Something I find interesting is that I am always hearing foreigners make comments about how the Thai's are not training scientifically. I hear stuff like, “Oh man, if they implemented a strength and conditioning program into there training they would be so much better.” Another great one is “The Thai's training methods are outdated.” Yeah there is always room for improvements but the bottom line is that it comes down to putting in the work, not some special new training methods. They have found something that works and at this point they are still producing the highest level fighters.
I think people forget that these fighters are not just fighters, they are professional athletes the same as any high level athlete. They know their body and what they need to do to prepare for competition. Muay Thai training is very sport specific. When you kick a bag you are getting resistance which is going to force your muscles to get broken down and repair better to yield greater results. It's not the same as say basketball when if you want to jump to dunk a basketball. You can jump as much as you want but there is no resistance that is going to force your muscles to get broken down and repair so they produce better results unless you implement some kind of strength and conditioning program.
Another great one I hear from recreational athletes is “The run is to long, more than 20 minutes can be counterproductive.” So ultimately what happens is students try to make excuses and skip the running thinking that nobody notices. Everybody, including your trainers notice. Yeah that is fine to skip the run if you are just a recreational trainee and not a professional athlete. For some reason that is unknown to me people are assuming the Thai's are running for cardiovascular reasons. But a nice jog isn't by itself going to get their cardio to the next level. People are missing the point completely why the Thai's are using this training method. Most Thai's are trying to fight as the lowest weight they can just like MMA fighters. This is a good method for keeping your weight down. But the main reason they are running is because running excites your nervous system ultimately giving you more bounce in your step and lightness on your toes.
I had the opportunity to work with Mike Dolce for a number or years back when I was at Team Quest in Portland. For those of you who are not familiar with Mike he is the the most sought after nutritionist and strength and conditioning coach in MMA. He has worked with the likes of Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, Thiago Alves, Jake Ellenburger, and many more. Basically he knows his stuff. I think Mike said it best, he said that among his athletes the ones that did their runs were the ones that still had the bounce and lightness on their toes by the later rounds.
Basically my point is there is no “magic training methods”. If you want to be the best you have to do what is already working but do it right and consistent. It's the same as anything else, you have to put in the hard work to get the results you want.