Sawsing Sor. Sopit is one of the biggest names in female Muay Thai in Thailand, fighting since she was 9 and holding multiple world titles. I knew she was training at Dejrat Gym in Bangkok in order to prepare for the 2016 IFMA World Championships in Sweden and I was a little nervous to occupy the same space with her. Not really “star struck,” but kind of like being paired with the cool kid as a lab partner or something. She’s very, very cool.
That said, she’s also really very nice. She knew who I was, more or less, and smiled at me when I started warming up. I watched her padwork with total awe and respect at how hard she works. She’s so badass and tough. Arjan Surat, the head trainer of the national team and a kind of hard-ass, old-school, tough-love style of trainer, was not letting her off easy. But she never let up, even when she was clearly very tired. That’s another thing: Sawsing just turned 20 years old and is making her “come back” after a year off and giving birth to her son, Winner (his name). He’s only a few months old and she’s back in the ring, training like a warrior for international competition… she is awesome.
Very much to my surprise, I was matched with Sawsing for clinching when everyone was done with padwork. I’m 47-48 kg and Sawsing is currently at about 58 kg (she fought at around 55 before her pregnancy), so our size difference made it such that the match up required a different focus from each of us. I know she wasn’t near going 100% with me and was working more on timing her turns, whereas I could focus more on strength and trying to control with knees. Her turns are wicked though. She pulls the head down really hard and really fast at an angle that is basically like crashing your face into her hip, even if it never makes contact or goes that far. That’s the angle she takes. And it’s really effective at off-balancing and basically making you feel like you’ll nose dive into the canvas. Due to our height difference, I had trouble getting the inside position and every time I got close she just swam right back to the dominant, center grip, so I was forced to work a lot on muscling through outside position. But that’s good for me, too.
Technical application aside, clinching with Sawsing was simply wonderful. Not only am I a fan, so it’s kind of a nerd dream of getting to train with someone you really admire, but she’s also the kind of person – attitude and energy – who makes training feel like it’s for something without making it overly competitive. She’s dedicated and serious, but in a way that feels inclusive, a rare quality that speaks to her character. You want to be on board with her, rather than being intimidated or shut out by her. And when she’s better than you, it’s inspiring, rather than deflating.
Video of Clinching with Sawsing with Commentary
above is the video of us clinching, followed by a little bit of clinch with a strong Dejrat fighter somewhere near my size.
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