I crashed at 8 PM last night, right after dinner. I hadn’t slept since my nap before afternoon training at Lanna the day before, so I was definitely running on low sleep and having traveled and all that made me pretty fatigued. Kevin warned me that if I fell asleep to early I might wake up at 1 AM and not be able to sleep throughout the night. I kind of nodded and said we could watch something but when I started punching the computer and kneeing in my sleep, he knew I was a gonner. Slept all the way through to 11:00 AM today. Very well rested.
So we moved to a different hotel that’s a little off the main road. It’s more quiet and kind of feels “homey”. There are little Thai kids babbling in the courtyard and a door out the back leads to a caged-in patio, outside of which is only a few feet of space in an alleyway between two buildings, but there’s a chihuahua that isn’t sure whether or not he likes me. Those kids and the dog help me out for feeling comfortable. I don’t like hotels much, but the sounds of people actually living in a space kind of ground it for me.
We had breakfast (well, I had breakfast and Kevin watched me) at a soup place. The Thai servers, all male, were kind of excited and buzzing around our table, which I couldn’t figure out because they certainly get some westerners in there, as evidenced by a very obnoxious couple that ordered food right after us. Was it that I speak Thai? Was it that I ordered soup that contains offal? I did enjoy my soup, which was “ferment cabbage” [sic] that ended up being pickled cabbage in a salty broth with tons of liver, pork, and one little gem of pork intestine. I didn’t want to eat that piece, given my previous encounter with fried pork intestine. It’s a popular dish and I want to like it, but the texture and after-taste just didn’t work out for me. But I told Kevin, who was badgering me to eat it, that I’d only eat it if he filmed it. It wasn’t too bad – the texture was better than fried as it was much softer, less rubbery and the flavor was much milder. Probably better prepared and cleaned at this restaurant than the first one I tried. But I’m still not going to be ordering a big plate of pork intestine anytime soon.
And I went for a run before training. I headed out toward the beach and ran along the boardwalk until I reached an endpoint of sorts, where I’d have to run on the road up a low hill to continue. So I turned around; I’ll have to explore some other options on runs later. But it was nice to smell the salty ocean and see the expression of interest and surprise on the Thai vendors I ran past. (They’ve certainly seen people running and given how people dress in Pattaya it definitely wasn’t my attire – in Chiang Mai a tank-top will garner some looks when I run.) I think mostly they were intrigued by my muscles and recognizing my Muay Thai shorts; I don’t think they get a lot of Muay Thai fighters running around, let alone women of that sort.
When we got to the gym today Sakmongkol was training himself, which he said he would start this week. He wanted to get “back in shape,” which must be a feeling more than anything because he’s still ripped when he’s “unfit.” The gym was empty other than me, Mong, and a young guy who was there yesterday, now skipping rope. I skipped and put on my wraps, then started shadowing and Mong told me to get in the ring. He really wants me to shadow in the ring, which I can see the appeal and purpose of, but it feels a little strange. A little like I’m on display, which is kind of mitigated by the way Sakmongkol watches me to see where I need work. He’s very diagnostic. He’s an incredibly good trainer and as we began our padwork I could already feel the ways in which he is changing me. After only one day I’m already improving.
After six rounds he told me to put shinpads on and we did some sparring. I geeked out, sparring with Sakmongkol – it was just too exciting in my head. He didn’t wear gloves and just kind of slapped me instead of punching, but he was trying to swat me and I hooked over his shoulder and landed a clean, deliberate and firm left hook right to his chin. He let out an expression of surprise and approval – the response of a fighter who never lets go of the joy of the fight – and he came after me. He showed me how he wants me to respond to the leg being caught. The moment the leg is captured, with your shin still against the opponent’s side, you lock your thigh and flex the leg. It works on a few levels: first, the opponent can’t come in because the locked leg blocks them (your leg is bent at the knee); second, you can’t really throw a locked leg like this because it just won’t go very far; and third, as you flex the leg and pull back it pulls the opponent into you, so you can grab them or hit them or whatever. Generally he was showing me that if something works, you do it again. If a punch staggers your opponent, you throw that punch again, rather than adding a kick. He’s training my intention. It’s incredible.
I had fun destroying a bag for a billion rounds and then unwrapped my hands and started doing my jumping knees. Sakmongkol came out of the ring from finishing padwork with everybody and showed me how he wants me to train clinch knees and clinch on the bag. Everyone stopped to watch his demonstration. Not only was it amazing, but I don’t think they’ve ever seen it before. I did my best and it was very hard, but I can feel how good it is. The other Thai trainer, the guy who is setting up my fight for me, gave me three separate looks of approval. My work-ethic is establishing space there. And as I was crushing the bag a young Thai man in a pink shirt, which I recognized as the uniform of the restaurant where we’d eaten breakfast, climbed the stairs and smiled at me. That’s why the servers were so excited at the restaurant this morning – he had recognized me from the gym the day before and now I was recognizing him. Fun coincidence. We’ll definitely be seeing more of each other.
Instructional Sparring – What to Do on a Caught Kick (at ~3:20) :
So tomorrow I think I’ll go train myself in the morning and check that out. Then we’ll try to figure out where I can get regular training on most mornings. There’s a gym we found online that we have to locate and go contact. It’s got lots of young kids, so they train very early in the morning before school. Sounds like something I’d like.