Muay Thai Musings from Thailand

Sinbi_2014

I am currently on my annual Muay Thai holiday in Thailand and today I had my first session of my stay.  Sinbi has expanded since I was last here, it is now huge!  I don’t get a chance to do Muay Thai as often as I would like at home due to other commitments (that pesky thing called work gets in the way a lot and I also do other styles of martial arts) so for me my regular trips to Thailand are something I really look forward to as it gives me an opportunity to refine my technique and learn some new skills.  For those of you who have trained in Thailand you will know how humbling it is to have your technique pulled apart and corrected so it’s done the Thai way.  It’s like being a complete beginner again, I’ve seen this happen with many people and there is no place to have an ego and think you know it all, whether you are a fighter or not.  You really have to respect your trainers, here and also back home.

I spent the first few days of my holiday relaxing, catching a bit of sun and seeing some friends.  I had a great afternoon with my friend Tash and her husband Dane at the weekend, they are both Nak Muays from Australia and I met them when I was at Sinbi in 2012 so it was great to catch up with them again. Tash has an awesome blog where she writes about her experiences as a fighter and she also interviews female fighters from around the world.  You can check out her blog, she is incredibly honest and gives a really good insight into the struggles and the successes of being a female fighter.  Tash is also Queen of the braids and will usually braid the fighters hair at Sinbi.  We caught up over lunch and then Tash braided my hair whilst we watched TUF20 as one of our friends who has also trained at Sinbi, Justine Kish is on the show.  Justine is also an awesome fighter, very explosive, strong and really humble. I have met some fantastic people at Sinbi, including Caley Reece who is one of the top female Muay Thai fighters in the world. Caley is incredibly positive and supportive of female fighters and martial artists, her outlook on life is amazing.  My biggest Sinbi moment though was on my first trip when my friend Daz and I not only met Saenchai, who is considered the number one pound for pound best Muay Thai fighter in the world but we were his neighbours on that trip.  You can read how we ‘stalked’ him in Tesco and how his cat disowned him and chose to be my buddy here. 😉

I was a little sad to be training this morning as one of my trainers Wang, passed away this year and it felt strange not to see him around. He was such a huge character at Sinbi, he is greatly missed by many who were blessed to have him as their trainer. My other trainer Chalee is currently working in Singapore at Evolve MMA so I did have a slight worry about who is going to look after me?!  We started off with our warm up of running and skipping, then did our stretching and put on our wraps for two rounds of shadow boxing.  During shadow boxing the trainers will walk around and watch over the students and then do some drills with them.  I needn’t have worried about who I would be with as Bao V who was the very first trainer that I had on my first visit to Sinbi back in 2011 came over to me and took me under his wing.  Bao V is a very patient trainer, I say this because in 2011 I had only been doing Muay Thai for about 6 months and he spent a lot of time helping me, I was happy to see him. 🙂

After shadow boxing it was time to put on our gloves and you’re split into two groups. One group will spend 5 rounds in the ring with the trainers and the other group will do freestyle bag work.  Bao V called me over to him in the ring and the fun really started.  In this morning’s session Bao V was helping with my rhythm and my timing.  When I’m doing pad work I have a tendency sometimes to just want to go all out and hulk smash everything as hard as I can but Bao V is very good at getting you to slow your rhythm and to pace yourself.  If you haven’t trained in Thailand before the heat and humidity can really zap your energy so even though back home you can train like a complete animal it’s different in Thailand, especially if you are suffering from jet lag or insomnia. I get the latter a lot and it really messes me up.  Sometimes I feel like I am standing and punching in treacle because I haven’t had enough sleep.

I had a few corrections, especially on my stance as I kept reverting to boxing stance as I also box back home.  Funnily enough when I am boxing my coach will sometimes correct me as I will be in Muay Thai stance.  The 5 rounds went pretty quickly and then we swapped over with the other group so they could go in the ring and then we were on the bags.  Again, on the bags I was very conscious to pace myself and not try to smash it as hard as I could, you will find you gas out pretty quickly unless you are an uber machine (I am far from one of those).  After the bag work we then partnered up so it was two on a bag and we did our bag drills such as jab/crosses, jabs, crosses and kicks.  We then did some partner drills incorporating jabs, knees and elbows then it was on to conditioning and then finally cool down stretching.  Training was finished!

Tired but happy!

Tired but happy!

After training I headed back to my apartment to freshen up and then went out for breakfast at one of my favourite places Kombat Cafe.  They serve really great food and their protein smoothies are the best I have ever had.  My legs were pretty sore so on the way back to my apartment I decided to stop off for a sports massage.  Oh… My… Days.  I thought my sports massage therapist back home was hardcore (I call him Optimus Prime), I met his Thai female equivalent and she was a badass!  At one stage she actually hopped onto my back like a monkey and was using her knees to iron out the knots in my back, I was almost crying.  Then it got even more painful as she started using her elbows and then actually stood up and started using her foot to massage my legs, it was a good thing she was only about 45kg because I think my limbs might have snapped otherwise.  At one stage when she was using her feet to massage me she was actually digging it in my groin to loosen it up, I blurted out a few swear words at that point.  She also did quite a bit of work on my shoulders, I have an old shoulder injury that seems to cause me a few problems in my Olympic lifts back home and she was jamming her fingers into all kinds of painful spots.  Even though she literally beat me up in my massage she was amazing, she worked out a lot of knots and bumps and she said next time I should have an oil massage as it will be less painful.  Well, as the saying goes ‘no pain, no gain!’.

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