(Written Mon 29th June)
I started Muay Thai lessons fairly recently, just after the turn of the New Year, and despite my uncertainty and misgivings I took to it like a duck to water, or more appropriately like a pacifist with pent-up anger issues to swinging his fists at (mostly) inanimate objects. Or at least well-protected people…
Despite many an accident during my tenure at the classes in Edinburgh (to wit: a fractured toe; a sprained wrist; a twisted ankle; torn shoulder ligaments and bruised ribs), mostly unrelated to Muay Thai itself, I thought I was getting on admirably well. My slap-dash, spastic-on-a-rampage technique was morphing into something recognisable as a martial art, my attacks were hurting my imaginary assailants more than they were me and gosh-darn it if I wasn’t even starting to move a bit gracefully.
Well, I was wrong.
After my first lesson at Fairtex my trainer Neung, son of the camp’s elderly and wonderfully genial owner (and Muay Thai legend), basically ripped up everything I knew about the sport and through it in the trashcan like yesterday’s lunch.
Stance? Move that hand up! Get those elbows in! Open the fist, rotate towards me, legs further apart (I still adopt an Aikido stance by reflex), head down, FUCKING RELAX!!!
Jab? Well, actually that bit was okay. Apparently I jab like a pro 🙂
Cross? Cross no good! Move the body more! More power! Slide the foot forward! Not so high! FUCKING RELAX!!!
Knees? Oh, they’re good too. Probably ’cause I like doing it so much…
Elbows? Move the body more! Keep the guard up! Over the mouth! Tip of the elbow! FUCKING RELAX!!!
Kicks? (Guess what?) Move the body more! Turn the leg over! Balance! FUCKING RELAX!!!
Okay, so there’s a bit of poetic license in there, mostly consisting of the conversation being translated from broken English, sign language, odd grunts and exaggerated facial expressions, but you get the gist. Everything I’d learned was wrong and got torn down (odd seeing as my trainer back home apparently frequents this camp rather regularly) and today I started learning Muay Thai again as a beginner, building it from the ground up. And you know what?
Fecking loved it.
Everything clicked into place, it all seemed so much more free and natural yet at the same time more controlled and precise. The one-on-one training with a hugely intense and talented individual added to the challenge in that I now really had to impress someone other than myself, as opposed to “here’s a combo, go do it for a few minutes on your partner”. That, plus the fact that the environment is amazing: the clinging moisture in the air combining with sweat to form a constant waterfall down your body (I literally trailed
Jab? Well, actually that bit was okay. Apparently I jab like a
puddles wherever I went); the comforting yet cloying smell of summer rain mingling with the refreshing sharpness of Deep Heat; the sounds of gloves smacking against pads to the rythmic chants of the instructors; all that plus the knowledge that there’s a delicious meal and some banter at the end of it. And that’s just after one lesson, I’ve got about twenty-odd more to go.
I’m starting to see how this sport can become an obsession for some and an entire life for others.