Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Year With Muay Thai

A lot can happen in a year.

Hell, a lot has certainly happen to me this past year: my family and I moved into our first home, went to Disneyworld for the first time in my life, switched careers, and started study an entirely new martial art: Muay Thai.

For this post, I want to focus on that last point.

Specifically, I want to talk about what I've learned, what I've accomplished, and what I want to get out of my training going forward.

What I've Learned - 


When I started training with the Raja Academy/Universal Tactics center here in Greenville, SC back in April of 2011 I already had a background in a couple other martial arts. However, I knew I'd still have a lot to learn. 

A lot would be an understatement.

You see, Muay Thai isn't just kickboxing. It really has more in common with what many consider traditional martial arts than it does with other combat sports.

Muay Thai has a very unique history and tradition. Muay Thai has its own brand of etiquette and culture. In Muay Thai, EVERYTHING starts with respect.

To be honest I wasn't expecting that.

Before I actually started training I figured I'd be training in just another kickboxing gym. Instead, I gained a family of like-minded martial artists.

I also learned to be more of a minimalist in my approach to training - which is saying a lot since I was already very minimalist beforehand.

I dropped a lot of "dead weight" in my training. I completely threw out those things that weren't allowing me to progress the way I wanted to progress.

I threw out Xingyi form work and seriously limited my exercise selection for strength and conditioning. Instead I focused the vast majority of my attention on zhan zhuang, shadowboxing, heavybag work, partner drills, and sparring.

And, man, have I improved.

What I've Accomplished - 


Over the past year I've gained a lot.

I've made gains in speed, strength, anaerobic power, and aerobic endurance. I have better reaction speed and my sparring has improved a huge amount. I've also noticed a marked increase in confidence, mental toughness, and ability to cope with stress.

These gains have allowed me to perform at high levels during rank testing and during Mud Runs.

I've also lost a lot.

Prior to training in Muay Thai I wasn't really taking care of myself the way I should have. I wasn't training very hard (sometime not at all) and eating like shit. So I gained a little weight and, generally, just felt like shit.

But after training in Muay Thai for just a few months I was in the best shape of my life:


I went from just over 200lbs & 19% bodyfat to 165lbs & 10% bodyfat. At this point I'm pretty happy with the way I look...and so is my wife. ;)

What's next


At this point, I plan on sticking with Muay Thai for as long as I am physically able. 

In fact, I plan on working towards an instructor level certification within the Thai Boxing Association. Not because I want to teach on my own but because I am passionate about the art and I love my gym. 

My coaches have been willing to share their art with me and gave a lot of themselves to teach me. I can't think of a better way to say "thank you" than truly devoting myself to that training. 

Obviously, competition is something which is important and I plan on competing in the future. However, I'll have to be cleared to fight by my gym prior to engaging in full contact Muay Thai, but it is still on my radar.

I'm very optimistic about my future in Muay Thai and I'm extremely happy that I started training in the art.

I encourage anyone who is considering or "on the fence" about training in Muay Thai to just give it a try - you won't be disappointed. 

Train Hard,
Josh Skinner


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