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Fit to Drop

By Kru Nick Hewitson of the Petchyindee Muay Thai Boxing Camp International

When competing in any full contact competition, whether it be Thai boxing, kick boxing or conventional boxing, a fighter's fitness, stamina, endurance and resilience to withstand both blows or pain is a crucial part of there ability to win. You can be the most highly skilled opponent in the world but if your fitness is inadequate, your ability cannot guarantee success, particularly against someone who may not be as technically good but whose fitness allows them to withstand the blows of there opponent.

Training for a fight is a personal journey of discovery , unlike going to a gym to get fit. The characteristics of training for a fight are initially sore aching muscles from the new routine of exercise , which quickly disappear once you have settled into your regular program.The fitness preparation for a fight is distinctly different (the characteristics of which are you start with a good state of fitness (above average usually) and then as you train rather than the training getting easier with each passing day , it actually becomes harder , as each day you push yourself still further , faster , harder )

Over 23 years ago, when I was preparing for my first Muay Thai fight, I was told, as so many fighters are, by my instructor at the time to ď train hard and fight easy.Ē  This is common sense, but what those simple few words are actually telling you is every day you train, you're in a fight.   The truth is that you're fighting yourself , your expectations , your physical limits ) and every day of training you have to win.

A few nights ago I was teaching a class in Detroit where I now live. The gym as you would expect in a town known for fighters has a large number of professional boxers and many of them take part in my conditioning class to get an extra something that they donít get elsewhere.   My training includes verbal and physical abuse. During this particular session we were training in a conditioning mode called overloading. Overloading is where you partner up everyone in the class with someone of the same physical size and shape and hopefully fitness level. You then get them doing exercises where they are competing against each other in a indirect way. For example, you place each person on either side of a punch bag , you explain the hanging vertically down is no mans land , and it is your job to advance the punch bag into your opponents territory (punch bag is inclined) and keep it there.  This makes  a good exercise is that it trains people both mentally and physically

By pitting them against their opponent (partner) they are also pitted against their own physical self limits. What I mean by that is that in order to benefit from this exercise, you have to compete, you have to hit the bag harder than your opponent in order to move it from the equilibrium of no mans land, and then you have to maintain that advantage by hitting the bag with more force and more often (faster) to increase your advance into their territory. 

Should your pace slow, your opponent can quickly take the initiative by hitting the bag twice to your once and so move it into your territory.  When performing this exercise (unlike the round of a fight) you donít know how long the duration of the contest will last and therefore the only way to guarantee your success is to take the lead and then keep it.  While working against the usual inertia of the punch bag , you are also working against the weight of the bag , due to its inclination and you have the additional force of your opponents blows adding to those of the bag itself.

So the physical demands on your body are much greater than you would get from just a regular bag workout, and as such the fatigue that this exercise induces in your body is tremendous.  Therefore the only factors keeping you going are your competitive nature (not wanting to lose to your opponent) and your mental strength that pushes you to carry on. What differentiates a fighter from a champion is the degree they are willing to push themselves as opposed to doing just enough to stay ahead of the competition.  In this way, they push themselves still further to break the spirit of their opponent and show them that they are a class apart.

Now during this particular class I was teaching, a large number of the participants were young and fit.  However, once taking the advantage they very quickly started to fail against there opponents as they werenít mentally prepared to keep going, fighting through relentless fatigue. I know that every time I entered the ring I never feared my opponent as I knew that I could withstand anything they could throw at me, after all I had put myself through much worth on a daily basis for week after week. And I knew that however painful there techniques might be, I was prepared and willing to take it.

In contact sports where fights can be won and lost in a split second, the ability of a fighter to fight and overcome there fatigue can mean the difference between winning and losing.












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