What I Learnt From Training With A Muay Thai World Champion
As a long-time fan of combat sports, Muay Thai was always a spectacle to watch. Originating from Thailand, this striking-based martial arts was raw, intense and the competitors always seemed to possess impressive physiques. You could say, it's the exact opposite of me. So imagine my apprehension when I was tasked to participate in a one-on-one taining session with Muay Thai World Champion and instructor Nong-o Gaiyanghadao at Evolve Mixed Martial Arts's latest state-of-the-art academy at Clarke Quay. Here's what happened when you pair an out-of-shape deskbound writer against one of the best fighters in the history of the sport.
It was not as intimidating as I thought
I was caught off guard by how warm and friendly Nong-o was. His cheerful disposition immediately put me at ease. Despite his dimunitive size, I was pretty sure that he could easily cut me down to size if he wanted to. But Nong-o was calm and patient in teaching me the basic Muay Thai stances and fundumentals. Despite my lack of knowledge, I felt empowered to practice them straight away and that was down to the encouragement of the coach.
Muay Thai uses all of your limbs
Through punches, elbows, knees and kicks, I started to appreaciate how deadly 'The Art of Eight Limbs' was. It really utilised your entire body to your advantage and the economy of movement made it all the more devastating as a fighting style. "Muay Thai is widely recognised as the most effective striking art in the world," explained Nong-o. Having had the chance to practice pad work with him, I could imagine how such a training would turn anyone into a human weapon eventually. Also, the spinning back elbow was a pretty cool move, I must admit.
It's the ultimate cardio workout
The 45 minute session felt like an eternity. Alternating between short bursts of high energy and little rest, Muay Thai could be compared to any sort of high-intensity interval training or HIIT. The flurry of non-stop attacking combinations gassed me out and it was all by design. "You can burn up to 1,000 calories in a one-hour Muay Thai class," Nong-o revealed.
Muay Thai keeps you alert and trains your focus
It's not just about offensive moves as well. I learnt how to block and defend myself against strikes and to always protect my head at all times. It got increasingly difficult as you tire out and gradually drop your guard. Therefore, the mental aspect was a key element to the training. "Not only does it get you into the best shape of your life physically, training any form of martial art also helps to build discipline, self-confidence, focus, and work ethic that you can carry into your everyday life," said Nong-o.
It made me feel really good
There's no greater satisfaction than a post-workout glow. While the session was intense and physical, the endorphins released put me in a super good mood afterwards. Imagine how it would feel to do it regularly. If you had a long day at work, there's no better way to destress. It definitely made me want to come back for more.
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