26 Sep Kicking Ass: Learning Muay Thai in Koh Tao
Working out and trying activities in new places are two of the things I enjoy the most. The problem is that putting the two of them together can often result in something too intense, too dangerous or way out of my comfort zone. Before arriving in Thailand, I knew that I didn’t want to leave without taking at least one Muay Thai class. What can be more appropriate than learning the national sport?
For those of you who don’t know, Muay Thai or Thai Boxing is a type of close-combat. It’s known as the “art of eight limbs” because it uses fists, elbows, knees, and shins. Basically, you fight using your entire body.
The day I first visited Island Muay Thai in Koh Tao I panicked. It’s an outdoor gym, 100% local, there were no other girls that day, and every guy, besides having a six pack and scary pecs, was hitting things, uhhh how do I put this, rather aggressively. It was all too hardcore for me. So I chickened out and left.
The following week I had serious and long chats with myself. One part of me reminded me that this was something I really wanted to do, the other (which seemed like the sane one) conjured the scary image of the gym and basically told the other to shut the hell up.
C’mon, this is something you want to do
Nuh uh. Not happening
You can do it.
I dance, I do yoga and Pilates. I’m delicate! I don’t fight.
You’re gonna regret it if you don’t go.
I’ll regret it more if it’s too intense and I faint surrounded by all that testosterone
You know how that internal debate ended since there’d be no post if I had decided differently.
The day of my first class I almost didn’t show. But I pushed myself to put one foot in front of the other, and Isaac made me take that final step into the gym. A bunch of guys were already warming up and before I could even put my things down, one of the coaches almost dragged me to join the group. I didn’t have time to give it a second thought, and this was a good thing because I felt so out of my comfort zone that maybe I would’ve run back to our scooter and driven away.
We started with some stretches and I thought, good, something I’m good at. There were even some comments about my flexibility which helped put me at ease. Vain, I know, but the hitting part was coming soon and I had to hold on to something!
After stretching we skipped for 5 minutes and then we were separated. I’ll admit I was looking forward to having Isaac near me as my confidence net, but that didn’t happen. Since there weren’t many people, it was one coach per person.
P Toon, the owner of the gym, was my coach for the day. I don’t know if he noticed my doubts and fears but he immediately made me feel comfortable, and most importantly, that even if I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, I belonged.
I learned the basic hits and kicks and I don’t know if it was the Kempo in P90X, but it didn’t feel too out of my league. It was actually fun! P. Toon left me exhausted, I’m not gonna lie, but I was so busy hitting, and moving, and trying to keep up with his commands, that time flew. After several one-on-one rounds it was time for situps, push ups, and some laps.
Isaac and I enjoyed it so much that we purchased the multi-day pass and we went back every single day we were in Koh Tao. And it ruled. The coaches always greeted us with a smile and everyone was friendly and helpful. P Toon was my coach every day and he made my workouts not only fun and challenging, but he also pushed me to learn more and to get faster and better.
Today was our last day (and we were five girls!!) and it was sad to say goodbye. I learned so much in so little time, and I gained confidence with every kick. Looking at my legs now, they’re a bruised mess. My right foot and shin are a weird shade of purple, but talking to my grandmother today (the wisest woman I know) she told me that every single bruise is worth it because they’re a reminder that I should never doubt myself again.
It’s true you know, life really does begin at the end of your comfort zone and I’ll try to never forget that again.