Last April, my friend, Den, joined me on a trip to Pai in Northern Thailand after I celebrated the Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai. A few hours after we arrived in that artsy town, Den and I met travellers who were training Muay Thai. When we got invitations to try out Muay Thai, I had to pass since my knee was still healing after a bike accident in Siem Reap. Besides, three is a crowd.
Den went with one of our newfound friends on a gym located in the outskirts of Pai. When she came back to our guesthouse after her first Muay Thai training experience, her face was all red and she looked like she was about to collapse. Here’s her account of what happened on her first attempt to learn Muay Thai…
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I first heard of muay thai from my friend, Lindsay, way back in 2004. She said that her best workouts were during the sessions she had with her muay thai instructor. Heck, she even went as far as saying that it was the best of all the martial arts and anyone who used it can easily knock his opponent out. In the spirit of fairness, I will not go to the length of announcing that it is the best of all the martial arts (as every form has something unique to offer) but I will say that it is the only workout that has me begging for breaks every 2 minutes.
Muay Thai is a martial art from Thailand that is commonly referred to as the ‘Science of Eight Limbs’ because it makes use of eight points of contacts using the fists, hands, feet, elbows, and knees – a slight opposition to a more regulated combat sport like kickboxing.
After being oriented 8 years ago about this martial art, I finally gave it a whack last April while vacationing in Pai, Thailand with my friend, Doi. (Okay, fine.) I will admit that I registered for a session because of the cute guy I met who invited me to try it out at the gym where he was also training in. The gym was called Wisarutwat and it was off the beaten path which became my excuse to hitch a ride in my new friend’s motorcycle. Don’t judge please, he was more than happy to oblige.
Anyway, my first muay thai training was not entirely a disaster according to my friend, who goes by the name of Boris (although he was smiling a lot while he was watching and taking photos of me).
with my trainer, Pi Pot
I never imagined that it was going to be that strenuous. In fact, I was quite confident that I can breeze through the whole 2 hours since I had years of dance and taekwondo training in the past. But man, was I mistaken!
I was constantly out of breath and my arms ached like hell. It was either really hard or I was just out of shape; either way it made me lose my ‘dancer’ poise. Not to mention that I was eyeing the clock every 20 seconds because I was silently begging for the training to be over.
That was my mistake. Obviously my body was not ready and I just dived in for the wrong reason. Like most competitive full contact combat sports, muay thai is focused heavily on body conditioning which required many staples such as stretching, running, shadowboxing, rope jumping, body weight resistance and abdominal exercises. In my case, since I was new at it, I was only advised to do a 20-minute rope/rubber tire jumping, a 10-minute stretch, as well as, 15 minutes of shadowboxing. After that, my trainer, Pi Pot, started with the Thai pad training which is considered to be the cornerstone of muay thai conditioning. I was coached to punch, kick (using my shin and not my feet), and strike with my knees and elbows.
After the 2-hour beat down, I was spent. I had no energy left. My hands and knees were literally shaking. When Pi Pot offered me a cup of water, I had difficulty holding the cup and steadying my grip. Usually that only happens before an actual performance and not after any kind of physical training.
But then, the training did feel like I was in an actual performance because we were inside the ring and there were people watching me make a fool of myself (hence, the muay thai training = show, the ring = stage).
When Pi Pot told me that my training was finished, I happily dragged my feet to the bathroom on the second floor of the main house to change. While I was freshening up, I thought, “I badly need a massage!” I skipped the barbeque hook-up that night and told Boris to just drop me off at the guesthouse where I was staying.
This was last April. I am still doing muay thai training but this time in Bangkok; and this time, my technique and endurance have improved in accordance to my trainer.
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Note: This is a guest post written by Den Ramonal. Den is a lot of things but a dancer at best. Watch her unravel while globe-trotting for she’s the fickle pickle of all trades at TutuontheRun.com.