DAY 55: Putting in conscious effort; Muay Thai and Learning


Chinese New Year has been wrecking my diet. In the short 4 days of celebration, I have gained 2kg. It would take a while again to lose those extra pounds gained. 😦 Knowing this, we headed down to the Muay Thai gym today to sweat it out. Initially, Daniel was reluctant as he was still in holiday mood. However, after some coaxing, he saw the need to exercise and went to the gym with me.

Chief coach Darren was teaching this evening and after some light stretching and warm up, he got us to do shadow boxing. After a short while, he asked us to stop and emphasized to do the shadow boxing slowly, being conscious of every movement we make; twisting our hips as we punch and kick etc. Then after a short while, he asked us to stop again. This time round, he asked us to take note of our stances, ensure that we are standing wide enough to maintain balance. The shadow boxing continued.

After the shadow boxing practiced, he got all of us to sit down in front of him and explained to us.

In learning, especially in a martial arts like Muay Thai, there are three types of effort:

Physical effort. This is when one put all their strength into hitting something, either the pads or a person. It trains them physically.

Next, there’s heart effort. This is the training of the heart. When one is super tired out and feel like giving up they continue fighting and punching.

For fighters, they train these two quite a lot. But since we are here to learn, we don’t do these two as much.

As one who is learning a martial arts, learning new skills, one needs another kind of effort. Conscious effort. Conscious effort is pivotal in learning. One can sign up for unlimited lessons and come and train for one year but his progress will never beat someone who perhaps only come once per week and only train for three months but put in conscious effort to learn in every lesson.

One needs to apply conscious effort when one is learning so that one can keep note of the mistakes one is making and stop repeating them. One intentionally keep note of all the pointers thought so that one does the movements in a deliberate way.  For example, when one is shadow boxing, one apply conscious effort by listening to the coach and ensures that the stance is correct after every punch and that they twist their hips at every punch. Then after doing certain movements, one who puts in conscious effort will check their stance again to ensure that it is correct.

After which, he got us to do some drills and anyone caught with too narrow a stance will be punished to do 10 push ups.


Today’s Muay Thai lesson resonated strongly with me as an educator. As an educator, I regularly give my students feedback on how they can improve on their work. Students may be doing the same mistakes and receive the same feedback and help from me. But what distinguishes one student from being able to learn from her mistakes and excel and one who will repeat the same mistakes is conscious effort.

When a piece of assignment is marked and given out, a student who has put in conscious effort in her learning will take extra note of the mistakes she has done and makes a conscious note to avoid them in the future. On the other hand, another students who has not put in conscious effort will only be interested in her grades.

As an educator, I ‘punish’ students be making them do corrections. This is an attempt to make them conscious of the mistakes they make and fill in the correct answer. However, students can easily switch off their minds and it becomes just a copying exercise.

Perhaps, the way to make students genuinely learn from their mistakes is by putting in more measures such that students are conscious of what they have done wrong and correct them accordingly. One way perhaps is by not highlighting the problem area and ask them what do they think is wrong about their answers instead…


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