The High of Muay Thai
By Suzi Hall
I came to Thailand 12.9 stone, uncomfortable in my disco outfits.
I am an exercise freak. Running, weights, yoga, swimming, you name it, I do it and when I put my mind to it I’m strong, fit and capable. That came to an abrupt end when I cycled into a car bonnet two years ago.
Goodbye to off road races, marathons and running around Richmond park; not burning off 2,000 calories weekly impacts your waistline, skinny jeans just ain’t the same when you can’t breath.
Yoga helped, but to shape up you need hard work, sweat and a lot of it. That’s exactly what you do non-stop when training Muay Thai. It drips off you, flicks on the floor and pours down your face into your eyes. This is no sexy wet look.
I came for six weeks, five months later I’m still here and a proud owner of hot pink shorts and flouro orange hand wraps. If I am going to kick ass I am doing it in style!
Muay Thai is the art of eight striking points; punches, kicks, elbows and my favourite; knees. A 90min session starts by bouncing on a tractor tyre or skipping. Then shadowboxing to practice technique, this can be tough and feel self-conscious, only do I not care striking my invisible opponent with a vicious passion.
Moving to padwork: Five rounds of 3 mins…nothing…but you start kicking and punching in quick succession, it’s 36 degrees, did I mention the sweat? Breathing very hard and focusing on technique, it becomes very difficult. The first time I saw stars! Post padwork you stagger to the bags, after drinking your bodyweight in water, time to work on combinations and whatever else you want to throw at the bag; anger, frustration and general bullshit. A once reserved Suzi no longer exists- I scream, push, grunt, jab, cross, hook, punch and elbow, ripping my skin, but a bit of concealer does the trick and nothing goes with my LBD like purple knees and scuffed calves.
Other elements of training include; sparring by practicing fighting with a fellow student, clinching which is gripping and wrestling your opponent and general conditioning by working your abs while being whooped with a pad and kicking or kneeing the bag hundreds of times. Muay Thai essentially is interval training, short and sharp. Developing your stamina for the ring and a relentless fight that results in a knock out.
The training is hardcore, I’ve never experienced the regularity of being so out of breath every single time I train. But the more you do it the better you get. I train 6 days a week. I ache and bruise frequently but nothing beats the buzz of my right punch and last time I checked I was 11.4 stone.
I walk differently, an empowered woman that knows how to throw a punch. But you don’t have to practice Muay Thai to fight. The training is enough to rip your muscles, teach you focus, dedication and respect to Thailand’s national sport that requires 100% from your body.
The thought of a fight thrills and terrifies me but I want to by the end of this year, I also get so much encouragement from fellow students to fight. They say I have it in me. “Suzi you are such a feminine lady but in that ring I wouldn’t f**k with you.” Another one I hear a lot from the Thais; “you are strong like a man”
You don’t need to be a man to be strong!