I’ve been doing Muay Thai off and on since August 2014. It was a year into my travels and a friend of mine I met when we were both in Taiwan suggested it to me cause I asked him to teach me to spar.
There are those people who are natural athletes, the guys and girls that seem like they were made for physical activity. I wasn’t one of those people, I was a small guy who didn’t and still doesn’t have much physical confidence or ability.
What I do have is being a stubborn bastard, maybe you could say strong-willed but I never thought of myself as someone capable in that way. I’m diabetic, blind as a bat and am just a small guy, the last person you would ever expect to do a combat sport like muay thai.
Muay Thai isn’t for everyone, if you don’t like the relentless grind, the pain and the flow it may not be for you. It took me months of looking like an idiot to start to get it. I started muay thai when I was 33 years old, whereas a lot of the people were younger than me when I first started.
I felt like a fool, looked as awkward as everyone else when they first get started and had no physical ability in the slightest. I remember walking up to the gym when they were in session that first day, seeing them go at and walking down the street to get food.
What I did do was commit to it, I was going to give it my best shot and surfice it to say, one month became two, two became six and then a year and a half. In order to do it you have to give yourself time, I started with 2 sessions a day because I wanted to just see what would happen.
I had to embrace the hellish grind, in the beginning it was exhausting, I felt like sore everywhere, all the time for weeks. I couldn’t get the movements to connect and I remember avoiding the hard bags because they were killing my shins.
I was bruised on my legs, had microfractures all over my shins, got quad contusions from a particularly hellish teep, perforated eardrum twice in the same ear and just most recently got a brused rib from my last fight from several knees.
Why the hell would anyone want to go through that and for what reason? I guess for me personally it comes down to understanding that this is part of muay thai. You have to be willing to get banged up a bit, its gonna happen its inevitable especially if you fight but even when you train.
I saw more people get injured in sparring than I have in actual fights. I learned to love the grind. You have to suffer for what you love, part of learning to embrace muay thai as more than sometime to try was embracing the grind and the pain that goes along with it.
It is thinking about it not as a risk but as lessons to be learned, whether that’s to block like I am not good at doing or just keeping your hands up. That doesn’t me you take stupid risks but you learn to deal with the injuries and the pain.
You are going to get hurt in muay thai, that hard bag is painful in the beginning but as you get better, so does your ability to take the punishment. I did muay thai a year and change before I fought but I was afraid of how would it feel to get hit.
I had known pain by that point, have enough little injuries but we would also go pretty light on sparring. In my first fight I was scared of getting hit up until I got a kick to the face and got right back up and it was on.
By then your adrenaline has kicked into gear and mitigates a lot of the pain and you can just go at it. What I learned over the course of my first 4 fights was I could take the abuse. I am not a technical guy, I am not that skilled but I can take a hit and keep on going.
I also knew that endurance was my friend, that if I could get to the later rounds I had a good shot at being able to have gas in the tank to finish the fight. I always assume that my opponent will be better, I assume that they will destroy me.
You don’t know what kind of person you are in the ring until you get there. You can get hints of who you are in sparring but you don’t really know until its just you and your opponent minus the ref in the ring.
I am aggressive, in part that’s probably because I have poor vision but I you are just reacting in most cases, doing whatever you can to survive. I go and attack relentless for a spell because I am usually the smaller of the two of us.
I know that to hit them I have to take their punishment. I know I can’t block everything but that if I can withstand their onsalught I can give a bit of my own. I just feel it, moment to moment, what can I do to give as good as I get. I am trying to learn more tactics and how to hone my limited skills so I can give my opponent a fight they deserve.
I don’t care about winning even if I am working for the win. I want to just do my best to make the fight worth the time and effort of both my opponent and myself while making it good fun to watch for those that are there.
So here goes another 3 weeks of the grind, where pain is my friend, the mat will be family and where I embrace how alive it makes me feel.
but I was especially afraid of blocking with my shins.