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Training Diary: March 18

  • Published in Interviews

As I looked to begin my Muay Thai training, I realized I was somewhat underprepared from a gym attire standpoint. As someone who hasn’t worked out in a few years, I knew I needed a few things before I started. So, prior to class #1 I hit the store and bought... shoes. Why did I do this? I have no idea. I’ve watched plenty of Muay Thai. I understand the rules of Muay Thai. And shoes? Not exactly Muay Thai gear. And yet there I was, shiny new workout shoes in hand. It took about 5 seconds of being in the gym to realize what a stupid purchase that had been.

But my purchasing journey had just begun. At class #2, we got a quick talking down about coming to class unprepared – it’s a Muay Thai class, you need Muay Thai gear. Which is correct. My only problem? I’m not rolling in money, so needed to find things that were inexpensive, but still effective. I made a list: Gloves, Shin pads, Mouth guard, Hand wraps, Head gear, Cup, Muay Thai trunks, Ankle braces.

After some deliberation, I decided to put head gear, trunks, and ankle braces on the back burner and focus on the rest. Now, the trouble is, there are an unbelievable amount of options out there in cyberspace for these things. Where do you turn? How cheap can you go before you are getting something worthless? And is that $99 pair really so much better than the $59 pair? Here’s what I ended up with:

Gloves Shin Guards Hand WrapsGLOVES – I started searching for these at the local used sporting goods store, which quickly revealed itself to be a mistake. Partly because the nice, enthusiastic salesman had no clue what he was talking about and told me emphatically I did NOT want a boxing glove for Muay Thai, but instead some sort of large, fingered glove? I still don’t get what he was talking about – those weird Bruce Lee gloves no one ever uses? But the bigger problem is that you can’t buy boxing gloves used, because once they’ve gone to the used store, the padding is shot, and your knuckles will be too if you use them. Of course. So, off to the Sport Authority to try on their stock. Lots of options here, most of them uncomfortable, and many of them felt downright unsafe. None more so than the Muhammed Ali signature line – maybe it was just the way it fit my own hand, but I felt like using those would result in both broken knuckles and a broken wrist. The Greatest deserves better. I tried on everything they had, threw some punches at the nearby heavy bag, and in the end I settled on a pair of Everlast 16 oz. MMA Sparring Gloves (pictured). They fit well, they’re comfortable – I’m happy. Cost: $40.

SHIN PADS – This was the toughest one, as I found no stores with any in stock that I could try out (Although Mr. Eager Used Goods Clerk suggested soccer shin guards. No thanks.), which meant I would have to order online and hope for the best. I scouted and scouted, comparing tons of stores, prices, reading reviews – it’s exhausting, particularly when shopping for a product you’ve never once used before. I ended up ordering from MMAStop.com, partly because they are local, based just outside of Chicago, and I like supporting local if I can. Turned out to be a bit of a process as the first pair I ordered were out of stock, and the replacement was out of stock too. I exchanged a number of e-mails with the folks there, who were extremely nice and accommodating. They ended up recommending a slightly more expensive pair, but giving it to me at the original price since it had been a hassle. Very nice customer service, and a thumbs up to MMAStop.com from me. I ended up with a pair from RevGear (pictured). Have not yet used them, but they feel very sturdy and well constructed, and they fit me nicely. Cost (with shipping): $32

MOUTH GUARD – Just a basic $10 molded version. Covers just the top teeth, but it will do for now. I hope.

HAND WRAPS – Picked these up on the glove trip. Various options here, but I went with the Everlast 180 (pictured). Biggest difficulty so far is trying to get them on correctly – still not sure I’m getting the absolute best protection from them, particularly around the thumb, which is very hard to wrap. Cost: $10.

CUP – There are a ton of very expensive options for supporters and cups, but frankly, I don’t see the need to spend so much when you can get a perfectly fine, basic version at Target for $10. That’s what I got - it fits fine, supports fine, no complaints.

So there we go. Total cost for gloves, shin guards, mouth piece, cup, hand wraps: $102. Head gear, better shorts, and ankle sleeves are yet to come. Did I make good purchases? Well, the only way to find out is to get in there and start using them. We’ll give that a go next week and report back on the findings.

This is an area where I really want to hear from you. What gear do you use? What works for you and what have you had a bad experience with? It would be great if those starting off could have some good info on this rather confusing area from those of you who have been at it.

Training Diary is a weekly series documenting my journey starting Muay Thai training. For more on this series, read the first entry here.  I train at Conviction Fitness & Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL www.convictionfitness.com.

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Weekly Poll Results

  • Published in Kickboxing

Last week's question: Is Giorgio Petrosyan the #1 fighter in the world in any combat sport?  The results surprised me a bit...

39% - No way

35% - Yes!

26% - Close, but not quite there

I didn't expect No way to be the winner here, though it was close.  I am curious who people think is so clearly ahead of him.  GSP? Silva? Pacquiao? Mayweather?

This week: I've started a new series here at LiverKick.com discussing my journey through Muay Thai training and encouraging others to share their experiences as well.  So, I am curious - do you train in any martial arts, whether it's Muay Thai, kickboxing, MMA, Jiu Jitsu, or anthing else?

Vote now!

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Training Diary: April 8

  • Published in News

This week, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to say that I have entered a bold new world in my training. A world that is both terrifying and exhilarating. A world of pain and reward. A world where my wrong moves have very clear and immediate consequences.

Because today, for the first time, I started sparring.

Now, let me just say that this was very light sparring – minimal contact, no clinching, no elbows or knees. All of which was fine by me. But man, what a great experience this was. Not necessarily for the reasons you may think though.

First lesson learned – I suck. Really, I’m not very good. And while this may sound disheartening, it’s not. I’m very new to this game, and looked at this sparring as a chance to find my weaknesses – see where I am struggling so that I can focus on those spots for next time. We sparred in a round robin format, and the guys involved were at various levels. Having a chance to spar with someone who is both above you, and a very generous teacher, is extremely helpful. He caught me, a lot, but every time was able to give me a quick pointer on how to correct my problems. This is a huge help.

Second lesson learned – DEFENSE. I’m not surprised to discover that this is my weakest area. Always has been for me; whether I’m competing in an actual sport, playing chess, or playing a Nintendo game, I’m much more offensive than defensive minded. And of course that leads me to some troubles in sparring. My main defensive difficulty is checking kicks. In the heat of the moment, to my still training body, the natural instinct when a kick comes in is to deflect it with the hand. Which of course is a great way to get yourself punched right in the face. But the idea of quickly getting my leg up for the check is tough – partly because it’s still a motion I have to think about a bit instead of doing naturally, and partly because I’m still too heavy on my feet, so checking requires some weight re-distribution before I can check. That’s too long, and by then, the kick has landed. So then the next time my mind says to me “you’ll never get that leg up in time, just swat the kick away with your hand.” And I do. And I get punched in the face. Have to work on silencing that instinct.

Over the course of this session I did manage to develop the motion of keeping my lead leg very light on the ground and frequently bringing it up in a check motion. And, for now at least, it worked! Not only did this help me check kicks, it also made it easier to throw a teep off the lead leg, or a quick stepping right kick. I definitely didn’t master this, or suddenly start blocking everything and landing every kick – but I improved. And a day later, as I feel some minor aches and pains, I’m pleased to know that little improvement happened.  And I absolutely can't wait to get back in there and try it again.

Up next – that tough boxer guy who keeps up the pressure with charging punches. How to keep him off me?

Training Diary is a weekly series documenting my journey starting Muay Thai training. For more on this series, read the first entry here. I train at Conviction Fitness & Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL www.convictionfitness.com.

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Training Diary: April 1

  • Published in Kickboxing

It’s all about the little things.

The pivot on your foot. The rotation in your hips. The placement of your hand after the jab. The step through on your punch. The little things.

Last week’s entry led to a great discussion in the comments about these sorts of issues. As a result, they were fresh in my mind this week, and as fate would have it, they were also a big theme of this week’s training. I started the week paired up with a new sparring partner – one who was considerably above me in terms of experience. This ended up being a great thing, as he went out of his way to give me very specific pointers on ways to improve my form – all of which were very helpful and most appreciated.

The only difficulty is – there are just so many little things to remember. Let’s take one combo we worked: a relatively simple jab/cross. Combining instructor Andre’s pointers with my partner’s tips, I ended up with this list of things to watch for:

1. On the jab, snap my hand back up into place after the punch in order to protect my head.

2. Keep my hands a bit off to the side of my head, not right in front as boxers do.

3. On a double jab, don’t bring the first jab back all the way, and step forward as you bring it back so that the second punch has more forward motion.

4. Give a small pivot on the foot to the jab.

5. On the cross, pivot my whole body, especially in the hips.

6. Bring the cross back right away.

I think that’s it for this 3 punch combo, though I’m sure as I get these down there will be more to add to that list.

When I write them out and think about them one by one, each seems simple and easy to execute. But when throwing the combo at anything resembling a decent speed, it becomes much harder. I get in my head and before I know it, I’ve remembered to bring my hand back, but the second jab has come and gone and I forgot the step. Clearly the key is to drill, drill, drill. Put these motions into your muscle memory so that your brain doesn’t need to do the work – your body does it for you. I suspect that will come, and I look forward to it – because right now I can’t possibly imagine adding responding to an opponent’s moves into the mix. And luckily, I don’t have to. For now, I’ll keep my mind on the hips, the pivot, the step, the guard, the... well, the little things.

For those of you who have been training, I’m sure it varies quite a bit from person to person, but when did you notice yourself getting out of your head and letting your body guide these motions more?

And one more highly practical question for the day – best way to wash hand wraps?

Training Diary is a weekly series documenting my journey starting Muay Thai training. For more on this series, read the first entry here. I train at Conviction Fitness & Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL www.convictionfitness.com.


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Training Diary: April 16

  • Published in News

Second time sparring this week, and I’ve quickly become obsessed with this side of training. Working on technique is enjoyable, vital, and very helpful, but obviously not quite as satisfying as giving a test to what you’ve learned against an opponent – even if it is just sparring.

For my 2nd time through, I’ve noticed a few things about my burgeoning “style,” if you can even call it that. For one, I’m much more reliant on kicks than on punches. I think this comes from two things. For one, I just like fighters who kick more, and so that’s what I am more used to seeing. And two, for these light sparring sessions we don’t wear headgear. As a result, I’m not entirely comfortable throwing a punch at my partner just yet. Because my punching technique is still developing, I am not yet confident at both executing the punch properly, but at the same time pulling it a bit so that I don’t hit my partner fully. Seems like that’s a tricky line that I’m still trying to find. No worries though, as in the meantime, I’m improving my kicking speed, technique, and defense, and managed to land a number of clean leg kicks and push kicks this time, while also blocking kicks much more effectively.

Speaking of defense, this continues to be an area in need of work, especially where punches are concerned. When punches start coming in, I find it tough to keep my composure and cover up, and instead end up trying to block each individual punch – which only leaves my head exposed and gets me tagged. Been watching a lot of Remy Bonjasky, which helps. He’s very skilled at dropping his head, bringing his gloves in, and tucking in his elbows when the punches come in, while still firing back with kicks when there’s an opening. That’s what I’m aiming for. I also used this little Rob Kamen combo I found online, which worked for me as well.

Last thought for the day is a sort of philosophical training question I’ve been contemplating – what constitutes being a good training partner, particularly when drilling techniques? Is it helpful to just keep quiet and let your partner throw the combo? To give words of encouragement? If there’s something they could improve, do you speak up? How about movement, should I circle, so that they are working different angles? Of course, different people respond to different things, but it’s a good question to ask – not only in how you can best help your partner, but how they can best help you.

Any thoughts?

Training Diary is a weekly series documenting my journey starting Muay Thai training. For more on this series, read the first entry here. I train at Conviction Fitness & Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL www.convictionfitness.com.

 

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Yokkao Opening Biggest Training Center in Bangkok

  • Published in Muay Thai

On June 27th Yokkao informed us all via Twitter that they will be opening the biggest Muay Thai and MMA gym in Bangkok. 

The partnership contract has been signed by Richard Cohen founder and CEO of "The Lab" gym in Bangkok with this new agreement "Fight Lab Yokkao Training Center" will open in August. "The Lab" is located on the first and second floor of the RSU Tower in Sukhumvit Soi 31, Bangkok and the new gym will be taking over the third floor, this location is only a short walk from the Phrom Phong Skytrain Station. "Fight Lab Yokkao Training Center" will have over 400 sq meters of space consisting of a cage, ring, matted area and all of Yokkao's highest quality equipment for training. A juice bar, massage area, and Yokkao shop where you can relax and buy any Yokkao equipment you might like will also be included.

We wish both Yokkao and "The Lab" the best of luck and success with the new project, and I hope to visit soon.

(below: left: Richard Cohen (“The Lab” founder and CEO) right: Mark Simmerman (manager Fight Lab Yokkao Training Center)

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