I never thought I’d see the day. I mean it’s been the bane of my life for the past few years and I still maintain it’s largely responsible for the breakdown of my marriage. But somehow tonight I found myself at my first Muay Thai class – and I fecking loved it.
A bit of background to explain. My ex-wife had occasionally dabbled with various martial arts in her past, mostly before we met, and just never found one to stick with. Halfway through our relationship she decided she was too much overweight – admittedly she had been doing very little exercise and I’d been going overboard on serving massive portions of very tasty but unhealthy food – so she went on a huge fitness binge. It worked, and in fact worked so well that Slimming World magazine did a two-page feature on her, flying her down to London for a photoshoot and everything.
The crux of this weight loss was Muay Thai. She tried a few classes and started taking it seriously, buying all the gear and training constantly to the point where, and this goes on to to this day, she was training six days a week and talking about nothing but Muay Thai. When she wasn’t training, fighting or out with her Muay Thai mates she was surfing Muay Thai websites and watching fights on YouTube. Now I had no interest in martial arts beyond the odd Jackie Chan flick now and again, so you can see how this might put a certain strain on a relationship. Still I would never have dreamed of asking her to calm it down because I could see how much she loved it and I decided to move to Thailand with her for a year so she could train 24-7 and be the best she possibly could at the sport. But we split up before that could happen because we’d ‘grown apart’ – it happens to couples all the time, it’s natural, but I still harboured a bit of ill-will towards the sport as a whole for quite a while.
Fast-forward to present day. Since the split I’ve been all too aware that I lack an outlet for aggression – I’ve been angry at a lot of things but over the years I’ve developed a calm demeanour, the kind of Buddha-esque manner that I realise can be infuriating to many people. I just don’t express anger as I don’t see how it can resolve any situation. The idea of trying Muay Thai started banging about in my mind and my pal Marty had tried this class in Leith which he raved about. So I decided what the hell, I could use a bit of variety in my workout anyway so I may as well see what the fuss is all about. And let me tell you, it’s good…
The class has a dedicated gym on Great Junction Street and it’s a pretty cool set-up. Basically an arched cavern-style room with a ring at one end, matted floors and a row of punchbags hanging down each side. There was a real friendly atmosphere as soon as I walked in, which was just as well because I was a tad nervous to be honest. The class commenced with a great little warm-up to get the blood pumping and I was quite chuffed as Alex, the instructor, had instructed us newbies to take it easy but I managed to keep up with all the regulars without breaking much of a sweat 🙂
The bulk of the class consisted of us new guys being shown the basics – the correct stance, how to punch, elbow, knee and kick, and practicing on each other with pads. I can’t tell you how good it feels every time you land a really good hit and get a satisfying thwack from the pads. It also fair takes it out of you when you’re holding the pads for your partner, especially when they put as much energy into their kicks as mine did!
By the end of the class I couldn’t believe an hour had passed, it felt like we’d only been there for 10 minutes and I was desperate to do more. Thankfully classes are held daily so I’ll be back on Thursday more than likely and probably again at the weekend. I reckon two classes a week on an ongoing basis should be enough to get me up to speed pretty quickly, especially since I’ve seen a hundred fights and listened to my ex talking about technique and the like for the past few years.
So yeah, that was my Tuesday night. Still buzzing, surprised and getting pleasantly tired now. Time to watch Derren Brown then get a well-deserved kip.