As someone who trains Muay Thai, it can be difficult to assert yourself. We’re often taught to be respectful and humble, espeically to our coaches and training partners. However, setting boundaries is essential for the sake of our mental and physical health, as well as our growth within the sport (and as people).
Why Is It Important to Set Boundaries in Muay Thai?
Setting boundaries is important for your physical safety. There’s a lot of contact in Muay Thai, and it’s essential that you protect yourself from injury.
Setting boundaries is also crucial for your mental health. If you’re constantly pushed beyond your limits, or made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe in the gym, it can take a toll on your well-being. You should never feel like you have to tolerate inappropriate behavior, or stay silent when someone crosses a line. By asserting yourself and setting clear boundaries, you can protect your mental health and ensure that you have a positive experience in the gym. This article will also cover what to do if you’re setting your boundaries but people aren’t respecting them.
Examples of Setting Boundaries in Muay Thai
Here are some examples of how you can set boundaries during training. This is not a comprehensive list (if I receive enough suggestions as additions to this list, I will make a part 2 to this post).
Telling Someone To Take it Down a Notch (or Two)
Sparring can be fun but it’s important that both parties respect each other’s boundaries. If someone is going too hard in sparring and you’re uncomfortable, it’s important to let them know. You can say something like, “Hey, can we dial it back a bit? I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.” If they continue to go too hard, it may be necessary to talk to your coach or a gym manager. Hard sparring is something that should be agreed upon by both parties, not just assumed by one.
Choosing a Suitable Partner
You should never feel like you have to work with someone you don’t feel comfortable around. If someone makes you feel uneasy or unsafe, it’s perfectly okay to say no to them. You don’t need to explain yourself. Instead, choose a partner you feel comfortable working with. This will allow you to focus on what you’re there for – training!
Padwork can be overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the sport or working on a new technique. A long or complicated combo can throw you off. You want to do your best to get it right. If your training partner is going too fast, let them know. “Can we slow it down a bit? I’m having trouble keeping up” is a good way to bring it up.
Talking After Training
If someone is interrupting your training or trying to have a conversation during a drill, it’s perfectly fine to let them know that you can talk after training is done. Something as simple as, “Let’s pick this up after training” is short and will get the point across.
Informing About your Conditions/Injuries
If you have a pre-existing injury or condition, it’s important to inform your coach and training partners so they can modify the training accordingly. You should never feel like you have to do something that puts you at risk of injury or exacerbating a pre-existing condition. Your training should be modified to be safe so you can continue training.
When in doubt, speak up. If you don’t understand something or don’t feel comfortable with a particular technique, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or an alternative. This will not only help you feel more confident in your training, but also prevent potential injuries.
Reporting Inappropriate Behavior
Reporting inappropriate behavior to someone in charge is necessary to ensure a safe and welcoming training environment. If you witness or experience any type of discrimination, harassment, or assault it’s important to speak up and make your concerns known to someone who can take action. This includes both coaches and gym owners.
Calling Someone Out
Casual sexism, racism, body-shaming, homophobia, or any other form of discrimination should never be tolerated in a gym environment. Speak up and let the person know that their language is not acceptable.
Leaving a Gym
Leaving a gym that has shown red flags over and over is the ultimate form of setting boundaries, and it’s for sure one of the more difficult ones. People can grow quite attached to the place they train, their training partners, or their sense of familiarity and routine.
If you’ve tried to address concerns and they have not been resolved or continue to occur, it’s time to find a new gym that better aligns with your values and needs. Remember that your mental and physical health should always come first, even if it means being unable to train during a transitino period.
Keep in mind that you tell people how they can act with what you allow. This is no different when it comes to a Muay Thai gym. You have the power to set the tone for your training environment, and you deserve to feel safe, respected, and empowered
Set boundaries. Stand up for yourself. Respect your needs.
If you want an in-depth guide to training in Thailand, I’ve got just the thing.