Ask the Trainer



Training tips From Mr. Richard Smith, world renowned Muay Thai fighter, trainer, and founder of  Bad Company Gym,  In Leeds, England. Readers are invited to e-mail any questions or advice related to training, fighting techniques, strategy, or other related subjects. All questions will be forwarded to Mr. Smith, who will try to answer as many as possible

Dear Richard,

Long story short, I am the only woman training at an academy full of men.  Ninety-nine times out of one hundred it's not a problem.  The guys are great - accepting, helpful, respectful, etc.  Problem is, I have my first fight coming up in a month and I am at a loss for women to spar with.

My question for you is, Do you have any suggestions that could help us to alter our sparring so that it's mutually beneficial?  Right now I'm kind of getting the crap beaten out of me and the boys end up feeling bad.  My coach and I have been looking into alternatives since there are no women around and I figured you might have some insight.

Thank you for your time,


P.S.  I wish I had started searching women's teams earlier.  I was in Leeds for the New Year!  Wonderful people, bad winter weather.  :-)

Hi Megan

Thanks for your question. I understand your problem – when Lisa (Houghton-Smith) started training at my gym there were no other girls and it was often difficult to get sparring for her. What we had to do was travel all over the place to other gyms for sparring with their female fighters. I suggest that you ask you coach if there is anyone that he/she knows nearby that you could arrange to do some sparring with. Either go there or invite them to you. This will be good from two points of view – first you will get to spar with other girls and also as you are outside your own gym and comfort zone you will be a bit more nervous that usual and this will be good fight practice. You are certainly always welcome at my gym in Leeds – we have loads of girls here bit who fight and who don’t. Please feel free to e-mail me at

Another possibility would be to try to find a local interclub and put you name forward and hope to get matched with another girl. I’m not sure whether its Thai Boxing or Full/semi Contact or what gym you are from but there should be something suitable near you.

Obviously I don’t think it’s a good idea for your training partners to give you a hard time in every training session but training with bigger stronger partners who give you a hard time will benefit you in the long run. It should also be good for them as they will need to learn control and how to deal with a partner who is faster and more often than not technically better. A lot of the time a man has to go hard with a girl to even up that fact that she is better than him!

Good luck with your training and your fight – please let me know how you get on.

PO Box 183,
LS18 4WD
Tel:  +44 (0)8700 278400
Fax: +44 (0)8700 278401
Mob:+44 (0)7885 270267

Hi my name is Chris and I have been training for about 9 weeks in kickboxing and am planning on going into competions. During training today I went over leg kicks and on the flip side leg kick blocks and even while blocking correctly i got major bruising and lumps on my shins. I know in the movie kickboxer Van Dam kicked a tree are there any exercises to strengthen my legs for blocking kicks and all around bettering my kickboxing. Thanx
Hi Chris
Thanks for your question. I really sympathise with you – it was a problem for me when I started too! I’m sure that its something that most new starters come across.
The problem is that you will not yet have the conditioning or the control to avoid injuries. More often than not, unfortunately you will be training with another beginner and will both have the same problem! All you can do for the moment is double up on the shin pads and wear as much protection as you can when sparring. Try to control everything that you do and learn your technique by going really light. Thais spar with no shin pads as they do everything very controlled and light.  Eventually you will learn better control and timing and find that you are not injuring yourself so much.
On the other hand when you are kicking the bag and pads, try not to wear shin pads (unless you are injured) and kick with power to increase your conditioning. This will thicken the bone slightly, increase bone density and kill off a few of the nerves that transmit the pain! I am not really a believer in kicking banana trees or rolling milk bottles on your shins or other extreme techniques – all your shins are is skin and bone and it doesn’t matter what you do to them it will always hurt if you kick someone's knee!
Just try to learn to time your kicks and control them and I guarantee that after time you will find that you hurt yourself less.
Good luck!
PO Box 183,
LS18 4WD
Tel:  +44 (0)8700 278400
Fax: +44 (0)8700 278401
Mob:+44 (0)7885 270267

Hi, Mr.Smith,

I am a 16 year old girl who trains 3 times a week for two hours each time at a local muay thai gym.  I have recently started running 3 times a week before school to improve my fitness as i would love to fight.  Could you give me any other tips to improve fitness and diet please?

Also, i would like to know what would be the ideal fighting weight for my height as i am currently 5ft 4 and weigh 55kgs.  And, as i am now 16 would i be fighting grown women or juniors?


Thank you,


Hi There


Thanks for your question. Your routine sounds great. To be honest I wouldn’t add much else to it or it will become too much for you.


At 16, I wouldn’t advise a routine with much more than you are doing. If you want to add anything else such as strength training I’d advise you cut back on the running.

If you want to get fitter for Muay Thai, at first I’d advise concentrate on your Muay Thai training as its only doing the sport specifically that you will condition your body to get used to it.

If you are getting ready to fight you can step your training up for a short period before the fight by adding extra Fight training sessions and maybe some sprint training – I am sure that your coach will be able to advise.

As far as you ideal fighting weight goes – its difficult for me to say without seeing you but 55kg sounds ideal for your height and I wouldn’t worry about trying to lose weight.

At 16 I would think that your coach would look for opponents of a similar age – I certainly wouldn’t expect you to be matched with adults unless you were very experienced.

I hope this helps but of course if you need anything else please let me know.

Good Luck!

Hi Richard! My question is: How can I improve the speed of my kicks? I started practice kickboxing 6 years ago, train 2 or 3 times in a week. Thanks a lot! :-) Ilaria from Italy

Hi Ilaria

Thanks for your question.


A good kicker often isn’t the fastest kick, more to do with good timing. Practice your sparring a lot and you will find that you land kicks more easily by developing better timing.


To develop more explosive power (and therefore speed) in your kick you should concentrate on “Plyometric” training for your legs. Jumping squats, Box jumps, Star Jumps etc.


You will find plenty of sites on the internet if you search on “Plyometric Training” that will describe routines and explain the exercises that you could incorporate into your routine.


I would only advise doing this type of training once a week as you need to allow your body to recover to benefit.

I hope this helps.  

Richard Smith


PO Box 183,
LS18 4WD
Tel:  +44 (0)8700 278400
Fax: +44 (0)8700 278401
Mob:+44 (0)7885 270267

Hi Mr. Smith –

I would love some advice on how to prepare better mentally for an upcoming fight that I have.

I feel like I am missing something in my preparation. It’s been three years since my last fight and since then

I have had two children and I run a very successful school. My coach is good at physical training but I have

Never had anyone to help me mentally.

I could definitely use some direction on this –


Hi Christina ,

My personal; view on gaining the mental strength required for a fight is that it can be gained by hard physical training. If you take yourself to the limit every time you train and push yourself to your limits you will develop physical conditioning and confidence. When a fighter takes their fitness to another level I find that they start to look forward to testing themselves in a fight.

I find it sometimes helps to ask the fighters to visualize how they will feel the next day after the fight when they wake up and they have won the fight. This helps motivate them in their training. Otherwise. if your greatest fear is losing then it may help to imagine how it would feel to lose before you train to help you push yourself, although this is a rather negative way to approach things. If you have had two children I have little doubt that you will be well able to face any physical challenge!

Basically I think that if you have suffered enough in the gym, when the going gets tough in the ring you will have the mental reserves to push yourself through.

Good luck in your future Fights and I hope that you are successful.

Please let me know how you get on.


Dear Mr. Smith

My name is Romana and I`m 24 years old. I started training muay thai 3 months ago and fell in love with it.

I never trained any sports before, just atended gym and aerobics classes so I am in good condition. Now I train 5 times a week.

I have so many questions but all of them will be answered in time if you answer this one : is it too late to start training for figths at my age,I mean to become a muay thai figther.and if you have any advice in aditional training like running or weightlifting, I`d appreciate it.

Sorry if my english is not so good.

thank you for your answer in advance


Hi Romana

Thanks for your question.

No – 24 is definitely not too old to start training and fighting in Muay Thai! I know many fighters that did not start until later than this and became great fighters. I think that female fighters mature later than male ones and some of the strongest women in the sport are over 30 so you have plenty of time!

Please e-mail me if you have specific questions but generally don’t worry too much about too much additional training like running or weight lifting at forts – concentrate on learning Muay Thai. Use your energy to concentrate on learning technique and getting better. Dont rush too much – be patient and take your time.

I hope this helps but if you need anything else, please let me know.

Good Luck!


PO Box 183,
LS18 4WD
Tel:  +44 (0)8700 278400
Fax: +44 (0)8700 278401
Mob:+44 (0)7885 270267

Dear Mr. Smith,

I have been taking kickboxing for about a year and began sparring 6 months

ago. I am going to have a competition in a couple of months and have had

some trouble staying on track. I am either training 2hrs or more a day or

skipping class consecutively. I was doing really well for a month training

about 2hrs a day everyday , then hardly worked out 1/wk for a month. So this

week I worked out about 2hrs 3 nights but I was too sore on day number 4.

Got any suggestions on how to pace one's self to get back on the wagon if

there is a tendency to go between extremes?




Thanks for your question.

To be honest I think you’ve answered your own question! When you train, you are training too much and burning yourself out so your body is making you rest. You need to structure your training so that you have a routine to follow.

Limit your sessions to no more than an hour and a half and remember that you don’t have to kill yourself in every session! Decide what days its best for you to train on (say Monday Wednesday and Friday) and stick to those days. If you are near a competition you could add an extra session and you can always do your own training away from; the kickboxing gym such as running or circuit training or weights, but again limit the sessions to no more than an hour and always make sure you have 2 days a week off so you can recover fully. You cant work all aspects of your fitness at once, you need to concentrate on one at a time, so if you are trying to improve your kickboxing add an extra session but cut back on other types of training. If you are wanting to focus on strength for a while, focus on weight training but cut a kickboxing session out.

Its all about balance and it sounds like you haven’t been able to find one yet!

Best of luck and I hope that some of this helps.


PO Box 183,
LS18 4WD
Tel:  +44 (0)8700 278400
Fax: +44 (0)8700 278401
Mob:+44 (0)7885 270267


 I am 5'4' and 130lbs, they may seem silly to want to lose 15lbs but I assure
 you I have a very small frame and now my weight gain was from my relentless
 brownie binges and convenient fast food runs. I started kickboxing about 2
 months ago but although having added muscle the fat still resides (mainly
 around my stomach and thighs). I know its my diet but here is my problem,

 With my very picky eating habits its hard to stay low calorie with out
starving. When I do find foods that are low calorie and high protein I feel
 like I am slammed with fat. For example, I will eat tuna with no bread but I
 throw in a tspn of mayo and I just added 10g of fat. Will this kind of fat
 hinder my weight loss and how much fat should I consume a day to lose weight?

 Thank You,


Hi Amanda

Although I am not a nutritionist, I can say that from a weight loss point of
view it isn't really about the amount of fat that you consume, more about the
calories. Also you need to find a diet you can stick to.

Eating tuna with no bread - even with mayo will not keep you satisfied or
give you the energy to train. You will soon end up with low blood sugar and
start on another binge. This kind of Yo-Yo dieting will not get you anywhere
and is not healthy.

The most sensible advice is to be reasonable with your diet. Dont deny yourself
too much. Make it a diet that you can stick to by making small alterations such
as using semi skimmed mil, eating more fruit and vegetables, and eating enough
good quality complex carbohydrate to fuel the training that you are doing,
avoiding too much processed food and simple sugary carbohydrates. If you prefer
mayo with you tuna, dont worry about it, just take it easy. Dont be too
obsessive about what you eat ofr you will never stick to it.

Eat sensibly, stay away from binging on chocolate brownies etrc and train hard
and regular and you will find that your weight and overall health will benefit.

If you want to lose weight it would be best for yoru training to include some
aerobic type training such as jogging, skipping or cyclinf\g for a minimum of
20 minutes working up to at least 3 times a week.

I hope this helps



Dear Mr Smith.
Hi, sir I am 23 years of age and wanting to start kickboxing in order to loose weight and get fit as well  as learn a martial art and self defense.  Im not really that fit, I only jog about three times a week. I was wondering if you have any ideas on a training programme or schedule that I could follow in order me to get fit for when i join the kickboxing gym?
I would also appreciate any tips for beginners that you might have. 
With regard to diet I am quite healthy would I have to increase my daily intake of food? If so which food group should I increase?
Thank you for all your help.
Kindest regards,


Hi Teresa,

Thanks for your question.

To be honest if your level of fitness is ok for jogging 3 times a week, I would say that you should be fit enough to start out in a beginners class and that the best way to get fit for kickboxing is to do kickboxing! This might sound stupid, but fitness for any sport is pretty specific and while running or weight training may help you with specific areas of fitness such as endurance or strength or power,  the only way to find out what areas you need to work on is to train and do the sport first.

If you are determined to change your training to a more specific routine to suit your new sport, then I would add some interval training into your runs – such as hill work (find a hill that takes about a minute to run up at a steady pace, after a warm up of about 10 minutes, run up and jog back down building up to 5 reps and then finish with a  cool down,)  or sprint training – (10-15 second bursts with 2-3 minutes recovery in between). Alternatively you could start some weight training to increase strength and muscular endurance – start with an all over body routine working legs (quads hamstrings and calves), chest, shoulders, back and arms after a warm up. If you go to a gym they should be able to advise you on a specific programme.

With regard to diet, you should need to make too many adjustments at first, other than to make sure you get plenty of protein to repair the muscles and drink plenty of water, but make sure you follow a reasonably balanced diet

Sorry not to be more specific but really you need to start the sport and then you will see what effect it has on your body and then you will have more idea on what needs adjusting in your training and diet. Once you get started, don’t hesitate to let me know how you are getting on and let me have any more questions that you may have.




       I am a 15 year old girl who is very dedicated to freestyle martial arts. I started at the age of 4 and have started fighting in tournaments since the age of 9. I'm always training and trying new things. I would love to be a world champion in the future and fight for England. What I want to ask you is to help me come up with a training programme that will help me to improve everything. I usually just go on my punch bag for about half an hour every night but I want to work on cardio, punching and kicking techniques. Please write back to me with a training programme because I really need your help

  Thank you,


 Dear Kelly,

Thanks for your e-mail. Its great to hear that you are so dedicated.

Its difficult for me to suggest a routine for you when I don’t know your training routine, whether you train at a club and what type of Kickboxing you want to compete in.

Will it be semi-contact, light continuous, full contact, etc?

By the sounds of your e-mail you are training on your own and not at a club.

I would strongly recommend that if this is the case, you will find it hard to reach your potential and that you should look for a club with a reputable instructor who has a history of producing fighters in the style that you want to compete.

If you want any suggestions or if you can let me know a bit more about yourself, I can advise further, so please don’t hesitate to e-mail back. In the meantime I hope that this helps.

Regards, Richard

 hi my names mel I am from Devon I have been kickboxing for near 2 years. I had to fight a man last night 4 times the size of me came out of it feeling a bit disgruntled, as he had a harder hit and did not matter what I did he came in hard, do u have any tips on sparring someone a lot bigger and how to regain confidence .

                                                    thanks Mel

Hi Mel

Thanks for your e-mail.

For a start you should not be put in a situation where you have to “fight” a man, never mind someone (male or female) who is much bigger than you. Even if you mean sparring in the class, there is no excuse for someone bigger and stronger, going hard and you coming out of it upset and disgruntled.

My first advice on how to deal with this situation is to avoid it! I can give you all the advice in the world about attack, defense and footwork, but at the end of the day none of it will help you to deal with a trained person much bigger than you coming in hard and this should not happen in a gym or in competition.

I suggest that you speak to your instructor and tell him/her that you are not happy about this. Any decent instructor will address this and make sure that it doesn’t happen again.



 Hi there Richard,


My name is Susie and I write to you from Australia.


I have been in serious boxing and kickboxing training for the past 2 years and have some wonderful trainers, yet I like to get lots of  advice from many different professionals.

My question to you is...

Standing at 4'11" tall and weighing in at 40kg (of solid muscle) I am quite little. Being an ex jockey I have rather incredible strength for my slight frame, am at the peak of my fitness and have a huge heart.

Now as you can well imagine all opponents have a reach advantage, not to mention I am a great target for some serious head kicks!

I have become quite efficient in blocking, weaving, slipping and my constant dancing in and out of range causes my opponent's a great deal of frustration!
(he he)

Now...this is fine as I have the endurance to go the distance, yet as frustrating as it is for my opponent, it too is for me.  I was wondering if you could advise me on some offensive techniques as so in between my incredibly frustrating "dancing routine" I can get in a few decent points.

Warm regards,


Hi Susie

Thanks for your question. To be honest it sounds like you have the answers right there in your question! You need to work on turning what could be a disadvantage (your height/reach) into an advantage. Your center of gravity is low and when you are at your range it will be very difficult for an opponent to get their shots off properly.

You will find that you need to work on pushing your opponent backwards and not standing directly in front of them – ie step left and right when you are in range. Try to avoid being pushed backwards yourself. Use you lower center of gravity. It would be a good idea to pick up as many tapes of Thais fighting (especially against Westerners) and look at their footwork as they are masters at cutting down the ring and not being pushed back.

 I  hope that this helps



hi! i live in the UK in manchester and i have been looking on the website EVERYWHERE to find training in kickboxing for women.i was wondering if you knew any in manchester, longsight!! it would be very useful. i find that i am not naturally confident and want to build it, and want my health to improve also. i am asthmatic and slightly anaemic and am slightly underweight for my ageof 21 i weigh only 7 stone. i am unsure if it would be appropriate for me. what do you suggest.

from alexxa

Dear Alexxa


There are many gyms in Manchester but on that I am sure you will find offer what you are looking for is Master A’s gym. It is a very friendly small place right in the city center and Master A is a great teacher. He as many girls training there and has produced many champions. Don’t worry about your strength and health as training will only improve it Go to your your doctor before you start to make sure its ok, but after that Master A will look after you. The website is  where I am sure you will find all the information that you need.

If not please let me know.

Good luck!

Hi Mr Smith,

I've just started my Level 2 Beginners course, week 2 finished yesterday (see course curriculum below).  I would like to know if you can give me any tips, videos, DVD's suggestions to buy, etc. that may help learn and perfect to the best of my abilities these techniques.  I'm trying to get the moves right and learning the co-ordination, kicks, boxing, etc., but they seem to be taking time (or is it that I'm impatient!).  Can you suggest anything I can do to improve my movements?


Dear Jennifer,


Level 1 (6-8 Week Beginner course)

Techniques: Fighting stance, front kick, roundhouse kick, side kick, looping leg, jab, right cross, left hook, right upper cut, forward, backward, lateral movement, ducking & slipping, covering head/body, knee strike, spinning back fist, walk-off.

Week 1: Jab, right cross, duck, move forward/back/side, front kick, roundhouse kick, hopping roundhousekick.
Week 2: Side kick, knee strike, cover (body), kick touch.
Week 3: Loop leg over top, left hook.
Week 4: Right upper cut, covering (head).
Week 5: Slipping.
Week 6: Spinning back fist.
Weeks 7-8: (prep-period), walk-off

Level 2 (8 Week course)

Techniques: Hook kick, round Thai kick, switch round kick, back kick, outside & inside low kick, right hook, lead uppercut, pivot jab, left/right hook (body), parry jab & right cross, duck-step & pivot, inside foot sweep, outside foot sweep.

Week 1: Hook kick, Round kick(Thai style), left hook (body), parry jab.
Week 2: Lead uppercut, right hook, switch round kick, step-right cross, light body sparring.
Week 3: Round Thai kick, inside low kick, outside low kick.
Week 4: Duck-step, pivot-jab.
Weeks 5-6: Low kick blocks, inside foot sweep & outside foot sweep.
Weeks 7-8: Multiple kick combinations, back kick.

Level 3 (8 Week course)

Techniques: Spinning hook kick, outside & inside lowkick(rear leg), switch back fist /step-in right cross, lunging right cross, chop back leg, switch-inside calf sweep, break falls, faking, broken rhythm.

Week 1: Switch back fist/step-in right cross, inside low kick(back leg).
Week 2: Spinning hook kick, outside low kick(back leg)
Week 3: Lunging right cross, chop back leg.
Week 4: Switch-inside calf sweep.
Week 5: Break falls, faking.
Week 6: Broken rhythm.
Weeks 7-8: Prep-period.

Dear Mr.Smith,

I have been searching around the net for days but i couldn't find any
suitable kickboxing courses for me. I found this website and hope you
would advise me!

I am a 23,168cm tall and weigh  240pounds living in Hong Kong.I have
been working in my local gym for a week and i tried kickboxing
aerobics and found i am in love with it .I  would eagerly want to
start training real kickboxing.However, real kickboxing is not
available in my local gym,called Physical. Do you know if there is any
good ones around?I found it really hard to tell how good each  boxing
club is.

I am not very comfortable with my shape but I really want to be strong
and healthy. However,I am worrying my fitness level is not qualified
to join kickboxing. In my first kickboxing aerobics class, every girl
is around size 12. I felt so out of place and worried that i will
become a burden for a class.

My main concern is not about losing weight but about how to improve my
fitness and muscles. I can't wait. Your advice will be so so valuable
for me!!!

Thank you very much for reading my mail and i look forward to hear
from you soon!!!


Hi Mimi


Thanks for your question. I'm afraid I cant recommend any gyms in Hong-Kong as I dont know any there personally, but I'm sure if you look in your local directory you will find a few choices.


The first thing that I would say is that its great that you have started training and that you are enjoying kickboxing.  If you find a good gym with a good trainer there is no reason why you should feel out of place or to feel that you are holding the class back. Remember that everyone had to start somewhere and even the world champipns that you see on this site were beginnners once and someone had to take time out to help them get started. It sound like your main problem is going to be self confidence as you are worrying about feeling out of place and a burden to the class. One of the hardest things about our sport is getting started - walking through the door. When you do though you will find that most people are helpful and friendly and when they see that you are committed and determined they will be supportive and encouraging. If the odd person is not that way, it is there problem not yours.


Any decent coach will be able to set you on a program and give advice to suit your need whether it is to improve fitness or lose weight or both. If you look further down the list of Question here, I give some advice on losing weight that you might find useful.


I hope that you are successful in finding a place to train - please let me know how you get on and best of luck!

Hello Mr. Smith,

Name is Sarah and 19 years old. I am deaf and I wear Cochlear implanted. I was wondering if that thai boxing at the ring permit protection like helmet? I can take off my hearing aid but can't take off the implanted inside my head, the implanted is small and need a little protection. 

Hi Sarah

Thanks for your question.

The answer is pretty simple - if you fight Amateur Muay Thai you will wear headguard, body protection and shin pads. Pro is without padding.

If you compete on gym shows or novice events, it may be that your trainer will be able to agree with the other camp to wear head protection.

I hope that this helps and good luck with your training and fighting. Please let me know how you get on.




   I have been kickboxing for six months now, I started when I was living in Holland and I now do it in the UK. I think it's fantastic!  I was wondering if you could give me some information on the levels of kickboxing. For example, in something like karate you can progress through coloured belts, the ultimate aim being the black belt. Is there anything like this in kickboxing and if there is, how do you go about gaining the belts/ level awards? I would be really interested to know as I would like to get more seriously into the sport.




Thanks for your question and I'm really pleased that you are enjoying your training.

Kickboxing is a competitive sport and many people like to test their progress by competing. There are plenty of options out there from Light Contact to Light Continuous to Full Contact. However, many people do not wish to compete and after only 6 months I would suggest that it is a little early for you to consider competing.

Most gyms usually follow a grading syllabus which will take you through to the equivalent of Black Belt or Instructor Level. Although Kickboxing in the UK is not as organised as Karate and therefor there is a less uniform grading system, most of the major Governing Bodies do have a grading syllabus for their instructors to follow. Have a word with your instructor and ask whether you do gradings at your gym. If you dont and this is something that you wish to do in order to monitor your progress, I am sure that you will be able to find another local gym that offers this.

I hope that this helps, but of course if you want to know anything else, please let me know.



I just started Kickboxing about 2 months ago.  In the class we get to use a shield that reads how hard you punch and kick It and the Instructor has said for the yellow belt grading we have to be able to kick the shield with a right front kick and get a reading of 12 from 10 attempts and strike It using a right cross and get a reading of 10 must be recorded from 10 attempts.  Using this shield previously my right cross reads at 5 and my right front kick reads a 7.  Do you have any Ideas of what I can do to build strength or any Ideas to help me hit the shield into double figures.  I'm 5ft 3" and 7stone and I just cannot get It Into double figures.

Any help or tips will be great!

Hi Emma,

Thanks for your question.

The first thing that I notice is that you have only been training for about 2 months. With this amount of training, you are unlikely to have fully learned the techniques to the extent that you can yet generate your full power. The most important thing that I would say to you at this stage is to practice! Just keep practicing the techniques over and over again and the repetition will "groove" the techniques into  your body so that it generates force more efficiently. Keep asking your instructor to look at your technique to make sure you are practicing properly, getting your body weight into the techniques and generating power from twisting your body.

As you get better at the techniques, you will find that your power will improve quite dramatically at first. If you are looking to punch harder, I would advise you to be careful about wrapping/bandaging your hands and wearing decent gloves, as your wrists and hands will need protecting. The most important thing when punching is to make sure that you twist your body using your hip and shoulder. This means that you will have to come up on the toes on the side that you are punching and get your body weight through the shoulder and down the arm. Think of twisting your body as if you are throwing a stone.

With kicks, make sure you kick through the pad and fully twist your body, twisting on the standing leg.

Once you get you technique right I am sure that you will find you generate enough power to pass your grading. If you want to develop more power after this, you will need to look into strength training incorporating Plyometrics and well as putting more time into your Kickboxing to condition your body.

I'm sure you'll get there, but best of luck, and please let me know how you get on.



Hi Richard,

i began kickboxing when i was about 14, training a few times a week for
3 years and competing in light contact tournaments.

i took a break during my final year of high school to concentrate on
studies, im now in my 2nd year of uni, turning 20 in 2 months time and
really want to take it up seriously again!

im definately not at the fitness/weight(56kg) level i was 2 and a half
years ago (probly close to 10 kgs heavier), and i was wondering how
long i
should expect it to take before im back to the level i used to be at?

i'm also an asthmatic, and since i stopped kickboxing my asthma has
a lot worse than it used to be when i was training regularly (it was
basically non-existent then!)

what other sports/exercises can i do to maximise my chances of getting
back to where i left off asap?




Hi Carlie

Thanks for your question. My own non-medical opinion is that if you get back into your trainng and improve your fitness, this will help your asthma. However, I would advise you to go see your Doctor just to check that its ok. One who specialises in asthma would be the best to see.

My main advice would be to take it easy at first. Dont push yourself too much to soon, as you may end up injured and losing motivation. For the first few weeks dont train any more than 3 times a week to give your body plenty of time to recover.Take a look at your diet too. If you are increasing your training, drink plenty of water and increase your protein intake, look to increase the amount of fresh unprocessed food such as fruit and vegetables and of course reduce the amount of "junk" that you eat.

If you want to incorporate other types of training, at first I would look at running or if you dont like to run, go to the gym and use the stationary bike, rowing machines or other cardio equipment but this would be part of your 3 times per week training, not as well as. Build up slowly with your running and other weight bearing stuff as your increased bodyweight may make you a little more prone to injury on your knees and lower back.

After  4 weeks, you should be ok to add another session a week - either extra kickboxing, another weights session or some light weights. Your kickboxing trainer should be able to give you some advice in a programme that will suit you more specifically with the amount of time that you have available etc.

Its difficult to say how long it will take you to get back in shape, but as its only about 3 years since you stopped training and you are still only 20, I would have thought that your fitness would come back pretty quickly at first (asthma permitting) and definately within 6 months, and you should get your weight back down (as long as you are sensible with your diet) in less than a year.

I hope that this helps and GOOD LUCK with your training. Please let me know how you get on.


Hi Richard,

I have been training in Muay Thai for approximately three years and in the past year I have been competing.

I usually train 5 times a week combining padwork, bags, cardio and sparring.

Recently I have been training six days a week as I have been training for a fight two weeks away. However, I have just discovered that I am 6 weeks pregnant and have had to pull out.

I wish to continue with my training, with obvious modifications (No
sparring, lower intensity and no fighting for now!) and I wondered if
you have had any experience with students training whilst pregnant?

My doctor is happy for me to continue training, but with less
intensity, as I have had such a high exercise routine prior to becoming pregnant.

Any specific drills, exercises or advice would be very much

Thank you for your time taken in answering this question.

Kind regards

Hi, I'm Lisa Houghton-Smith, Richard's wife and thought I'd be better equipped to answer this as I had a baby a year ago!


First of all , Congratulations : )

I spoke to a few of the girls on the circuit and most of us managed to train Thai boxing until between 5 and 7 months ( There's a point when your bump gets big and you just feel uncomfortable but you'll know your own body and recognize this point.)

Really I can only tell you what I did as the fighters I know I did different things.  For example, 2 fighters I know carried on running and skipping at a lower intensity for a while and were fine but it felt wrong for me to do any sort of bouncing from the beginning - Listen to your own body and instincts and don't do anything that doesn't feel right.

Keep an eye on your heart rate, most books say don't go above 130bpm but my Doctor said I could push it in the 150bpm range as I was already fit. Also try not to work so hard that you get too hot as this is not recommended.

For the first few months I did  pad work but 3 sessions a week and one normal gym session ( cross trainer/bike/light weights no abs obviously as you want those muscles to stretch not tighten!) When doing pad and bag work I worked technique and balance as the hormone  relaxing will make your ligaments more prone to injury so I slowed down everything slightly and used more hands. Shadow boxing is fine.

Balance stuff is fantastic to do from early on as it helps to avoid problems when you have a bump knocking you off centre - Standing on one leg stuff like low side leg raises.

Around 5/6 months roundhouse kicks may become uncomfortable - I did lot of front kick drills on the bag ( 10 off one leg, 10 off the other, 100 alternate etc) and boxing.

From about 7 months I did shadow boxing, squats, light hand weights, loads of walking, some stationary bike and a pregnancy yoga class. I probably did about 3/4 gym sessions a week and walked everywhere. At this stage I think that it's a bad idea to throw any sort of kicks as you could damage your pelvis not to mention jarring your baby about!

The main bit of advice I'd give is to go easy on yourself - If you feel tired, rest - Many times I would come in from work and just sleep then go out for a walk. People can get so competitive so ignore the "I was doing press ups as I gave birth"/" I only put on 6lbs" brigade. All the women I know put on varying amounts of weight regardless of the amount of exercise they were doing. Think why you are exercising - You are not going to get fitter as you cannot exercise to that intensity, you are trying to maintain your fitness so that after your baby is born, you can get back to normal fitness quicker.


Enjoy your pregnancy and remember, it's health related fitness now not sports related. Do things you enjoy and look after yourself and bubba!

Good luck and please let me know how things go. If you need any more information please don't hesitate to get in touch again, either through this site or on my e-mail address

Lisa Houghton-Smith

Sir:  How common is brain tissue and spinal cord damage in women's kickboxing?  Do females who participate in this sport run a higher than usual risk of such injury, and will good training reduce the risk?  Respectfully yours,

Hi there


Thanks for your question. To the best of my knowledge there have never been any studies undertaken relating to this so the only way that I can answer this is from personal experience and opinion.

I have certainly never personally heard of any serious injury relating to females in kickboxing. In fact such incidents in the sport in general - males and females are extremely rare. Over the last 20 years in the UK I know of only 1 serious incident which involved a brain hemorrhage.

There are 2 sides to this however - there is the possibility of acute injury such as immediate trauma and injury, but also of chronic damage that will develop over time due to repeated blows to the head. As stated above I know of no studies related specifically to kickboxing or to females.

Your question is "Do females who participate in this sport run a higher than usual risk of such injury". The answer to this would of course have to be yes they do if compared to females who take part in no physical activity, but if compared to other sports such as horse riding, downhill skiing or motor racing, the answer would be that the risk is much lower. Good training will of course lower the risk for several reasons.

Firstly the athletes in question will learn better defensive skills and therefore take less punishment. Secondly the athletes will be better conditioned and able to absorb the impact of the blows with better muscles protecting the spine in the neck and back. Of course a factor here is how a fighter chooses to fight. If their style is to "walk through" an opponents blows then injury either superficial or more severe is more likely. This is why I believe that a good coach will teach good defense and that fighters should never take fights unless they are prepared properly. There is also an issue in making weight. A weight drained dehydrated fighter runs more risk of injury due to reduced fluid around the brain and greater risk of fatigue impairing defensive ability. It is therefore important that fighters and coaches take their own safety into consideration by preparing properly and fighting at the correct weight.

I have also long held the view that if you want to make boxing safer, the best thing to do is to add kicks! This is because the longer range weapons and increased targets mean that the head is no longer the focus of attack which is spread out around the body. There is more chance of minor injuries such as bruises etc but less of trauma to the head. Of course I accept that a kick to the head  is likely to inflict more damage than a punch, but it is very difficult to land a head kick, particularly on  well trained fighter.

Another thing to consider is your question specifically relating to females. My view is that because it is generally accepted that females different physical make-up mean that they do not usually have the same pound for pound power as men. They can be technically much better and able to inflict damage on their opponents, particularly over an untrained man but this may be a factor that reduces the risk of such injury in women further.

I hope that this helps to answer your question.


Richard Smith


PO Box 183,
LS18 4WD
Tel:  +44 (0)8700 278400
Fax: +44 (0)8700 278401

Hello Mr. Smith,


I am 30 years old and 215 pounds (5'11").  I have increased my training from 4 hours a week to 8 and will add another 2 hours in March (when I begin to train for tournaments).  With all this training (Bagwork, Thai pads, Mits, Paddles and one hour of sparring plus running once a week) what kind of diet can you recommend to help me shed 50-60 pounds. 

I am gaining muscle and training very intensely but I want to get the edge in my eating so that the pounds come off even easier and I'll be in a better weight class.

Any advice will be appreciated.


Shelley in the U.S

Thanks for your question. You sound like you are building your training up nicely, but losing 50-60lbs is a big goal! In reality you can only safely lose 2lbs of fat a week without losing muscle too so you need to allow yourself plenty of time to achieve what you have set out to.


The initial increase in training levels will help to kickstart your weight loss, and my main advice to maintain this loss is to take it steady. If you are burning extra energy and you impose a very strict low calorie diet on yourself too you are less likely to be able to carry on long term without getting ill. Training hard and dieting will suppress your immune system and make it easier to pick up illnesses unless you go about this in as healthy a way as possible.


In order to train hard and get fit you need to eat well to fuel your training and help your body to repair itself. This means that you need to be getting plenty of protein and to be eating regularly. Stick to 4 or 5 small meals a day rather than 2 or 3 big ones as this will keep your blood sugar levels more constant. Keep healthy snacks like dried fruit and nuts on hand so that if you feel desperate you are less likely to go mad and eat sweets, cakes etc.


I don't know what your likes or dislike are, or what your routine is or what foods are easily available to you so I wont get into anything specific, but basically cut out as much processed food as you can, and stick with fruit, vegetables, nuts, pulses, whole grains and low fat meats or fish as much as you can. Don't be too strict all the time - allow yourself a day off each week to relax and eat a bit more, getting your cravings out of the way and stoking your metabolism up a bit, and drink plenty of water!


I have seen fighters training very hard and eating a very strict diet and still not lose weight, but as soon as they increase their water intake, it drops off. Your body needs water to flush out the toxins that your body produces and the fat loss process needs lots of water to work.


Your training schedule sounds good, but it may help to increase your running when you have lost a bit more weight. I wouldn't run too much at first as your joints wont thank you for it and you could end up with injuries. Stick to the stationary bike, rowing machine or other  non-impact cardio.


I hope that this helps but without knowing your specific routine and diet I have had to keep it pretty general. If you need any more advice, please feel free to e-mail your routine and diet and I could go into more detail, although I am sure that your coach will be able to help too.


Regards and Good luck with your programme and training.


Richard Smith

Hi, I am interested in starting kickboxing classes could you recomend anywhere in any of the following areas please? Guiseley   Rawdon   Yeadon (west yorks)

Cheers Donna

Hi Donna

Sorry, I dont know of any gyms specifically in Rawdon/Yeadon. I think
that my gym in Leeds might be the closest to you. Check out

 for more information and a map etc or
e-mail me at

Richard Smith

Dear Mr Smith: I am 37 y/o and have been working out for 11 years. I currently teach step aerobics and have always crosstrained. I have been attending a fitness kickboxing class for the past year but just need more. I was curious about the full contact kickboxers workouts and joined them last week and loved the physical part of the 2 1/2 hour class. My concern is the sparring. I had no idea what to do, how to get close to the opponent or where to focus my eyes. I could not even get much power behind the few punches I threw. I am short and have no martial arts experience. What suggestions do you have that may help me?

Dear Cheryl

I'm glad to hear that you are enjoying your training and that you are looking to progress to a more "full contact" work out.

I'm surprised to hear that you were put in to spar in your first class - please make sure that you explain to the coach that you have no previous experience. Hopefully you should then be guided through a basic beginners programme that will teach you the basics of footwork and defence, attack and counter attack before you are "thrown in the deep end". Basic kicks, punches, blocks, movement and counters should be broken down and practiced until you are comfortable before you spar for real. This way you will develop techniques and strategies that you are comfortable with to suit your style and build.

Make sure you get a training partner that you trust and work all your techniques slow and light until you are more competent. As your technique and confidence improve you will feel your punches and kicks getting stronger as you learn distance and timing, but these are things that will take time.

With your eyes, you will need to get used to stuff coming at you. Try not to look away as punches and kicks come at you. Keep your eyes focused on you partner/opponents eyes. This is where you will see techniques coming first. If you take you eyes off your opponent even for a split second you risk missing your opponents attack and walking into something!

I hope that this helps and that you continue to enjoy your training. Please let me know how you get on.


Richard Smith


Mr. Smith,

I have noticed that my shins and knees are severally bruised, so bad that they change color and swell almost instantly after hitting several rounds of low kicks, blocking, and knee sparing.

At first, I thought I just had to condition my body, however it has been a year later with Muay Thai, and I have noticed that even newer people than myself in the sport do not have this type of bruising.  It literally will keep me from sparring, or throwing knees for several days, which is quite the hindrance to my training. I was wondering if you have ever seen this type of contusion in any other fighters, and or have any insight into what might be an underlying cause of this.

 Dear Marlene,

Thanks for your question.  Before I answer this, I recommend you see your Doctor, as there are one or two medical conditions that make someone pre-disposed to bruising and injury. It would be wise to check that there is no under-lying problem.

Other this its hard to know exactly how you train to answer this properly, but I suspect that your problem may be down to a number of things:

1)    Timing and Accuracy  - Try to slow down what you do when you spar - go much lighter and try to time your techniques and throw them accurately so that you dont clash with your partners. Pick you partner carefully so that you arent with someone too clumsy!

2)    Power - Control what you do and try not to go too hard when you are sparring. At least until you have developed better control.

3)    Padding - Maybe you could look at the pads that you wear. If you bruise your knees, wear neoprene knee supports, and check that your shin pads fit properly, and cover the full shin and foot. Maybe wear foam shin pads underneath and a pair of leather ones over the top, and pull a second pair of foam shin pads over your knees.

It may also be worth looking at your diet - often bruising may be an indication of an iron deficiency, and again it may be worth asking a doctor or nutritionist about this.

The homeopathic remedy Arnica may be a good idea to take too. You can get this is tablet form and it can help with bruising and healing.

I hope that this helps, but if you need any more, or you can tell me anything a bit more specific, please do not hesitate.



Dear Mr. Smith:

I  recently started Thai boxing.  I was leg sparring with a guy a
little bit
 taller than me and when I went to kick him, he didn't defend in time,
so I
 ended up kicking him in the knee with my outer shin.  I felt
immediate and
 excruciating pain, but shook it off.  Well, when we switched
partners, I was unable
 to continue due to the pain.  That was 2 days ago, and although the
shin is
 somewhat better, it still aches.  It hurts to go down a flight of
stairs and when
 I press on it, but not when I'm walking.  So, this brings me to my
  First of all, are the ways to prevent this type of injury in the
future, and
 second, is there a way to speed the healing process?

 Thanks for your time!


Hi Carrie

Shin injuries can be annoying and painful, and can often take a frustrating length of time to get better, especially if you keep
training on them. Try to train round the injury as much as you can -concentrate on your boxing and knees or kicking with the other leg. Use it as and opportunity to work on something different to what you normally do.

I suggest  you go to your doctor to get it checked out incase you have a slight fracture, although its more likely to be "just" bruising. With
this type of injury you can help the healing process by resting the injured area as much as you can (avoiding any further impact), and applying ice only for the first 48 hours, followed by a mixture of hot and cold after that. Apply heat for 1 minute followed by ice for 1 minute, for about 10 minutes in total, as often as you can throughout the day. If you can stand it, try to gently massage the affected area with ice too. This should help to reduce the inflammation.

You can help to prevent this sort of injury by finding a decent pair of shin pads, finding a decent training partner and  as you get better you will find that you time and control your techniques better so that things like this are less likely to happen, but unfortunately in a sport like ours these things come to try us!

Good luck with your training and I hope this advice helps with your injury.

Dear Mr. Smith:

 My Question to you is:
 Actually i'm a beginner kick-boxing student.... (i'm an orange belt)
My next fight for getting the green belt should be in 2 months (March, 21th) so i'm asking you for tips or advices for improving my strength... since i'm a 'bit' worried due the girl i know i have to fight with... since she's taller and heavier than me...
My last exam (past December) i fought with this same girl... and my friends told me that i gave a decent fight considering the difference between height and weight between the two of us, but i'm not really sure, the impression i have from this fight was like i was like a living human punching bag...So, any advices for me??? What should i do??
 Increase my strength?? Improve my defensive skills?? Improve my fighthing techniques?? I was seriously considering to attend at least 3 days a week to a gym
for starting to workout with weight for improving my strength... as a plus...gaining weight is not a choice for me, since i attend regularly (each month) to Weight Watchers and my weight was settled to 123 lbs. since my height is 5' 3"

 Thanks in advance.

Hi Veronica

Thanks for your question. If you are fighting or sparring with someone
bigger and heavier than you, its important to use the right tactics. Of
course, any extra training that you do will help, whether its strength
training, cardio, or extra kickboxing, but I would only recommend
concentrating on one thing at a time. In the time that you have available it
will be difficult to make significant enough strength gains to make a
difference, but try to maximise your training so that you are as fit and
strong as you can be by the time of your fight.

For your forthcoming grading, I'd work on your specific tactics for sparring
with this particular girl. Your coach should be able to help, but if she's
bigger than you dont get involved in a toe to toe fight with her. Use your
footwork to move out of range and dont stand in front of her. You dont need
to "bounce" around all over, just on step left or right each time she tries
to set herself to hit you. Remember she has a longer reach, so avoid moving
back in straight line.

If she's taller than you, her limbs will be longer and that she will be more
effective at certain ranges. Try to work inside her best range where she
wont be so strong and move round closer to her, working at angles at the
range where you are at your strongest. With your lower centre of gravity,
you will find that you are more effective. If as the fight goes on you find
her getting tired, try to push her backwards as you work inside. Try to
attack from the side rather than walking straight on to your opponent.

I understand what you are saying about not feeling like you did well against
this opponent last time, even though everyone said you did well. Fighting a
bigger taller opponent is hard work and often you need to be on the outside
to see the success that you are having. If this is the case for you this
time, just remember that if its tough for you, it is for her too, and keep
plugging away.

Good Luck with everything, and please let me know how you get on.


Richard Smith


Dear Mr Smith: Can you recommend a good place to train in my area?

Thank you, Charlotte

Dear Charlotte:

Thanks for your question. I do know there are a couple of Thai Boxing clubs round your area. These are as follows:


Tuesday & Friday 8.00 - 9.00pm and Sunday  10.00 - 11.00am


Monday & Thursday 6.30 - 8.00pm and Saturday 2.00 - 3.30pm

For either of these ring Seb Jones on 07946 730318

I am sure that you will get excellent training and have fun at either of these.

14 is a great age to start and I wish you all the best with it.

Should you need anything else, please let me know.




Richard Smith

Dear Mr Smith::  please tell me where could i join kickboxing, though i have been working out.. i come from manchester and
 i am nearly 14 will u write back please.

Hi there - thanks for your question. There are lots of gyms around Manchester and I'm not sure which part you are from, but I would always recommend Master A's gym in the City Centre.

This is a friendly gym with a family atmosphere and excellent coaching.

The gym is on Thomas Street in the City Centre. Tel 01618341127.

I hope that you are successful and that this helps but if you need anything else please let me know.








Dear Mrs Brown

Thanks for your question. kickboxing or thai Boxing are an excellent way to
get fitter, stronger and more confident however small you are.

If you are not used to training, of course you need to take it easy and
hopefully your coach will take you through an effective beginners program
that will include basic conditioning and strength work as well as teaching
you the basic techniques.

My advice would be to join a class, but maybe if you do not feel so
confident at first, look into private tuition for a short time to build up
confidence and basic fitness.

Please let me know where you are from and I will try to pass on some contact
numbers that might help.

Regards and good luck.

Richard Smith

Mr. Smith, I find that running everyday makes me tired in the gym.
 Should a fighter be running every single day, or alternate in between
days? Exactly how far should one run? Are there other options than
running if your joints hurt?

Hi There

There are many different opinions on roadwork.

If you are looking to lose weight, 30 minutes + of steady pace running will
help you. If it is fitness and stamina you are looking for, increase the
intensity by using spirnts, intervals or hills. In my opinion, steady paced
roadwork will not help build the type of fitness requires in the ring where
bursts of all out effort are needed. On days that you do this type of
training however, you would have to make it your main training session and
reduce  or cut out any other type of training.

If you find that running is compromising your Kickboxing  (which is after
all the main objective of  your training), reduce the amount - either by
cutting down on distance or as you suggest run every other day.

You do not say whether or not you are a fighter, or what the main purpose
of your training is, but I would suggest that if you are just starting out,
reduce the amount of "other" training such as running that you do and
concentrate you energy on learning the skills involved in the sport. You
will find that your specific fitness improves without the need for much else
at first. You will not get fitter or improve if you do not give your body
chance to recover.

If running is causing your joints to ache, stop straight away. You can get
high intensity cardiovascular exercise in many other ways. Circuit training
either with weights or without is one option. If you have machines
available, rowing as excellent as are spinning bikes, or many of the other
machines found in most gyms such as stair climbers

I hope this helps, but if you need any help on anything that I have said,
please let me know.


Richard Smith

Dear Mr. Smith,

 I am nearing 50 years and have just begun Kickboxing training.

 I was a professional dancer in my teens, 20's and 30's.  Since that time
 I have tried my hand unsuccessfully at various martial arts styles
 (Kenpo, Jui Jitsu).  I have also taken two self defense classes and some
 knife fighting training.

 I am trying kickboxing now and really am enjoying it a lot.  I have a lot
> of work to do to get into good shape and gain endurance and strength.  I
 like my instructor too.  My goal is to get fit, and get good at this.  I
 desire to be able to defend myself.

 My question is this.  Do you think it is reasonable for a women my age
 explore kickboxing as a regular work out and with these goals in mind?

 I am open to the idea of competition some time down the line if I get
 good enough.  Are there any senior competitions?

 Thank you for your time and attention.

 Razel  W.

Dear Razel

Thanks for your question. I am pleased that you are enjoying your kickboxing

Your first question " Do you think it is reasonable for a women my age to
explore kickboxing as a regular work out and with these goals in mind?" can
be answered very easily with great big YES!

I think it is great that you are taking on the challenge of learning
something new. As with any beginner of any age, you must of course be
careful - you are learning something that is placing new demands on your
body, and you must listen to what your body is telling you. Pay particular
attention to getting a thorough warm up and concentrate on gentle
stretching, but most of all take it easy and don't try to keep up with other
fitter members - work at your own pace and if it hurts don't do it! This
advice is nothing to do with age, just sensible for anyone just starting
out. Your trainer should be aware of your fitness levels and what you are
capable of, and not push you too hard at first.

I do not believe age should limit anyone - it is after all just a number!

With regard to competition, I'm not sure where you are from but I have to
say that am not aware of any senior competitions. However there should be
plenty of other options such as light contact interclub type events that are
excellent for anyone starting out. Your coach should be able to find the
right type of event and talk to the organizers to find someone who would be
a good match.

Good luck with your training - please let me know how you get on and if you
need any more help. If you let me know where you are from I will see if I
can find anything out about local competitions.




Dear Mr. Smith: 

 I have 2 questions for you. The first is the day after i've been training in the boxing gym, i find that my wrists and part way up,  my arm are aching.
 I do use hand wraps under my gloves, but find that it happens every time. I'm begi
ning to worry that the punching might affect my hands in the long run. The second question is i have been training now for just over 3 years and have started training with another gym once a week as well. They are both Kickboxing classes, but my main class does self defence in the sylabus as well. The other class concentrates only on the fighting side of things. Do you think in your opinion that Kickboxing classes should be only that or should they consist of other elements ?  KG

Thanks for your questions.


The problem with your hands could be a number of things. I would look at your technique for bandaging. Maybe ask your coach to show you how to do it again, or experiment by wrapping slightly differently each time and see how you feel after each session. I would also suggest using bigger gloves to protect your hands and wrists. I don't know whether you use bag gloves, but try 10 or 12 oz gloves instead.

If you can get someone to tie them for you, lace up gloves are best, but if not use velcro ones and get them as tight as you can.

It sounds like you have some underlying damage or irritation in your joints that you are stirring up each time you box. Try resting and not doing any punching for a while and maybe go see a physiotherapist. They will suggest some treatment and some exercises for strengthening your wrists.

If you don't see a physio, at least give yourself some treatment by resting and regularly applying a mixture of 1min hot, 1 min cold to your wrists, and exercise by squeezing a tennis ball or squash ball. This will strengthen the joints and get rid of any inflammation.

I dont think you are doing any long term damage, more likely irritating a small injury or weakness that you already have, but I would suggest you see your doctor to get it checked out..

With regard to your second question, I think that the thing with "Kickboxing" is that it can be so many different things. Nowadays it seems that any sport that involves kicking and punching is being called kickboxing.

I don't think there is any right or wrong and it depends what you personally want. If you want to learn some self defence, certain styles of kickboxing have a lot to offer. The only thing that I would say is that it is hard to judge with the self defence whether the classes are any good or not. With the fighting side the results of the students fighting out of that class should speak for themselves and you can see the pedigree of the gym through this.

I hope that this answers your questions, but if you need anything else, please let me know.

My name is Heidi  and I am presently working in Europe. I recently visited your website and am
wondering whether you would know of any kickboxing schools for beginner women (I have only an orange belt in kickboxing from a course I did a year ago) either in the United Kingdom, Europe or the United States. I would be willing and able to do attend a camp for 2-4 weeks to improve my skills.
Please let me know at your earliest convenience whether you have any information or know of any websites I could consult.
Many thanks for your time and I am sorry for any inconvenience this request may cause,

Hi there

There are hundreds of gyms all over the UK, Europe and the USA and I only have personal experience of a few of them. You are of course always welcome at Bad Company in Leeds. Please e-mail me if you are interested ( or check out our website http://www.badcompany, If you are coming to a specific part of the UK, please let me know and I will put you in touch with someone.

There are many gyms in Holland, but Fighting Factory Carbin (FFC) run by Lucien Carbin has a very good reputation and I am sure that you would be made very welcome there. Lucien is a great trainer. They can be contacted through their website  

If you are in the USA, Master Toddy has always hsd a lot of success training girls and I would definitely recommend a visit. Master Toddy can be contacted through his website:

If you can let me know where you are going to visit, I may be able to put you in contact with someone in that area.

Hope that helps.

Richard Smith

Dear Mr. Smith-Many thanks for taking time to respond. All of this sounds very positive. I certainly wish I could go to Leeds, but unfortunately do not have any contacts there for accomodation.The place I am most likely to spend most of my time in in the next coming months is Brussels Belgium. Do you happen to know of a gym there that would work with women.

Many thanks for your help



Thanks for your reply. I am afraid I know only one gym in Brussels. I do not have personal experience of them and so cannot recommend them personally, although they have a good reputation.

The gym is Redhawks gym - their website is:

Belgium Kickboxing and Muay Thai Organisation.

has a list of gyms, and ( ) has a good database of gyms around the world.


Sorry I cant be of more help, but maybe the above will point you in the rtight direction.


If you need anything else, please dont hesitate to e-mail.


Good Luck


Richard Smith

Hello, Mr Smith,  I have two questions.

1st question:
      I've tried to change my technique twice, with no success.  I practice with a speed bag and a 40lb bag.  With my right hand, i seem to hit harder then with my left, any tips for improving left arm strength to match my right arm?  
2nd question,
      I keep hurting my middle finger knuckle of my right hand, and i dont know how to correct my form.  any tips or picture of correct form   would be extremly helpful, and appreciated  thanx!

-Jaxi C.

Hi Jaxi

Thanks for the question.


Its pretty normal to hit harder with one hand than the other and not something I'd worry about too much. I will assume that you are right handed and fight from an orthodox stance, as it would be usual for your strongest hand to be at the back.  Its not strength that makes you hit hard but timing and correct technique.

Normally the left would be used as the jab from the front and be used to set up techniques, find range and keep the eyes of the opponent occupied. It is used so that openings can be created for the heavier right or for bigger scoring techniques like kicks, while the right hand is used less.

If I were you I would not worry too much about power with your left, more about speed and timing. Work rounds on the bag (either the speed bag or the heavy bag) of nothing but your left from the front, moving round the bag.  Next do the same with your right, but this time from the back. Eventually you will build up timing so that your punches are more effective and you will be hitting harder.

With your knuckle injury, I would suggest that for a start you go see your doctor and that you give it a rest. Maybe just use your speed ball or something lighter to reduce the impact. Next take care to wrap your hands carefully and use extra padding such as a piece of soft foam over the knuckles and two bandages. Also try wearing a sparring glove on this hand instead of bag gloves.

You should be hitting with the two big knuckles on each hand so that sounds ok, but make sure your wrist is bent slightly with each punch to angle the hand and the knuckles to hit square on.

From where the injury is it sounds like your technique is ok and that you need rest and to protect it until it stops hurting.

Hope this helps, but if you need anything else, please let me know.

Richard Smith

Please can you help?  My daughter has been in sports acrobatics and sports aerobics for the last 8 years -  She would very much like to use the stamina and strength she has gained and move into kickboxing on a competitive level.  Please could you tell me where I could find a school at such a level in my district.  We live in Hillingdon, Middlesex, which is about 5 miles from Heathrow Airport.

Kind regards and thank you

There are a number of gyms in the London area, but 2 that are close to you are Ralph Beales Minotaur Gym in Watford (tel 07831 441421) and Seb Jones' gym in Egham
(tel 07946 730318).

Both are good trainers, but if you need any more information, please let me know.

Good luck!

Richard Smith


I wonder if you could advise me where I can train in kickboxing in Bangkok?  Obviously there'll be thousands of places, but I'm looking for somewhere where foreign women are accepted, and where it's possible to do it only two or three times a week as I've got a day job.


Hi there.

A great place to go in Bangkok is Jittis. Jitti has trained many girls and in a great trainer. The address is Soi Prachankadee 3. (Sukhumvit Soi 49) Bangkok.

Jitti  has now moved from his old gym in Banglampoo, to a new premises close to Sukhumvit Road. The gym is brand new and well equipped with a new ring, bags and a padded training area, and is all undercover. Fighters can go there to train and can live at the gym in clean air conditioned rooms ith all meals provided, and full use of the facilities at the Racket club next door including the swimming pool.

There are always 5 or 6 padmen all of whom are excellent fighters and many fighters, both Thais and Japanese at the gym.

For further information contact Jitti at or visit the website

If you do not want to stay at the gym there are plenty of hotels, guesthouses etc on Sukhumvit Road, especially around Nana (Soi 11) and this is a good place to stay with restaurants, bars, shops, street stalls etc.

To get to Jittis, Take the Skytrain to Phrom Phong and then take a taxi, Tuk Tuk or pickup from the station to the gym. This should take about 5 minutes and cost about 30 baht.
I hope that this provides you with what you need - enjoy your training in Bangkok!

Richard Smith

Mr. Smith--

I have been asked to take part in this fund raiser for the local kids program in the area that I live in. 
 It is a women's boxing match.  I have no idea on how to train for this.  
I currently do circuit training
 with PACE equipment and live on a ranch.  I have about 4 weeks to training
for the match.  Could you help me with what I need to be doing as for as
 diet, endurance, strength,  etc? 

Thank you for your time ,


Hi Leann,

That's a difficult one! 4 weeks to a fight and no prior experience!!

My first instinct would be to tell you not to do it - a fight is a serious
thing and should only be entered into by serious and well conditioned

But if you are set on doing this and if it is a charity fun event, hopefully
it wont be too serious, then all I can recommend is that you find a decent
club, tell them what you are doing and go live there for 4 weeks!

Or at least spend as much time as you can. In particular work on your
defensive skills - learn the footwork to get out of trouble and learn how to
avoid getting hit.

Also work on your fitness with as much intensity as you can. Anyone who has
not fought before will not believe how tiring it is! The fitter you are the
easier it will be.

Good luck! Please let us know how you get on.



dear Mr. Smith, I'm 13 years old, I always have had an interest in what kind of activities kick-boxing includes could you give me an idea of what comments you feel i should learn before going to find out about this sport, thank-you.

Hi there and thanks for your question.

Kickboxing is a great way to keep fit and learn something useful at the same time. It is great for your aerobic fitness, muscular strength, flexibility and coordination.

A good class will take you through the basics first - teaching you your stance, footwork and the basic punches and kicks.

Basically dont worry about learning anything before you go to a class - you should learn everything you need to know from the very beginning at your class. Just do a bit of research to find a good one.

This might include ringing round (speak to individual gyms in the area and to any of the governing/sanctioning bodies or even ring a gym out of your area and ask them to recommend one near you). You could also look on the internet. When you find a gym, go and visit first, watch one of the beginners classes and decide if you would feel comfortable there.

Good luck - I hope you find a god gym near you and enjoy your training!


Dear Mr. Smith,

My name is Irina, and I am 29 years old. I am in kickboxing training for
 now over a year. I was wondering if you might have some helpful information
on muay thai training camp facilities in Thailand , which are also
appropriate for women fighters.
Thank you.

Best regards,

Irina Tot

  Dear Irina,

You will find many camps in Thailand that provide excellent facilities for
women. It really depends where you want to go.

In Bangkok we always train with Jitt Damiram, who is a great trainer and has
trained several female champions including Lisa Houghton-Smith and Niamh
Griffin. Jitti has just moved to a new gym. Click here for details -

There is also Fairtex  in Bangkok -

Outside Bangkok there is the WMTC camp at Rangsit stadium which specializes
in training females. I do not have any contact details, but Rangsit is outside Bangkok past the airport. I cannot comment on the quality of the
training as I have no first hand experience., but Rangsit is some way out of
Bangkok and is not somewhere I would like to stay for too long, as there is
not much there! Check out for an
article on the camp.

On the island of Koh samui, the WMC camp run by Stephan Fox is in an
excellent location in Lamai, and provides great training. If you go to
samui, just go to Lamai and ask for the gym. For more information e-mail

In Chiang Mai there is Lanna camp where many tourists go. There website is

I hope that this gives you some information to help you get started. This is
by no means an exhaustive list - there are hundreds of gyms and camps in
Thailand .

Enjoy your training and good luck!

I found your site on the internet,,,
My question is, is it too late?
I am 32 years old woman, who lived for last 7 years in US ( Czech),, I
have been taking martial arts for last 3 years, lately I started to be more
serious in women kickboxing,, however, I am not sure , if this would not be
too late to start,, I practice 6 days in week,, 2-3 hours in a day, and would love to get into tournaments kickboxing, is it too late?
Also, I am US resident but not citizen., What are mine choices and

Thank you much!


  Dear Erika,

  Thanks for your questions.

  I would say that it is never too late! Age does not need to be a limiting factor. I believe that an athlete can be just as fit and strong in their 30's. The difference is motivation and desire. If you have that and you are willing to put in the hard work and training your age is not a problem. It sounds as though you are very dedicated now, with the amount of training that you do and you have already been training for 3 years so you must be at a decent standard.

  One of my ex fighters did not start training until he was 33, but went on to win British and Commonwealth titles.

  Admittedly it may take you longer to learn something new at 32 than it would for a youngster, but determination and discipline should overcome this.

It may be easier for a younger person to pick up new skills but they often don't have the discipline or maturity that someone a little older has.

  Good luck with your training - find a good trainer and give it everything you've got and the sky is the limit!


What type of training do you have your fighters do to get them at their peak performance conditioning wise.( So that they are able to go the distance?)


Dear Mike,

Going the distance is often being strong in your mind, not necessarily just in your body. A fighter has to be mentally  tough to get through the hard parts of the fight.

I believe that it is important for fighters to train hard in all areas so that they are used to having things hard when it comes to the fight. The old saying "train hard, fight easy" is very true.

Some trainers do use traditional/old school exercises such as dropping a heavy medicine ball on the fighters abdominals, shin conditioning through kicking tires or rolling milk bottles up and down the shins and even leg conditioning through kicking one another's thighs as hard as the fighters can stand it!

In my opinion while these exercises may be effective, I believe it is mainly the mental conditioning and confidence from going through these things that will benefit the fighter.

In reality the best way to condition a fighter so that they can go the distance is to teach them good defensive skills so that they do not take too much punishment in the fight, and to make sure they are as fit as possible so that tiredness does not affect their performance.

In my gym I try to make sure that fitness sessions, pad work sessions and technique and sparring are kept separate and the fitness and pad work sessions are made as tough as possible, sometimes downright unpleasant! However, sparring and technique sessions vary in intensity so the fighters can learn and improve.

I hope that this answers your question although if you would like to discuss anything further, please do not hesitate to e-mail again.

Richard Smith



 I am interested in starting Muay Thai. What should I look for when looking for a gym to train at?

I think that most people who start training in Muay Thai don’t realize how far they want to go. Normally people start for fitness and to do something different and then decide that they want to compete later.

However, whatever your reasons you should try to look for a gym that has a good fighting reputation. Muay Thai is a fighting sport and if it is being taught properly there will be good fighters at the gym.

Some questions to ask:

What is the background of the trainer's) there?

· Who was their trainer/where did they learn?

 Have they ever fought? Not always necessary but often helps that they have first hand experience.

·Have they ever trained in Thailand?

·How long has the gym been running?

· Does the main trainer always turn up or is the gym left to the senior students to run?

· Have they ever trained fighters to a high level or competed at a high level themselves?

· Do they have a separate group for beginners?

· What will you learn at first? It is important that any decent gym spend time working new people through the basics before they start them sparring or heavy fitness work.

· Do you have to pay a membership up front or can you just pay for each class at first until you decide whether its for you or not?

· Do they lend equipment such as gloves etc at first or are you expected to buy them up front?

I think it is best to check out a gym’s reputation. Ring a couple of gyms in other towns and ask which is the best gym to train at in your town. They will usually recommend the one with the best reputation.

I think that a lot of it depends on how you feel when you walk in. If you get the right feeling, are made to feel comfortable and relaxed and like the sort of people that you see training there then give it a try. If you feel uncomfortable and don’t like the atmosphere take a look somewhere else.

One problem is that if someone starts at the wrong gym for them, they are put off the whole sport and walk away instead of realizing that the problem may just be with the gym they were at.

I am not very fit and need to lose weight. Should I try to get in shape and lose some weight before I go to the Muay Thai Gym?

No - as the advert says, “Just do it!”.

It doesn’t matter how bad you feel - how unfit or out of shape, you can guarantee that you will not be on your own. A decent gym will have new people starting all the time and you will start to get fitter and lose weight just by learning the basic techniques.

You have to remember that everyone started somewhere and no-one is judging you.

I want to start training but I feel nervous about going to a gym and starting.

Even world champions had to walk into a gym and start training once, and you can guarantee that they were nervous too.

Any decent gym will have new people all the time so you wont be on your own. Even if you are, most people like to help and remember what it was like for them when they first started.

You will find that when you get started, no one (except the coach hopefully!) is looking at you anyway - they are all getting on with their own training.

What should I expect at first?

Muay Thai or Kickboxing training is one of the best ways that you will find to keep fit. It will not be long before you notice marked improvement in your physical appearance.

This and your new found skills and fitness will doubtless improve your self confidence.

The training that we do improves all aspects of fitness. Flexibility improves, muscle strength and tone, aerobic fitness will improve and co-ordination will get better.

Each gym is different but in my experience most gyms have a similar way of dealing with beginners. At first you should learn the basics - punching, roundhouse kicks (low and mid-point), push/front kick and knees. This will be mostly to the pads with your partner holding for you. Contact will be kept to a minimum - most decent gyms will not expect/allow sparring until you have been through the basics thoroughly.

While you should find practicing the kicks & punches hard work and a good workout you should not be training flat out at first. Work at your own pace. Only you know how you feel and a good coach will not push you too much at first.

Although it is hoped that you will enjoy your training at first, the better you get the more you will get out of it, so stick with it!

Dear Sir,


Nice to see you helping Dan out on his “Trainer corner”.

As you perhaps know I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Carbin a couple of times over the last few months. During our conversation there where a couple of things which seemed strange to me, so I like to have your opinion on them.


  • How do you feel about condition training (meaning, running, pumping iron, those kind of things) Do you use them at your gym for your top fighters?

  • Since it came up on the message board again. What are your favorite countries to fight and which countries are you “not to fond of”? (Corrupt judges etc.)

  • Do you think there are too many different organizations putting up World Title fights.





Dear Eric


Thank you for your questions. 


1)      How do you feel about condition training (meaning, running, pumping iron, those kind of things) Do you use them at your gym for your top fighters?

I think conditioning training is important in between fights. I believe that as a fight gets closer (about 3 weeks off), all training should be specific. The fighter should be concentrating on pad work , light sparring, clinch work etc. Running and skipping are also important if the fighter needs to lose weight.


In between fights however, I believe that using weights, plyometrics and sprints to work on strength and power is important. This builds a base of strength, power and endurance that the fighter can take into the fight with them.


It is impossible to work on technique, strength, power and endurance all at once, so I believe that a fighter should prioritize and concentrate on one aspect of training at a time, whilst doing enough to maintain the others.


2)    Since it came up on the message board again. What are your favorite countries to fight and which countries are you “not to fond of”? (Corrupt judges etc.)


I have been lucky enough to visit quite a few countries over my career as a fighter and trainer. I have been to Canada, Croatia, Russia, Czech republic, USA, Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium and France, not to mention Thailand, some of them several times. Some of them we have been treated well and some not so well.

I do not think it is easy to point a finger at certain countries treating us well or otherwise, just that certain promoters sometimes do their best to make your stay more uncomfortable or play mind games to give their fighter the advantage.


The best thing to do about this sort of thing is:

a)    Expect it and if things go wrong not to waste energy by letting it bother you. (Sometimes easier said than done!)

b)    Try to stay away from anyone involved with the promotion including the promoters, organizers and even the other fighters, until after the fight. By keeping your distance it is harder for anyone to play games.

c)    Do not allow yourself to be pushed around too much.

d)    Use a little bit of common sense and avoid situations that may cause problems. Switch off the phone in the hotel room, don't drink out of water bottles that have been opened, don't let the promoter take you out to see the town the night before the fight! and make sure you know you are the correct weight.


Having said the above, on the whole I have had some great experiences competing overseas.


Do you think there are too many different organizations putting up World Title fights?


I personally think that a greater problem is the number of different rules and styles that the general public has to get to grips with. There is kickboxing, Full Contact, Thai boxing (with or without elbows), semi contact, light contact, light contact etc etc etc.


If there are 10 associations sanctioning world titles in each of these rules (and there are probably more), that means that there are 70 world champions in Kickboxing at each weight in the world!


The only way round this is for better publicity and media profile for our sport so that he public can be educated as to the differences between the different rules and for greater publicity of the fighters themselves so that their achievements are not under or over rated. For example at the moment there is nothing stopping a fighter going out and setting up their own association, fighting someone for a "world title" and then promoting themselves as World Champion. In the public's eyes this will put them on the same footing as Lisa Houghton Smith, Lisa Howarth  Illonka Elmont, Laura Skinner, or any of the others. This could not happen in Boxing because there is greater public awareness of who the real champions are.


I hope that the above helps with your questions. If you need anything else, please e-mail again.




Richard Smith


I wonder if you could advise me where I can train in kickboxing in Bangkok?  Obviously there'll be thousands of places, but I'm looking for somewhere where foreign women are accepted, and where it's possible to do it only two or three times a week as I've got a day job.

Grateful for an answer,

Hi there.

A great place to go in Bangkok is Jittis. Jitti has trained many girls and in a great trainer. The address is Soi Prachankadee 3. (Sukhumvit Soi 49) Bangkok.

Jitti  has now moved from his old gym in Banglampoo, to a new premises close to Sukhumvit Road. The gym is brand new and well equipped with a new ring, bags and a padded training area, and is all undercover. Fighters can go there to train and can live at the gym in clean air conditioned rooms ith all meals provided, and full use of the facilities at the Racket club next door including the swimming pool.

There are always 5 or 6 padmen all of whom are excellent fighters and many fighters, both Thais and Japanese at the gym.

For further information contact Jitti at or visit the website

If you do not want to stay at the gym there are plenty of hotels, guesthouses etc on Sukhumvit Road, especially around Nana (Soi 11) and this is a good place to stay with restaurants, bars, shops, street stalls etc.

To get to Jittis, Take the Skytrain to Phrom Phong and then take a taxi, Tuk Tuk or pickup from the station to the gym. This should take about 5 minutes and cost about 30 baht.
I hope that this provides you with what you need - enjoy your training in Bangkok!

Richard Smith


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