5 Ways to Take Advantage of Muay Thai Open Mat

5 Ways to Take Advantage of Muay Thai Open Mat
By Natasha Sotnychuk

     Muay Thai classes are an excellent opportunity to learn the basics of Muay Thai, practice the fundamentals, and try advanced techniques. They are also fantastic for getting into shape and increasing your stamina. Muay Thai Open Mats should not be overlooked as excellent ways to learn and to work. Here are five ways that a Muay Thai Open Mat can benefit you.

1. Improve your skills. Know what you want to work on before you come to open mat. Bring a notebook with you to every class and write down the things you did, techniques you want to improve, or strikes you kept getting caught with while sparring. If you saw something in a fight you want to learn (hello cartwheel kick or superman punch),then try it during open mat. Research ways to improve and implement those techniques at open mat.

2. Ask questions. Open mat is the perfect opportunity to ask instructors or advanced students about the techniques or drills you wrote down in your notebook that you want to work on. Always eager to share tips, fellow students can help you avoid possible pitfalls of techniques, like landing too heavy after a teep or not properly covering during a strike. Students with more sparring experience are able to give more context for techniques than can be covered during class. Take advantage of your teammates’ knowledge.

3. Make friends. Ask someone if they want pads rounds, or if they want to do some ping pong or Dutch style drills. Open mat is a good place to learn how to hold pads. Ask your partner for feedback while holding pads for them. Should you feed more? Are you holding the pads correctly for the kicks, teeps, and knees? More than likely, you don’t want to hit the heavy bag for the full hour, and your teammates don’t want to either. Personally, I am always ready to hold pads or do on-the-body drills with teammates. Those who sweat together, stay together.

4. Improve cardio and endurance. Cardio is important for overall health, but also a necessity for Muay Thai. The less tired you are during a fight, the more you can keep your hands up and pressure your opponent. When getting into fighting shape, you want your cardio session to be about 2-3 times the length of your fight. So, if you have a 3 round, 2 minute per round fight with 1 minute rest in between, then you should run, do bag work, or do pad rounds for a total of 16-24 minutes of hard work. You should be breathing so heavily from the work you put in that its difficult for you to talk.
Take advantage of the bags during open mat. There are many different types of drills/bag work routines you can use to improve your timing, speed, and power. Below are just two bag work routines anyone can do, but with a simple web search and a little creativity, the possibilities are endless.

10 minute bag routine:
Round 1: (1 minute each)
– Jab, Cross, Rear Roundhouse – Jab, Cross, Switch Kick
– Lead Teep, Rear Knee
Round 2: (1 minute each)
– Rear Teep, Lead Knee
– Power Rear Roundhouse
– Power Switch Kick
Round 3: (30 seconds each)
– Jab, Lead Check, Switch Kick
– Jab, Cross, Rear Roundhouse
– Jab, Cross, Rear Check, Roundhouse
– Jab, Cross, Switch Kick
– Power Rear Roundhouse

20-20-20 drill:
20 alternating jab-crosses, 10 rights kicks and 10 left kicks, 20 alternating knees
18 alternating jab-crosses, 9 rights kicks and 9 left kicks, 18 alternating knees
16 alternating jab-crosses, 8 rights kicks and 8 left kicks, 16 alternating knees
14 alternating jab-crosses, 7 rights kicks and 7 left kicks, 14 alternating knees

2 alternating jab-crosses, 1 right kick and 1 left kick, 2 alternating knees
If you want to keep going, when you get to the end you can climb back up the 20-20-20 ladder.

5. Get comfortable with sparring. No one is required to spar at open mat or at any of the Revolution Muay Thai classes, but if you want to try it, open mat is the perfect time. Let a more advanced teammate, or instructor, know that you are new to sparring. From there, you can do sparring drills and some light and playful technical sparring with them.

Now that you have a better understanding of how to use your time wisely during a Muay Thai Open Mat, you need to look at your schedule and find the time to get into your academy to make the most of that Open Mat time.

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