The warm-up process before your fight

The warm-up process before your fight

The following is a template Coach Marlon uses for his competitive youth team.  We call it the 5 bout rule to getting warm for your competition match.

5 bouts before your bout

Get up and start start "dynamic" warm up. This is where you get up and start moving your body. No need to shadowbox here, just get up, walk around, arm circles, criss-cross your arms & hug yourself, tap your face, open jaw etc. You want to just get the blood going but take it easy.

4 bouts before your bout

Get your heart rate up by skipping or any body weight cardio exercises like mountain climbers, squats, jumping jacks etc. 

3 bouts before your bout

Shadowbox and fight visualization. This is not the time to strategize a new game plan or overthink anything. We use this time to visualize how we want to fight, practice your bread and butter combos, visualize your defensive move, your counters, your attacks.  Let your mind relax.

2 bouts before your bout 

Gear up and get ready for pad work with the coach/cornerman.  Warm-up with haste.  You never know, there might be consecutive knockouts in those matches before you and you might be up fighting earlier than anticipated.

1 bout before your bout

Finish putting gear on, have a sip of water and walk to the staging area. If the coach needs to say something to you, this is where we may have a final pep talk.

Feel free to adjust, add, and make it yours.  Give yourself some margin of safety with time so you don’t get caught going onto stage cold!

Hope that helps.


The music and hype is not real

The music and hype is not real

Nervousness kicking in for your big day of competition?  As a promoter, my job is to hype up our upcoming event, Project Mayhem.  I want people to think that this will be the biggest and most badass event.  Posters, highlight videos, and different marketing tools will be used to build excitement in order to sell tickets.  At the event, I’ll have the production team employ music, smoke, and maybe even fire to further entertain the audience and amplify the spectacle.


That is not my job as a coach.  As a coach, I want you (the student, the developing athlete, the competitor), to see what a competition event truly is.  Take away the lights, cameras, hype, drama, music, and all the other theatrics; what you are left with are two athletes doing what they already do every training session, and that is to fight.  Everything else is just unnecessary noise and distraction.  

The promoter will try to sell to the viewer and athletes that this will be the end all be all event.  As a competitor participating in the event, you must try to look beyond all of that and see it for what it really is, two athletes fighting while accompanied by a referee, judges, and cornermen.  Simple.


I remember way back in my 4th muay thai fight when I let the lights and the intensity of the event get to me.  The event was hosted by my home club, TKO Fighting Arts and it took place at Elements Nightclub.  Big fancy spot lights directed at the ring, loud music, and an even louder hometown cheering your name - I let it all get to me.  I went out guns blazing and gassed in the 3rd round.  I was lucky enough to pull through with a victory but boy was I tired.  Moral of the story?  Embrace all the action, soak in the surroundings, and have fun with it but remember to keep everything in perspective.  Train the way you fight, fight the way you train. 

Don’t make it out to be more than it ought to be.

Two fighters, a ref, judges, and cornermen - F@&# everything else.

This post was inspired by John Danaher's insight.


Rituals to deal with anxiety from competition and sparring

Rituals to deal with anxiety from competition and sparring

What makes competition and sparring so scary?  Let me tell you, it’s the unknown.  Anxiety stems from the lack of control and anticipation over the situation and the outcome. So what should you do?!  Control what you can, and embrace what you cannot.  Pre-fight rituals (or pre-spar rituals) is one tactic that I use to help me calm my nerves before going into competition.

A pre-fight ritual is a set series of tasks/activities that you do each time before entering the stage to perform.  


Rituals work because amidst all the unknown associated with competition, rituals have the ability to ground you with the power of familiarity and therefore put the element of control in your own hands.  Familiarity is built by the consistent reenactment of these rituals over time so take the time to practice and get acquainted with them.


Before every BJJ competition I go through a very specific set of rituals.  I usually arrive 1.5 hours before my bracket.  45 min before my 1st match, I like to leave the competition area and find a quiet spot somewhere away from the action.  I put on my headset, play some calming instrumental music and close my eyes for 25 minutes.  I focus on deep breaths and empty my mind.  At times, I even doze off.  I wake up to the sound of the alarm with 25 minutes to go; I start putting on  finger tape.  The process of wrapping my fingers is extremely important for my psyche.  I do not rush the process.  I stay in the moment with each wrap and soak in all my feelings.  Once all my fingers are taped, I get up and start my warm-up routine, which consist of a few sets of mouth clenches, jumping jacks, and burpees.   I head toward the mats 10 minutes before go time.

What happens in a fight is unpredictable and chaotic, so I try not to make too many predictions nor do I try to control the outcome. I try only to control what I can, and that’s the pre-fight rituals which I do my very best to replicate the same each time.  This puts me back in the driver’s seat.     


The set of rituals you chose should be specific to you.  Get creative and create your own routine.  Rituals can be done 30 minutes, 2 hours, or even a day before performance.  Just remember that you should try to keep the process as similar as possible each time you do it.

Ideas for Rituals:

  • Listening to music (should be the same every time)
  • Meditating
  • Calling a friend, or loved one
  • Taking a nap
  • Taking a series of deep breaths
  • Going for a walk
  • Eating a muffin
  • Watching the same TV show or movie 

Now go take what’s yours.

-Coach Bao



Awareness and starting with small goals

Awareness and starting with small goals

Sometimes you are going along a pathway, and you keep going even if it seems like that way is no longer right for you. Sometimes you feel that you have traveled too far to turn back so you settle on the journey you are on currently. A powerful tool is the ability to assess your current position. Assessment has a high pay-off if you commit to do it and do it well; that’s because it requires a self-awareness and honesty that part of the journey towards anything is stopping to ask yourself if you are going in the right direction.  Sometimes that requires the courage to reassess and admit that the direction you are going in isn’t really what you want. 

Some questions to ask yourself about where you are going: 

  • Do you still want it? 
  • What is the result you are searching for?
  • How do you want to feel? 

While these questions seem relatively simple, they require you to look hard at how things are going. It will be surprisingly more difficult than you expect because most of us are unaware of our blind spots. If you think you don’t have one, ask a trusted friend. They are far more likely to notice negative patterns in your behaviour than you are because sometimes it is the very decisions we are making to keep us “safe” that are holding us back from reaching our dreams, or at the very least our current goals. 

Paying attention to the things you do not want to pay attention to requires a willingness to shine a light on the things in your life that trigger you the most. Lasting transformation means being an objective witness on the parts of yourself that you hide from the most. While generally the most painful, they are usually the biggest catalysts for change. 

Once you have gone through the difficult process of assessing where you are. Remember the most important thing: do not beat yourself up! We have all heard the cliched quote, “the truth will set you free.” Well, that’s an incomplete quote. The real quote is, “the truth will set you free, but it will shatter your illusions first.” Being honest with yourself is an incredibly hard and brave thing to do.  

A link to a free workbook on how to deal with triggers when they come up.

Part of making lasting change is to make small promises to yourself and keep them. Small promises are the things you know without a doubt you can do. As you keep these small promises, you build confidence and trust in yourself. It is easy to rush into things and throw ourselves into big lofty goals. Instead of making goals like I want to go to the gym, eat better, or you know throw a perfect swing kick every time (I’m so guilty! ), start small. Make one small promise to yourself daily and keep it. You will be surprised at how likely you are to commit to your bigger goals once you show yourself how you can commit to the smaller ones. 

Link to habit tracker.

Set a reminder on your phone.

Write it somewhere where you can see it.

Don’t forget to celebrate yourself when you do it.

So, what is one small promise you will be making to yourself today?




Samantha Mogulko 

When not spending time with my family, you’ll find me on the Muay Thai or Yoga mat, or with my nose in a book. While my day is spent in corporate retail, I am a certified Reiki practitioner and tarot card reader. Life is about the mind, body, and spirit and I spend time strengthening that connection.



How to get coach to find you a muay thai fight

How to get coach to find you a muay thai fight

As a coach and owner of 2 gyms, I often get approached by students telling me that they are interested in fighting.  Our gym has over 100 members. Let's be honest, not every member will get an opportunity to compete and represent their club.  There is a lot of time and resources that goes into preparing someone for battle and it’s just not feasible nor practical to have the entire club fighting.  Extra pad rounds with coaches,  putting together your workout plan, finding cornermen (2 person) to accompany you for the day of the fight, prospecting for an opponent, organizing and planning for the event, and other behind the scenes work are some examples of extra duties required by the club to prepare for you to compete.

“Being skillful isn’t enough.”  

At our club we don’t just look at skill to determine who makes the cut.  Likewise, you could be the hardest working Joe out there but if your skill doesn’t measure up, then keep training.

So how does a club determine who gets to be on the fight roster?  I can tell you how Legacy decides.

How to Join the Legacy Fight Team (in no particular order)

1. Work ethic
Training hard and pushing yourself each class.

2. Attendance
You must be attending classes regularly (minimum 3 classes a week while also doing fight related training at home or elsewhere for a total of 5 training sessions a week).

3. Time in as part of the team
If you just joined our club, understand that it may take some time for all of us to get to know each other before we can work together.

4. Drive and passion for the sport
Are you fighting for the right reasons? To get girls, to beat up on people, or to show off on social media that you are a fighter aren’t good reasons. We want fighters who love the sport.

5. Skill
You don’t necessarily have to have the highest skill at the club, but you must prove that you understand the fundamentals, can bring home the victory, and can protect yourself in that ring. Only through hard sparring can you show this.

6. Attitude and character
Douches, arrogant, and egotistical people are not representing our club. Luckily for Legacy, we don’t have this problem as we don’t draw in those types of people anyways.


7. Ability to listen, learn, and follow direction
Self explanatory.








When you first join,  it’s perfectly fine to let the coach  know that you are interested in competing.  You can go a step further and ask how the club determines who gets to fight and what the requirements are.  Just understand that competing and representing your club is a privilege, NOT A RIGHT.  You get chosen based on set criterias and unfortunately, not everyone will get chosen.  There is usually already a waitlist of students patiently waiting for their turn, so if you are a newcomer interested you will have to be patient.  

So you got chosen to join the fight team?  Well, with great power comes great responsibilities.  This is what teamLEGACY expects from our fighters:

Specific Requirements and Expectations for our Fighters

1. Go to the advanced classes at least twice a week for 3 months before your scheduled fight.  One of those classes has to be the sparring classes (currently on Tuesdays).

2. Train hard - don’t skimp out on hard work, challenge yourself by sparring with tough partners, give 100%, 100% of the time.

3. Be a good teammate and contribute to the club in some ways.  What value do you add to the team or club?

4. We expect that shortly after your fight, you are back on the floor helping your teammates prepare for theirs through sparring and padwork.  Long extended breaks after receiving your fight is unacceptable.  If this happens then you can expect that we will not be finding you another fight.

5. You are also training and doing your homework outside the club times.  Road work, cross training at other gyms, working solo on the heavy bag at home, studying fight videos etc.

Do you have what it takes?