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LengLeng

Sparring with trainer that goes hard

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Earlier this week I was asked if I wanted to spar with a trainer I haven't sparred with before. I haven't really worked with him much but I respect him as a trainer and asks him technique questions when I can. He was also featured in the Lethwei episode of Fight World on Netflix and I sort of respect him as an authority. 

He is around my weight, a bit shorter and now not very fit but clearly has his strength and all his movements intact. 

It is always weird sparring with a teacher, I don't want to go too hard. But I was cheered on and told to go harder and use more combinations. Clearly he was better (obviously) and he let me feel his punches. I kicked him pretty hard and at one point I didn't hold back but attacked with some punches. 

And then he just had a go at me. Let the punches rain on my nose and forehead and my jaw started hurting and I felt overwhelmed. I could feel he got angry and that sort of shocked me. I respect teachers a lot and it's a shitty feeling having a teacher angry at you. And I dropped my guard, I lost my posture and he came at me until I got scared (had a recent head injury and I felt panic and thought that maybe this is really bad for my head I need to stop). It's not like he used 100% power but suddenly it went white, I fell backwards and I started sobbing. He sort of apologized went away. I gathered myself. Went to him apologized and thanked him.

But obviously if felt shitty. The trainer I usually work with took me to another room and practiced my very recently displayed obvious weaknesses with me on the pads while I kept sobbing feeling embarrassed and just tired. 

Since then I've been training. And the trainer has not acknowledged that this was any issue at all. 

And I don't really know what to make of the situation. On the one hand I feel shitty like I was put in my place. And on the other I just feel this is fighting. Some people be like that. Opportunity to learn and mature emotionally.

 

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I am in this as I am training to be an official, and not a fighter, but it may be that as you are in BKK, you are receiving what seems to be the Thai approach to training. I watched some months ago the training and the competition for novice farang fighters at Tiger Muay Thai, and many of the khrus were relentless in their beat downs of the competitors seeking a place on the Tiger team.  This approach suggested that the khrus are trying to teach/reveal "heart," and trying to determine who has the heart of a fighter by seeing how they respond to being brutalized or emotionally overwhelmed.  Many of the great Golden khrus have said that it is not enough to have technique or conditioning; one must have the heart of a true nak muay in order to be successful.  So, try to see this khru in that light, and remind yourself that you are on a magnificent path that few will ever realize, and that it is a path that demands heart.  I feel that just by asking the question that you asked in your post, you have the heart of a fighter and just keep this determination in your heart as you train going forward. 

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13 hours ago, buddhasoup said:

I am in this as I am training to be an official, and not a fighter, but it may be that as you are in BKK, you are receiving what seems to be the Thai approach to training. I watched some months ago the training and the competition for novice farang fighters at Tiger Muay Thai, and many of the khrus were relentless in their beat downs of the competitors seeking a place on the Tiger team.  This approach suggested that the khrus are trying to teach/reveal "heart," and trying to determine who has the heart of a fighter by seeing how they respond to being brutalized or emotionally overwhelmed.  Many of the great Golden khrus have said that it is not enough to have technique or conditioning; one must have the heart of a true nak muay in order to be successful.  So, try to see this khru in that light, and remind yourself that you are on a magnificent path that few will ever realize, and that it is a path that demands heart.  I feel that just by asking the question that you asked in your post, you have the heart of a fighter and just keep this determination in your heart as you train going forward. 

Hi. I'm not in BKK anymore, I'm in Yangon (forgot to update my profile). I know what you are referring to, I've seen it many times, and this was not the case in my situation. It was a dude losing his temper (which is definitely very un-Thai an un-fighting in general). I don't believe we shall exotify everything that happens in foreign gyms, sometimes people are jerks. In this case I'm not gonna do a big deal about it but I'll probably not sparring with this trainer again as he has an ego issue. 

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7 hours ago, LengLeng said:

I don't believe we shall exotify everything that happens in foreign gyms, sometimes people are jerks.

Yes, this can be true, too, I am sorry you had to go through this, and it sounds like you have a good perspective about what happened. I wish you the best of luck; be well, happy and peaceful in your training and life in Yangon. 

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1 hour ago, Oliver said:

Why did he get angry at you though? Did you find out

I don't know...ego issue because I got a lot of punches in and he wanted to put me in my place or I got it wrong and this is his way of teaching. Another trainer told me to not worry, he angry when he spars with him too but he way better so he uses his anger to trick him to make mistakes. When I train with that trainer and I get heated he interrupts the sparring and tells me to kick bag "because you cannot fight when angry you lose easy". From this experience I realize I really need to work on my mental game and not let my emotions weaken me. I'm usually not this sensitive bit the last months, well I feel it affects me. Which I guess is so great with martial arts, you cannot hide from your inner turmoil. It will show. 

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When you say you saw white and fell backwards, like, your vision got screwed up from a heavy headshot? You see flashes? And this was a knockdown?

Maybe get checked up Leng Leng. 

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33 minutes ago, LengLeng said:

I don't know...ego issue because I got a lot of punches in and he wanted to put me in my place or I got it wrong and this is his way of teaching. Another trainer told me to not worry, he angry when he spars with him too but he way better so he uses his anger to trick him to make mistakes. When I train with that trainer and I get heated he interrupts the sparring and tells me to kick bag "because you cannot fight when angry you lose easy". From this experience I realize I really need to work on my mental game and not let my emotions weaken me. I'm usually not this sensitive bit the last months, well I feel it affects me. Which I guess is so great with martial arts, you cannot hide from your inner turmoil. It will show. 

From what you're describing, you seem to have a hard time controlling how your feelings affect you - losing temper with your trainers to the point that they have to send you to the bag, escalating sparring, sobbing. No shame in crying, but if it's a continuous thing that you cannot control your temper when sparring, this may have been a very stark lesson on exactly that, and it's a fucking important one. If your trainers, who make a living training and sparring you, can't trust that they can do their jobs without you getting angry at them for your own incompetence and taking it out on them, I can see why they would act as he did. This doesn't mean that I condone it, but I think you might want to consider if this is the case and how to proceed from there. 

But if your other trainer has mentioned his anger, maybe he's just a small man who enjoys beating others. Maybe it's a bit of both things. Only you can really be the judge of this.

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49 minutes ago, Oliver said:

When you say you saw white and fell backwards, like, your vision got screwed up from a heavy headshot? You see flashes? And this was a knockdown?

Maybe get checked up Leng Leng. 

I never been KOd but as it has been described to me it's basically "lights out and you wake up on the floor". But white I've seen a couple of times. Never in Thailand where you sometimes get hard sparring and the punches hurt and give you a bit of a shock wave. 

This white is is more from getting punched directly in your face. It's only for a fraction of a second but it's like looking into a snow blizzard. 

This case I lost my posture dropped my hands while 5-6 punches rained on my face after already having taken some hard blows on my jaw. And when I saw white I just got panicked a bit and disconnected and fell backwards and sparring ended. I don't feel it caused any damage though. It was a bit humiliating but ok.

And thanks yeah, might be good in general to do a check up. As soon as I can get to a country with proper healthcare 😏

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1 hour ago, Asger said:

From what you're describing, you seem to have a hard time controlling how your feelings affect you - losing temper with your trainers to the point that they have to send you to the bag, escalating sparring, sobbing. No shame in crying, but if it's a continuous thing that you cannot control your temper when sparring, this may have been a very stark lesson on exactly that, and it's a fucking important one. If your trainers, who make a living training and sparring you, can't trust that they can do their jobs without you getting angry at them for your own incompetence and taking it out on them, I can see why they would act as he did. This doesn't mean that I condone it, but I think you might want to consider if this is the case and how to proceed from there. 

But if your other trainer has mentioned his anger, maybe he's just a small man who enjoys beating others. Maybe it's a bit of both things. Only you can really be the judge of this.

Right. Please feel free to join me for sparring at one of my lethwei gyms in Yangon and we see who gets emotional 😁😘

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12 minutes ago, LengLeng said:

Right. Please feel free to join me for sparring at one of my lethwei gyms in Yangon and we see who gets emotional 😁😘

Guess I hit a nerve. Good luck with your journey 💪

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Double vision after a knock down was the weirdest / scariest experience of mine during afternoon sparring. The Ajarn immediately made me sit out for the rest of the rounds. For sure, it's embarrassing and you don't want to look shit in front of everyone. 

Feel better.

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4 hours ago, Oliver said:

Double vision after a knock down was the weirdest / scariest experience of mine during afternoon sparring. The Ajarn immediately made me sit out for the rest of the rounds. For sure, it's embarrassing and you don't want to look shit in front of everyone. 

Feel better.

Thanks man! 

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On 6/2/2020 at 11:27 PM, Asger said:

Guess I hit a nerve. Good luck with your journey 💪

No it didn't. But if you read your reply to me again you can see you made a lot of assumptions based on my post - without knowing anything about me - which would put me in a position to have to explain and defend myself. 

I'm a big believer of talking honestly about feelings. I have a blog and Instagram where I write about my vulnerabilities because it helps me grow to face them. And I have many readers thanking me for sharing weaknesses. This is also why I'm such a big fan of Sylvie, she is very very brave in her documentation of her journey. By exposing herself she helped me tremendously. 

Occasionally, there are people using this to  put you down. It's ok, I get it, not everybody understands. But I don't enter into discussions when the intent to help does not appear to be there. 

Emotions are present in any gym. I've seen so many Thai fighters get angry and tired and upset and I see how the Arjans manage it. Sometimes they just let the boys punch it out on each other, other times they mock them. Martial arts is very much an emotional journey. And I have close relationships with many of my former trainers because of allowing an emotional bond.

...and with my current trainer, we're very close and we get angry at each other all the time. Bickering, laughing, mocking each others or shouting at each other. I'm very grateful for this relationship. 

In no way am I ashamed of having one deeply emotional reaction to this particular sparring situation. Of course it feels embarrassing. But I'm interested in exploring my reaction as it will help me, not only for my next fight but also in life in general. 

 

 

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This is a situation that I think anyone who tries to really comment on is being disingenuous because they weren't there. My gut reaction is 'that's not acceptable from a teacher' but I wasn't there, I didn't see the situation and I'm sure your own memory of it will probably be slightly different from what happened. 

The only real advice I can give is to think whether or not you agree with the other coach who said 'he gets like this' and decide whether or not you feel comfortable working with that particular coach. I'm sure even though you're emotional about it right now, that you won't care in a few months. I don't know the culture of Myanmar or Lethwei very well, but I'd suggest talking to the coach and finding it out if you and him are cool - if that is something that's acceptable to do within that culture.

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On 6/4/2020 at 7:50 PM, AndyMaBobs said:

This is a situation that I think anyone who tries to really comment on is being disingenuous because they weren't there. My gut reaction is 'that's not acceptable from a teacher' but I wasn't there, I didn't see the situation and I'm sure your own memory of it will probably be slightly different from what happened. 

The only real advice I can give is to think whether or not you agree with the other coach who said 'he gets like this' and decide whether or not you feel comfortable working with that particular coach. I'm sure even though you're emotional about it right now, that you won't care in a few months. I don't know the culture of Myanmar or Lethwei very well, but I'd suggest talking to the coach and finding it out if you and him are cool - if that is something that's acceptable to do within that culture.

Thank you very much for your advice and it's also comforting having my emotions validated. With the language barrier and me still navigating the culture, I've opted for an acceptance approach. Like I don't understand it, but I'll accept it. It's tough this shit but would it be easy everybody would be doing it. I think you're right about talking to the trainer, hopefully I can create a bond with him so I understand this better. 

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1 hour ago, LengLeng said:

Thank you very much for your advice and it's also comforting having my emotions validated. With the language barrier and me still navigating the culture, I've opted for an acceptance approach. Like I don't understand it, but I'll accept it. It's tough this shit but would it be easy everybody would be doing it. I think you're right about talking to the trainer, hopefully I can create a bond with him so I understand this better. 

Don't be too forgiving when it comes to cultural differences though. I think when you get down to it, we're all more similar than we are different and it could just be that he's an asshole - but I wouldn't want to say because I wasn't there. Hope things sort themselves out!

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8 hours ago, AndyMaBobs said:

Don't be too forgiving when it comes to cultural differences though. I think when you get down to it, we're all more similar than we are different and it could just be that he's an asshole -

That's so true! 

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I've never been injured by my trainers, but I've had this shit-just-got-very-real experience of emotional rise and physical amplification to drive/meet it. It's scary. I'm sorry for your experience of it, but I've also learned from the experience and it's not all mistakes and terror. I don't know the culture where you are now, but in Thailand (where you know the culture) talking about it isn't a thing. There was a kind of acknowledgment of it, a few words to make sure that we both understood what happened, and that was that. Being bashed in the head like that is much worse than I've ever experienced, but learning to control emotion - including someone else's emotion - is part of the whole game, unfortunately... and fortunately. I hope your head is okay and that the relationship in the gym space is manageable.

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9 hours ago, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I've never been injured by my trainers, but I've had this shit-just-got-very-real experience of emotional rise and physical amplification to drive/meet it. It's scary. I'm sorry for your experience of it, but I've also learned from the experience and it's not all mistakes and terror. I don't know the culture where you are now, but in Thailand (where you know the culture) talking about it isn't a thing. There was a kind of acknowledgment of it, a few words to make sure that we both understood what happened, and that was that. Being bashed in the head like that is much worse than I've ever experienced, but learning to control emotion - including someone else's emotion - is part of the whole game, unfortunately... and fortunately. I hope your head is okay and that the relationship in the gym space is manageable.

Thanks a lot Sylvie. 

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