Muay Boran, in particular, put emphasis
on the practice prolonged through time, avoiding limiting the benefits
of a Martial Art so fascinating during the springtime of our lives.
Today, with the passing of the years, that precious advice from Master
Pho still represents a kind of lighthouse that guides me in my daily
training and always allows me to enjoy the extraordinary beauty of the
Art of the Kings.
The training principles in Muay Thai Boran
- Muay Thai requires constant practice.
That is the first and perhaps most important rule: there is no usefulness
in practicing a martial art sporadically; there must be consistency
in training in order to be able to achieve and maintain all the benefits
of the practice through time.
- The training in Muay Thai requires application and hard work.
This motto can be easily extended to all the combat arts; the modern
tendency employed at gymnasiums involving a superficial style and surrendering
at the first confrontation of difficulties can in no way produce true
martial artists, and even less true fighters. It is necessary to train
hard and especially with all your heart and soul; in any other way,
one will never reach the true spirit of Muay Thai.
- In practice, one has to push to reach the limit of one’s
This rule is directly linked to the previous one. How many times does
one hear students saying, “I can’t do any more, I’m
stopping,” or else, “I can’t continue because it hurts”?
Placing our confidence in the master who guides us, we also have to
be ready to continuously push ourselves toward our limits, sure that
the results will always be positive.- Muay Thai has to be practiced
in accord with the true spirit of the Art. The ultimate objective of
all the Martial Arts worthy of the name is to form better citizens;
the awareness of our strength has to push us to be helpful toward others
and not to pervert the practice by selfishly taking advantage of the
knowledge acquired through the training. One who betrays the spirit
of this discipline will come to ruin.
- The technical skill is derived through practice.
Many athletes are born with the “gift”, a special skill
that makes them unique in their field. But natural predisposition, if
it is not accompanied by hard and constant work in the gymnasium, carried
forward day after day without stopping, will not allow us to achieve
the higher goals. Only the basic skill will not allow us to raise ourselves
to the heights of the Art that we have chosen, rather it is molded through
time in the practice (under the guidance of a true master).
- Each training session has to be followed by an appropriate
period of rest.
Day and night, man and woman, full and empty, Yin and Yang; the alternating
harmony of opposites creates the optimum result. How many times does
the amateur athlete—even some professionals—go too far in
training and become overly stressed and arriving at that point often
called “gymnasium combat”? In the Kai Muay, or Thai training
camps, the rest hours are as carefully adhered to as the training sessions,
precisely for the importance of the recuperation stage after hard effort.
- For training to be effective, it has to be done for at least one year
and later continued through time in order to reach long-term success.
The practice of Muay Thai pursues two objectives: the first is a short-to-medium
term objective and, in the case of young athletes, it can coincide with
the fighting life, aspiring to get confirmation about one’s skill,
prestige, or financial compensations from it. The second is the long-term
objective, to maintain psycho-physical well-being and a qualitative
high level of life during one’s existence. Without constant practice
through time, neither of these two goals will be easily obtainable.
- The body has to receive healthy food.
It is often heard that “We are what we eat”. For someone
who practices Muay Thai or any other Martial Art, this motto becomes
a style of life. It is not very important to go through life counting
calories or studying the chemical composition of everything we swallow,
but it is of fundamental importance to develop, through the intense
practice of Muay Thai, nutritional hygiene that is not too heavy and
that later can be followed for an indefinite amount of time without
psychologically influencing the practitioner in a negative way.
“There is no usefulness in practicing a martial art sporadically;
there must be consistency in training in order to be able to achieve
and maintain all the benefits of the practice through time”