My third week at Sinbi, where I’m training in the Thai martial art of muay thai, was awesome. I did two private training sessions daily, one with Pot and one with Bao V, plus group sessions. I’ve learnt A LOT, and try to take notes after each session, although it can be difficult to remember everything. Pot, who is reputed to be the best clincher in Thailand and has quite the experience and impressive reputation, teaches me only a handful of key techniques each time to ensure I won’t be overwhelmed, and with Bao V we mostly spar and he’ll review drills and critique while doing so.
I can see my technique improving, which I’m really pleased about. I need to move faster, however, and when I spar with other students I tend to lose a lot of what I’ve learnt and bring out bad habits, such as bending over slightly at times instead of keeping myself nice and straight, which makes it harder for your opponent to hit you. Pot has been working with me on that a lot, and will watch me during the group sessions to see what he wants to work on with me next.
I still feel that my defensive reactions are too slow, which is the main reason I’ve opted not to fight while here (foreigners are encouraged to fight as it gives experience to them and business to the camp). I’m hoping that “slow” here will still translate to “speedy” at home, because here, the trainers are all ex-fighters with impressive stats (this one was Thailand’s #1 fighter, that one has over 230 fights, this one trains Saenchai, etc) and they all move faster than I’ve ever seen anyone at home.
I had all kinds of ideas about what I wanted to focus on when I arrived at the end of September, but once here, I realized I have so much to learn that I was thrilled to just go along with whatever they wanted to teach me. The private sessions are the best for that, as the trainer you work with takes you under his wing and you become one of “their” students.
After watching my abysmal clinching techniques, Pot and I spent a full hour practicing clinching on Saturday- one of the most painful, tiring, and valuable hours of my training. Afterwards, despite being bruised and thrown around, my clinching had definitely improved and when I practiced with another girl yesterday I could really see the difference.
Sunday is our day off from training, and boy, did we all need it. A group of us spent a large portion of the day at the beach, which was rejuvenating for both bodies and souls.
That night we scootered out to the big night market. What an interesting place! You can get everything there- food, clothes, souvenirs, housewares, even pets (yup, there’s a stall that sells everything from meerkat-type animals to rabbits to dogs). The most riveting part of all? The drive to and from. Our little “scooter gang” (thanks Aika for coining that analogy!) rode for dear life, weaving in and out of traffic and trying not to hit or be hit. Now I know what people refer to when they say the driving is dangerous, and next time, I’m going to strongly consider cabbing over. Fun though:)
Yesterday (Monday) was back to training. I did the group session in the morning and then had back-to-back privates in the afternoon. Pot worked me really hard, then a ten minute break, then an hour sparring with Bao V. By the end of it I was exhausted so didn’t do the afternoon group session. I think I would have keeled over in the middle of it had I tried!
After a quick shower I came back to watch the session, as you can learn a lot through observation. There was a clinching tournament going on, where head trainer Pot had challenged everyone to see if they could throw Saenchai, one of the best muay thai fighters in the world, who trains out of Sinbi. One by one, the students would clinch with Saenchai, and despite best efforts, Saenchai would throw each of them every time, even those much bigger and taller than him.
To avoid being thrown, Saenchai would drop his weight down into his legs and be very solid in stance and strong in technique. For those much taller than him, he would jump up on them and glue his knees to their ribs, with his knees bent and shins resting on their hip bones, so they were carrying him much like you would a child. He locked their neck in a ferocious clinch, and was able to continue kneeing them from that position as well, tiring them out.
I’ve only got two more days here. I feel like I’ve only just begun, and will definitely be back. I’m thinking March or April maybe….?