5 life lessons martial arts has taught Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao
Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao of the Evolve Fight Team is one of Thailand’s most decorated martial arts legends.
After a lifetime of showcasing his skills in the country’s most prestigious Muay Thai stadiums, his list of achievements is one to admire.
Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and is regarded as one of the most refined and effective striking martial arts.
The list of Nong-O’s accolades is long. The Evolve MMA instructor is a five-division Muay Thai World Champion, a multiple-time Lumpinee Muay Thai World Champion, a Rajadamnern Muay Thai World Champion, has been Thailand National Champion twice and has been named Fighter of the Year three times.
He has also faced multiple legends, including Saenchai, Singdam Kiatmookao, Petchboonchu F.A.Group, Pakorn Sakyothin, Kongsak Sitboonmee, Sam-A Gaiyanghadao, Sagetdao Petpayathai, and others.
Arguably greater than what he has achieved in the sport, are the life lessons Nong-O has learned during his time training and competing in martial arts.
Here are a few lessons Nong-O has learned throughout his career.
1) The value of perseverance
Growing up in extreme poverty – and witnessing his parents having to work multiple jobs just to put food on the table – Nong-O knows just how hard life can be.
He could have resigned himself to a meager life. But Nong-O had dreams and aspirations. The only way to achieve those dreams would be to persevere.
“Life was hard. I wanted to bring my family out of poverty. This is what motivated me to push forward every day,” said Nong-O
“Martial arts, Muay Thai in particular, is very trying. It will push you to your limits and make you feel like giving up. But power through it, and you will reap its benefits. Muay Thai taught me never to give up.”
2) Hard work pays off
Nong-O understood that in order to lift his family out of its dire financial situation in the rough rural area of Sakon Nakhon, a lot of work had to be done.
“You have to put the work in. You can’t be successful if you make a lot of excuses and are lazy,” said Nong-O.
“It’s the same way in martial arts and in anything you do. You have to put the work in so you can be successful.
"There are no shortcuts. Just know that after all the hard work, it will eventually pay off in the end.”
3) Respect your elders
After achieving early success, and being confident young man, it would have been easy for Nong-O to have let his ego inflate and act like he knew everything he needed. But the Thai legend understood that for him to grow as a fighter, he would have to learn from those who had more experience.
“It would have been easy for me to let the success get to my head, but I knew to be humble because every day there was a lot to learn,” said Nong-O.
“Always recognize the learning opportunities, both in victory and defeat. Remain humble and listen to your elders and seniors. Learn from their experiences, their mistakes. Use it to develop yourself into the best you can be. Being humble and respectful can get you a long way.”
4) Never underestimate any opponent
He’s been hit hard both in the ring and in life.
Nong-O knows never to underestimate any opponent or obstacle. Problems and complications can arise at any moment, and it’s best to be prepared for all situations.
“It hasn’t always been easy in my career. I have faced some great challenges, lost some fights. It’s part of the game and part of life,” said Nong-O.
“The opponent’s record doesn’t matter. Whether the obstacle is easy or hard, it doesn’t matter. You have to be prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve victory and success. Never underestimate anything because in life and in the ring, anything can happen.”
5) Be grateful
The history of sport is littered with tales of athletes who win it all, only to lose it all. Nong-O is very aware of that risk.
“You never know when you could lose it all,” Nong-O said.
“Being grateful for everything means you are never taking anything for granted. You are cherishing every moment. Every blessing in life is special. The more grateful you are, the more the universe will work in your favor. I’m grateful for everything that happened in my career, and for what will happen in the future.”