Three weeks has gone far too quickly. Today is my last day in Phuket and this evening I’m travelling to the airport to fly out to Bangkok and from there home. I didn’t think leaving would be a difficult thing to do. I mean after all I’ve only come here for three weeks right? not three years. Not even three months. But you see the thing is I walked into this gym on a beautiful little Island and it felt like I found a new home. It’s a Thai camp in every sense of the word, and I am not going to forget how welcome I have been made to feel here and how much of push I’ve been given mentally and physically. It’s made me remember what Muay Thai is really all about, and what it gives back to you when you give it your all. So today I feel a little bit bigger inside. Today and every other day I’ll walk a little taller than I was before because I have come here and trained with some of the best people I have met in years. Good people. Brothers. And I will miss them all. At least until the next time I’m here.
It’s hard to put into words the intensity of the training but suffice to say if you looked up training hard in the dictionary there would be a whole section on Sitsongpeenong. Let me explain how I’ve trained on a daily basis since I came to Thailand. I started off of course at Fairtex Bangplee when I came to Thailand and trained twice a day with a run on the running machine and around a hour or so with a trainer at the camp. These sessions were often fairly tough 5 rounds of pad work, some bag work and technique and maybe some clinching or light sparring. It got my head back into thinking about technique and power rather than machine gun like speed.
I was told to start to slow down and when I did slow things down, it seemed to take shape more. Not that everything was perfect. In fact, when I was first told to shadow box my trainer Mr Stamp looked at me with a frown. ‘That’s not Muay Thai.’ he said bluntly. I wanted to sink into a hole in the ground. We worked on basic techniques and combinations and movement and a lot came back that I had to put to one side. Too busy working on fast combinations and work with my hands to realize that really Thai does not always start with your hands, and that when practicing it’s all about technique but also power. Speed I guess comes part and parcel when you get the fundamentals right.
At Fairtex I also spent a lot of time working the clinch with Mr Kong Fairtex and although I would often end up flat on my back just as I thought I was getting the advantage, I’d always get up grinning from ear to ear. I learnt the hard way on more than one occasion but he was constantly encouraging me to knee, try the techniques he had shown me and would usually giggle like a kid before throwing me to the ground with a technique that would come out of no where. It was a good feeling at the end of my week at Fairtex when I was told ‘Muay Thai ok. ‘ although I felt a little sheepish when I was told to keep working on those kicks. Rib kicks currently seem to be the bane of my training life but their slowly improving. From my point of view I’ve let bad habits set in and sometimes they take time to correct. They’ll come right though.
So after leaving Fairtex I headed out to the highlight of my time here, to train at Sitsongpeenong in Phuket. From my first day I knew this was going to be a very different experience. Waking up at 6.00am to be driven for a 9km run from Patong to Kamala made me realize that training was going to be tough (although I started at 6.30 at Fairtex this was a lot more demanding) and then hitting bags straight away for 2 minutes of solid punching followed by seemingly endless knees before press ups and a brief rest was enough to make me realize this was in fact, a lot tougher than my previous training had been. From there we would throw hooks into the bags followed by more knees and more press ups alternating to sit ups, then the same drill would be repeated but moving to uppercuts. And after that we would start to work the bags whilst we were called in pairs into the ring for rounds of pad work with the trainers Sayannoi and Air. if we weren’t in the ring and just on the bags now and again we would have to do another round of more knees when told to.
After around ten rounds of bag work, we would then move into around 40 minutes of clinching sparring with our trainers showing us techniques and encouraging us to push ourselves harder. Clinching at points seemed to last forever. ‘two more minutes’ would often feel like ten and it’s never easy to keep going but I managed to see it through. From clinching we would move into final rounds of teeps and knees on the bag with all of us counting to ten one by one. The session would finally end with around twenty minutes of strength conditioning consisting of tyre flipping, pull ups, press ups and more.
This entire scenario would then be repeated for another couple of hours in the afternoon minus the run that was replaced with skipping and on some days we would also spar. Despite me saying earlier the intensity is hard to put into words I hope from the above you get the general picture. I realized very quickly I was training in a fighters camp and of course every session ended with me grinning from ear to ear. Was it easy? no. I went through hell and back some days. But was it worth it? absolutely.
I’m planning to come back out to Thailand in February next year and there is a lot more that I want to tell you about my time here but today it seems is going far to quickly for my liking and before I begin the long journey home tonight the beach is calling. Suffice to say I have taken a lot away from training here, and It’s been reinforced that Muay Thai requires mental toughness as well as physical toughness. The training here is hard but being honest I really wouldn’t have it any other way, and I feel proud of myself for having achieved my goal of getting here to train with the best.
The first thing I’ll be doing when home is planning my 2015 trip to Thailand. I’ve set some new goals training and fighting wise for next year but I guess really that’s a story for another day. In the meantime I’m going to enjoy the sun and the last day or so of my time in the land of smiles. As always have a good week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on the road. (it’s a bit sunnier than usual.)