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I started late, 25 yrs old. I have recently found Sylvie's videos interviewing Angie and while that is a huge inspiration for me as someone now a few months into training, I have found the real hook that kept me coming back to class religiously is the impact of Muay Thai on my relationship to my body. I pass fairly well when I am conforming to western femininity but I actually gravitate towards tom/butch expression (undercut, little makeup, "men's" cloths) despite being MTF. For my whole life, and especially the last few years during transition I have had basically hypervigilance/hyper fixation surrounding my body and how its being perceived/gendered and how I exist in space. Surrendering to the grind/burn of Muay Thai has been one of the biggest non-medical transition tool for reframing my relationship to my body from one centered on the perceptions of others, to one centered around learning how to assert myself in space and exercise balance and autonomy over my body. I have a lifetime of sharpening ahead of me but I have found a great deal of relief and reward in the distance I have come so far. As I become more at home in my body I am able to understand how my natural tendencies match up to the various subdisciplines/systems of Muay Thai and serves as a salient anchor for these parts of myself I want to develop in my regular life, and for getting past traumas. Making this post to share this experience, as after the fact I thought it was very ironic that this thing that is so good for specifically trans mental health (in my opinion) is socially and sometimes legally off limits to us. How does my experience compare to yours? Do you know any trans fighters that have had similar or different experiences?
I've been meaning to write a blog post about this for a while and recently, as I think it's an amazing topic. A lot of folks who become dedicated to Muay Thai find it to be a form of therapy, out outlet, a time for themselves away from the pressures and stresses of family/work/school. Muay Thai is empowering, but it can also tear you up; but for most of us, Muay Thai is something that has forever changed us and keeps forming us the more we work in it. I came across this post from a woman who has found her experiences at her gym (Onyx MMA in Singapore) to be helpful in dealing with her Depression. For whatever reason, I think Muay Thai beckons to those of us who are struggling with ourselves and gives us a set of tools and a process through which we can translate that struggle. This thread is to share our thoughts and experiences on the usefulness and challenges of Muay Thai as therapy. For me, Muay Thai is an incredible outlet. Physically pushing myself is, at times, a very real necessity in dealing with my personal demons. But it's also difficult because all the things about Muay Thai that make me feel empowered and strong and capable, ALSO make me feel useless and stuck and self-critical. A mirror is just a reflective surface - it's YOU that interprets what you see in it. Muay Thai is like that - some days it shows me beauty and some days it shows me a monster. But I do feel that I'm able to work through things on a personal, emotional and psychological (even spiritual?) level through the language and art of Muay Thai that I wouldn't be able to address otherwise. It gives me the courage to keep trying, I think. And I can see improvement; it's measurable, whereas being a more stable or happy or good person is harder to gauge. But man... sometimes it just crushes me, too.