So you have been thinking about wanting to be a competitive fighter… in Muay Thai, MMA, UFC…
To begin with I have to say that I wouldn’t wish the “fighter lifestyle” on most people. What many do not understand is that the road to being a competitive kickboxer is not just long. It is not just difficult. It is also riddled with the inevitable potholes of confusion, self-doubt, and disappointment.
I wouldn’t recommend you approach your coach about being a fighter unless you have been training with the fight team for quite a while. And even then someone usually approaches you when you are ready. But the people who approach me about wanting to take a fight typically have a strong work ethic. They also tend to have a high expectation of themselves. Their drive to win usually takes them to the higher ability levels of the PHAS3 Muay Thai community. Those things however are not the only things I look for in a competitor.
I know they imagine themselves going through a great fight camp, winning against a great opponent, receiving praise from their team and loved ones, and then repeating that process until they get that belt around their waist. They expect that classic “Rocky” movie montage of inspiration and success.
But here is the thing: the main ingredient of disappointment is expectation. You will get hurt during that fight camp. You will have fights drop out at the last minute. You will doubt your abilities and at times even doubt your coach. And at some point you will lose. Even if they say they understand these things might happen
they usually don’t expect them to. I have seen it too many times to count. I take a fighter through the process and when they hit that wall of disappointment they falter, and then they drop out.
So when a student tells me “I want to be a fighter,” my response isn’t “Will you work hard? Are you strong? Can you endure discomfort? Do you have a drive to win?” These things are almost always true. What I do ask is ”WHY?” Why do you want to be a fighter? What are you hoping for as a fighter? If you are hoping to test your limitations, and see how you handle disappointment. If you are looking to face your demons regardless of how scary they are. If want to know that whether you win or lose you can be a better version of yourself…then just maybe my response will be “OK. Lets do this.”
Ben Brown is the founder and Head Coach at PHAS3 Martial Arts, a Muay Thai focused martial arts school in Santa Rosa, California. PHAS3 offers a family atmosphere that welcomes students of all skill levels from beginners to the most competitive fighters. PHAS3 is a Woodenman Certified Muay Thai training school.