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Struggles with combos/had a bad class today


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(Kind of long )I’ve been training 3x a week for almost 5 months now. I LOVE it !! For a little background I’m middle aged, small, very fitness oriented but NOT ‘ sports  oriented’  and no previous martial arts experience. ( I also strength train, do yoga, HIIT  and group fitness classes) 

I had 5 great and fun classes in a row. But then today sucked really bad and *I hate the way I feel* right now 

there were probably about 8-10 of us in class.The combos ( or are they called drills?) were a bit longer today ( so the issue was more steps to them. Both strikes and defense ... idk how else to explain )

the instructor demonstrated them slowly but only one time today. Other days it’s more then once. 

In a nutshell - I just couldn’t remember them and neither could my partner the only other female - - a 14 yr old girl who started maybe a month ago.

I’m pretty sure everyone else in the class( beginners like me and then more experienced students) all remembered them. I saw no one struggling like me. This happens every so often.

{adding this part Bc it effects things:  I tend to absorb the energy and mood of a person or group and am VERY sensitive to moods and what not. It’s just who I am}

my instructor (the owner) ....I like him. I really *hate* frustrating him. He’s a retired professional fighter. Middle aged but younger then I. Trained in US and Thailand. Teaching for many years from beginners to professional fighters. In most ways he’s a phenomenal teacher. 

I wonder sometimes if we might not be a good fit in terms of teacher/student. ( note I’m not blaming here. Not all people are the right fit for each other. 🤷🏻‍♀️

 

i sensed his mood was (how should I describe it...???) ....Just that some days  he’s in a ‘tougher less tolerant mood‘ . less tolerant of mistakes. He’s not always like that. ( clarifying he is actually fine with mistakes in general. That’s his job, of course) But It’s just too many mistakes such as me today repeatedly not remembering the combos he seems to get irritated)  His  facial express looks totally annoyed and he’s just kind of a rougher coach. I hate when he’s stares at me all annoyed and says “WHAT ARE YOU DOING ????!!!😡 

( I feel so helpless wanting to do better but can’t at the moment)

I get so uncomfortable that then my mind is even more blank with a worse memory Bc of nerves . It sucks. The bad part is Im trying my best. Im a very dedicated and attentive student. I fully admit i seem to be the worst student at remembering  combos.

( Do I need to mention or justify  my intelligence now ???🤣🤷🏻‍♀️ I mean I am decently intelligent. Not a brainiac. I made it through college and then grad school with pretty good grades but just DONT ask me about math. 🤪

i * should* be able to remember the combinations  but sometimes  I don’t - I suck. Today my mind might have actually been a seive ( ? Sp). 

his facial expression and demeanor only make things worse  for me. Today I felt like I was in a no win situation. I wanted to leave class (of course  I didn’t) and just start fresh again next class Bc it seemed hopeless.

it sucks so bad that I’m trying my hardest Bc - that means there is *no ability* for me to try harder . I wish I could.

What do I do?

 

i find myself thinking - would he prefer i quit Bc I feel like I frustrate him On days like this.

( it’s not every class) 

I don’t mind at all how hard Muay Thai is. I’m up for the challenge. I’m motivated. I find it fascinating and fun. I love it. I want to get better. I HAVE improved  and I have the ability to improve more.

But classes like these ..... it wears on my psyche. It’s discouraging. Feeling like the worst at ‘ retaining’  certain combos.

What I really hate is my teachers response to it. It’s really a struggle for me. 

anyone else have this issue? Or advise?

( I will take any constructive criticism)

its not even like I can practice ‘ retaining combos better’ like I can practice other aspects of Muay Thai . 

Also I wonder ... As an adult learner whose clearly trying my absolute best.... is it even appropriate for him be so agitated with me?? Or is it a muay  thai thing 🤷🏻‍♀️

( I take beginner ballet for adults. Ballet is also hard core though maybe in a difference way than Muay Thai. The teachers are never rough on you when you suck. )

 

i just don’t know

i so badly wish I could fix it. I can’t even tell you how motivated I am.

 

bc of my kids and babysitter issues-  all  other Muay Thai gyms are too inconvenient for me. ( that’s only Bc of my kids and the commute to the gym. If I had no kids or grown kids I’d drive further in a heart beat. No question )

 

I’ll consider other gyms - it’s just.... not ideal at all. If you made it this far, thanks for listening 

edited to add this:

I realized part of it is a communication problem. When he goes over the combination or drill....he’ll say ‘ got it? ‘ and look around the classroom. No one says anything. everyone nods yes or gives no answer. ( this is pretty much always. Maybe there’s a question or 2 on occasion)

times like today when  I know I don’t know it- I say nothing. I don’t feel safe to say anything bc i can tell I will get a look or an attitude. I’m not comfortable. This isn’t all the time but often. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Number 1, don't worry about it. We all have bad days. Some days you're on fire. Some days you suck. Don't  beat yourself up. A hint for working combinations or drills, break them down, I mean right down, especially if you're having troubles grasping it that day. E.g. say it's front teep, right cross, left hook, right knee, clinch, switch knee, right knee, turn, right knee. Righto, there's nine parts to that, concentrate on steps 1,2,3 and add in 4 when you're comfortable. Even break it down further, teep then big right cross until you're comfortable. No point in just, throwing together all the stuff and getting frustrated because you can't remember it all. From my own personal teaching experience,  most of the technique I impart is packaged  as combinations/drills, usually totalling 4, with explanations. It's not a memory test, nor is it an ego thing. As well as this, my personal preference for combos is 4, the longer the combination the more chance the chain has of being broken in sparring and/or fight. The best way to get up on a combo fighter is to interrupt them. This plays games with their head. Which you're experiencing now. 

Don't feel like you're disappointing your teacher. It doesn't if he's in a pissed off mood, that's not your problem. If he noticed you were having problems, he should have slowed you and your partner down and had you guys concentrate on the first few segments of the combination. Plus, you're relatively new to the sport, so please don't think you suck, you just had a bad day.

Try not try and let things just flow.

And if you don't get it, ask. That's what you're paying for. I know this is easier said than done. But, it can be done.😎😎😎😎

Edited by Jeremy Stewart
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4 hours ago, Jeremy Stewart said:

Yes! Very helpful. My instructor tells me to go from 0 to 100 back to 0. He tells me to RELAX. He’s 100% correct.

 

I absolutely fit in the typical western mode ( like in the graphic in this article) of TENSION/self critical ——> explosion/power —— > tension

rather than the Thai way of:

relaxed—> explosion 💥——> relaxed 

 

thanks so much for you feedback. I appreciate it 🙏🏼

 

 

 

 

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15 hours ago, MadelineGrace said:

Yes! Very helpful. My instructor tells me to go from 0 to 100 back to 0. He tells me to RELAX. He’s 100% correct.

 

I absolutely fit in the typical western mode ( like in the graphic in this article) of TENSION/self critical ——> explosion/power —— > tension

rather than the Thai way of:

relaxed—> explosion 💥——> relaxed 

 

thanks so much for you feedback. I appreciate it 🙏🏼

 

 

 

 

You're welcome.  😎😎😎😎

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I just left a VERY FUN MUAY THAI CLASS

The combos were just like the ones I could not remember on Saturday but today  only 4  at a time so I was fine- No memory issues and no problems. So I’m happy

My instructor seemed to be in his more patient and should I say ‘gentler easy going teacher mode’ vs his hard ass teacher mode  ( I’m not trying to criticize him. My goal is to learn Muay Thai,be a good attentive student and try my best and improve. I can’t help when I  react to him when I’m lost and he seems annoyed and a bit hard assy ) 

 

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16 hours ago, MadelineGrace said:

Anyone care to explain ‘ try not  to try’

im not sure i ever saw that blog post.

🤣🤣🤣🤣 it sounds so simple that I’m sure I’ll complicate the hell out of it 😁😁😁😭😭😭🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

AHAHA..... It's not that complicated really. I think I got it off one of Sylvie's videos on YouTube.  My personal take on it, is to just relax and let things fly. I know it seems counter intuitive,  but the general premise is the more you try to do something perfectly,  the more pressure you put on yourself, the more self critical you become. So the idea is to try not to be self critical or put too much pressure on yourself, to just let things flow.  Hence the idea, try not to try. I hope that helps.😀😀😀😀

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20 hours ago, MadelineGrace said:

I just left a VERY FUN MUAY THAI CLASS

The combos were just like the ones I could not remember on Saturday but today  only 4  at a time so I was fine- No memory issues and no problems. So I’m happy

My instructor seemed to be in his more patient and should I say ‘gentler easy going teacher mode’ vs his hard ass teacher mode  ( I’m not trying to criticize him. My goal is to learn Muay Thai,be a good attentive student and try my best and improve. I can’t help when I  react to him when I’m lost and he seems annoyed and a bit hard assy ) 

 

Just keep the mantra "stay out of his head" and stop trying to read his thoughts.  People are allowed to feel shitty and be short with me.  I don't like it and I am hyper sensitive too.  But don't use your adulthood as an excuse to call yourself the "worst" one etc.  Those are thoughts I have and yes its harder for me to remember sometimes but I try and laugh it off with the coach - boo hoo I am old (beats the hell out of being dead).  Its painful at times.  I am older than you - its just a fact that my brain works sluggishly once in a while (and as a Mom of young kids - forget it - your RAM is nearly full all the time).  So yeah as a person like you I say - stay out of his head, ask questions and if you really can't stand him go elsewhere.  p.s. I am told women tend to want approval and to "belong" more when you coach them.  Its nice if the coach knows this but he probably doesn't so you will either have to choose to dispense with that need or ask for more support or do what I do and just ride with it.

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Yeah for sure it's confusing advice, the try not to try thing. Kinda like when people in real life generally say, "Oh just be more self-confident". In your head you're thinking...wait...how do you *just be* more self-confident if you're not self-confident? If you're not... then you don't yet know what it would feel like if you were...so you got no frame of reference... so how can you instantly give yourself that new feeling without knowing what it feels like? Seems like a damn minefield. So is trying to be relaxed if you're not relaxed. We probably make ourselves less relaxed in the attempt to be more relaxed. 

Back in the day the sax player Charlie Parker used to say it's good to learn techniques & theories etc, but when the times comes, it's more important to forget all that stuff and 'just play'. Not that music and sports are in any way similar - they're not, but it virtually every area of life you get real seasoned pros coming out with these sayings. Kinda pseudo-clever jedi mind trick expressions that they were told themselves by the masters when they were new and didn't understand. Until way down the road, when the understanding just happened to them after a hell of a lot of non-understanding. 

Actually talking of non understanding, all of the above sounded way more coherent when it was in my head.

 

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5 hours ago, threeoaks said:

Just keep the mantra "stay out of his head" and stop trying to read his thoughts.  People are allowed to feel shitty and be short with me.  I don't like it and I am hyper sensitive too.  But don't use your adulthood as an excuse to call yourself the "worst" one etc.  Those are thoughts I have and yes its harder for me to remember sometimes but I try and laugh it off with the coach - boo hoo I am old (beats the hell out of being dead).  Its painful at times.  I am older than you - its just a fact that my brain works sluggishly once in a while (and as a Mom of young kids - forget it - your RAM is nearly full all the time).  So yeah as a person like you I say - stay out of his head, ask questions and if you really can't stand him go elsewhere.  p.s. I am told women tend to want approval and to "belong" more when you coach them.  Its nice if the coach knows this but he probably doesn't so you will either have to choose to dispense with that need or ask for more support or do what I do and just ride with it.

Omg I ***LOVE*** that mantra. Its exactly what I need!

 

i like that you said ‘ people are allowed to feel shitty and be short with me’ ( even while you’re hypersensitivity in nature also) I think I needed to hear that! Thanks- great advise!!!

 

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This has already been covered pretty well above. One thing I would like to add though is: Don't forget you are the one paying for his service, not the other way around. His opinion doesn't count. He's there to teach you his knowledge, and you are probably paying a good amount for that knowledge. Imagine a cook or a waiter getting angry at you for not liking the food at a restaurant. You wouldn't take them seriously and would likely leave right? You aren't a professional fighter and the gym isn't getting a cut of your purse if you do fight. You sound like you are doing this form of martial arts because you enjoy it, and if you are paying for it, you should enjoy it. Maybe he was just having a rough day and carried it into the gym or something, but don't let his mood wear on you. Unless you are a sponsored fighter, he doesn't get to have expectations from you (other than adhering to gym rules obviously). Just do your best, you are still very very much a beginner. Good technique and flow comes slowly over time.

Also, don't be afraid to ask questions if you don't understand something. A good coach can always get everyone else started and then come by to work with you on whatever you are struggling with. That's part of their job, and again, you are paying them for that. It's easy for the power dynamic between coaches and students to become unbalanced, and it sounds like that is a bit of what is happening. I'm not saying you need to leave the gym or anything, but don't be afraid of your hired help 😄 Get back in there and have some fun!

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This is going to be one of those things that I say and you go, "oh yeah, totally," and then go right back to thinking the way you already think. That's okay. What we think is a habit. But I'm going to say it and I want you to try to really understand it: you do not make your trainer feel any way at all. Not good. Not bad. He feels how he feels because of the thoughts he's having and, in a room full of students, he's not thinking only - or even primarily - about you.

Don't try to please him. Don't try to frustrate him. Neither are your responsibility. A few years ago my trainer was in this terrible mood. He walked through the room I was in, didn't acknowledge me at all, got in his car and left the gym. I was the only one there. He didn't train me. I had a fucking emotional breakdown, thinking I'd done something wrong and he was mad at me. I was obsessed with it and when I finally grew the courage to confront him about it, I realized it wasn't about me AT ALL. He was going through something very upsetting and instead of being compassionate, I was obsessing over myself. That taught me a lot. 

It's a relief, honestly.

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Update  🥊 

i just had another FUN muay thai class this am.  I put all the above suggestions into place 

I got my thinking straight

 I thought to myself   ‘his mood isnt my concern’ ‘Stay out of his head‘ ‘No over- thinking! No attempts to figure out what he’s thinking’  ( etc) 

my only job is to be an attentive student and try my best. Period! 

 

(I know I’ll still have bad Muay Thai classes occasionally Bc thats just life. 🤷🏻‍♀️ But I’m going to seriously limit my overthinking )

 

thanks for letting me discuss it here and hearing me out. It helped.

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  • 2 months later...

Update is - I’m still having fun classes. I am putting the recommendations into practice. It works. ( but also I’ve had a relapse and over thought and had to get myself back on track)

 

the NEW thing I wanted to share is a joined a second gym to take Muay Thai classes.

The reason for this is... my original instructor is simply a hard ass 🤣😊🤷🏻‍♀️ ( hey! That’s his perogative! 😁) and my new second gym has MORE APPROACHABLE TRAINERS who I’m more comfortable  with and I don’t get intimidated. It’s a ‘ family oriented ‘ martial arts gym. I don’t like it as much as my original gym but that’s ok. I joined it for a reason and now I go to both. 

So  I’m starting to take 4-5 Muay Thai classes a week. I’m determined to get better! I’ll never be ‘great’ but I can be good on my own terms and taking into account my abilities! 

 

 

 

 

 

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