Most of us have probably heard some form of the phrase “slow is smooth and smooth is fast” before, but if you haven't, the idea is that you build your foundation(s) slowly and accurately. Being technically sound in all of your training at a slow speed is what enables you to be fast later on when it comes time to use that training.
This concept is something I have tried to focus on since I started learning muay thai, but just recently it hit me that I'm not staying true to it. As I have started to become more comfortable with what we do in class, I've started to let my focus on being technically sound slip. Yesterday it finally smacked me in the face (figuratively, not literally luckily).
There are always exceptions to the rules, but a good basic rule is that you should always have your hands up by your face for protection. If you are punching with your left hand, your right hand should be up at face level to block. If you are throwing combos (left hand followed by right hand for example), things get interesting as you have to time things accordingly. Your left hand needs to come out fast, but it also has to come back fast so that you can get it up by your face in preparation for the right hand you want to throw next.
- Left hand out (punch)
- Left hand back at face (protection)
- Right and out (punch)
- Right hand back at face (protection)
This is something that kru is always making us aware of, and something that I had made sure to focus on and pay attention to. I don't have any evidence to support it, but I'd say I was actually doing pretty good with following this rule. Until recently...
Yesterday during our drills I had taken note that when I was throwing punch combos, I was leaving my non-striking hand down around my chest area. It was so obvious that I noticed it while I was going through the drills. The problem? I didn't do anything about it. I was so caught up in the act and working on looking like a real fighter, that I was ignoring what essentially is striking 101. It wasn't until kru came over a few minutes later and made a comment in passing to “keep my hands up” that I finally gave in. I had to step back, swallow my pride and realize that I'm not there yet. Trying to run through the drills at a higher rate of speed is not what I needed to be focusing on. I needed to slow down and make sure that my technique was sound, even if that meant moving at what felt like an incredibly slow pace. So for the remainder of class I went back to a slow, methodical pace and really made it a point to focus on technique.
To be honest, it is a shitty feeling, but that doesn't mean that it was the wrong decision. While the physical aspect of muay thai was one of the primary things that lured me to it, the mental aspect was right up there as well. Moments like this are going to happen again, and how I deal with them will determine how well I develop. Being able to maintain that self-awareness and avoid letting any form of ego get in the way is going to be just another skill that needs attention and focus as I move forward. There is no point in doing any of this if I'm not going to do it the right way, so it is time to take a baby step back (which sounds funny after only a month) and re-prioritize what I focus on during class.