I was reading through one of my favourite blogs yesterday, Muay Thai PROS, when I came across this post. I advise you to read the post yourself, but basically the post lists 5 reasons why you should have a muay Thai fight. Reason #1 on the list is “Your Trainer Thinks You Should”. Now, I’m not going to beat about the bush here – that’s the worst reason to have a fight. I’m sure Steve has his own reasons for stating this, and maybe I’ve taken it out of context. But the post brings up a very important point, regardless. Let me explain.
Trainers, Thai or foreign, don’t always have your best interests at heart. In fact, if your trainer does have your best interests at heart then you’re doing OK for yourself. The fact is, as Steve mentioned in his post, every Thai trainer wants you to fight – regardless of your skill level. I’ve lost count of the amount of bums I’ve seen get knocked out in Phuket stadiums, or seen two totally unskilled “fighters” hopelessly swinging at each other. Those people shouldn’t have fought at all. But did their trainers want them to fight? Of course!
Let’s be honest, it’s ridiculously easy to get a muay Thai fight in Thailand. When I first came to Thailand, I made the mistake of thinking that my trainer actually had my best interests at heart. If he told me to jump, I jumped. I let him dictate my training and fight schedule to suit him and his pockets.
In Thailand, a foreigner with the potential to fight is a walking ฿ sign. The Trainers won’t give a crap if you get KO’d in the first minute or not, as long as they get their cut. You see, you shouldn’t feel “flattered” if your trainer wants you to have a muay Thai fight. He’ll be saying the same thing to anyone who walks through the gym doors who has two arms and legs. They’ll be your best friend if they think they can convince you to fight.
What I’m trying to say is, a trainer telling you that you’re ready to fight doesn’t mean s**t. Here’s an example; every gym I went to in Bangkok, bar one, bent over backwards to try and get me to fight in Lumpinee stadium. Why? Because the Lumpinee promoters can get away with paying foreigners a meager 4,000 baht for the privilege, and the gym will pocket a bigger percentage. Why would a foreigner accept 4,000 baht for fighting on a weekend, non-televised show in a half-empty stadium against another potentially unskilled foreigner, with a very good chance of the fight being a mismatch? Because they were “flattered”, that’s why. And that’s the same reason that person will go home with a broken arm and a desire never to fight again.
Note: not all Thai trainers have this mentality, but the majority of the ones that I’ve come across in numerous gyms do. I’m not saying they’re bad people, I’m saying that there’s a big difference in culture. Once you’ve lived in Thailand for a while, you’ll begin to understand the Thai mentality, although you’ll never completely understand it.
As for western trainers wrongly trying to persuade you to fight, it’s not usually so much about making money. It’s usually either lack of knowledge i.e. they actually think that you are ready to fight when, in fact, you’re not. Or, they are on an ego trip and want to train a group of fighters, perhaps because they didn’t have the balls to fight themselves so they now want to live their dream through somebody who does. Either way, you have to have your wits about you in the fight game.
You may think I’m making a big deal about nothing, but there’s a few good reasons why you shouldn’t accept a muay Thai fight “willy nilly”. One reason is, as I stated above, you may have such a bad experience that you never want to fight again. I had an amateur kickboxing fight in the UK in 2006. I wasn’t ready to fight and I got my ass kicked. I didn’t think I had what it took to be a fighter after that fight. I was demoralised and didn’t have the right people around me who were experienced enough to council me after the fight. I quit. I didn’t fight again until 5 years later. I wasted 5 years of my life because I didn’t believe in myself after such a beating. Fact is, I thought I was ready for that fight, but I wasn’t.
So how do you know when you are ready for a muay Thai fight?
If you are in any doubt as to whether you’re ready or not, you’re probably not. But you should consult a senior fighter in your gym whom you trust. An experienced fighter should be able to tell you if you have the basic skills down and the mental aptitude for fighting. Either one of these attributes (technical skill and mental stability) can be nurtured, but the mental attribute is a takes a lot more work.
Of course, these fictional trainers I’m talking about exist. Believe me, they are everywhere. But not all trainers have the same traits as these. There are obviously some great trainers who produce world champions. These said trainers have the physical and mental skills required for such a job, but there are too many trainers out there who have neither. Fighting is NOT a game, and shouldn’t be treated as such.
I’m not saying you should never have a muay Thai fight. I’m saying you should do it for the right reasons, and not because your trainer told you too!
Have you ever had a bad experience with a trainer? Do you think my synopsis is correct? Drop me a comment.
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