So I’m feeling physically drained and training was the last thing I wanted to do. However, as Sunday is a day of rest for Muay Thai trainers, the next opportunity to train would be Monday. This would be five days since my last training session which is ‘too long between drinks’ especially given I want to learn and practice technique whilst I am here. Despite my inner resister begging me to stay at home, read a book and relax, I dialled Mr Saveak and booked him to pick me up at three o’clock.
I arrived early and lay myself down on a shaded section of the blue mats, waiting for the trainers and others to arrive so we could start skipping. My favourite trainer, Dang, sat himself down near me and we had another disjointed conversation. “Why you no train yesterday?” he demanded. “I was going to but I had to go into the dive shop yesterday for training”. He nodded, in understanding, I think.
It was almost half past three o'clock and I was still the only one there. “Just one today” he said, with a mischievous glint in his brown eyes. I had already noticed that people will turn up just before 4 o'clock to avoid skipping with the heavy ropes for thirty minutes, which is both boring and hard work. Their only punishment for doing this is thirty push ups, not really punishment compared to the skipping. I was still hopeful that I wouldn’t be the only one training. However, it was Saturday, and according to Dang, Saturday afternoons are generally quiet. Regardless, I looked around hoping to see other people walking up. If I was the only one training, I would be slaughtered for sure! Fortunately a few moments later, Jerfish, a young Indonesian guy walked up. I felt relieved there would at least be one other to share my pain. Gradually some more guys turned up so there was five of us training in total.
After skipping and stretching, we started to shadow box. The last two sessions we followed a trainer showing us various combinations that we copied. Today we made up our own combinations. Whilst we shadow-boxed, some of the trainers helped some of the guys with technique whilst the others joked amongst themselves. The mood was quite jovial. It was Saturday, the last session of the week and a small class.
Roes, my second favourite trainer, interrupted my shadow boxing, pointed to a metal mug and motioned for me to draw out a piece of paper. I had no idea what the purpose of this exercise was but went along with it anyway. I opened the piece of paper which had Thai writing on it and handed it to Roes. He started laughing, slapped me on the back and then hugged me. It turned out that I drew out the name of the trainer who would instruct us at the end of the class while all the others scrubbed and disinfected the padded mats. I still have no idea why Roes thought it was so funny because he had to scrub the mats as well.
I continued shadow-boxing and Dang came over me and motioned for me to jab and cross whilst he padded for me with his hands. “Right kick” he said so I executed a right kick. “More power” he said. So I repeated the kick managing to get him in the side. He clutched at his side, pretending that it hurt before he started laughing.
He came back over and stood in front of me again. “Right block” he said, then kicked at me with his left leg. I stood in my stance, fists guarding my head, raised my right knee to just inside my arm, to block his kick and his shin connected with mine. I winced a little. His shins are as hard as rock and mine are like putty in comparison. Although he didn’t kick hard, the impact still hurt. “Left block” he said and kicked at me with his right leg. I repeated the drill with my left leg. “Good” he said and walked off.
I recommenced shadow boxing but my shin started to become quite painful. I bent down and looked at it, and there was a big, painful lump forming where his shin had connected with mine. I rubbed it lightly. It was really tender and the lump was getting bigger. Roes was standing near me and came over to see if I was OK. I stood up to continue shadow-boxing and saw that Dang was standing in front of me, his back to me, talking to another trainer. I indicated to Roes, it was Dang’s fault and playfully executed a front kick with my right leg and tapped him on his butt. Big mistake! The other trainer, saw this, threw his hands onto his hips, loudly and indignantly shouted at me, “You, you respect teacher. 20 push ups!” whilst glaring at me.
My mouth actually dropped open in shock. The mood had been so jovial and we had been joking earlier. I didn’t intend any disrespect by my action, surely they knew that. The trainer continued to glare at me. I didn’t want to be shouted at again in front of everyone so I dropped and did my 20 push ups without further delay. I got back up and kept shadow boxing, keeping my eyes down in fear of further reprimand.
Shadow boxing finished and it was time to wrap our hands before putting on the gloves for pad work. I grabbed my bright yellow hand wraps and sat down to start wrapping. Dang came and sat in front of me and took my wraps from me so he could wrap my hands for me. He looked at my shins and prodded at where the bumps were. “I fix” he said. He wrapped my hands for me and then fetched a bottle half filled with a light yellow oil. The label was covered in Thai but had “Boxing oil” written on it in English. He rubbed it generously into both my shins and gave my calves a somewhat painful massage before cracking all my fingers and toes. I think this was his way of apologising for injuring me.
Fortunately I finished the rest of the session without further incident. Needless to say, from now on I will always avoid sparring with Dang and will always, always respect the teacher!
The camp is overlooked by the Great Buddha in the distance
The Beginners Training Area