Seeing as this is my 7th day in Thailand, I thought I would do a quick post about how things are going here. First off, I haven't taken any pictures. Though I will try and get some good ones of the gym in the next few weeks. :)
The Muay Thai Life
I left Scotland last Sunday, 4th January. I flew to Kuluar Lumpur via Dubai (with a 3 hour wait for th change). In Malaysia all I did was head to my hotel, sleep, get up, eat breakfast and head back to the airport. I then fly from KL to Phuket.
I arrived in Phuket last Tuesday just after 1pm. I then got a taxi to Rawai Muay Thai, which is based in the south of Phuket. The owner, Danny Avison, kindly drove me around a bit so that I had an idea where everything was and then he took me to my bungalow (called Goongs). My room is really good – a big double bed, air conditioning, fridge, kettle, microwave and a toaster that doesn't work. It also has a safe and a decent wi-fi connection (some pics of the room here).
The gym is about 3km from where I'm staying. On the day I arrived I didn't get my things sorted til after 3.30pm so I walked to the gym and got there about 4.15pm, which was a little late as afternoon training starts at 4pm. I was put in the beginner class that afternoon and the next morning but the next afternoon they put me in the normal class.
The training is really good. You do your own warm up and stretching and then you get right into it. First you do 5 3-minute rounds or 3 5-minute rounds of shadow boxing. After that you either hit the bags or you go in the ring and do padwork or sparring. Again both of these are for 5 rounds each. What you do first depends on how many people are there. If you are in the ring first you will then do the heavy bags and vice versa. Between every round you do 20 sit ups or 20 press ups. After shadow boxing, bag work and sparring, you then do technique.
Technique changes every day. Sometimes you do 3 different defensive or offensive techniques, other times you do grappling. On Thursday we did the wai cru, which is the traditional thai dance you see before a muay thai fight. I enjoyed that as I hadn't done that before. After technique you do 200 bag kicks, 200 knees and 150 sit ups.
The first few days I walked to and from training. It takes about 35 minutes to walk there and the same back. The walk before morning training and and the walk after afternoon training is good because it's cool but in the afternoon it's hard work because it's so hot and humid. The sun really saps you're energy.
On my 4th training session I unfortunately pulled my hamstring. I had arrived late and so didn't do a good warm up so I must have overextended my leg during a kick or something. Either way I was limping on the way home. I stupidly went to the next training session and it felt ok but I couldn't turn when kicking so I was incorrectly kicking upwards. That night I was limping again (even more so) on the way home and I did the right thing and decided to rest it. I read online that a light hamstring pull can take a week to recover and a severe one can take a few weeks or even a few months.
When I read this I was severely frustrated. I've never pulled my hamstring before so I had no way of knowing how bad it was. The thought of not training for a month or even worse, going home early because of the injury really scared me. So I took the Friday off and stayed in bed all day and watched TV. After a day of doing this I was really bored and thankfully, my left hamstring was starting to feel a little better. I still couldn't throw a kick but I wasn't limping (as much) and I could feel it getting better.
Therefore on Saturday I decided to go to afternoon training. Training didn't start til 4 but having sat in my room for a day I wanted to make up for it so got there at 2 and did weights for an hour and then did an hour of stretching and light cardio. I did some light kicks during the padwork session but both my left and right leg were still really poor, but I could feel a huge improvement.
Sunday is the day everyone has off from training, which was good as it gave me another day to rest my leg. This morning I felt a huge improvement in my kicks. I still can't kick as high or as strongly as I usually do and my hamstring is still sore but it's much better. This week I'm going to just take things lightly and progress slowly so that it doesn't happen again.
Once my hamstring is better I should be able to work on my kicks a lot. Muay Thai kicks are different from the Taekwondo style kicks I'm used to throwing. In Taekwondo you chamber your leg before extending it but in Muay Thai it's a bigger more powerful swing of the leg.
My daily life
On Saturday I hired a moped for a month, which is what most people here do so that they can get around. I didn't actually mind the walk too much as I walk to my gym back home but in the afternoon the sun takes all your energy away and you arrive at the gym dehydrated and tired. Obviously, driving to training and doing less walking should help my leg recover a little too.
The moped also gives me a lot more time. Before it took me 35 minutes to get to the gym but now it takes me 5 minutes, so I have an extra 2 hours a day.
Here's my current daily schedule :
Mon to Sat
6.00 am Wake up, eat cereal, have shower
6.25am Drive to gym
6.30 Arrive at gym. Do light warm up with skipping ropes, stretching and wrap hands.
7.00am Start training (i.e. shadow boxing, pad-work/sparring, bag work, technique)
9.00am 200 kicks, 200 knees, 15 sit ups
9.15am Warm down, light static stretching
9.30am Drive to bungalow, get showered
10.00am Have breakfast across the street
10.30am-2.55pm Relax = TV, catch up on emails
2.55pm Drive to gym
3.00pm Arrive at gym. Do light warm up with skipping ropes, stretching and wrap hands. Alternate days I do light weights.
4.00pm Start training (i.e. shadow boxing, pad-work/sparring, bag work, technique)
6.00pm 200 kicks, 200 knees, 100 sit ups
6.15pm Warm down, light static stretching
6.30pm Arrive back at bungalow – get showered
7.00pm Go for dinner.
On my day off yesterday I went down to the beach for an hour or so. It's about a 10 minute walk (2 minute drive) away (I'm not a huge sun worshipper if I'm honest and even though I had a book, I get bored quite quickly!). I was shattered when I got back though.
During the day time I have 4-5 hours to myself but I try and do as little as possible i.e. stay out of the sun. Seriously, I can't stress how much the sun here drains you. Which isn't a major problem if you are just chilling all day by the beach and having a few cocktails but if you're training 6 hours a day you need to be proactive and try not to tire or dehydrate yourself. I'm currently drinking around 2.5 litres of water every session (with electrolyte supplement added) and at the end I sometimes need to buy more because I've run out!
So Far So Good…
I've been here less than a week but I have really been enjoying it. On paper the training schedule looks really difficult but it isn't as bad as it looks, you just need to keep hydrated and get enough sleep. I'm sure training would be much harder if I was out late drinking and only getting a few hours sleep but I'm doing my best to focus on the training.
The gym has a lot of westerners training there too and I've made a few nice people already. It's early days yet but I think I'm going to have a ball the next few months (I have to admit, hearing about how cold and wet it is back home has helped!!). You can't help but be inspired by the other fighters and trainers. The gym has a few lumpinee champions and southern thailand champions (respected titles) and several trainers are still actively fighting.
To get more of an idea of what I'm doing, check out the Rawai Muay Thai website.
p.s. I'll try and get some pictures taken at one point in the next few weeks :)