You Aren't Made of Glass

Whether you are a fighter or simply a student of the game, training Muay Thai—at an authentic gym, where the coaches push you hard—is not a normal workout. It tests you mentally, physically, and emotionally to a much greater extent than lifting weights, running, or other group classes like crossfit. This is amplified for fighters, who should be training 6 days a week, running 6 days a week, and keeping a healthy diet.

Now many gyms shy away from a statement like this. Perhaps it scares away potential clientele, or perhaps it is said only in regards to advanced students and fighters. But I would argue against that stance. One of the greatest benefits of hard Muay Thai training is realizing you are not made of glass. Not physically, not emotionally, and not mentally.

If you are training hard and giving it your all, eventually you will break. When a coach calls for 200 knees on the bag, you will gas at 100. After a terrible class, where nothing clicked, you may feel absolutely gutted or even cry (I have seen this happen with many fighters, male and female.). There will be days when you feel like everyone is improving at a much greater rate than you. Days of doubt—too old, too young, too out of shape, too scared, not naturally talented—the list goes on. Days when a fighter will get kicked in the liver, dropped, and feel like they cannot breath.

An old picture from one of Coach Joe’s last amateur fights.

An old picture from one of Coach Joe’s last amateur fights.

The day will come—assuming you are giving maximum effort and not dogging it—and that day may come again and again and again. But when it hits, you have a choice to make. And I truly believe it is a choice. A choice to keep grinding, or a choice to give up and say, “I can’t.”.

Every time you say, “I can’t”, you build a glass ceiling. You establish a false limitation. Every time you push through it, every time you give that extra bit, you realize, ‘Holy shit, I am not made of glass.’

I am not a person that looks for inspirational quotes online, or reads self help books about being ‘the best you’. I am not talking about that nonsense. I am talking about the little battles that go on in your head every time you feel like you want to quit.

Every time you make the decision that you won’t quit, you gain a little XP, you get a bit stronger.

I liken it to building up the strength of your shins. When you first start Muay Thai, everything hurts. Your shins get bruised, kicking the bag hurts, your toes turn into little, red, balls of pain. But as you train, your nerves adjust to the contact. Your shin creates tiny, tiny micro-fractures and then rebuilds stronger. What once was hard becomes easy. The same rule applies to your training, your ability to push through adversity, and the strength of your will.

So whether you fight or not, I urge you to take yourself to that breaking point every class. Take yourself there and then keep pushing. For those who do not fight, and train for fitness or self-improvement, I promise you that this mentality will help you in your day to day. It will reduce anxieties, improve grit, and make you a happier person.

For those who do fight—it’s a prerequisite. You will get hurt in a fight, the pre-fight nerves may be particularly bad one training camp for no identifiable reason, the whole crowd will be cheering against you. The only way Joe and I knew how to improve was to gun it, to be the hardest working, most intentional people in the room. Everything with maximum effort and everything for a reason. And when we broke, so be it. There was always the next training session, the next drill, and another day. We aren’t made of glass, and neither are you.