T Nation

Muay Thai Not Working Out For Me


I have a background in Goju-Ryu Karate, about 10 years and in a very traditional dojo, everything I know is old school.
Now I am training Muay Thai in a very "light" kinda training gym, I mean light as in everything is about hands on, kick the bag, punch the mitts, sweat and train hard and don't focus on technique system.

I am trying real hard but I seem to be getting nowhere, the main trainer is always on my back about my techniques being too straight forward, my hands being not always "fixed" on my head, that I do everything too karate-like.
As far as always calling me out in front of the whole class, making me train and spar with the absolute begginers and well basically the techique its just not sticking with me.

Has anyone ever done this transition? I mean, it feels like black is white, roundkick is now front kick, hell even roundkicks are very different than my trusted mawashis, stances are even opposite, short fast attacks are now deep soft, everything is backwards.

Any tips?


It's tough man. You've got a certain set of movement patterns ingrained in you that don't directly translate to a competitive sport like MT. When I began switching from Goju-ryu to boxing, I was fortunate that I had been doing MMA while I was in Goju-ryu, so I learned both movements at the same time, so to speak.

You've got to really, really use your head and think about the movements you're executing. You're going to automatically chamber your hand, you're going to want to kick flat footed instead of going up on your toes like MT guys do.

Eventually, you'll see things start working themselves in. Your hand will be by your chin automatically, you'll see a body punch coming and you'll block it with your elbow instead of those stupid hand blocks they teach. But it's going to take a lot of practice. Shadowboxing in front of a mirror is going to be your best friend for a loooonnnnggg time.

And by the way, if you're attacked when you don't expect it, or put under stress in the street, don't be surprised if you react with Goju-ryu instead of MT. The first one you learn is damn near impossible to break without much repetition.

Bottom line- keep at it. You'll progress, even if it's slowly, and you'll be a better fighter for it.


you have 10 plus years in one kind of style

you have to realize that the style you studied in is not the only style.
you really have to open your eyes and your mind and adapt to change.

stop doing things the way you have been told and do as your told now.
its simple in concept but not in practice.
deep down you wan to compare things to the old way just as you did in this post.

"everythings backwards" well thats the first thing you have to change
this is not karate and you cant compare anything to it.

dont think of it as a transition, your not switching anything you are learning a new way of doing things.

and yes I have done it I have black belts in several different styles getting my first one in 1990ish at age 10


Damn..sounds like you're having a rough time. I'm still trying to get a mental picture of the type of Muay Thai gym that doesn't focus on technique. If that is truly the case...then find another gym...if possible.


That's my take, to slowly re program my fighting skills, the trainer is not really too patient, he keeps yelling "That's all bad, NO NO!".
I am being as humble as I can but I do feel like saying sometimes, "Give me a god damn break numbnuts! I am working hard to change don't you see?"
Funny enough, I am regarded as a good fighter, I've had a few sparring sessions with the top fighters at the gym and they want to put me in the tournament team, which is an honor to me, they do show me the patience and respect I would expect from a serious fighter.

BTW not al those hand blocks are useless, 95% defense is evation, sometimes I feel that if I keep clinching my arms I'll get pounded, which is fine with gloves, but bear nuckles and you are in for a world of hurt.

Thank you for the shadowboxing tip.


This is my point too. That's why I am switching to Muay Thai, there is a lot more than Okinawan Karate out there.

And I gotta say, some of the elbow strikesand knee techniques are awesome, the combo based system is outstanding.

But how do you empty your glass? I mean the first couple of kicks I do fine, but the last 5 out of a set of 20 are definetly karate. It's when I get worked up, exhausted or very focused on the combat that I don't notice my background, until I hear the yell "NO NO! it's all wrong! go hit the bag!".




hmmm....souinds like that's a crappy school, or at least crappy instructor. i don't see why any instructor would talk down to a paying customer like that, especialy a beginer.

as far as helping with MT, shadowboxing helped me a lot when i was younger. i basically taught myself until i got older and had a chance to train with somebody else, so that was the best way for me to evaluate my form. also, jumping rope helps with MT and boxing more than people realize....something about developing rhythm.

good luck, bro.


I think you should give that defense system the benefit of the doubt. Getting hit on the outside of your arm or elbow can hurt, yes, but is far better than dropping your guard in order to block.


Agreed. 100%.


I'm sorry. I don't mean to come out hard against the blocking system, but I really hated the low blocks that goju-ryu taught. Some of their slap blocks and quicker middle blocks worked well.

As far as low blocks, though, I'd rather drop my elbow and try to break the guys hand, then have my hand in a quick position to get up to my chin instead of doing the big sweeping movement that is the low block and then having the other guy go high on me.


You mean Gedan Uke? Totally useless, I only see it fit as against crotch kicks or to get out of a quick lock.
Yet Uchi Uke I think it's called, the totally vertical one with the palm of the hand is very useful on real life situations, it enables you on a instant power position towering the other dude, plus it's scary to see someone handle your punch like that.

I am totally off point now, to get back, Muay Thai rocks, I just want to do it well.


time, thats what you need.
you say you do fine first few times meaning you are thinking about it more and its spot on. then when you get tired you start reverting back to the old habits so to speak.

give it some more time and try really hard still and eventually the tech of this style will get into habit for you as well.


And not to defend what could be just bad coaching. But some MT places are pretty old school in their approach, which in some ways is good and bad. Good as it teaches a respect for the different forms, but can be bad if the coach gets a little too macho.

And I hate to say it but it doesn't sound like your school is that bad, not saying it's great but there are worse, trust.

where is your school anyway if I may ask?

I agree with Maddy D you need time. You are adding a new skill set, which is important for any fighter because you never know what kind of situation your going to find yourself in. Plus, you'll find the movement and cutting off angles will help your Karate.

Also, are you learning the traditional upright stance or Tiger style? I find the tiger style to be more comfortable, and more complimentary to my body mechanics.

Overall give your self time, and focus on your mechanics, practice them, personally I like the challenge of it. I transitioned from wrestling to Aikido, then Eskrima to MT and BJJ, next I will be pursuing Gung Fu. It's a journey try to enjoy it. And when your coach rags you, suck it up and take it a little longer.

MT is just like that sometimes.


If your class doesn't focus on technique find a different academy.


not to hijack, but I really like the chinese arts...which style(s) are you looking at pursuing?

At the OP--I feel your pain. You dedicated a very large portion of your life to one art, and now it's all changing underneath your feet... stick with it, it will get better.


Don't worry about the classes bro alot of oldschool Thai fighters turned coach teach the class like that, and its really hard to just pick it up. I went from 3 years of Taekwondo to Muay Thai and you can imagine how that went, suffice to say our instructor was old school and would hit you with a stick if you did it wrong.

The biggest thing is just to do the technique slow and spar light from the get go, because if someone throws a kick and you try to take it you'll learn alot quicker to take it with your shin, also work the heavy bag alot for the thai kicks, there should be some videos on youtube that show you how to pivot correctly and the appropriate distance to skip your foot out too before throwing your hip out and kicking thru.

The other alternative and it's alot easier this way. Is to to find a guy that is KRU Certified and learn from him, they follow more of a curriculum and stress technique before speed, power, or even learning anything outside of a right or left thai kick or jab cross hook combination.


I am going through the same sorta thing, kick one way punch another doesn't work in Thai. But the Kru's at my club are very good about pointing out what I'm doing wrong and what/how to improve.

Find a new club.


Thank you everyone for your replys.
I am sticking to it, I had a fight with one of the advanced guys, only boxing allowed and it was supposed to be a light sparr and it got messy, I really didn't know how it escalated but I did play along.
It was a real eye opener, karate does not work in plain boxing, not for me.
Improvised some and I actually came out ahead, albeit with a headache for several days.
I am finding that small things make a world of difference, toes out vs toes in does a lot for your coordination when doing MT.
I also believe that the MT round kick is overrated, but still pretty dammed strong.

Thanks all, I'll keep drilling.



Glad you're toughing it out.