Top 5 Qualities Of A Great Muay Thai Coach

Fighting is not required!

"A good teacher is like a candle—it consumes itself to light the way for others." – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk


Whether you’re new to Muay Thai and looking for a place to train, or you’re currently training and looking for new options – one of the most important factors to consider is the Head Coach / Lead Trainer of the gym. Here are some important qualities to look for:


This one is obvious, but a good coach needs to have years of experience under their belt. Part of teaching Muay Thai is not only knowing the techniques — which takes years to perfect — but also understanding how and when to apply them situationally. “Experience” also isn’t limited to just training. “Teaching” is a talent that improves through years of trial and error, so be on the lookout for that as well.


Ok, this one is not so obvious. Most great coaches are “students of the game” who are constantly learning and improving themselves. It’s very difficult (although not impossible) for a head coach to do this if they’re the most experienced person in the room on any given day. Thus, a great coach is a well-traveled one, who makes the time to re-invest in themselves by traveling to gyms in other cities/countries (like Thailand, or Holland) to learn new techniques and teaching styles to apply them to his/her own methods. It’s this constant growth that separates the good from the great.


As with any good coach or teacher across any discipline (whether its Muay Thai, Tennis, or Math) being a good communicator is key. The ability to break down techniques in ways that students can replicate and understand the use cases is one of the most important characteristics to look for. If a coach is just calling out combo sequences, breaking to drill, and repeating 3-4x for the rest of the hour — you can get that for free on YouTube.

Patience and Adaptability

Everyone learns in different ways and at a different pace. The great coaches are the ones who can quickly adapt to each of their students needs or struggles and find a way to breakthrough to them. It is extremely difficult to do this in a group class setting and the sad reality is - many coaches use that as an excuse to implement a very rigid “training program”. Don’t be afraid to ask your coach a question and/or let them know you’re struggling to understand “how” or “why”. If they’re unwilling, unable, or impatient with you - that’s a red flag.

Being a Championship Calibre Fighter

Contrary to popular belief, the best fighters in the world do -NOT- make the best coaches. If anything, they are probably the worst coaches, primarily because the best fighters in the world often possess intangible, natural-born abilities that can not be taught - athleticism, freak strength, insane reflexes, superhuman “grit” for example. It’s why people like Mike Tyson and Michael Jordan never took up a career in coaching.

Some level of fight experience is important (though not required) if a coach trains competitive fighters. The mental/emotional challenges that come with competitive fighting is truly a unique experience and it’s helpful if a coach has gone through it themselves at some level.

In Summary

Many factors go into choosing the right gym, more on that in a future article, but the Head Coach is one of the most important factors. Be sure to do your research, talk to other students, and take advantage of trial classes.


Edgy and increasingly hip, Bushwick is an evolving, industrial area marked by imaginative street art and converted warehouses that are home to artist studios, artisanal coffee shops, and a 7,500 sq ft martial arts gym called DiamondHeart.

Originally upstairs from a motorcycle shop for 6 years, the gym is now located a short 5 minute walk from the Morgan Avenue stop on the L train in a much bigger facility featuring, 5,500 sq ft of indoor training space, 2,000 sq ft of outdoor training space, a roof deck, as well as lockers rooms and showers.

With Head Coach Gavin Van Vlack at the helm, a veteran of the fight game, DiamondHeart’s Muay Thai program is led by Alex Munro and backed by Coaches Jesse Bogorad, Jin Lee, and a team of up-and-coming assistant coaches.

DiamonHeart also provides Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is run by Coach Scott Perry of Unity BJJ lineage.

You’ll also catch them throwing some of the best smokers (exhibition fights) in NYC.  They have a fun event with food vendors and drinks being served in their spacious outdoor area.

Currently, DiamondHeart offers 2 different membership options:

  • 6 month  plan at $199 per month for a 6 month period with a 2 week freeze

  • Month to month option at $219 per month that can be cancelled with 30 days notice

Both plans are all inclusive with full access to the class schedule and their strength training facility.

DiamondHeart  Striking & Grappling / Physical Culture Collective

199 Cook St.
Basement Level
Brooklyn, NY 11206



The bid to have Muay Thai and Kickboxing included in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles has been denied.  Every four years the Olympic committee chooses new sports to be added to the historical games.  In 2020, surfing, skating and sports climbing were added and 2023 will see softball, cricket, flag football, and lacrosse, and squash included in the event.  However, Muay Thai and Kickboxing have failed to make the cut and will need to petition again to be added in 2032.

While many fans of the sport are disappointed at this outcome, others are quick to point out some of the challenges that would come with introducing the combat sport into the Olympics.  One concern is that in order to appeal to a broader audience, as well as for athletes to compete multiple times over the course of two weeks, the often-brutal sport will get sanitized and watered down.  Fully padded tournaments currently exist, IFMA being the most prestigious international competition for Muay Thai athletes, but is the Olympic audience ready to see blood, cuts, and knockouts?

Another concern is that currently there does not exist a single governing body for the sport.  Standards for rulesets, judging, weight cutting, drug testing, etc. all vary depending on the organization you’re fighting under.  And while Muay Thai is slowly gaining popularity with the mainstream, the sport is far from having well organized titles on the state, national, and world level.

So what do you think?  Should Muay Thai be in the 2032 Olympics and do you think the sport benefit from this level of visibility?  


I vividly recall my first experience walking into a Muay Thai gym: hearing the cracks on the pads, heavy bags swinging from the ceiling, and having what felt like all eyes on me as I strolled in decked out in a t-shirt and basketball shorts, looking (and feeling) very out of place.  As I took in the scene, with all the different brands of boxing gloves and other unfamiliar equipment, what stood out to me the most was that the majority of people there were wearing these very elaborate, colorful shorts with unique designs and thai lettering.

As I continued to frequent the gym, I learned more about the tradition of wearing these ornate shorts as both a way to show off your personal style as well as represent your gym.  However, while I was quickly falling more and more in love with the sport, I had not yet broken free of the imposter syndrome and I told myself I would need to work my way up in experience level before purchasing my first pair.  This was a really silly idea as my baggy gym shorts were hampering my kicks and workouts, but I was self-conscious about whether I was good enough or deserved to be able to wear a pair of Muay Thai shorts.  (And I’ll admit a small part of me was apprehensive about how much skin they showed, making me even more reluctant to put them on.)

It wasn’t until about a year into training, after a particularly hard session, that my coach mentioned to me maybe it was time to ditch the basketball shorts and try some Thai shorts.  This was the sign that I was waiting for!  For my first pair I opted for a modest style, avoiding the shorter cuts, and once I put them on I was instantly hooked – my legs were finally liberated from my knee length basketball shorts and I was now kicking and kneeing like a true Nak Muay!

As the years went by I found myself obsessed with how many different pairs, in different colors, that I could acquire.  As my collection of shorts grew larger, ironically, the length of the shorts grew shorter.  Soon I found myself customizing each pair and proudly showing off the designs that no one else had.  And anytime I would spot a basketball short wearing newcomer at the gym I would immediately encourage them to swap out for Thai shorts, promising to them that with the shorts would come greater kick power.

So overcome the fear of the short shorts and stick with the traditions of Thai boxing.  I wouldn’t play basketball in Thai shorts so why are you doing Muay Thai in basketball shorts?

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