In this my first blog post I want to explain my role at YMT and why I do what I do. Most readers are familiar with my role as expert in physical conditioning. At YMT I’ve been able to develop as a movement coach while learning a new movement skill. This has been invaluable to me. When I started Muay Thai I was becoming a disillusioned hockey player. The disillusionment came from my teammates’ and opponents’ attitudes towards competition. Too many players were only there to acquire some sense of the significance they were missing from other aspects of their lives. I objected when this manifested as checking from behind or slashing ankles. Abusing power and operating outside the rules became a deterrent to hanging out with the guys I had played with since high school.
Luckily for me, as I started learning strength coaching, my best friend started at Siam #1. As he became better at Muay Thai, I was learning more about how the body works. As he progressed in his fights, I was discovering how to fix my own injuries and imbalances. When he became a Poo Choi, I was learning how to fix and prevent others’ injuries (including his), while helping them perform better. As he started a Muay Thai club at University of Waterloo, I was shaping the physical development of the athletes of his club, as well as 600 teenage boys at St. Andrew’s College. When we both took a course about back injuries and core training at U Waterloo, I started Muay Thai classes with Kru Andrew. Muay Thai was a great way to use my athleticism in a different, more positive way.
York Muay Thai was recommended to me by Kru Andrew, as he felt that the instruction was what I needed. The first lesson was that Muay Thai, especially here at YMT, is an uniting force. We come here from diverse backgrounds with the goal to grow personally, but not at the expense of anyone else by breaking the rules. A great example of this was when I cornered for the first time. During one of the intense exchanges one of the fighter’s head gear came down over his eyes. The referee didn’t step in right away and the other fighter stopped. He could have taken advantage, but instead waited until the helmet was adjusted. It’s that sort of respect that I appreciate and have come to expect from this community.
I started leading workouts here at YMT a year ago to bring science based physical development to the sport. From this I’ve grown as a coach and I’ve applied what I have learned in my Masters Degree. To improve on Robert Burns quote (“To see ourselves as others see us. It would from many a blunder free us”); “To see ourselves as an expert sees us.” This is the essence of coaching. A good coach can see a student in a way he cannot see himself. Observation is one thing, but the expertise to prevent the consequences of bad habits is essential. That’s why I get coached on my resistance training and why I value the quality of the instruction at YMT. Here, not only are the Krus and Poo Chois experts, but once you are a blue short in sparring, your partner uses his/her expertise to show weakness. Only once I started sparring with other gyms did I see the same ego/power/dominance driven attitudes about competition that had pushed me away from hockey. The further I go in Muay Thai, the more I value what makes YMT such an exceptional place. Above all, it’s the personalities and intentions of our students and instructors that set us apart.
Plato is credited with saying ‘ignorance is the root of all evil.’ Our bodies are a resource many of us are ignorantly wasting daily. Unhealthy movement is widespread in our society. The current trends in physical education are inadequate and often backward. My goal is to make proper human movement instruction a priority for our education and health care systems. Every high school student should have access to functional/structural resistance training as a way to prevent health care issues later in life: obesity, diabetes, arthritis, low-back and other joint pain, heart disease, osteoporosis etc.
YMT students are proof that mindful Strength and Conditioning can help make a better Nak Muay. The highlight of my week is often seeing you make the connections between your MT training and resistance training. Consistent progress will mean more of you will be meeting the strength benchmarks that will allow power training to begin. We are on the cusp of some exciting changes at YMT. Your hard work will mean you’ll be able to take advantage of all of them.
From Coach Grant