The Psychology of Handling Losses in Muay Thai and Martial Arts

Without a doubt, any fighter will tell you, the most painful part of martial arts is not the training, but the bitter loss in a fight.

Losing sucks. Losing aMuay Thai or Martial Arts Bout sucks even more. Aftermartial arts - psychology losing weeks of intense training, you came up short when it counted. Well what are you going to do it about it now? It’s not an easy pill to swallow. It goes without saying, your mindset and what you do in response dictate whether you bounce back stronger physically and emotionally or go down a path of wallowing in negativity for weeks or even years to come. Because of the emotional intensity of the fight, the pain of the loss may linger, painting the moments of your life if you don’t take care of yourself afterwards.

In life and in martial arts, don’t just see things worse than it is or better than it is..see things AS they really are!

The sport of martial arts, Muay Thai, and all other competitions are games of chance. The purpose of your training was to reduce the number of unknowns you’d have to deal with come fight day. But at the end of the day, you can’t eliminate them all. And on the day of the fight, your opponent capitalized on those unknowns. Ali vs. Foreman, Pacquiao vs. Bradley, Buakaw vs. Souwer- some of the best in their craft. I’m sure at that level, with all the pressure to succeed, losing was a crushing blow to their ego. Yet, they stayed professional, picked themselves up and moved forward onto future success. Don’t forget that this loss is not failure, but feedback. Use it to adjust and move forward in your Martial Arts and Muay Thai Journey.

In Martial Arts and Life, there is winning…and then there is learning.

Martial arts tenacityHow great would it be to win all the time? Awesome right?Not exactly.Losing is part of the journey in martial arts and in life.  Of course, losing is not the final destination but something which molds the human soul to make adjustments, create tenacity, and forges character – if you know how to drop negative emotions and keep 95% of your focus on the future. You can’t change the past. Don’t forget that nothing great in life comes without sacrifice. This is as much true for life as it is for martial arts.  If you had won every game in life, been given everything – the cars, the money, the women – without ever having to work for any of it – you’d be an empty soul – look at all of the young Hollywood Actors and Music stars that make it big at a young age – they end up going crazy because there’s no where left to grow (ahem – Lindsay Lohan). Your losses inside of the Muay Thai Kickboxing Ring or Mixed Martial Arts Cage define you as a person. For my losses in the Muay Thai ring, I wouldn’t take back a single one. Because it shaped my soul in a way that winning never could and made me who I am today. And I like me.

After your martial arts loss, step away for a bit and surround yourself with positivity

Step away from martial arts for a week. Or maybe two. Give yourself some time to relax and rest. You’ve taken some damage both physically and emotionally (just admit it!) and now it’s time to heal. Be with your significant other, plan things not martial arts related to do. Let yourself splurge a little on junk food. Watch some comedies or drama’s. Martial Arts and Muay Thai is an analogy for life…but it’s not your entire life. Don’t let it define you entirely. It’s a part of what you do, not the only thing you are.

Me personally, I try to stay away from the gym and people from there for a while except my coach. There is a lot of pity-patter going around when people at your Muay Thai or martial arts gym see you. Me personally I want to be treated with respect and dignity, not pity. I stepped into the ring and lost. But at least I stepped in there. I got nothing to be ashamed of.  You shouldn’t either. Just exit out for a bit and let it blow over. In enough time, it will be yesterday’s news.

Heal your major wounds before you consider training again

I’ve been guilty of this many times before and I can tell you from my experience training martial arts and Muay Thai on an injury only hurts you and your martial arts skills. When I mean injury, I mean something that is constantly giving you pain everytime you move. Here’s a not-all-inclusive list of injuries I’ve gotten from a Muay Thai fight which I tried to pummel through unsuccessfully (I noticed I actually got worse not better after training on the injury)

  1. Fractured Foot from hitting my opponents shin with my foot during a fight
  2. Bruised Left Rib from a Hook during Sparring
  3. Cracks under my toes from sparring and not moisturizing them to heal up (this happens a lot during the cold winter season)
  4. A rolled ankle from stupidly planting on my foot in a flexed position doing skip knees by myself(this is an embarrassing omission!)

If I had just waited a week or so for these injuries to heal up, I would have ended up losing a week, not months of precious training. It’s stupid and not worth it. Listen to your body and heal up before you push yourself to the edge in training.

Remember, that life follows cycles. Night follows day. Spring follows Winter. After sleep comes wakefulness. After the intensity of weeks of training, the emotional stress of the fight, you’re body and mind need to go into a temporary hiatus to process everything that’s happened and grow stronger. Don’t make the mistake of burning yourself out by starting up your Martial Arts Training too soon after the fight. Seek progress in the long term, instead of trying to make up for the recent past. It’s the only real consistent strategy for success.





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