day 340 | january 30, 2010 | Sor Vorapin, Muay Thai

As soon as i arrived in Khao San in Bangkok, the first thing I did was to buy a fun map. That is, a map that identifies all the cool second-hand bookstores, fortune tellers, boutique clothes and bags, cozy brunch and snack places, most famous vegan and vegetarian hang-outs, parks which are great for people-watching and impromptu aerobics, cool clubs and busy bars, as well as other interesting things to do around Bangkok.

Muay Thai was on my top 5, but i procrastinated before i signed on and subjected myself to the physical challenge. While i considered myself active, I've always been acutely aware of my physical weakness. clumsy and accident-prone, I felt like I was giving myself over to the muay thai class as a living, breathing red-faced punching bag. Plus, I had a light headache from all the drinking. Boxing training was not really one of my brightest ideas.

The coaches were all smiley and supportive though, albeit eyeing small frame and girly clothes derisively. They asked me a couple of times if I had a boxing shirt. In between measured looks, they would ask me where I am from, and I'd answer them instantaneously with "Philippines." Despite living overseas, my heart remains filipino, and proudly so. The coaches smile at me in recognition, and excitedly mention "Pacquiao!" That's it. With one word, their expectation of what I can and cannot do has increased tenfold.

After the preliminary warm-ups which basically comprised of 15 minutes of jumping rope, I already felt like puking. The coach was binding my hand with the cloth when he looked me dead in the eye, and told me in a grave tone that Muay Thai is all about power. He kept on repeating the word "power" as if sheer repetition could inject me with some of it. I felt my knees buckle every time as I watched the rest of the class, all muscle and sweat, enter the ring with me, all gloved and ready to receive some fairly tough training.

When the nerves overcame me, I excused myself to the toilet and puked out my nerves. As I washed my face, I took deep calming breaths and recited some "power" and "you are damn crazy" mantra. What in the world was i doing here?! My courage returned a millimeter at a time when the coach knocked on the toilet door and passed me a proper boxing shirt. Black, and loose, and androgynous. That simple gesture reminded me that the coaches were willing to make it work for me -- the least I could do was to give it a chance.
I stepped up and sweated and ached through the shadow boxing, the pad work, the bag work, the sparring and the not-as-easy-as-it-seems cool-down. I was probably the slowest and weakest in the group, but I came away feeling very proud of myself. Every dark bruise on my leg was earned. And so were every ache in my arms and legs. The fact that my feet stank of ten other people's floor-dribbled sweat was simply a bonus. I made it. =) And as I look back at all the angsting and the self-deprecation, it made me realize that it wasn't so hard after all.

Sometimes, we are our biggest enemy. Don't ever let yourself stop you from doing something you think you cannot do. You never really know until you try it.

I look damn silly, but I can (somewhat) kick your ass! =)

Sor Vorapin Muay Thai,  13 Trok Kasap, Jakkapong Rd. Panakorn, BKK Thailand 10200 Tel : 02 - 282 - 3551


Nicholas Leong said...

Remind me not to pick a fight with you next time.

ps: Can you delete the above? :P

Xave said...

great share again steph. i was wondering how you were able to indulge the muay thai fighters to have a shoot? :) care to share your secret?:)

SleeplessInKL said...

you continue to surprise me, steph!

janet said...

steph, steph... so full of surprises! wow. am still blown away by your courage to do it! wow!

FERNAN said...

cool! *thumbs up*

libpuritan said...

nick, lol, deleted. =)

xave, thanks. basically, i just smiled and asked. sometimes, that's all it takes really. no big secret.

sleepless, janet, fernan. thanks! you guys should try it too! =) it's quite fun.

Lilies For Lily said...

Love what you said about how we get in our own way sometimes. It's so true! ;)

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