taking hits...

ive just recently become interested in learning Muay Thai, but im a little apprehensive. ive never really been a tough guy, ive never been punched or hit in the face before, and the only martial arts experience i have is a few months BJJ, but i think id like to add a little stand up. one of the many reasons why i chose BJJ was that i could train full force against someone going full force, without getting hurt(minus any accidental injuries). with MT, it seems that to train it, you WILL get hurt.

how do you guys that practice MT get used to getting punched and kicked in the face? how common are broken noses and knocked out teeth?

i sparred a little bit but with no strikes to the head, and i guess im a little tougher than i thought because i took some body shots and it wasnt as bad as i had imagined, but i dont like the idea of gettin hit in the nose, eyes, or mouth. how do fighters take punches right to the face and not break their nose or get teeth knocked out everytime? i chipped my front teeth, so i have porcelain caps over them, and im worried they will get knocked off if i get punched in the mouth, even if i am wearing a mouthpiece.

any advice/info would be appreciated. thanks.

Well, at least you realize that you will get hit. However, I think you have little to fear. In my experience, all the Muay Thai, Boxing, and Kickboxing trainers I've worked with really make an effort to train you to your own level. That means that you won't be thrown into the ring to be a sparring partner for a fighter when you've only been training a month or two.

You should expect that the bulk of what you do will be partner and pad drills. There will probably be what I refer to as "sparring drills", which are semi- to full-contact partner drills where you practice prearranged combinations, attacks, defenses, counters, or sequences.

In other words, the chances of getting any injury (outside of a few lumps and bruises) should be completely minimized. Chances are that if someone does get injured (bloody nose, chipped teeth, black eye), it means that someone fucked up and was not doing what they were told to do.

Also, there is safety gear. Mouthpiece, cup, headgear, oversized gloves, shinpads, etc. You should invest in this gear and actually use it. Safety gear doesn't do you any good in the trunk of your car or in your closet.

Khun Kao

These are very valid questions and concerns. One good way to answer your question as far as dealing with blows to the face (and body/legs) is to get the ROSS Shockability tapes. It teaches you how to train in order to be relaxed when absorbing blows (in the 1st tape), how to deal with the blows so they can't harm you (in the 2nd tape) and how to transfer the opponent's energy from his blow back onto him (in the 3rd tape). The first tape alone teaches vital concepts crucial to enhancing your over-all performance in any fighting system.

Ok, assuming you don't want to buy (or can't yet afford) the tapes, I'll tell you the most important part. In order to perform any sport or activity in the most efficient manner, you need to be relaxed as much as possible, expending energy only on what your trying to accomplish. It doesn't matter if it's bjj, muay thai, tennis or golf this rule always applies. You can't perform smoothly (or in some cases, at all) if you're too tensed up. You have be relaxed, controlling your breathing and your mind.

How does this pertain to getting hit? Well I'll give you an example. Imagine two people getting into a car accident. One is drunk, the other sober. (As an aside, PLEASE DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE!!!) Assuming both survive and received equal amounts of trauma, the drunk driver is more likely to come out of the accident with less injuries because the body is ususally in a state of relaxation when someone is wasted. The sober person, seeing that the collision is imminent, will instinctively tense up in anticipation of the crash. This tension in the body tightens the joints and muscles and causes the body to more fully absorb the full impact of the collision.

Going back to muay thai, you will receive more damage to your face if you are tensed up when the blow arrives than if you were relaxed and able to roll with the blow. Moreover, tensing up in anticipation to impact deprives (or at least limits) your ability to implement the things you've learned to deal with blows.

For example, if you see a 6'8'' 260pd heavyweight muay thai champ coming at you from across the ring, your natural inclination is for your mind to panic and your body to immediately tense up. You will lose your ability to roll with the blow, block with your legs, parry, jam, evade, etc, as effectively as you would in practice because you're too tensed up to react in an appropriate and efficient manner. Now imagine going up against a 6 year boy. How tensed and panicked would you feel now? Do you see (and feel) the difference?

Continued...

Now as KK said, first realise that you WILL get hit. Then, we work on minimizing the amount of trauma we receive once impact is imminent. We do this by slowly and progressively acclimatizing ourselves to getting hit. Jumping into the ring with an experienced fighter who beats the crap out of you is NOT slow or progressive. You can start with light slapping in order to get used to taking a shot and progress to light punches.

The idea when practising these light blows to the face is NOT to stiffen up and see how tough you are. The idea is to receive the blow and remain relaxed, both physically and mentally. When practising the absorbtion of blows to the face, keep your neck relaxed "roll" with the blow or go around it if possible. An example of "going around it" would be if you take a hook to the jaw, your jaw rolls inward with the blow and the punch continues on its way, your head not moving much from its original position. This isn't easy to explain in words.

Keep in mind, this is just an exercise in learning how to absorb a blow, acclimatizing yourself to impact. This is not an ideal method of dealing with the blow unless your defenses have failed (i.e. he got past your parry). This is merely the first step but it's a very important one. This is where you develop the ability to remain calm in the face of danger (pardon the pun :). Once you can remain calm you can more easily use whatever tools you have at your disposal (regardless of what combat sport you're in).

Ok, that covers the first question (about how to get used to getting punched and kicked in the face). The next question was how common broken noses and knocked out teeth are. Unless the school is very violent and the instructor doesn't care about your well-being, this shouldn't be common at all. Granted, accidents happen and people get injured, but this should always be accidental and uncommon, if not rare. If that isn't the case, you should leave (unless you're sado-masochistic).

Last question: How do fighters take punches right to the face and not break their nose or get teeth knocked out every time? Several different reasons; blows don't always land solidly enough to cause damage, protective equipment, natural toughness of the body, fighters moving with the blow, not enough force behind the blow, etc. The same thing could be said of people getting hit by cars. Why don't people die every time the get hit by a moving car? Again, see above.

Hope this helps.

Lautaro

thanks for the info guys, it was really helpful.

the next step is to find a reputable instructor...

What part of the country do you live? Maybe someone on here can point you in the right direction as far as instructors are concerned.

im in a northern suburb of chicago..so any instructors in the chicago area would be good.

Try the "Instruction in Chicago" thread. :)

Lautaro

Hi rediwhip im gald you are taking thai as your stand up and i promise you, you wont be disapointed. When you talk of not liking getting hit hard ill ask you a question. Will the guy or guy's in the street go "easy" on you when they attack you. Trust me they will be trying to tear you a new assold. Getting hit "hard" is all part of the package and will "ready" you for those blows that may land on the street. Dont know if you know this. When the thai's took in an elite kung fu team from hong and destroyed them in under 6 minutes the bottom line was that they were not used to being smashed, bashed, kicked and punched all over the place. So when they thai's started landing down they went.