The Art of Sucking – What Matters is Showing Up

Some days you don’t feel like training. Like, even just getting out of bed is so exhausting and emotionally difficult that you’re on the verge of tears just getting...

Some days you don’t feel like training. Like, even just getting out of bed is so exhausting and emotionally difficult that you’re on the verge of tears just getting ready to go. Then, when you get there you end up having an awesome training session, where you feel great or really just blast it out and surprise yourself at your own awesomeness.

Today was not one of those days. The first part was all true and even changing position in bed is an old-man chore of delicate rolling and groaning about soreness and aches. I’m fine; just fucking tired. It’s the end of a very long week, when I would be tired anyway, but it’s also just an extension of last week because I thought I was fighting this Friday (tomorrow) so I trained through my usual rest day. Then my fight was cancelled – or in an optimistic sense “postponed” – and I didn’t get to take the days off that I was expecting, so I’m just continuing on after really pushing it since last week. On top of that, I had an infection in my arm during my last fight, which I treated with antibiotics and that made me really fatigued. Then I slashed my elbow on the braces of one of my training partners and now I’ve got a bandage on that side as well. I look like a kid when they get into the first-aid supplies and just randomly put bandaids and tape everywhere. On top of all that, yesterday Pi Nu tried to kill me by having me do two separate sparring sessions in one afternoon, the bookends to a hard clinching session… all that plus my bagwork, shadow and conditioning and then going to another gym where I do padwork and more clinching. Fuck me. So today I’m tired.

These are all excuses, but none of them matter.  Remember that scene in Rockey when Stallone gives a speech with marbles in his mouth about how

…nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you’re hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward.

This is kind of like that. Today wasn’t a “I didn’t feel like it but I totally smashed it out and it was great,” kind of day. It was a “I didn’t feel like it but went anyway and totally sucked at everything I did, but I fucking showed up,” kind of deal. I didn’t smash it on pads. I was tired; I looked tired. I hit like I was tired. Pi Nu made fun of me and was disappointed, mostly because he knows when I’m tired all the time but loves me because I push through it and don’t show it. Today I showed it. When he told me, “today you no have power,” I grabbed him in the clinch and said, “so why are you still losing?” It was my attempt at humor, but he just threw me down and then pushed me so I couldn’t get up. Not so “winning.” But I finished those damn rounds. And then I clinched and sparred and went to a second gym and did the same because fuck you, that’s why.

Today was probably the kind of day that would have benefited me to just take it off. The rest would have been helpful. But even though that’s true, I still got something out of going to training anyway. And here’s the takeaway: it doesn’t matter how I did in training, it just matters that I showed up and put in my all. Even though all I had was pretty pitiful, I still went to work and tried as hard as I could to work on my mental fortitude, ’cause my physical was totally worthless. And that’s okay. It doesn’t matter that I sucked. It only matters that I tried and that I didn’t give up. If I’d made the decision before going that today was a day off, that would be something. But I didn’t, so I had to commit to what I’d decided. And this is the update I wrote from the gym:

It’s a hard day today. Late in the week and I’ve not had a day off because I thought I was fighting. No power, bad mood; Pi Nu ragging on me for not having power. Here’s the thing: whenever I’m showing clinch to a new person I explain how yanking on the head is the steering wheel – where the head goes, the body must follow. Same with this kind of difficult training – where the head (mind) leads, the body must follow. So I’m focusing on the mental and letting my body just be loose. Easy? NOPE. But it’s better.

So here’s your Rocky speech: it’s not about how hard you train on any given day. Yesterday was a marathon and I made it through like a champ, but no one day matters. It’s about getting up and going to training the next day, when you’re sore and tired and aching all over. When your mind is ready to quit. You don’t have to be awesome every day. You just have to try. And if you suck, make it a lesson in forgiving yourself and put that in the bank for later. It’s about today. Do your best today.

Sylvie out.

photo by Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

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A 100 lb. (46 kg) female Muay Thai fighter. Originally I trained under Kumron Vaitayanon (Master K) and Kaensak sor. Ploenjit in New Jersey. I then moved to Thailand to train and fight full time in April of 2012, devoting myself to fighting 100 Thai fights, as well as blogging full time. Having surpassed 100, and then 200, becoming the westerner with the most fights in Thailand, in history, my new goal is to fight an impossible 471 times, the historical record for the greatest number of documented professional fights (see western boxer Len Wickwar, circa 1940), and along the way to continue documenting the Muay Thai of Thailand in the Muay Thai Library project: see


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