Carry That Weight
Written by Liz Gaschler
Professional fighting: when two agreeing parties, train endless amounts of hours to step in a ring and showcase their skills. Orrrr, knock each other out and make the other bleed. But, it’s nothing personal!
Muay Thai, the grueling national sport of Thailand, more often than not gets dumbed down to “kickboxing with knees and elbows”. In reality, Muay Thai is a way of life, a career and also a passion. Having a Thai trainer tell you you look like a Thai Boxer is extremely rare and a huge compliment. These trainers seek dedication and perseverance, starting with 8 kilometers (5 miles) runs in the morning. Then a two hour training session including shadow boxing, 3-5 four minute rounds of pad work ending with strength and conditioning. All of that done before 10 a.m! And that’s only the first half of the day!
No matter the location, U.S.A or Thailand, I’ve managed to cry at most of my first training sessions. I’ve walked into more welcoming Muay Thai gyms than I have yoga studios. (GO FIGURE!) The tears never have to do with anyone else besides me, but it’s the best kind of exercise: one that physically exhausts you, while mentally challenging you.
Maybe, you’ll find yourself hiding behind a punching bag, wiping you’re salty, snotty face attempting to get your shit together to go bang shins with someone double your size orrrrr… that could just be me.
My theory is that gym owners are super sweet and friendly during their first impression. They know the ruthless 120 minutes they are about to smack you around for. Gym owners and trainers have nothing to prove, if you want to act like a dick, you’re gonna get beat up sooner or later, and they will be paid to watch it.
For me, the hardest part was having a butt-load of information thrown out, being watched to implement it and constantly being corrected. (It’s all a part of the process.) Even though I was overwhelmed, freaked out and upset with myself, I learned so much in that one class and I still carry it with me today.
I didn’t cry my first time trying Muay Thai because I was hurt, or sad. I cried because of the demand to be vulnerable! You have to accept that you suck, then willingly pay to work, bleed and sweat to get better.
You are training your body to physically protect yourself. You are training your mind to push through the mental clatter and you are fueling your body to keep up. It’s no wonder I cry at least once during a training camp. And I don’t even go as hard as the 90% participating.
Every time I cry, I know I’m shedding a layer of myself. I leave that mat a better person every single session. That’s why I love this sport: the culture, the dedication, the passion and that’s why I don’t care if you think I’m a cry-baby. Tough love… Muay Thai… it’s basically the same thing. This sport hurts and humbles you… really quickly.