(Written Wednesday 1st July)
The training is improving already despite the ever-increasing list of aches and pains. Right calf – tight as hell; right shin – bruised beyond recognition; injured shoulder – getting more injured; knuckles – raw and bruised from hours of constant punching.Still it’s not keeping me from going back again and again, I’m now four sessions in and can’t wait for this afternoon to get some more.
Neung is a wonderful trainer. It took me a while to get used to his mannerisms at first, having to figure out “is that his good scowl or his bad scowl?” and “is he shouting at me because I got it right or wrong?” but everything seems to be slotting into place. The broken English isn’t a problem any more and I’m used to, for example, his way of telling me that he’s not going to bullshit me about how I’m doing: “I teach, you pupil, I say good, no good, I tell you good, no good. You good!”.I still can’t help laughing when he says “shoop” each time I hit the pads though, can’t get that damn Cher song out of my head :p
Every now and again his dad will step in to offer some gems of advice. I’ll find a link to some info about the guy but he’s an absolute legend – still helping train at 69 years old he had a fight record of 150-odd wins and no defeats and was apparently named “most dangerous man in Muay Thai” by the King some decades ago (these may be myths but I don’t care, I’m buying into it wholesale). He’s a cheeky, mischievous old soul and will never miss an opportunity to teach you some dirty tricks – innumerable ways to sneak in an elbow to the face after you block an opponent’s attack. His continual reminders to “tell you friends home, Mr Wong come see them, he kill them all. Mr Wong kill YOU!” are guaranteed to lift the most flagging spirits.
So my punches, elbows, knees and kicks have already vastly improved, I just need to work on shaking the nickname “Robocop” – not because I’m a badass or the future of law enforcement, just because I move like a clanky tin-can around the ring. Must relax, relax, relax. Mind you that’s easier said than done when I’m still having to go through airline pilot-esque checklists for every single move – okay, right arm down here, left guarding face, knee up, toes down, up on toes of left foot, body back. Every second I’m losing my body weight in sweat (seriously, doing crunches the other day I had sweat pouring off my FEET!) and coming closer to total exhaustion and he expects me to be some kind of graceful ballerina? I think not sir.
Give it another week and a half and I’ll be rocking though, I guarantee it.
Update – during this morning’s training Neung was trying to explain something fairly complex to me but didn’t have the English for it at all so he beckoned to an elderly gent to come and translate for him. He let loose with a torrent of Thai, obviously imparting some priceless Muay Thai wisdom. The old fella nodded sagely, soaked it all in, thought for a second, looked me in the eye and said… “Don’t freak out. Yes, don’t freak out”.
So there it is, the ultimate secret of Muay Thai 🙂