Goodbye Thailand, hello Phillipines

I am currently in Malaysia but technically, I am not in any country, as I am on the airport waiting out a 3 hour stop over before leaving for Manila. Last night was my last night in Phuket and I left the gym this morning at 7:00 AM to catch my flight at 10:25 AM.

I will arrive in Manila, Philippines tonight at 9:00 PM and then fly to Boracay tomorrow afternoon sometime. I have not yet booked a flight as I have to get yet another rabies shot tomorrow, so once I have done that I will leave Manila.

Thursday was Ryan’s fight in Patong, unfortunately he lost the fight but he put on a fantastic show. Ryan’s opponent was much taller than Ryan and also had a massive advantage due to having a much longer reach. It was extremely hard for Ryan to get any punches in and his opponent knew it. At one stage Ryan actually jumped up into the air and threw a nice jab.

Ryan is really muscular and his opponent was really skinny. He used his height advantage against Ryan, constantly clinching him and going for the easy elbows.

Ryan surprisingly lasted five rounds before the referee stopped the fight. With each round, Ryan came back full of heart and energy and there were a couple of times that I thought, “Woah, the comeback is real.” but it never happened. If Ryan’s opponent was only a couple of inches shorter, Ryan would have easily taken the fight.

Here are some post fight pictures.

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Ryan was not injured or even that tired after the fight. We all went to see him as soon as it was done. He said that the guy he was fighting was not really strong, so even though he landed solid punches, knees and elbows, Ryan walked away unscathed.

All respect to Ryan, lasting five rounds with an Thai fighter who has been doing Muay Thai since the age of four. It is a massive accomplishment for any Westerner to step into the ring with a Thai fighter.

Thursday morning training and fight night

This morning session I attempted to kick again, only to double down in pain after I got hit directly on my leg which was bruised from yesterdays afternoon session . The coach spent five minutes massaging my leg before we continued. After that I put on a shin guard and that allowed me to kick again without any discomfort or pain what so ever.

I honestly underestimated injuries, I was in my mindset that you can just push through the pain and carry on, “Mind over matter” as they say… But I have now discovered that this is in fact not possible. The human body can only endure so much pain.

Being stiff and sore from training is another story, that is the kind of pain which one can just push through and once you are warmed up , the pain feels good and you almost crave that soreness, but muscle injuries, bruises and joint pains are on a whole different level.

I now have officially three training sessions left before I leave for the Philippines. I am not sure whether I will attend tomorrows training as tonight it is going to be a late night. We are renting a van and all of us are going to support one of our fellow trainees with his first ever fight.

This fighter is Ryan from America, who has been training for almost five weeks, which is nothing really, but he was in the United States military for five years where he did some boxing among other things. He seems prepared and ready and we are all rooting for him, I have all the respect in the world for anybody willing to get into the ring in front of more than five hundred people and putting their life on the line .

I will try and video the whole event but regardless of what happens, I am sure it will be a great experience for Ryan and us all!

Week Four -Exhaustion, injuries and training coming to an end

My time at Suwit Gym is almost done, I have four more training sessions left before leaving for the Philippines. Unfortunately my last week has been plagued by both exhaustion and injuries.

The exhaustion is a common trend amongst the trainees, after a couple of weeks the body just seems to give up, it is as if the body had enough, especially since we are doing two very hard sessions a day. Some of the guys only do a single session per day but I have been trying to attend both.

I have also been focussing more on the sparring and boxing techniques with my coach which not only exerts you physically but mentally too. As if you are on full alert the whole time as you bounce around in the ring. Today and yesterdays training session were compromised entirely out of fighting. Without the stretching that comes to around a hour and forty minutes in the ring.

Due to the continues fighting I have also injured both my legs, my left foot has some serious bruising from kicks and my right shin is very swollen, also from kicks. I went for a massage last night but it only seemed to make the pain worst.

Apart from all the injuries, exhaustion and set backs the last few training session has been amazing, I have built a real connection with my coach and am very sad leave. I have also made some great friends and met some amazing people throughout my stay.

In all honesty I do not think that one month of training is enough. If you really want to learn the art of Muay Thai and develop some solid technique you need to commit to it at least three months of training but I can attest to one thing and that is the fitness.

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Week Three Round up

After a long silence, I return. All I can say is that time has ran away with me over the last couple of days as things have been really busy at the camp and we have also experienced some technical difficulties like power black outs and the internet was also down.

Let me start with training, the training has been exceptional the last couple of days, I have been making great strides with my boxing and my confidence in the ring has sky rocketed.

The last couple of sparring matches I have focused a lot more on technique, rather than running around like a headless chicken. Instead of constant attacking, I have slowed down my pace and would focus on the moves that my opponents make, learning from them and also looking to the coach to advice during the sparring matches.

This cool and calm approach has proven to be beneficial, as I have picked up several small techniques which I was oblivious to previously.

Otherwise the training has been going very well, I am still pushing myself to my limits and I am still rewarded with an aching body everyday. I must admit that the aches and pains have slightly reduced as my body and mind has gotten use to the twice daily training. This has inspired me to train even harder.

I have almost gotten the muscle up down, I would say that at the end of this week, I will be able to easily do a muscle up and if not at the end of this week, definitely at the end of my Philippines training as there I will be doing a strength and conditioning class.

Regarding the rest of the life at the gym, it has been a sad week, some of my very good friend have returned to Germany and my other good mate Tim has left for Boracay, who at least I will see next week.

Daniel from Germany on the left and Tim from the states on the right.
Daniel from Germany on the left and Tim from the states on the right.

We had a going away dinner for them at Ali’s BBQ followed up with some beers at the pool. The next day we saw them off at the pool as their taxi took them to the airport.

The rest of my time was spent exploring more of old town and Phuket, visiting the big weekend night market and getting a massage.

I had some real trouble sleeping this past week, I could not get my mind to shut down, this has not happened to me in  years and I did not think it would happen during training as I was exhausted every day… Luckily the last two days the sleep came easy as it really affected my training.

I also requested a breakdown of my medical bill which I actually should have done before paying it. What made it so expensive was the tetanus injections of which I received 5 at 6000 Baht per shot. If I had known, I would have doubled checked with the doctor if that was really necessary, I mean I am sure I could have gotten away with two…

On that note, it is time for me to go and get my third rabies shot.

Here are some photos from the last few days.

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Week Three – Wednesday Training

I missed the morning training session as I had an appointment with the hospital to get a follow up injection for my dog bite. I will have to get four more injections over the course of the next month.

I am on a Verorab course, which is an anti rabies vaccine, I am pretty sure that the dog does not have rabies as it is a domesticated animal but I would rather be safe than sorry.

The upside of the whole expedition was that I could explore Phuket a little outside of the gym and the running route. On the way back from the hospital the roads had been closed, due to construction, so I had to take a detour which took me to the wonderful “Old town”.

This changed my whole perception of Phuket as it is a little hidden gem which I would not have heard of or visited otherwise. It is littered with coffee shops, art galleries and beautiful graffiti, it really feels like a different world. Here are a few pictures from the visit, also it has the best coffee that I have had in Phuket.

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Like I said, really cool place, I wish that I could have spent some more time there but my visit was cut short as I had to get back to the training.

Training has once again fallen into a rhythm or rather a routine, which it does deviate from, but the majority of the days are the same.

I started off with stretches and immediately afterwards taped my hands, normally I would do some skipping and other exercises before taping up my hands, but today I really wanted to get into the fighting. This was mainly due to a conversation which I had with my father, where he said, “Fight as much as possible, you can always still exercise but the fighting experience is invaluable.”, which makes sense and are some wise words coming from my old man.

So after taping up my hands I proceed to pound on the boxing bag for five minutes, this was followed by fifty sit ups, twenty push ups and the routine was repeated twice before I got called to the ring by my coach.

The more I fight, the more fun it gets, today we extended my repertoire by including some low kicks, up elbows and backwards elbows into the mix. As I have mentioned in previous posts, as soon as you master one fighting skill, the coach adds another ten to the table.

What I really enjoy about broadening the moves that you know, is that all of it can be combined, for example, you can do a one punch – two punch- low kick – elbow – uppercut… These get hard to remember but if I am ever to compete in a Muay Thai fight they should come in handy 🙂

After the session with the coach, me and some of the other trainees had an impromptu fitness class, doing several exercises including squats, pushups, plank, squats, lunges and wrist mobility exercises. This was followed up with some pull ups and diamond pushups.

Overall a great training session, as I type this I can feel my muscles aching which is always a good feeling.

After training, some of us went for a quick dinner and afterwards everybody went for an ice bath. You lay in an ice bath for a few minutes and then follow it up with a sauna, apparently it is great for the muscles. I had to decline as I had some work to do but it is definitely on my to do list.

The food below is a salted egg spicy papaya salad. It is the first time that I have a salted egg, apparently it is called the thousand year old egg, which I would assume is because of the grainy texture that the yolk assumes. A really strange texture but delicious non the less.

Below the salad is a bowl of noodles with an assortment of additions, which I am not sure what they all were, I could make out egg, prawns, pork, squid, sausage and there were several more, also really tasty.

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That is it for tonight, I have decided to do the progress pics in the morning, so I will upload them first thing tomorrow. Peace.

Week Three – Tuesday Training

Let me start off with the dog bite, since I have been bitten, I have found out that the dog, that bit me, is a regular menace and has bitten several trainees. Apparently I am lucky as a few months ago, one of the trainees bent down to pet the dog and it bit her right in the face. She had to get several stitches.

Yesterday, I attended the training but took it easy on the boxing as my hand was a little sore. The dog bite is really small, I actually think that the five injections around the wound caused more hurt than the bite itself. I was still able to do a hardcore fitness regime, which was good.

Today I got taped up and was ready for action, the hand is still a little sensitive but not enough to stop me from fighting. I had two great training sessions, doing everything from skipping to handstands to some floor work with my coaches.

I was matched with two different coaches one in the morning session and one in the evening session, which is good as they both have very different techniques and you get to find out what really works for you.

In my last post I mentioned that I could feel that my kicks and punches have improved but today I realised that literally all of my exercises have improved.

I can now hold a handstand indefinitely which was definitely not the case when I started training here, I can even hold a one arm handstand but just for a few seconds. Pushups and sit ups have become a breeze and they basically act as a filler between each exercise. My skipping capacity has doubled, pull ups are almost muscle ups and my flexibility is off the scale.

It is really awesome to be able to sit here, two weeks into my training and feel a real difference. I spoke to a lot of the guys training with me and they all  feel the same, people have become fit, lost weight and learnt to fight in a mere two weeks.

The one thing that has worried me over the last two weeks is the uncertainty of once I am done here, how will I maintain this? Well the solution was actually easy, just go to another gym/training camp… I am only heading back home on the 18th of August, so I can easily squeeze in another two weeks but I have to be out of Thailand by the end of the month due to visa restrictions.

The world works in mysterious ways… When I started this blog, Micah, a fellow blogger from https://micahdoes.wordpress.com/ told me about a gym in The Philippines, Legacy Gym Boracay and I thought maybe on my next visit I will go there but I have decided to go at the end of the month. Another trainee, Tim is going and we have became good mates over the last two weeks, so it will be great to carry on my training over there with him! So Micah, I will see Legacy Gym Boracay sooner than we thought!

To finish off, here is the latest in my diet, ALI’s BBQ, great salad and BBQ.

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Weekend Update: Small fights, late nights and hospital visits.

I don’t even know where to begin because so much happened over the weekend… Lets start with Friday, Friday was fight night which was a little boring this time as there were no big fights, knock outs or fights where the contenders really went at it, overall it felt more “showy” than real fights but it is still great to see some live Muay Thai.

My favourite part of the evening was probably the four year old friends (maybe brothers) fighting. Before the fight they could be seen running around playing and just having a good time but when they were in the ring… Just kidding, they played more than they fought and at the end, both were winners.

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The children fight was a real crowd pleaser. There were several more serious fights, the one being two Muay Thai veterans, where both were showing off and taunting one another but I think both underestimated each one another. The fight ended up going all seven rounds without a knock out but it came close. The guy with the blue gloves had an insane kick, if he was to connect, he would literally have taken the other guys head off.

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After the fight, everyone just went to bed as Saturday morning we had another training day. Saturday morning I was still not 100%, I had a great training session but I could feel that the virus was still sapping away at my energy, nether-less I still gave it 100% and had a great session.

The rest of Saturday was spent doing some shopping, eating and just taking it easy as Saturday afternoon we had another training session. I actually took a nap right before the session and woke feeling fresh and ready for action.

I eat a lot of grilled chicken and salad, it has became my go to dish here in Thailand, although I love the noodle soups, the fried rice and the Pad Thai, the grilled chicken with salad is delicious and definitely the healthy choice and no, not I did not indulge in the below donuts but it was a close call. The below is grilled chicken, roast pork, jalapeno peppers and rice, so good and I also had a papaya salad with it.

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After the nap, I felt ready for the training and met up with everyone at 16:00. After the stretches the coach told me to warm up so long, while he spends some time with another trainee, Marcelle.

I did some skipping, sit ups, push ups and bag punches, then the coach called me for our one on one session. I can feel that my technique has improved as I have pretty much nailed the basics, like punches and kicks but he one thing with Muay Thai is that as soon as you master one technique and feel like you are making progress, there are ten new moves to learn.

The best is to take it one day at a time.

After the one on one session with the coach, I had a sparring session with Marcelle again, he has been doing kick boxing for a few years, so his punches hits hard and fast but I have learnt to dodge, block and counter. Sparring is great fun and an awesome adrenaline rush, I will miss it the most when training ends.

Below are some photos of the guys in action at the gym. Photo one, you can see Alex, the Australian, ready for action, never to be caught off guard, even if it is just a photo 🙂

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After the sparring session, we did some more fitness exercises and a few of us hung around and played on the pull up bars. I have decided that I will train to do a muscle up, I was very close to it but could just not get myself all the way up. I watched some videos on technique, so hopefully today will be the day.

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The above photo is post ABS workout, notice “Pando” on my left, he is finished 🙂

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I managed to hold the one arm handstand for a few seconds, another move on my to do list.

After training we all went to the pool, which is about 500 meters from where I stay for a team BBQ. Everyone was there and it was an amazing night. We had some beers, BBQ, there was singing and swimming, a very good night.

On the way back to my room from the BBQ I got bitten by a little dog. Just a small bite but the dog did manage to rip the skin and I knew I had to go to the hospital. Long story short, two hours, eight injections, scheduled return visits, a course of antibiotics, 32 000 Baht (R13 000 / $900) and peace of mind, I was back in bed, no worse than before.

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Sunday was spent moping and feeling sorry for myself but today everything is good again!