Saturday, 7 June 2014

My Kickboxing Training Experience In Phuket

Previously when I visited Phuket in Thailand, my trips were focused on traipsing up and down the row of touristy shops lined up in front of the beach.  Almost always, we would shop ourselves silly by snagging ourselves some cheap Muay Thai shorts for Joel, a few singlets emblazoned with the logos of  Thailand's famous beer brands, some counterfeit watches and perhaps a couple of counterfeit branded purses.  Peppered in between the shopping, would be our visit to the bar for cheap beers while happily watching fat and balding men groping the local girls working at the bar and adjusting their toupees at the same time.  We would also luxuriate at the $10 manicure and pedicure that threatened to cause fungus growing in my nail bed and we loved to tuck into the quintessential all day breakfast that we could get back home but strangely tasted better in Phuket.  

I was tired of that sort of mundane trips doing mundane things.   When we visited Phuket over the weekend, I wanted to make full use of my time in Phuket taking care of me. Having fallen in love with kickboxing in the last couple of months after training with a kickboxing coach here in Singapore, I decided to push my fitness a little by booking in some time at the Patong Stadium Gym to work with a professional Muay Thai coach who could help me get fitter as he improved my kickboxing techniques.

I made contact with Jen Cav from Patong Stadium Gym through email, arranging for my sessions there.  Jen was a Muay Thai pro-fighter herself and she certainly looked fit. When I arrived at the gym,  she was such a ball of sunshine and made me feel very welcomed at the gym, although I felt like a dorky, unfit, rotund sloth that did not fit in with the environment of buffed, fit-looking and fierce-looking blokes.  I had to admit that I was quite intimidated when I saw this poor Irish bloke doing his pull-ups, while huffing and puffing in agony.  She introduced me to my Muay Thai coach, Man.  I looked him up and down as I remarked silently "Man? He was young enough to be my son! He was just a boy."    I was quite wrong. Man was 24 years old, and he was a pro-fighter with 100 fights under his belt.  He was one of the head coaches at Patong Stadium Gym, and had been in the Muay Thai circuit since he was a kid. He lived and breathed Muay Thai.  It was his life.  

Man was very professional when he coached me.  He was very structured, to the point of insisting that I perfected the technique of elbowing my opponent before I could move on to the next move.  I believed I practiced elbowing at least 100 times on day 1 of my training. I had bruises to show for it.  He did the same with my kicks.  I now have a swollen right foot, my badge of honour awarded for perfecting that kick.  Knowing that I had a surgery in my left knee, he refused to have me practice my kicks on my left leg but I insisted on it to see if I had built enough strength in that leg.  Even when I was satisfied that I felt okay kicking with my left leg, Man was so careful that he refused to push it any further.  While he was very lenient with that leg, he was almost brutal with everything else. I have never done 100 sit-ups to cool down after a training session.  For goodness sakes, I cooled down after a training session with a jug of beer when I was playing rugby!   After my first training session, I could barely manage 30 sit-ups. He would not budge and held my feet down, locked in position so I had no where to run. However at the second training session, I was already aiming towards100 sit-ups with Man barking by my side.  He also insisted that I do 10 push-ups with my gloves on after every 3-minute round followed by 20 sit-ups.  Now, that was brutal. My chest and shoulders felt like death afterwards.  I truly felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks after each round.  

I remembered in the morning of Day 2 of my training session, I wanted to call in sick but David egged me on, and told me not to give up on myself. So I gamely went for another session of "torture" even when my legs, my shoulders, and generally my entire body felt so stiff and sore.  Although I trudged into the ring looking like a deflated balloon after wrapping my hands and putting on my gloves, the minute Man started his training session, I was jolted back to life with a bit more enthusiasm. He taught me more new moves, and told me that I performed much better than the day before. He said,"Now you hit with more fire!"  That was so encouraging, especially when he joked that my footwork made me look like I was going shopping, just the day before.  When I was doing some core exercises, he even said I had a strong core. Secretly, I whispered a word of gratitude to my personal trainers back home who were responsible for my core-conditioning amidst listening to my vulgarities.

I felt that although I had trained just 2 days with Man at Patong Stadium Gym, I had given 200% of myself during those training sessions. The 2 days felt like 20 days in fact. I learnt so much in those 2 days, especially about myself.  I learnt that I could push my fitness threshold and that indeed, nothing could ever be impossible if I put my mind to it.  Most importantly, I saw Muay Thai in a different light. Muay Thai was really not a sport that saw 2 opponents kicking the living daylights out of each other in a ring. Everything about Muay Thai was a spiritual experience. The sport demanded extreme discipline and determination. It taught respect of others and respect of self.  The pre-fight ritual in itself was a spiritual experience.  Every aspect of that training I had, right through to merely rolling back my handwraps after my training sessions, was a lesson in discipline and patience.  I have so much respect for these Muay Thai boxers, and swore that the team at Patong  Stadium Gym would never see the last of me. I would be planning more and longer visits ahead.  Truly the bruises I got with every minute of my time spent with Man were worth it simply because they reminded me that determination, discipline, and playing within the set rules of engagement were key in ensuring that I did not get seriously hurt in the sport.

I am now ready to head back to Singapore, more refreshed, slightly bruised but with a greater appreciation for my personal trainers. This trip to Phuket and my training at Patong Stadium Gym has cemented my love for kickboxing so much that I am determined to never allow that wonky knee get in my way of my hopes to be better at the sport.

Good news, Jen and Man, when we landed back in Singapore, a phone call came for David with the heads up that he might be getting another assignment back in Phuket in August.  So see you both in a couple of months. Maybe we will get to 150 sit-ups by then!

About The Writer:

The writer of this blog post is a 44 year old mother of one, who spreads her time between her day job as a marketing professional at a financial institution, her hobby as a certified professional tarot reader and numerologist, and her family which includes a 20 year old son and 3 dogs with personality disorders.  She's married to a Scot who has been affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" and prays that he does not find out that the term when translated, has labeled him as a "Ginger Head".   Together, we create a home made up with more nuts than a fruitcake but filled with plenty of love.  Her other blog detailing her passion for intuitive readings can be found at

The Elbow - He Claimed This Was A Deadly Technique.
When I Did It, I Felt Like I Was Swatting A Fly

My Man And Me - I Loved My Coach For Being So Hard On Me

David Asked If I Was Attempting To Mount My Broom - Idiot!

I Hate Sit-ups  - My Coach Insists On Them For Cool Down. Pure Madness

Icing My Poor Foot - Did A Hell Lot Of Kicking

My Bruised Elbow - It Was Worth It

1 comment:

  1. Hi, your blog is very informative, thanks for share your views and experience. Phuket in Thailand is best place for people to learn kickboxing. Keep sharing informative information like this. To get some tips regarding kickboxing go to Sampa MMA academy.