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Initially I was going to simply send Sylvie a question about this since I know she has written about there being tension between her two gyms at times, but figured it might be good for discussion. It feels like the exact same thing but on a smaller scale.

 

I have a trainer at the gym whom I have worked with off and on for about a year now. The first 4-6 months I was training I really tried to get him to work with me but he pretty much always sort of shoved me off on to another trainer. Finally after the 6 month mark he started working with me consistently for about 2 months and then it was just like before. Since then, other trainers have gotten interested and wanted to work with me or have offered me fights. Each time this happens he gets moody, and insists that I am his student. He works with me for a week or two, then it all kind of falls apart again. It hasn't caused any real conflict in the gym, but it has definitely caused tension and I'm not sure how to deal with it.

 

Similar situations to this have happened prob 4-5 times now, but here is an example from last week:

 

I had been off training for a couple weeks because of a broken toe. Come back to train but was only doing boxing since my toe still hurts quite a bit and feels weak. We have a trainer who is incredibly good at boxing and has shown a lot of interest in training me as well as asking me to fight on the Queen's Birthday. I did padwork with him for two days, then the third day the other trainer I had worked with in the past insisted I come do pad work with him. He was very loud and adamant about it. We still only worked boxing, but throughout the session kept looking at the boxing trainer to see if he was watching. It very much felt possessive/aggressive and as if he were making a show of it.

 

It is just small stuff, and honestly I'm not too worried about it. Just wondering if anyone else has had similar problems and how they dealt with it.

 

Edit: It should be noted that I routinely train with different trainers almost every couple of days to switch things up; but this kind of behavior only occurs when we have a newer trainer who really tries to put in effort to work with me.

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Initially I was going to simply send Sylvie a question about this since I know she has written about there being tension between her two gyms at times, but figured it might be good for discussion. It feels like the exact same thing but on a smaller scale.

 

Wow great topic. This is such a big one, and so hard to negotiate. Hopefully Sylvie jumps in, but these are my thoughts based on what I witnessed, and a little how we tried to use these kinds of internal politics to our advantage. At the heart of it though is that there are two "gyms" in Thailand, when farang are a focus. There is the "Thai" gym where questions of hierarchy and respect are central, and there is the commercial "farang" gym which operates as a business, with money paid and services given. Westerners tend to live in the commercial gym, in terms of expectation, but the trainers actually live in the Thai gym. And when you stay long enough as a farang you come to realize that you are in both gyms. At Lanna Sylvie was originally "given" to a particular trainer, one who usually trained women (for obvious reasons - loved women, didn't want to work hard). Pretty much a bad match for Sylvie, though technically very sound. It took her a while to work her way off of this trainer. Once she did this she became basically the student of Den, the head trainer, who was excellent, but who also got frustrated with Sylvie (not fighting how she trained, etc). This resulted in Sylvie trying to get supplementary training from Daeng (a very fight oriented trainer) and also boxing training from Neung (a socially "low" trainer who happened also to be a former WBC western boxing champion, in private lessons). So, so complicated. It was a daily ballroom dance trying to keep all these trainers feeling good about the work that was happening. Luckily Lanna trainers were not very competitive, and generally got along. They even collaborated on how to bring out better performance, but it doesn't mean that there were not question of face saving all the time. Sylvie did great in a fight, who gets credit? Sylvie did bad in a fight, whose fault is it? There was always a push and pull. I think Sylvie did best when, aware of it all, did what she could to make sure she connected to whichever trainer was being left out at any one period of time. She kind of had 3 at a time. As long as she kept everyone involved, asking for padwork (not easy for her, she's quiet) from particular trainers, or asking for technical advice, it seemed pretty good. Also when winning fights it helped. Complicating to all this was that she was paying one for private lessons. Add money to any "respect" issue and it really is too much. I think in the end that fact that Sylvie felt loyal and genuinely cared for all 3 trainers, and worked her butt off trying to adopt what each was teaching, made everything okay.

At her current gyms it works the same way, across gyms. O. Meekhun is the most sensitive. If you don't win, or if it feels like Petchrungruang is getting too much credit they can really sour on the relationship. They are the small gym. It's really about going out of your way to pay respect to whomever feels like they might be offended, constantly working to repair relationships that become eroded. As much as it would be great if "commercial" gym Muay Thai mapped perfectly onto traditional Thai relationships, it really seldom does. Money and monetary exchange mean very different things to the west and in traditional Thailand. In fact in many ways they mean the opposite. In the west if you give money to someone in exchange for something it basically means: We are even, I don't owe you anything. In Thailand it means: I'm invested in you, our bonds should grow more dependent (and hierarchical) - we owe each other.

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Edit: It should be noted that I routinely train with different trainers almost every couple of days to switch things up; but this kind of behavior only occurs when we have a newer trainer who really tries to put in effort to work with me.

I'm happy you brought this question here! I'm interested to see what other people bring up.

Yeah, what Kevin wrote covers a lot of what I initially thought when reading your post. Mostly in terms of the hierarchies of gyms. We don't "see" a lot of that because we're literally socially blind to it, but it's super deeply ingrained. We had one trainer who would just do the weirdest things at Lanna, making everyone laugh at him on the sly, but they never said anything to him because he's older. You just CAN'T say anything because he's older, even though his rank at the gym was pretty low otherwise. Can you imagine in the west your boss not being able to say anything to one of his employees because that employee is older?

But then there's the struggle between your two trainers because their social ranks aren't so clear-cut. I sympathize with you because when one trainer is flaking out, it feels quite natural to gravitate toward someone else who is showing interest. The difficulty is that it's totally normal for everyone to cycle up and down in their energy, interest, focus, etc. We, as fighters, do it also. I have days when I'm just not focused and my trainer still works with me, but from my own perspective if he's having an "off day" it feels like personal disinterest... which isn't really fair.

I don't know that in Thailand you can really level out this issue. You can't smooth it over by demonstrating equal interest, which is what I think our western culture tends toward. In the end their tension is beyond you, so there's not a lot you can do about it. Be Thai about it and ignore it, smile, pretend it's not happening and be respectful and friendly to both trainers, regardless of who you're working with. You're simply not going to get a trainer who is 100% focused and invested 100% of the time - this is the "way of life" world of Muay Thai and on a long enough time line those hills and valleys kind of flatten out. But if one trainer is more invested or more focused, go ahead and gravitate toward that... just know it will go through the same cycle. Same with fighters - you see how trainers respond when fighters fuck off for days or weeks at a time. You just let them cycle out and reward them when they cycle back in.

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Hahaha "be Thai about it" is great advice. I think I am managing it pretty well. I have been essentially outwardly ignoring it, but doing as Kevin said and maintaining connections/relationships. It is definitely something I wouldn't have noticed had I not been here awhile. I think a lot of it has to do with the internal hierarchy and specifically with the primary trainer being the most senior here and the other trainers being new to the gym. Very interesting to see the dynamics of it all for sure. I appreciate the input from both of you, hopefully some other folks will chime in as well. Surely this must happen in gyms outside of Thailand!

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My situation is completely different than yours, Tyler, as I train at two different gyms with two different trainers who don't come in contact with each other. Although I know that my trainers both know/had known each other, but I'm not quite sure as what the circumstances were - I only know they both trained at the same gym at some point in their life (like, 10 years ago or even more?), but their career paths went waaaay different. Both have a strong opinion about the other one and both also kind of look down on the other one. Both know I train at two gyms with the other trainer ;)

So....I try not to mention what I did in training with the other one. It's hard sometimes, when I had a great training at one gym and want to talk about this great feeling or techniques, but...I can't/shouldn't.

I still try to work out a balance... it's tricky. This situation is still kind of new to me - like, 3-4 months old, so for now I stick to observing if my training changes anyhow. For now it hasn't, so it's okay. 

I still feel like I'm "betraying" my trainer with whom I've trained for the last year and a half, even though I get the vibe from him (or it's just my wishful thinking) that he accepts my need to learn the Muay Thai I want to learn, even if it's learning from another trainer. (the longer I think about it, the more I think it's my wishful thinking).

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Im back haha not been on in ages and good topic so i tell ya with me it was extreme without me even knowing for ages!!!

I trained with the older pad man of the gym who is awesome etc but on days where he wasnt there or say the gym was busy etc as i was a long term foreigner id sometimes go last on pads but i could never understand that non of the other pad men would ask me to go with them! Even if they were free they wouldn't and i was kinda like wtf like im good! Im stronger than most of the guys here whats the problem???

 

Turns out they were scared to hold for me cos my trainer would give out to them or shout out in the middle of my pads what to do and how to hold for me so i was like aaahhh ok!! I ended up asking to change to a different trainer eventually and after that id go with different ones

 

But they get very personal about it id make jokes with him keep it light but again i dunno how but ive always been able to talk straight with my trainers if they were acting the maggot or giving me half arsed pads id be like eeh i have fight i want serious ok!! And it be grand

 

Now im in a new gym so im probably going to go through all different experiences but so far my trainer is cool (mad as a brush) but cool

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My situation is completely different than yours, Tyler, as I train at two different gyms with two different trainers who don't come in contact with each other. Although I know that my trainers both know/had known each other, but I'm not quite sure as what the circumstances were - I only know they both trained at the same gym at some point in their life (like, 10 years ago or even more?), but their career paths went waaaay different. Both have a strong opinion about the other one and both also kind of look down on the other one. Both know I train at two gyms with the other trainer ;)

So....I try not to mention what I did in training with the other one. It's hard sometimes, when I had a great training at one gym and want to talk about this great feeling or techniques, but...I can't/shouldn't.

I still try to work out a balance... it's tricky. This situation is still kind of new to me - like, 3-4 months old, so for now I stick to observing if my training changes anyhow. For now it hasn't, so it's okay. 

I still feel like I'm "betraying" my trainer with whom I've trained for the last year and a half, even though I get the vibe from him (or it's just my wishful thinking) that he accepts my need to learn the Muay Thai I want to learn, even if it's learning from another trainer. (the longer I think about it, the more I think it's my wishful thinking).

I've likened my experience with this kind of thing as being like having a wife and a mistress. They know about each other, but you'd better not f***ing talk about each of them to the other one!

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Im back haha not been on in ages and good topic so i tell ya with me it was extreme without me even knowing for ages!!!

I trained with the older pad man of the gym who is awesome etc but on days where he wasnt there or say the gym was busy etc as i was a long term foreigner id sometimes go last on pads but i could never understand that non of the other pad men would ask me to go with them! Even if they were free they wouldn't and i was kinda like wtf like im good! Im stronger than most of the guys here whats the problem???

 

Turns out they were scared to hold for me cos my trainer would give out to them or shout out in the middle of my pads what to do and how to hold for me so i was like aaahhh ok!! I ended up asking to change to a different trainer eventually and after that id go with different ones

 

But they get very personal about it id make jokes with him keep it light but again i dunno how but ive always been able to talk straight with my trainers if they were acting the maggot or giving me half arsed pads id be like eeh i have fight i want serious ok!! And it be grand

 

Now im in a new gym so im probably going to go through all different experiences but so far my trainer is cool (mad as a brush) but cool

The trainer being assigned or kind of having ownership over a fighter is the norm, I think. It just sucks when you're stuck with a shitty trainer, or one that just doesn't go well for you personally. I was stuck with a real pain in the ass for probably 7 months at my old gym. He would have days when he just couldn't be bothered and it drove me nuts, but nobody else would touch me. In those cases, being pushy and getting more trainers to work with you or get that possessiveness in check is such a relief. I'm excited to see how your training pans out at Eminent Air, Kelly. Your updates so far have been great :)

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I've likened my experience with this kind of thing as being like having a wife and a mistress. They know about each other, but you'd better not f***ing talk about each of them to the other one!

That's the picture! But uh, it's hard to maintain the balance with TRAINERS...I don't know how people manage with actual mistresses... O.o 

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something similar happened to me when I came back to my gym in Italy after 3 months in Thailand. I was really, really improved, but my boxing worsened a little bit. so my trainer told they rouined me, they made me slow and with an opened stance.. however in a couple of weeks my boxing was good again plus all the other improvements so I felt great but he started to be possessive... "you are my creation" he proudly told me... then I had a fight and I lost.... "they ruined you in thailand!!!" he told... I changed gym......

I think that fighters give too many credits to trainers or gyms... who are the best fighters? Buakaw, Yodsaenklai, Floyd Mayweather, Ronda Rousey,  not "buakaw because that trainer of por pramuk gym trained him everyday" or "Uncle Roger and Floyd Mayweather sr. that built up Floyd jr." etc... Muay Thai is an individual sport, everything that happens in the ring is your responsibility and/or your credit... You have to give respect and gratitude to your trainer but if you win a belt, the belt is yours.... plus, in the majority of cases you pay money for your training. If you train hard with all your trainers and give them respect, they will train you properly.. if they are in conflict is not your business.... =) 

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