When a BJJ Black Belt takes on Muay Thai... Post #1 - "Newbie"
Posted on February 06 2023
"After a difficult 2022, I decided to set my sights on a new challenge..."
In this brand new monthly series, Venum follows Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt and teacher, Erika Dawn, as she takes on Muay Thai as a total beginner.
Can Erika reach her goal of participating in her first smoker (non sanctioned fight) by the end of 2023? We invite you to follow along…
WHY START MUAY THAI?
Erika decided to take on Muay Thai as a new challenge after a very difficult 2022. She had faced a devastating hamstring injury that took her out of competing in jiu-jitsu.
“2022 was incredible for growth in my career but other hardships in my personal life took a toll on my heart and my confidence", Erika explains. "So many pieces of my life seem to be falling apart and I wasn’t sure what to turn to so I turned to work. I wanted to be new at something again, to relieve the pressure I had put on myself.”
JIU-JITSU VS. MUAY THAI
Muay Thai demands various different skills and movements to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which makes Erika’s goal a meaty challenge. While Jiu-Jitsu athletes aim to stay connected and grounded, Muay Thai fighters must be able to extend, strike and retract, while remaining balanced and agile. Endurance, strength and strategy come into play for both, but these Martial Arts are vastly different…
GETTING SET UP
Erika is following the Bang Muay Thai system and training at Legacy Gym in Southern California.
She kicked off training using boxing gloves and shin guards from Venum's bestselling Elite range, essential for Muay Thai training and sparring. All levels of Muay Thai athletes should also use hand wraps and ankle supports for protection and comfort during training.
For tips on choosing the right gloves for you, see this blog post.
ERIKA'S MUAY THAI DIARIES
Below we're sharing notes from Erika's Muay Thai diary in January. Teaser: It's already a rollercoaster of challenges, laughter, frustrations and fun!
January 9th: Jump Rope, Teeps... Frustration
“First battle of Muay Thai is learning how to jump rope properly. I have had a hard time jumping consistently. Today, coach Yishien reviewed our numbers 1-4 and then she taught me how to do teeps. I feel like I had the most trouble with the teeps. I felt like I kept losing my balance. Part of me wanted to get a little bit frustrated about 30 minutes into the lesson, but I kept trying to tell myself, “This is BRAND NEW - Enjoy the process of learning!”
Jan 10th: First Group Class - “Sabi” (Relax!)
"When I first went into class I was super nervous. Everything was different than what I was used to. I could feel my body tense from being nervous.
"My biggest struggle was my SHOULDERS; they were so stiff and tight, I was moving like a robot. Even Sensi Andy kept telling me to relax. Relax. Relax. Let my shoulders hang. It was SO good for me. Sensi Andy told me in Thailand they say “Sabi” to tell the fighters to relax. I feel like I need to adopt this in my everyday life. Being so new makes me feel aware of so many things. To relax, to BREATHE. First class in the books!"
Jan 13th: 8:00 am Class - “My Poor Toes”
"The morning class is so fun! Today my battle was with the jump ropes again. I had no idea I was a terrible rope jumper. So on top of trying to get into the swing of things with the punching and kicking I feel like I have a whole new skill to embrace with jump roping. My poor toes were taking a beating by the heavy rope, I couldn’t help but giggle every time I smashed my toes. Who knew.. Something I didn’t even think about."
Jan 17th 6:30pm class - “So much fun”
"I felt really good in this class! I had so much fun, I loved the footwork drills we did in the beginning. I can definitely tell that I am overthinking things, though. I feel like I am saying and thinking about the steps and details so much that I begin to feel robotic. As a newbie, it’s just such a foreign way of movement that our bodies become stiff."
Jan 18th 8:00 am class - “So sore”
"One word sums up this class: Sore. I was so sore I could barely use my right leg last night. We were working a bunch of knees so today when I tried, my leg was so sore and so tired. It was a bummer because I felt like I remembered the combinations and the steps but I couldn’t execute as well, because my body just isn’t adjusted to extending my hip so much."
Jan 31: 6:30 pm Class - “Can’t wait for more”
"Tonight was amazing! And class is so much fun just knowing that I had officially hit my first month of training Muay Thai! I got partnered up with one of my favorite girls and we just had an absolute blast. I felt like things were sticking tonight. I felt like I was getting the hang of my numbers one through seven. However, I always get six and seven backwards, but I had a great time. I felt like tonight, all of the tips and details since Andy has been giving me sort of stuck a little bit better. I practiced the hand and foot work drill over the weekend at home, and some of the things he was telling me..like overturning my lead leg in a hook felt so much better tonight. I can’t believe it’s already been a month. This is so much fun and this white belt can’t wait for more..."
See our March post to learn how Erika's Muay Thai journey has progressed...