Every fighter has experienced it.. that moment where your bread and butter move is changed and then your entire fighting paradigm seems to have been changed as well. You question yourself, and maybe you even question your previous training. Every time I have worked with a new coach I have always felt like I was starting over at square one.
One of the most frustrating techniques for me throughout my entire fight career has been the round kick, which is also one of the most basic fundamental techniques there is. So why the struggle? I am pretty sure for every single coach I have ever worked with, I have been shown a completely different "round kick", which frustrated my Type-A personality to no end. Being a "nerdy academic" my entire life, I have grown quite used to the learned step-by-step way of doing things. 2+2=4 no matter how many times you work the equation. The answer never changes, and the method for solving the equation is always the same. This has been the brain I have wrestled with on the training floor for years. Every time I was shown a new round kick I would question myself and wonder whether my previous training had been wrong or if "this" particular round kick was just a different round kick... It was all very confusing for a time.
During my time here in Thailand training at Phuket Top Team I have worked primarily with Kru Athit Praditphon who has a style that works really well for me. So much of what he has taught me has really sunken in and filled in the gaps of confusion I've had on when to use certain techniques, which has led to countless "a-ha moments" while learning from him. However, almost everything he has taught me, or has corrected in my technique, he has prefaced with "I am not telling you what you do is wrong; I am showing you MY style."
Combat sports is a stylistic art and for every coach you work with you are likely going to learn what works best for them. I tell my own students this all the time. The techniques I show are those that have worked well for me in my career. While I know how to teach other techniques, I don't like to show something if it hasn't worked out well for me in the past because I haven't developed an emotional buy-in for the technique. For instance, I much prefer round knees compared to straight knees. Perhaps this is because I landed numerous round knees to the body and head in my first professional fight for Glory Kickboxing, while I have found little success with the straight knee as of yet. So while I teach both, many of the combinations I show that include knees tend to involve the round knee because I have been "emotionally rewarded" for that one more often. However, I don't think this concept of style rather than an idea of right or wrong is always clarified to students, which I intend to make an effort to begin doing more often.
As the days have gone on I have continued to work primarily with Kru Praditphon, but a few of the other Krus have begun to step in and add their input to my training as well. It was after my first pad session with Kru Pariwat Wisripat that the entire concept of style really hit home in a whole new light. Everything I worked with him was completely different than what I had been working on with Kru Praditphon. In fact, the first few rounds made me feel like I had never done pad work before, something I have always felt frustration over when working with a new coach. What was really exciting for me though was being able to see for the first time how BOTH styles applied. I wasn't battling right over wrong technique in my mind. Instead I was adding to my tool box. Everything I had learned from Kru Praditphon was still in the forefront of my mind, but I was picking up new little tricks from Kru Wisripat's style as well.
Perhaps the problem in the past has been that I tended to only work with one coach, and this was one of the first times I had worked with two people at the same time and got to really experience the difference in styles in the present time rather than comparing past and present learning. Instead of being a good student and adding to my toolbox, I was getting stuck in the paradigm of right and wrong techniques. Such a mentality was only ever going to stunt my growth and plateau my career as a fighter. My time here at Phuket Top Team has taught me I have much to learn about not only teaching, but learning as well. I think learning how to be a good student is just as important as learning to be a good coach, and perhaps the only way to become a good coach is by learning to become a good student first.
"In Muay Thai, nothing is wrong. We do whatever we want. That is the Thai way. Sometimes we punch. Sometimes we kick. And sometimes we kick, but we kick this way instead of that way. There is no wrong in Muay Thai; there are just different styles. This is my style." ~Kru Athit Praditphon
Thank you to each and every one of the Krus at Phuket Top Team that has contributed to my learning as a fighter, as a student, and as someone who wishes to pass on this knowledge to others. Your impact on me has been a permanent one. <3
A lover of words, magic, and the idea of changing the world by encouraging the pursuit of one dream at a time. Living the dream myself as a professional boxer, kickboxer, and MMA fighter.