Taking Ownership of your Development as a Fighter

Taking Ownership of your Development as a Fighter

By Allan Blackett

When entering competition in combat sports, the importance of taking ownership of your development as a fighter cannot be overstated. Whether you’re into Muay Thai, Boxing, BJJ, or any other discipline, success extends far beyond just showing up to class and practicing monotonously. It’s about being fluid, adaptable, and fully engaged in the process of your own growth and training, taking on a mindset of commitment and proactive engagement with one's training routine and development as a fighter – a philosophy that separates the dedicated from the casual.

Why Taking Initiative Matters

Competing in combat sports is not the place for the half-hearted or the uncommitted; it's a very challenging endeavor which can be brutal and oftentimes unforgiving. For spectators, it may be entertainment, but for fighters, it’s an intensely personal challenge that tests every facet of their physical, mental, and spiritual being.

It's a demanding journey that requires commitment to constantly refine, learn, and adapt, which is vital for a fighter's growth. Learning quickly is the only way to improve, thrive, and survive in combat sports.

"I believe the path to being the best is through the cultivation of skill and the relentless pursuit of knowledge and improvement."

― Georges St-Pierre

Importance of Self-Assessment

A crucial component of taking ownership of your training is the ability to self-assess. Identifying and rectifying your own weaknesses, such as bad habits and mistakes, is fundamental for your growth as a fighter. To correct bad habits and mistakes effectively, it’s essential to:

  • Identify your mistakes: Acknowledge areas needing improvement.
  • Correct them: Implement changes or seek guidance to help address these issues.
  • Drill them out: Consistently practice the corrected techniques to ingrain them.
  • Evaluate your results: Continuously review your progress to ensure the changes are effective and adjust as necessary.

The mental aspect of fighting is equally crucial as well. If you find yourself fighting in a state of panic, reacting impulsively rather than strategically, you’d know that your emotional discipline needs work. Developing strategies (such as deep breathing or visualization before a fight) to remain calm and focused under pressure, along with reflecting on your responses during sparring sessions, can help identify triggers and patterns of panic. Conversely, a tendency to fight too passively may signal a lack of confidence or fear of taking risks. In this case, working on assertiveness and building a mindset that embraces rather than avoids challenges can transform your fighting approach.

Every fighter is different; identifying gaps in your skills and diligently working to fill them is what leads to real growth. This process requires brutal honesty, humility, and the initiative to focus on the necessary areas for improvements. It's about understanding that believing in yourself, while essential, must be paired with a constant effort to evolve and refine all aspects of your game.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Stepping out of your comfort zone

Comfort is the enemy of progress. To excel in combat sports, you must push beyond your comfort zones from how you normally do things. This may include:

  • Identifying areas where you feel least confident and deliberately putting yourself in positions during training to work on these.
  • Seeking new sparring partners outside of your gym with diverse skill sets or higher experience, pushing you to adapt and strategize differently.

Professional fighters serve as prime examples of this. They take ownership of their training by consistently seeking ways to refine their skills both in and out of the gym. They analyze sparring footage, study fights and techniques online, and reflect on their personal strengths and weaknesses.

This approach, valuable at both the amateur and professional levels, highlights the importance of thinking beyond conventional training methods and embracing a targeted, tailored approach to development. Learning from the pros, amateurs can adopt the same strategies.

"The more you are willing to step out of your comfort zone, the more you will learn about yourself and your capacity to grow in technique, strength, and spirit."

― Rickson Gracie

Ultimately, owning your development as a fighter means embracing growth through self-assessment, pushing boundaries, and continual improvement. Success in combat sports is about the journey as much as the destination. Hope this helps.

By Allan Blackett
Fighter, Personal Trainer, Student of the Game



3 Effective Ways to Drastically Improve Your Fighting Skills

3 Effective Ways to Drastically Improve Your Fighting Skills

By Allan Blackett

Everyone wants to advance and jump into fighting at a level higher than their current one. We want to get good at fighting quickly, thus often rushing the process.

Let's first be realistic though—you're not going to go from zero to hero in just a few months. Improving your fighting ability will always require hard work and lots of patience. You can train hard with max effort all the time, but you can also train smart.

Let's talk about the smart ways.


Everything in any given discipline relies on having a solid fundamental base. The greatest fighters in history all relied on their most basic skills to put together the most amazing performances in the ring.

This means you as a developing fighter must make an effort to consistently practice and drill the fundamentals repeatedly over your fighter career.

Through consistent practice, the body stores information on frequently repeated motions, which then becomes instinct. This allows you to execute strikes automatically without thought or plan, and also allows you to move and fight more efficiently.

Once you firmly grasp the fundamentals of offense and defense and it has been hardwired into your instincts, your techniques and combinations will become faster and more natural. With minimal mistakes, you can seamlessly flow through complex maneuvers, showcasing the true essence of your fighting ability. (edited)

Even if you are experienced, it never hurts to go over the basics so you don’t get sloppy. Identify technical errors and flaws in your maneuvers, and strive to correct them.

Which brings me to my second point:


This is something I’ve been doing a lot throughout the years of my martial art journey; Identifying my weaknesses and working to improve on them every time at the gym. Start with 2-3 weaknesses at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many things you have to work on. For example, if you find yourself having a hard time checking kicks, with a sparring partner, ask him/her to mostly throw kicks at you, and work on checking kicks.

You may notice that you are too predictable when you throw your strikes, which leads to you getting countered often. If this is the case, for the next sparring session, focus on making yourself more unpredictable by throwing more feints or mix up your strikes (high/low). This will help make you less predictable for counters.

You get the idea.

Develop awareness for where your weaknesses lie and work on them over and over again until they no longer become an area where your opponent cannot exploit. If you work on your weaknesses enough, they may just become your strength.


One of the methods that I use that drastically improved my fighting skills is by studying fighters.
Going back to point #2 on addressing your weaknesses with regards to getting counter attacked, watching fighters like Israel Adesanya can give you ideas on how to improve. You may notice how Israel utilizes a lot of fakes and feints mixing up his strikes, always trying to make his offense less predictable, thus reducing the potential of him getting easily countered. You can examine how he does this, practice this at home, or at the gym, and apply it in your next sparring session.

This is just one example. You may watch a fight and really like the way a particular fighter throws combinations that you would love to add to your game. Open your repertoire of techniques by looking at new fighters and learn from them.Experiment, try things out, have fun with it. Use what works for you, discard what doesn’t, and develop a unique style for yourself.

“Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee.

To close things off, I strongly believe that the most important thing about training isn't where you train or who you train with; it's how you train. While some might say that good fighters come from the best, most prestigious gyms, I really believe that all truly great fighters come from within, from their own hard work and dedication to their craft.

Hopefully, this helps.

By Allan Blackett
Fighter, Personal Trainer, Student of the Game


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.


Master list of muay thai combos

Master list of muay thai combos

Have you ever been lost with what combos to throw on the bags or pads?  The coaches here at Legacy have put together some of their favorite muay thai combos.  They are very basic, yet they work at the highest levels of competition. Don't just glance over them, study them, and know them well.

Don't forget to read our related blogpost called "CREATING MUAY THAI COMBOS."

Lets dive into it.

Major Single Strike Attacks

  1. Jab
  2. Cross
  3. Rear up elbow
  4. Lead up elbow
  5. Rear side elbow
  6. Lead side elbow
  7. Rear swing kick
  8. Lead swing kick (switch kick)
  9. Rear low kick
  10. Rear pushkick
  11. Lead pushkick
  12. Rear knee
  13. Lead knee (switch knee)



  • Parrying punches
  • Blocking against punches
  • Shin blocks against kicks
  • Arm-shield Blocks against kicks
  • Dracula guard
  • Catching kicks


Counter Strikes

  • Parry any punch to swing kick counter
  • Parry any punch to straight knee counter
  • Shin block to swing kick counter
  • Counter the cross with a rear swing kick or rear low kick
  • Counter the jab with a switch kick


Basic Punching Combos

*all hooks are lead hooks

*all jabs or crosses can be substituted for uppercuts

  • Jab, cross
  • Jab, cross, jab, cross
  • Jab, cross, hook
  • Jab, cross, hook, cross
  • Jab, jab, cross
  • Jab, cross, lead body hook
  • Fake jab, cross, lead hook


Elbow Focused Combos

  • Lead up elbow, rear side elbow
  • Lead side elbow, rear up elbow
  • Jab, lead up elbow, rear side elbow
  • Pull down opponent guard and side elbow
  • Jab, cross, lead side elbow,rear up elbow (important to close distance)
  • Jab, cross, lead side elbow, rear up elbow (important to close distance)


Kick Focused Combos

  • Jab, cross, hook, rear swing kick
  • Jab, rear swing kick
  • Jab, cross, switch lead kick
  • Cross, switch lead kick
  • Cross, hook, rear swing kick
  • Hook, cross, lead swing kick
  • Jab, jab, cross, swing kick
  • Jab, lead uppercut, cross, switch kick
  • Inside lead kick, cross
  • Jab, body cross, lead hook, low kick
  • Lead teep, rear swing kick *2
  • Rear swing kick, lead teep
  • Cross, switch kick*2

Low Kick Focused Combos

  • Jab, rear low kick
  • Jab, cross, hook, low kick
  • Cross, hook, low kick
  • Jab-hook, low kick
  • Rear upper, hook, low kick


Teep focused Combos 

  • Jab, lead teep, jab fake lead teep -> any rear weapon after that works based on range.
  • Jab, rear swing kick, lead teep
  • Teep, fake teep, rear swing kick (or low)
  • Jab, lead teep, rear face teep
  • Swing kick, fake swing kick to rear teep

*Side note - timing teeps (lead especially) vs swing kicks is very important.

Establishing an effective teep leads to many opportunities to step a a variety of combinations for all range of weapons

Knee Focused Combo 

  • Cross, rear knee
  • Jab, switch knee
  • Jab, cross, switch knee
  • Left hook rear knee
  • Cross, hook, rear knee
  • Lead teep, fake lead teep, rear knee

*knees are great counters after blocking kicks or parrying punches, example:

  • Parry jab to rear knee
  • Parry cross to switch knee
  • Either side shin block against kicks to either side knee


Combos Starting with a Kick

  • Rear swing kick, cross
  • Switch kick, cross
  • Switch kick, cross, hook, low kick
  • Lead push kick, rear swing kick
  • Rear push kick, lead swing kick




What equipment is required for sparring & sparring etiquette - PART 1

What equipment is required for sparring & sparring etiquette - PART 1

Are you thinking of getting into sparring? Every club has their own rules and protocol when it comes to sparring.  At Legacy, we allow students to spar as early as a few months in...HOWEVER, safety is paramount.


Standard across the board are 16oz gloves being worn when there are punches to the head. 16oz gloves have more padding than the 10, 12, and 14oz gloves (duh). The excess padding will soften the force of your punches and thus minimize damage to your training partner. If you weigh less than 130lbs, you may get away with wearing 14oz gloves to spar (but please confirm with your coach first). Kids ages 8-12 years can potentially spar with 10-12oz gloves. Please respect your training partner and wear the appropriate size gloves. It is all of our duty to call out those who are sparring with undersized gloves.

Take note that not all 14-16oz gloves are created equal. Many entry level brands like Kimurawear, Benza, Reevo, etc are adequate for bag and pad work but not sparring because their “16oz” gloves are actually lighter than what is stated. You can’t go wrong with gloves made by reputable brands like Fairtex, Twins, Top King, Windy, Yokkao, Boon, and Raja.

Shin guards should always be worn for sparring, with the exception of tech sparring where the intensity is kept under 15%. The top of the shin guard should sit just under the bottom of your knee to prevent the upper shin from being exposed. As this can be painful for your partner if you block one of his kicks on the bare part of your upper shin. Your shin guards should also have a padded flap that goes over your foot for added protection to your toes. Sock shin guards (1st photo below) can be worn for tech sparring but not for regular sparring sessions. Most muay thai branded equipment will do just fine, they include Fairtex, Twins, Top King, Windy, Raja, Boon, Muay Thai Brand, Legacy, RDX, Kimurawear, etc.


Another important piece of equipment is the mouthguard. Any generic self-moulded one will suffice. If you are looking for added protection and fitting, talk to your Dentist to make custom mouth guards that are fitted to your teeth and gums. I prefer the generic ones as I found custom mouthguards were too tight and snug for my personal liking. I also often misplace my mouth guards so I didn’t like to spend too much on them. Consider investing in a mouthguard case and clip it to your gym bag for safe keeping. If you do go for the custom guards, they can run you anywhere between $200-$800. Check your employment benefits as many do cover the cost of constructing one. Military and para-military benefits generally include custom fitted mouthguards at 100%.


Guys, do I need to say more? Most will opt to leave this one out until they eat a knee right in the “you know where.” Yes, this has happened to me many times, especially in the clinch. Now, I always take an extra couple of minutes before battle to put on my cup. Muay thai cups can be made of steel or plastic. You honestly don’t need something as hard as a steel cup but if you want to feel like a badass Thai fighter then go right ahead. I had both kinds throughout my fight career. Fairtex and Twins steel cups are quite reputable. Shock Doctor has some reliable plastic groin protectors.


With modern research showing that headgear does nothing to reduce concussions or force of punches, many muay thai gyms no longer require headgear for sparring. Headgear is optional at Legacy. However, note that Muay Thai has many more offensive options than kickboxing and boxing (punch, elbow, kick, knee, throws, sweeps, locks). Although the headgear may not protect you from blunt trauma, it can reduce the chances of you getting cut and scraped from an accidental elbow or knee to the head or face.

You can read this article as to why Olympic Boxers aren’t required to wear headgear anymore:

These can be worn for extra protection but take note that this is not an invitation for you to go bezerk and blast your partner with hard knees or sharp elbows. Elbow pads have a tendency to shift exposing your bare-elbow bone so be careful. NO KNEES TO THE HEAD, EVER. Knee pads and elbow pads will also protect your knee and elbow joints.

Light muay thai sparring (less that 10-15% power) using mainly kicks, knees, and clinch is known as technical (tech) sparring. The emphasis here is on technique, timing, and placement of strikes (accuracy and precision). Thai fighters are notorious for tech sparring. They seldom spar hard in training as they frequently compete, sometimes as often as every other week so they want to keep their body fresh and injury free. Western fighters do not have the luxury of frequent competition opportunities so we must incorporate harder rounds to stay sharp and fight ready. In anycase, for tech sparring you do not require much protective equipment, granted that both partners exhibit some self control. The choice of protective equipment is based on the style of tech sparring you are doing. Watch here:

With gloves and shin guards:

Without gloves and shin guards: