A prominent form of fighting which is popular with Muay Thai is kicking trees. If you were to watch some videos on the same, you might encounter people trying to perfect a technique in which they kick down the stalk of a tree. For all practical purposes, it is quite similar to a karate player knocking down some bricks.
That must be a cool way to train in Muay Thai, right?
Unfortunately, no matter how attractive the punching and kicking technique might appear, it isn’t safe. A player is likely to cause himself plenty of damage by indulging in such form of practice. Surely, we can conclude right away that this isn’t a way to hone the skills or perfect any art form.
Let us get to know some more about the punching and kicking trees!
The traditional practice of punching and kicking trees
Commonly, you are likely to find a player trying to knock down a banana tree when practicing for this technique. The thing about a banana tree that most people don’t know well is that they are unique as compared to other trees. The trunk of a banana tree happens to be much softer as compared to most other similar trees.
Punching and kicking trees are a part of Muay Thai martial arts. The art form originated at around the 3rd BC. As a sport, Muay Thai has been around since the 15th century. The wood of a banana tree is usually very soft and rubbery since historic times. This is the reason why they happen to be an excellent option for kicking like heavy bags. During those ages, the banana trees used to be native to the region in and around Thailand.
Players, also known as Nak Muay’s, used to make the material of the plant fall apart with their constant kicking and punching. Later, players who used to practice Thai boxing would pick up those fallen pieces. This is how they would become Thai pads for their punching practice.
The teachers of such players would use these pieces of the plant to train the players. They would use these plants as a target which the fighters would hit, as though in a real fight.
You must be wondering why nothing of this sort if seen in practice today. Let us find out.
From ancient times, we have progressed down through many advanced stages now. Most of the practices in martial arts which were common in the ancient days are no longer followed today. This is mainly because those methods developed as a response to the lack of better alternatives, which are available to us now.
Kicking trees like banana trees was an option that a player would choose when they had no other option. Nowadays, players have access to a number of options if they wish to practice for punching and kicking. Innovation and upgrades to technology have made it possible for players to leave behind the age old techniques.
How safe is it to kick tress for added conditioning and strength?
There is a reason why we have upgraded punching and kicking practice to heavy bags and Thai pads. If a player is practising on anything different, he is inviting injuries and long term damage on his own. Kicking trees isn’t a very safe or practical approach to add strength or condition yourself for a fight.
Speaking of misconceptions, perhaps this is the biggest one associated with Muay Thai. Traditionally, players and the community believed that one must kick trees to add strength to their muscles.
The reality of the belief is quite different. Kicking tress may not be the best way to build your muscles. Though it is one sure way to injure yourself in a lethal manner. A player may in fact end up breaking his legs and landing himself for a long term break from further training.
The honest truth behind kicking trees is that it no more than a way to earn mockery.
Speaking in medical terms, kicking a tree is likely to cause intense damage and pain. You will end up bruising the soft tissues under your skin. In time, the skin tissues will heal but not without leaving a mark of damage. You will be left with scarring at the affected area and intense nerve damage. Somehow, some fighters tend to carry a notion that this whole process makes them stronger. This is an absolute absurdity, to speak in the most polite language.
If a player is really looking forward to strengthening his muscles, he must practice the act of repeated impact of the area on a surface which is not extremely rigid.
Are there any better alternatives to training than kicking trees?
If you are really interested in adding strength to your shins, firstly start by not kicking trees. The best way to sharpen your skills is by practice of kicking an opponent. A player must indulge in shadow boxing and drills to score the technique completely.
If you also want to strengthen your shins at the same time, you can try practicing with Thai pads and heavy bags. Sparring is an excellent way to polish your skills further.
Under all circumstances, we will never recommend you to go punching trees or kicking them to train yourself. It is just not the right way to do things.
Kicking trees is a technique that many Muay Thai Players used to indulge in. However, this was before the current times when they did not have access to sophisticated training gear as they have today. Traditional Muay Thai has also evolved in many other ways today. This is mainly because of the formalization of the sport to a large extent in the present day.
So, if you aren’t aiming for a quick way to break your leg, we suggest staying away from kicking trees.
Do you have a better way to train in Muay Thai on your mind? Do share below.