Muay Thai adventure days 5-8: Slacking through an ice storm

So yeah, Southern Ontario got hit with an ice storm Saturday. I went to class Friday, couldn’t make class Saturday and the gym was closed because of the weather Sunday. It’s Monday afternoon as of writing. I’m not sure if I can even safely get to class today, given that a lot of government services are telling people to stay off the roads if possible. As much as I love going, it’s not worth risking a car accident. We’ll see in a few hours.

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The view from my porch. It’s April 16.

It’s a week before I fly out to Bangkok and, despite this lack of training, I have a lot on my mind.

Embarking on this adventure has reminded of how weird it is to be a martial artist. By that I mean explaining to people, even athletes, why you’d voluntarily do something that involves getting hit in the head. From what I know, a lot of Thais are shocked that foreigners are so eager to travel there for muay Thai. The life of a Thai boxer is a brutal one.

I don’t enjoy pain, but I really enjoy making it through pain. I don’t like being uncomfortable — no one does — but the most valuable experiences of my life have always made me feel uncomfortable days and weeks beforehand. My mom’s worried I’m going to get hurt. I’m worried about that too, but the prospect is kind of the point of this trip.

I mentioned in an earlier post that people I chat with about travelling to Thailand often bring up drinking, beaches, nightlife and even sex tourism. It’s kind of awkward, given my own motivations. But I think it offers an interesting dichotomy, almost like the dual-nature of  the country’s appeal to Westerners. Some go for pleasures, others to expose themselves to a level brutality they can’t feel at home.

I’ve always found that putting time into martial arts, as opposed to other sports, offers something more. I knew a few guys in my high school years who’d been mugged. Obviously knowing a little wushu isn’t guaranteed to save your ass in this situation, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt. I think it’s worth noting that if you beat the crap out of a guy in a street fight, he’s unlikely to say, between bloody coughs, “Yeah, but I have a mean volleyball set. We’ll see who’s laughing on the court.”

I trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu for three years at university. It’s a grappling martial art. I did this even though I was more interested in striking. Part of the reason was because of the direction of the sport (more on that later), but mostly it was because I think knowing a little bit of grappling is much more valuable than knowing a bit of boxing in a self-defense situation. Most untrained people are extremely aggressive with their strikes, which can overwhelm even experienced boxers. But with a few months of grappling experience, you’re way ahead of someone who has no training on the floor. That’s true even if they’re 50 pounds heavier. The chances of you getting in a street fight you can’t avoid are vanishingly low, but it could save your life. Do yourself a favour and sign up for a few months of BJJ training right now. Then buy a membership at Milton Muay Thai and train with me.

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In case you were wondering what Brazilian jiu-jitsu looks like … yeah

Another thing I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is my two years in lacrosse. I mentioned before that I never played hockey. I never played football either, so lacrosse was a new experience in the whole possibly getting a concussion or a broken neck from an unexpected hit department. The team captain, who knew I was a kick boxer, was fascinated by this. How could someone not really mind getting punched and kicked in the face, but be totally not cool with getting flattened when trying to scoop up a ball with a stick? He felt the complete opposite way about pain in sports.

I told him that in boxing I expected to get lit up. It never hurt, which must be an adrenaline thing. In lacrosse, I never knew at any given moment when someone was going to cross check me from behind. Sure, they’d probably get suspended, but I’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. The feeling of getting hit in kickboxing is just different than in football, hockey, and lacrosse. I’d happily let my unborn kids do the former, but the latter I’m not so sure.

I was going to write more, but I think that’s enough for now. Thanks for reading.