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  1. moved from another thread to start a new line of discussion This answer is kinda me thinking out loud haha. I don't really have the answers to your question specifically but... in general terms (and this is purely my early childhood philosophy - not everyone's!) children learn best through play, so I imagine the kids around your gym are absorbing heaps of Muay Thai 'knowledge' through play, through adults modelling, through observation, through family and each other. Children make sense of their world through play so they probably mimic what they see important adults in their lives doing. I suppose this is a great example of how 'Muay Thai culture' is transmitted to the kids in a way that it can never be, for outsiders. It must just be in their blood - from being a baby around a gym, to playing to actually training. It's really mind blowing to think how integral it must be to their lives! In terms of brain development and gross motor development, the learning of Muay Thai probably follows a progressive sequence - much like it does for adult beginners. Children who 'practise' these movements (whether through play or training) might be more likely to form the 'muscle memory' at quite a young age and then start developing the more cognitive skills of strategy and tactics, planning ahead and thinking about 'reading' their opponents intentions, at a later age when their cognitive function is more developed. For instance, very young children are 'egocentric', meaning they find it difficult (or impossible) to put themselves in another's shoes (as a simple way of explaining it!). They can't really see another person's perspective. This is not 'egocentric' in the general usage sense of having a huge ego! Sometimes children show you this trait when they say things like "Remember that dream where I was being chased?" They think because they know what was in the dream, that you will too. They can't put themselves in your shoes. This is one reason why young children have trouble sharing - THEY want the toy so that's all that matters. They don't understand that someone else might want it too. Its only later, they see the social payoff of sharing eg. adults are happy with you, kids share things back with you etc. Until a child can cognitively move 'outside themselves' and see another's perspective, it would be pretty hard for them to predict an opponent's next move etc in Muay Thai. But the repetition in training (and playing) is also a vital way to develop the cognitive sense of sequence, order, successful combinations etc as well as the physical development of movements becoming 'second nature' and developing the required flexibility at such a young age eg. in the hips. Sylvie, do you think the Thai kids and fighters you know are more flexible in general? Or is that totally an individual thing dependent on training or body type? Definitely interesting to think about! Sorry for the rambling answer! I know, as a beginner myself, Muay Thai has been a very big mental challenge for me as well as physical. Moving from thinking about every single movement to some things starting to become second nature. Then in sparring, being under pressure, I could only barely think about my next move, let alone what my opponent was going to do next! Slowly, slowly I am working on getting better at these things. Little children probably do not think as overtly as we do about such things but develop their physical and strategic skills as they grow in age. It would certainly be interesting to watch - maybe you have seen this, Sylvie, to some extent with Phetjee Jaa?
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