I am bruised, battered, blistered, beaten and bitten, and loving every minute (well, except the bitten part- pesky mosquitoes). My first week went well. I’ve now settled into a routine and have adjusted to the intensity of twice a day trainings. So I’m adding in private lessons:)!
Communication here is done through laughter, gesturing, and muay thai grunts of “mmm-MMMM” and “Ooooh-AAAAAY!”. Despite a mostly English clientele, the trainers don’t speak much English, and the few words they do take some deciphering (“lip kick? You want me to kick your lip?? Oh, you’re saying LEFT kick!”). But it works, and the sessions are both hard work and a lot of fun for everyone. Now that they’re used to me, they like to come over, look at what I’m doing, and laugh, but all good-naturedly. They’ll imitate me, point out whatever they want me to change, shake their heads and say “No, bad!” They then show me what they want and say “Yes, good!” When I get it, cries of “Yes! See!” and “mmm-MMMM!” abound.
Cheering is also a means of communication. When another Canadian shows up, they point to him or her, turn to me, yell “Canada!” and break into spontaneous cheering. The day we discovered two of us are not only Canadian but also BOTH from Toronto, well, that was a celebration.
They like to laugh at how I do my hand wraps as well. It’s now at the point that when they shake their hands and yell “rab! rab! hen rab!” indicating time to put them on, one of the trainers will inevitably yell “Mehn-di!” to bring my hands and hand wraps over to them to take care of. It’s like a dance watching them wind the material over my wrists and knuckles. They’re so graceful and expert even in this simple task. Now I wrap one while the trainer watches, and he wraps the other. Maybe next week I’ll graduate to being able to handle both!
I found the beach on Friday. Phuket is known for its magnificent beaches and this one doesn’t disappoint. Unfortunately I got a little sunburned, so kneeing the bag later that day with red skin hurt just a little! I have a slight sunglasses burn too- let me tell you how attractive that is. Despite all that, I’m going to be at the beach in between sessions on good weather days; it’s that stunning.
I finally rented a motorbike, the method of choice for transportation here. It certainly makes life easier, as most things are not walking distance from the camp- and those that are mean a sticky, sweltering, uncomfortable trek in the humidity.
Life is getting busy here with all the training and the socializing that goes on afterwards, not to mention the work I brought that needs doing and my thesis that unfortunately won’t write itself. When I have a few minutes I learn some Thai- it’s not a difficult language to learn, but the pronunciation isn’t natural to English speakers. For example, there’s a sound written phonetically as either a ‘b’ or a ‘p,’ but really is somewhere in between. My trainers and other Thais generally understand what I’m trying to say though, and they get a kick out of my efforts. Some of my trainers have begun speaking to me in Thai, and I have to remind them that I don’t quite speak the language yet!
Training is awesome. One morning session there were fewer people than usual, so the trainer holding pads for me worked with me for about 35-40 minutes worth of rounds. THAT was difficult, but worth every second. They like to start with basic moves and combos and then throw in additional blocks and techniques you haven’t done before, so ever expanding your repertoire. I learned a back kick the other day that feels awkward now, but once I perfect it I can’t wait to whip it out!
The trainers will demonstrate the moves if you don’t pick it up from their one or two word commands. My trainer wanted me to do a quick shuffle and then throw a kick (the advantage of the shuffle is that your opponent can’t tell what’s coming) and when I didn’t understand, his instructions were “like Saenchai! Same same!” Definitely funny, but as I watch the training methods and then see them in action at Fight Nights, it seems Sinbi really does provide some of the better training around Phuket and Sinbi fighters routinely win.
Sunday is the one day off, so I explored the island and went elephant trekking. I’d never done it before, but it’s not really for me. That’s not the life these majestic creatures were meant to have.
One week down, three to go!