Yodying Sor. Sumalee 1/22/2013 – This is my sixth time fighting Yodying and I’m happy to see that we are both developing as fighters. The last time we fought her cardio was much better than it had been in all prior fights between us and in this one she had clearly been focusing on solving the clinch with me in mind.
I was initially scheduled to fight on Wednesday, the 23rd, which was unusual to itself because I’ve never fought on a Wednesday in Chiang Mai and don’t know of any stadiums that put on shows then. So on Monday morning when I came in for my last full day of training Daeng told me that the promoter had called him on Sunday to ask if I could fight Tuesday instead. I said, “sure, no problem” and then finished out a regular morning session anyway because, hey, I’ve not tried that yet the day before a fight. Neung held pads for me, beat the hell out of me and even made me do one extra round, which garnered a few looks from Daeng who was eyeing this from the other ring but I felt great afterward.
Not having an extra day before the fight was exciting, too. I normally have an afternoon session of working in the ring with my husband or a little bagwork, something to keep me feeling active and focused, but even that feels like a long day of not doing much and getting bored and achy because time off actually kind of hurts. So the afternoon after that morning training Kevin and I went down to the Old City to try to find another fight top – it wasn’t there and we tried to order one but aren’t sure how that really will turn out – and as we were walking around we stumbled upon a fight poster advertising the fights with my picture on it: said I was fighting Yodying sor Sumalee again. And that’s how you find out who you’re fighting sometimes.
I was the only fighter from our gym that night and I was a little mortified to see that my name on the fight card was listed as being from a different gym in Chiang Mai – one that Kevin and I only half-jokingly refer to as the “Cobra Kai Team.” Thankfully the announcer was already all over correcting that mistake and announced that I was really from Lanna about 20 times before my actual fight.
There were a bunch of westerners in the betting area who were very vocally betting on both me and Yodying, referring to us only as “red” and “blue” respectively. I tuned them out as I did my Ram Muay and noticed that there was a beam missing in the center of the ring, running the full length of it, creating a deep crease that when stepped on could certainly turn an ankle. This is, incidentally, one of the reasons cited in the history of the Ram Muay – a way to feel out the ground on which one would be fighting, feeling out soft spots, rocks, bumps, or whatever. I made a mental note to try to drive my opponent toward it, but promptly forgot that plan when the actual fight started.
I lost this fight in the later rounds, but I started losing it by getting on a bad track early. I wasn’t closing distance well (or at all, really) and throwing single shots that left me nowhere. I’ve been working on boxing with Neung but after the second round Andy told me to stop setting up with punches and just kick. That never works for me – I always kick air when I don’t try to close in with something else first and that’s exactly what I did here. I was much better at initiating kicks than I have been in the past, but not enough to score much and Thai girls are adroit at fighting on the outside whereas I really am not. I think what Andy meant was that my single shots from my hands were not being followed up by kicks and thereby leaving me hanging out in the open with nothing and to stop doing that, which might have been better understood as you have to follow up with kicks after punches, rather than “stop punching,” which is how I took it.
Den was telling me to get in there and clinch, knees and elbows working together. But Yodying had clearly been working on her clinch and she threw more knees than I did, even though they were ineffective, and definitely cleaned up the points there. I just didn’t do enough and by the fifth round I knew if I didn’t knock her out I was out of the running.
Afterwards I had a small group of westerners, mostly women, come up and congratulate me, telling me how much they’d loved the fight and I happily gave them my “card” with my website on it and wrote Andy’s email on the back, urging them to come train at the camp. One woman seemed keen on the idea and Andy spoke with them as the last two fights went on. I didn’t feel badly about losing, but was upset with myself that I failed in the exact same way that Den has watched me fail for a long time now, but this time without a victory to kind of smooth it over. I apologized to him and we had a chat about it – he told me I should have boxed more, which is one of those fun things that comes from having legion voices in one’s corner. But I told him I wanted to work on these things and one good thing about losing is that it usually means more follow through on those requests than after a victory.
The final fight of the night was two women I’d fought before against each other. I was excited to see it because they had both tried to destroy my front leg with low kicks and I figured I’d see them bashing each other thusly. But, like most times I’ve seen my past opponents against someone else, they fight almost nothing like how they fight against me. This fight was awesome and the woman I fought a couple weeks ago was losing in a bad way before performing a beautiful display of badass technique and KO’d the dominant fighter with a stabbing elbow. I’ll link a video to that shortly!
In all I’m disappointed in my performance because it’s old, bad habits. But I’m happy that it has come at this time, after a winning streak when a loss can deliver motivation and highlight faults that have been glossed over because of wins. I went and gave my regards to Yodying and her camp and we smiled at each other a few times before each getting in our camp trucks and driving off into the cool night. She wore the perfume of victory that I’ve been enjoying for a few months now. It is deserved, but it is now up to me to do the work to fix up my weaknesses so that the sweet smell covers me and my corner again.