We get asked all the time “when should I take my first fight?”, so many times in fact, that we’ve decided to write an article sharing our thoughts on this commonly asked question.
You may be thinking, why does it deserve an article? Why can’t you just tell us a clear, “it takes X amount of time”? Well, simply put, there is no straightforward answer. What we aim to do within this article is to help YOU indicate whether you are ready for your first fight and if it isn’t now, what you need to do to get there.
Gassing out is no fun
Finding yourself out of breath running for the bus? You’re likely not ready for your first muay thai fight. We’ve picked a rather comical example. However, you’d be surprised how many students believe that they are ready yet struggle with the simplest tasks.
How can you tell if your Cardio is up to scratch?
1. Heavy bag work
Getting into the habit of doing rounds on your heavy bag can be an excellent benchmark to get an idea of where you cardio is at. Set the timer for same amount of duration and rounds that your fight will be and treat each second like a real muay thai fight. If you find your technique is slipping early on due to fatigue, your cardio needs work. If you’re finding that the power has vanished after the first 30 seconds, your cardio needs work. To ensure you’re getting an accurate benchmark reading, make sure to treat the session as a fight (both offensively and defensively).
If you’re finding it difficult to keep up with sparring partners in the gym, it’s a pretty clear indicator that you’re not ready for a fight yet. Obviously, this depends on who your sparring partners are, but if fatigue seems to be the underlying reason why you’re getting smashed, then your cardio needs some serious work before you even consider a fight.
Your first muay thai fight is going to be a full-on explosion of the senses! As a result, you are likely to experience some adrenal fatigue on some level or another. This simply means that some of your cardio is going to get eaten up by your nervous energy. Therefore always account for this while training, your cardio in the gym isn’t necessarily going to be your cardio in the fight, so make sure to do that bit extra to mitigate the difference.
Fundamentals win fights
Although fighting is exciting, believe it or not, it can be potentially dangerous. Fundamentals are your bread and butter, while the hay-maker can be a show stopper, a solid jab will bring home the bacon time after time. An amateur fighter with solid cardio and fundamentals will find themselves collecting wins comfortably in the early stages of their journey.
How can you tell if your fundamentals are ready?
1. Pad work
How often are you hitting the sweet spot on the pads? You know that feeling you get when you land that combination just right? That should be the norm rather than the exception. This is a clear indicator that you’ve adopted the technique and will be able to execute it as desired. Solid pad work sessions are excellent for both improving your technique but also highlighting which areas need improvement.
As a simulation of a real fight, sparring does offer some of the best insights. If you seem completely lost at sea with punches coming at you, then a fight probably isn’t the best idea. By drilling the fundamentals and having the confidence you are comfortable using them in sparring, this should be the green light that you need to assure yourself that you have the tools for your first muay thai fight.
Make sure to look after your training partners, learn more in our video here.
Build up a memory bank of the typical kinds of attacks that will be coming your way. This will make reading them in a fight much easier. Additionally, becoming more aware of yourself as a fighter ie. genetic advantages/disadvantages, will allow for you to better implement the fundamentals effectively in a fight scenario.
3 Regularly hitting the boxing gym
There is little that prepares you better for a muay thai fight than training on a regular basis. If you’re finding that you aren’t able to make time for the training, you’re not ready to fight either. Sure, you’ll hear people taking fights after 2 months of training and a handful of sessions. However, there is very little upside to this approach and a whole load of potential downside. Getting to your muay thai gym regularly will ensure that you are less likely to turn into a punch bag in a fight. Build the cardio you need to defend and attack appropriately and use finely-tuned techniques to bring your opponent down with as little damage to yourself as possible.
If you want a brawl, there are easier places to pick fights. If you want to fight in the ring, you’ll need to put in the time to weaponise yourself for war.
4 Overall discipline
Discipline is the hallmark of champions
It isn’t just the discipline of getting to the gym that will set you up well for your first fight but also overall discipline with the emphasis on your health. There are so many different components that are essential to allow your body to work at optimal levels, getting you in battle form for your first bout.
1. Getting to bed on time
Easily one of the most common problems of our age. It has such a significant impact on your overall performance both cognitively and physically. Get into a good rhythm with your sleep that allows for 7-9 hours of solid rest. This will work wonders for your training, general life and your first fight.
2. Eating the right stuff
Sure, there are stories of sports stars living off snicker bars and still performing amazing feats, but that doesn’t mean that it’s healthy and it won’t give you the best chance of success. You need to feed your system the nutrients it needs to develop in the way that you need it to. Food is fuel, if you’re aiming to become fight-ready then you should be investing time into picking the right food and consuming enough of it.
3. Cutting back on intoxicants
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. You don’t know who you’ll be up against in your first fight, to ensure that you are as ready as you could possible be, cut back on some of those nasty habits that you know will slow you down. Smoking cigarettes, getting drunk regularly and other such intoxicants won’t allow you to put yourself in the position to be your best self on fight night. Don’t let this be the reason you take an L.
4. Being respectful to training partners
You’ll find yourself out of people willing to train with you pretty fast if your attitude stinks. Be respectful to your partners, whether they are better or worse than you. Aim to maintain a level of humbleness. One of the most important things to keep in check during a fight is your emotions, this can largely be developed in sparring. Throwing out the game plan just because you’ve received a few shots that rattled you in sparring is a clear indicator that you’re not ready for your first fight yet.
While complete abstinence from any intoxication is ideal, it is often not practical for most. This tends to lead to binge and purge cycles due to cravings becoming too much to bear. We suggest you have a select few treats ready when you feel like you’re really craving for something to scratch that itch.
5 Coaching feedback
Trust in your trainers
If you’re working with a well-respected coach, you should feel confident in following their advice regarding your first fight. They may suggest waiting slightly longer than you had hoped for, but this is likely putting your best interest first. To speed-up the rate that you learn, ensure to ask questions to your trainer about some of the areas that you are currently struggling in. This information should be kept at the forefront of your mind to work on, completing specific drills and putting yourself in the situations during sparring that require you to work that particular area.
We’ve heard stories of coaches sending in their fighters for a fight with very little experience, while others have waited 1-2 years before sending their fighter in the ring.
At the end of the day, the risk is on your shoulders, we always suggest being over-prepared than under-prepared when it comes to getting into the ring for a fight. Private training is an excellent way to ensure you get all the attention you require. Find out more here.
There is no perfect time to jump into your first fight. However, having the confidence that you have the gas to last you over the rounds and the technique to protect and attack effectively will take you a long way in the early stages. As you can tell from what has been mentioned above, there is a lot more that goes into a fight than just lacing up and hoping for the best. If you want to fight intelligently and effectively we suggest going through the necessary steps to weaponise your body, giving you the best chance to do yourself and your gym proud.