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Everything posted by Darina

  1. I've studied Thai for two weeks while I was stranded in Bangkok, injured and with nothing else to do. I ended up taking private lessons at Baan Aksorn language school, and it was money and time well invested. I learned to read and write (well, mostly to read, since the spelling is horrific) within two weeks, and could hold an okay conversation after the course. It was a lot of hard work, but it always is when you learn a language that is completely new to you... My main problem was the pronounciation. I'm not musical and hearing or pronouncing five different tones is nearly impossible for me. In the end there were so many things that I could say, but nobody understood me, because I couldn't get the tones right... And I mean things like "Please can I have an iced coffee without sugar". Phrases where you'd think the other party expects you to say that, and they still don't understand what you want.
  2. Oh, yeah, Freddy came down for a whole week to train for her fight with me! It was awesome!
  3. Keep in mind that it's a heavily edited TV show... I love Ronda's mom. I read her blog for motivation.
  4. In Thailand you are fighting level from day 1 - if you want to fight, they will find you a fight with an equally unexperienced opponent. At least that was my impression.
  5. FINALLY after all this time I've seen a doctor with whom I speak a common language and who genuinely cares. My pain does not come from running, it comes from a muscle imbalance (overdevelopped quad dragging along injured hamstring) and wrong/not enough stretching. The definition of under-recovery. Point taken.
  6. What, you mean Haferflocken? You can get them everywhere and they are one of the base components of any Muesli mix... What am I missing?
  7. That's cool! I hope people buy tickets. I was on an all-female card in Japan, it felt awesome! Though for some reason they still had bikini girls as round anouncers.
  8. First of all you make a good point. So many people will tell you you're overtrainig who don't even know what hard training is. Here is an example from weight lifting. In weight lifting we worked every day, too. So many people will tell you that you should only lift three times a week, but it's not true, you just have to be smart about it. You can't lift max loads every day, but you certainly can train every day and improve. I've met a guy, however, who trained based on the Bulgarian method (google it, you'll like it), and like many others before him he busted his knees permanently. I know Japanese MMA fighters who train the way you do, Sylvie. They are awesome and extremely mentally tough and they keep pushing each other. For example, they would run 5x800m, 5x400m, 5x200m, 5x100m, 5x50m, all of it timed, all of it in competition with each other, with one minute breaks in between. It wasn't about physical fitness any more, it was really just about fighting their way through it. Once I understood that difference, I learned a lot about mental strength. I also messed up my body quite a bit. Your body will adapt to 90% of what you put it through and that will make you stronger. BUT there are the other 10% that will injure you. I actually tried to tell my Japanese coach about the Bulgarian method, citing it as overtraining. To which he replied "That guy and many other guys may have busted their knees, but somewhere there is one guy who won't and he will become champion." So for these guys, it's not just mental, it's actual physical selection. Can't keep up with training? Go do something else. After six months of training with him I developped a chronic hip pain, among various other pains that weren's quite so bad. I ran through it, but it really hurt a lot, even when I wasn't running. I came to the point where I accepted that it would just be part of my life from now on for the rest of my life. But it went away when I recently tore my hamstring and was forced to quit running for almost a month. After running in Thailand for 6 weeks I now have the same pain on the other side. This time I'm taking the week off running to let it heal. I'm still training, just doing other things... But I do believe that I ran too much. I'm heavier than you and it's hard on my body in ways it isn't hard on yours. That being said I'm probably not the target audience of this piece anyway. The guy who skipped an afternoon session and sulked because he bit his tongue in sparring is...
  9. Freddy, I don't mean to be disrespectful, but you're in Germany. Don't go vegan. Eat Magerquark for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - problem solved. Get it from Bioladen if you feel bad for the cows. I'm not even joking, I eat at least 500g a day. Not because I have to, but because I love it. Some days I have to make an effort to eat other foods as well... And 500g is 60g protein from 300 kcal...And it tastes amazing if you mix it with fruit, nutella, or jam. Right now I also put oats, so that when I have to cut weight, I can just remove the oats and have 200 kcal less per day with no hassle. And you don't have to cook it, which means a lot to me, because even frying eggs is work. In Japan I ate tofu and edamame a lot, they have similar nutrients to magerquark (edamame is even better for protein actually). I think you can buy lots of different kinds of tofu in Germany now, too. You can usually get edamame at least deep-frozen at asian grocery stores. Tofu and edamame make a great vegan salad topping.
  10. First of all, I've only been at Sitmonchai for six weeks, which isn't much. I'm sure Kelly, who is on this board, could give a much, much better and insightful review of the place. On the other hand, my perspective is probably quite different from hers, as I just came in as a new person, new to Thailand and completely unsure of what to expect. When I first made up my mind to go to Thailand, I did not know a lot about the country, or even about muay Thai in Thailand in general. I thought it would mostly be Thai men living in cramped conditions kicking banana trees. I googled the hell out of it however, binge-reading the various muay Thai blogs and going crazy with all the gym reviews. Being very shy, the idea of just going to Thailand and trying out gyms until I liked one was scary, I wanted to decide on a place to go before I went there. I first wanted to go to Sinbi because they have a female fight team. In retrospect I'm kind of happy that they didn't have space, forcing me to keep looking. The amount of gyms you find is overwhelming, and you can never tell the quality by the reviews, because you don't know what the person was looking for in the first place. So I changed my tactics and decided to choose a gym based on what I want as a fighter and not on what I want in a gym. Suddenly it wasn't even a question. Hands down my favourite fighter is Pornsanae Sitmonchai. I want to fight like him. I'm not an elegant technical fighter, and I never will be, but I sure as hell can fight a war. So I googled Sitmonchai just to see what would come up. What came up was their website, which was in English - good start. It described the gym as a nice, family-style gym. They also clearly stated that they have their distinct style - the style that I liked in Pornsanae and the style that I wanted for myself as well. I emailed them, got an instant reply and that sealed the deal. I would go to a gym in the middle of nowhere and see what happens. So what is there to say about Sitmonchai? Please bear in mind that this is the only gym I have ever trained at in Thailand. I cannot compare, I can only state things the way I saw them. There is a foreigner liaison. Abigail is has a child with one of the older fighters, she lives in the camp and speaks Thai. This means the world, because if you have any kind of problem you can go and talk to her in English. It's a nice bonus that she is a woman, so you can also go and talk to her about things you might not want to confide in a man. The gym is owned by a Thai family, with Pee A (brother of Monchai, who the gym is named for) running the business, his dad kicking the bags every morning and being generally badass, his mom cooking the food and his three year old son playing Thai boxing in the afternoon. When he isn't away at fights or on business, Pee A watches the training sessions to make sure everybody does their work. He truly loves muay Thai and knows a lot about it. He is also very well connected, and can get you fights on your level. He could have matched me up with girls who had upwards of 20 fights, but he didn't and kept looking until he found a more even match up. Women and men are not equal but this is probably as close as it gets in Thailand. You can go in the ring any way you want, you can spar and clinch with men (in fact, you can ONLY spar and clinch with men, as you are supposed to work with Thais and there are no female Thai fighters there), you get exactly the same attention and the same amount of rounds as the men. You may get wanted or unwanted attention from some of the trainers (one trainer really) but it's minimal. I still think that it's not nearly as bad as what I've read about other gyms, and the management keeps a very strict eye on what is going on. You get training no matter who you are or what you want. While there are professional fighters who pilger to Sitmonchai, or even fly out the coaches to help prepare for fights, I've met all sorts of people during my stay. The outliers include a finnish guy who just started learning muay Thai at the camp (it's incredible how good he was after one month - it would have taken him way longer to get that good back home, for sure). And a 53 year old lady who trains for the sheer joy of it. I can imagine that there are plenty of camps that would laugh at her and not treat her seriously. At Sitmonchai she was working with Kru Dam, the most decorated of the trainers, who gave her his full attention. It was beautiful to see. There is a method to the madness. The pad holders of Sitmonchai are not random, they have been carefully assembled by Pee A to provide everything you need in training. There is the one who pushes conditioning, the one who is heavy on technique, the one who will teach you combinations, the one who will test your balance, the one who will teach you to fight while still holding pads... I spoke with Pee A on one late night, and he has put a lot of thought in to the staff he has hired, and is not intending to bring anyone else in, unless he needs replacements. He's really proud of his gym. Pee A himself is pulling the strings in the background, sending you to work with this coach or that, whatever he feels you should work on. There is no sparring or clinch among foreigners, 95% of the time. You are supposed to work with the Thais, either the boys who are actively fighting, or the coaches. It is always very light and very controlled - I lost my mouth piece on the first day and didn't find it until weeks later, but I didn't need it. There is no way I can imagine sparring without a mouthpiece at any of the gyms I've trained at outside Thailand. Not everybody likes soft, playful sparring however - you need to decide if it's your thing. Some of the male fighters were complaining... I went a round with an American guy on Songkran, when all of the Thais were out, and yeah, it's nice to go hard from time to time, too. You need to be self-driven if you want to prosper in training. Nobody will push you if you don't push yourself. Nobody will make you go to the heavy bag and do your work, or wake you up to run, or tell you to do conditioning exercises. Even on pads, if you let yourself be sluggish and tired, they will allow you to be sluggish and tired. They will push you, but only if you want to be pushed. This can be dangerous. As far as I understand it, the general mood changes with the foreigner population. If there are many professional fighters there, then there is an attitude of hard work, making it easy to work hard yourself. I hit a low season point, where most people had just come off fights or weren't that interested in training hard in the first place. This made it a lot harder for me to train the way I wanted to, both in terms of motivation and socially (feeling weird being the odd one out still kicking the bag while everybody else is showering). The training itself consists of two sessions. The morning starts between 6:30 and 7am (nobody will make you get up). Most people run 8-10 km. Some run alone, some run in groups, some don't run at all. By 8am the pad holders take their place in the ring and it's time to go. Usually the morning sessions are about five rounds. Three rounds with normal pads, one with focus mitts and one round of low kicks seems to be the default, but it depends on the individual coach and what they feel like doing. After that you are left to your own devices until about 10 am when the breakfast is served. So you have up to 90 minutes that you can spend kicking bags and doing strength training - or sitting around on the mats chatting with your mates. The afternoon session begins with a run at 4pm, most people running about 4km. Then there's pads again, followed by sparring and maybe clinch (if you ask for it). Pee A tends to assign sparring partners, but you can also ask the boys. One thing that I missed is that nobody supervised sparring. You were learning by doing, sure, but sometimes it's worth a lot to have somebody shout "You're dropping your left hand" from the side lines. I'm sure the Thai trainers do it in Thai with the boys, but the foreigners don't get any of that. The sparring goes on without breaks or with small breaks as you need them. Usually the activity winds down at about 6pm, leaving you with enough time to go back to your back or strength training or messing around before dinner is served at 7:30. If you want to clinch a lot you probably hit the wrong gym. There is some clinching going on, and one of the trainers is a former Lumpini champion with amazing, "You can't come close to me if I don't want you to"-level clinch. But Sitmonchai is not famous for it, and it's one of the main reasons why their fighters lose (when they do). I learned a little bit here and there, but it was an afterthought, maybe ten minutes a day, and not every day. There are gyms that put a lot more emphasis on clinching than Sitmonchai. I suppose those gyms do not give you 2-4 rounds of lowkicks PER DAY. When I told Pee A after my fight that one of the reasons I didn't win was because I couldn't clinch well, he didn't say "clinch more", he said "learn to get out of the clinch". Nuff said. The rooms are fantastic. I had a private room which was clean, spacey, and came with a private shower and toilet (I had fully expected an outside shower and toilet). There is also WiFi. The only problem I had was that all rooms for the foreigners are centered around the common area which has the TV. You can hear it in the room, and if you are like me, you cannot sleep until it's off. Some nights I would lie awake waiting for people to go to bed until midnight. By the way, the TV mostly runs English-language movies. You can live there for a year and survive without learning a word of Thai. The food is... interesting. As a disclaimer, I do not like Thai food very much in general. I do like Isaan food and some curries, but the food at the gym was something I ate because I had to 80% of the time. You get a plate of rice and three dishes - usually a very oily fried egg, some fatty fried meat and a boiled or stir-fried vegetable. There were some dishes that were delicious (massaman...) but mostly I secretely hated myself for injecting my body with so much sugar and oil. I found it difficult so skip meals however, as there is a social component to sitting together after training, too. I know that the others went out for more meals than the two provided by the gym, but for me, even with those two meals I was gaining fat, so getting additional food wasn't really an option. There isn't much to do. Tha Maka is as rural a small town as it gets. There is more action in Kanchanaburi City, but it's almost an hour by bus away. This isn't a gym location where you spend the nights at the bars. You spend the nights in your room, or in the common area hanging out, or getting food in the conveniently nicknamed "food street". There is a night market twice a week, but little more. On weeks that we did not go to see fights the furtherst I left the premises was to go to Tesco. If your idea of going to Thailand is spending time at the beach or going out several nights a week, then Sitmonchai is definitely not your camp. If you like to live in relative quiet with chickens, free roaming dogs, and a guy who forages for mangoes, you'll like it. The last point I want to make is about the interaction with Thais. Like I said before, I haven't been to many other gyms. But from what I heard, the default is that there is little interaction between the Thai and the foreign population at muay Thai gyms. It's different at Sitmonchai. Sure, it takes the boys quite some time to warm up to you, and they generally don't want to invest too much because you'll be leaving. But as most of the foreigner clientele are return customers, friendships do develop. We went to the market or to Kanchanaburi in mixed groups, and we certainly drank together more than once. There still is a very tangible line of who is Thai and who isn't (at least to me, but I'm incredibly shy and also more than ten years older than all of the boys), but it definitely isn't a parallel life the way I've read about it in other gyms. In summary, I loved it there and I will definitely come back.
  11. Don't just go in an spar, have a plan. Doing new things is harder than falling back on what already works, you have to force yourself. My coach in Japan always told me to have three things I want to do in sparring and focus only on those. So for example last time I sparred it was - I will land at least one clean kick&hook combo, I will block kicks instead of catching them, when he moves backward I will not pressure but wait for him to come forward again These are all behaviors that don't come naturally to me, so I focus only on these and auto-pilot the rest of it. It's slow going, "I will block kicks instead of catching them" has been with me for several months now, and I'm still bad at it... But I notice that if I don't have this plan, I will just do whatever I do well already and learn nothing. It also means dropping your ego to a degree, but you can't win in sparring, so who cares. What I've noticed is that once you've trained yourself to spar like this, you can do it in a fight, too.
  12. That's awesome! Way to go, and I think here is certainly the right place to do this! 103 kg to 70kg is a long way to go, but you've played sports well enough to compete before, so I'm sure you have the discipline to stick to your goal. Keep us posted!
  13. Thanks for sharing! I wish his English was better though :( Hard to believe he is actually a native speaker of it.
  14. I'm sorry, I did not want to rush you and/or things. Don't feel pressured to act immediately. But know that there are at least (as of writing) three people willing to contribute towards a better server. When think that the move makes sense, let us know, we're here. This is off topic, but I was definitely critical of it when I first saw it. But then I found 8limbs, and I realised just how much you give back to the community, not in money, but in time, which is even more precious. You have every right to ask for support because you don't "waste" the money, you create things with it that any athelete can profit from.
  15. In Japan I worked 10am-7pm. I would get up every morning at 7am, do my run and strength training, shadow box, and then go to work. I went to the gym straight after work and was there usually until it closed at 10pm (this was a Thai style gym, no classes). Back home I would eat, watch an episode of some show and then sleep. I would take one night and one or two mornings per week off. I very rarely took a whole day off, preferring to spread it out instead. I always trained twice on the weekends, I saw it more as "no work interfering with training" time. This was fine because a) the job I had was in management, I could have fallen asleep and still done it and b) I barely had friends in Japan who I hadn't made at the gym. The few friends I did have, I would meet for lunch or on my night off. In Germany I have the luxury of being good at my actual profession. I had a strong negotiation position, and what I negotiated for was to work 30 hours a week. Work hasn't started yet, but they know I'm a fighter and will leave the office to go to the gym on time 90% of the time. As far as motivation goes, I don't need motivation to go to the gym, because I feel awful and restless if I don't for longer than two days. I genuinely enjoy working hard, getting to a point where my mind says "quit" and pushing through it. Your body gets addicted to the exercise, true story. But I also need fights. I can't train just for the sake of becoming better, I really love fighting and feeling it all come together (or not). The longer I go without a fight, the less motivated I become, the more likely it is I will go easy on myself in training or even go lift weights instead. So please somebody fight me :)
  16. Everyone, This board is slow as hell, and even more so if you access it from outside of Thailand. It's driving me nuts! At least partially this can be alleviated by getting proper hosting. A decent virtual server costs about 20$ per month. My first reaction was to say "Sylvie, I have a job, let me pay for a server." And I'm still prepared to do it. However, what if something happens to me, or I lose said job, or who knows what else? As an engineer, I prefer a more robust solution. I pledge that I will pay 5$ per month for a year toward the hosting of this board, if at least three other people pledge with me. If more people want to contribute, that's great. Then Sylvie can either get better hosting or save the money for later. The period of "one year" is rather random. I'm prepared to pay longer, but I think it would be good to have a date when we can re-evaluate and see how the board had developped. Like many of the women (and hopefully men, too) here I'm immensely happy to have a place where I can have a civil discussion and talk about things that are taboo in most places. Yesterday, I had a very bad experience after a gym trial. I was really sad. I did not know who I could talk to about it because nobody in my life in Berlin can relate to it. But then I realised that I could just go home and write about it here. I did and I felt better. This is absolutely worth paying the price of two capuccinos per month in order to keep the board alive and growing. If you don't want to pitch in in public, that's fine, just PM me.
  17. So I had my second fight yesterday, going under the ropes again, with no mongkol again. Except this time they held up the ropes really really high for me. I didn't have to crawl, I could more or less get in the ring the way I would normally do between the ropes. Made all the difference in the world, didn't feel bad going under the ropes at all.
  18. My shins were injured prior to coming to Thailand, so I kicked bags with shinpads on, sometimes for an hour at a time, on top of wearing them for sparring. This was during the very hot days recently. Here's a word of wisdom: Do not do that! I've ended up with heat rash all over my legs, exactly in the form of the shinpads. Not a great experience.
  19. In Japan, I was ordered to eat onigiri and chocolate on the day of the fight. Onigiri are rice balls with fillings, usually fish and the like. I love them, so it was an easy order to follow! And they are handy and easily digestible, and available at any convenience store 24/7. I think eating rice in general is good, it's a carb that doesn't make me feel heavy. But I also try not to obsess about what to eat/drink/wear before a fight. As long as I don't under/overeat, I hope it won't make that much of a difference, it's only 10-15 minutes...
  20. Rena is amazing though. I saw her fight in Rikix in Japan, it's not just that she's good, she has an amazing presence and she really is a star. She walked out like a champion. This is very important as so many women seem to be meek and even more so in Japan. She sets a great precedent for everyone. Also she has amazing fight hair.
  21. I will be moving back to Berlin in a week and have to find a gym there. Basically, I've made a list of gyms that I consider (my criteria are different than yours, I'm looking for a fighters' gym that will actively train me and let me fight often), and I will go to each of them, check out the training, talk to the head coach, and decide. Because I'm just moving back I have the luxury of finding a gym first and then getting a place to live nearby - which is why choosing a gym that I will want to stay with long-term is also so important. I would never, ever choose a gym just based on the website. I can write you anything you want. Most gyms just have boilerplate text anyway. Definitely go and see for yourself before you commit. If they don't let you do a free trial class they probably have something to hide anyway!
  22. That's incredible. There is a woman in ther 50ies at the gym right now, who has just started muay Thai but is now giving it her all. I find so much inspiration in looking at her and the way she has lived her life. Hat's off to Kathy.
  23. Oh, yeah. Before coming to Thailand I had never seen a woman train in a sports bra/crop top. And I thought it's no big deal if they wanted to, anyone should wear whatever they feel comfortable wearing. Then in Thailand, I've ended up at a gym where most women are serious about their training and not about their looks. Until one day a woman came in for the day and trained in a sports bra. It was so weird. The trainers were making comments about it, jokingly telling us "Tomorrow, you, too!" The boys weren't sure if they should stare at her or ignore her. I was glad she was only here for a day. If it was just the grown-up foreigners at the gym, whatever, I don't care. But there are mostly 13-18 year old thai boys here, brought up in a culture that doesn't generally embrace nudity. It just feels wrong to provoke that kind of attention as a grown-up woman . I came to Thailand having done my research about the culture and left everything that could be considered offensive back home. I don't like wearing a t-shirt and shorts in a sauna or pool, but I accept it. When I see girls dressing the way they do back home and trying to bend the rules, I can't help but think that they are being disrespectful. And irresponsible, too, because why would you want an 18 year old boy to develop a crush on you, if you are 10 years his senior and leaving in a couple of weeks? Same goes for the guys, too. You never see the Thais go for their run shirtless, so why are you doing it?
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