Muay Thai is an effective martial art but Dr Maheer Shah of Diamond Smiles Dental in Carramar, WA, practises it to stay fit and mindful.
“It’s thanks to my best friend, Andy, that I’ve been involved with Muay Thai for the past four years. He’s from Scotland and grew up in a rough area with lots of street fights. He has been training as a mixed martial arts fighter for years and eventually dragged me along to one of his classes. At that point I was going to the gym regularly but found the whole process pretty uninspiring.
“I tried a Muay Thai class and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I was a bit too self-conscious to join up right away. I spent three months considering it and listening to podcasts about Muay Thai. Eventually, I joined a class and it was the best decision I could have made.
“I had been training at gyms and with personal trainers for years. I tried body building and strength training but I’m a pretty small person and not genetically designed for any of that. Muay Thai is completely different to all other fitness regimes I’ve tried. There is absolutely no ego involved which is the exact opposite to body building. There’s also a mental and spiritual aspect to Muay Thai that really appeals to me.
“I’m not learning Muay Thai to fight or enter competitions. Once you’ve experienced a head kick or been punched in the face, you realise it’s not such a good deal. For me, Muay Thai is a technical pursuit and a way to keep fit. At the same time, Muay Thai is a martial art that instils an unconscious competence. You become aware when someone is a bit too close and could strike you. You instinctively know when you are safe and when you are not. If I could go through my whole life and never have to fight someone, I’d be a very happy person. However, I’d rather be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.
“I see a lot of parallels between Muay Thai and dentistry. You’re in pursuit of excellence and no matter how good the results, you can always improve. Using refinement and repetition, you focus and consciously try to do better. That’s how you become really good at anything.
“The other thing I love about Muay Thai is that how you look is completely unimportant—the only thing that matters is how you feel. It’s about moving your whole body in harmony as opposed to building muscle. There is a mind/body/spirit connection with Muay Thai that doesn’t exist with any other fitness regimes.”