I have now been in Thailand for about a month so I thought I would give you all another update.
All in all I have been having a blast and have enjoyed training, though it has been frustrating. Pulling my hamstring meant that I couldn't kick so I had to limit my training to punching, elbows, knees and front kicks (even though front kicks still hurt my leg a little). The only problem with this solution though is the language barrier between you and the trainers. They all have very basic english so trying to tell that that you can't kick is difficult to say the least.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
When I told them the first day that I couldn't kick they just replied ‘Ýou kick, it's ok, just kick'. When I tell them I can't they continue and ask me to kick. This happened every day in the ring but the main problem was the technique section. In this part of training you go through 3 new techniques, which usually involve kicking and blocking. Most of the time you have to kick middle to high, which I couldn't do. Instead of being in the ring with one trainer, everyone is on the mats and each trainer wanders around correcting everyone and making sure everyone is doing the technique correctly. There are probably around 6 or 7 trainers doing this.
This means that I have had to explain to several trainers in the last 3-4 weeks that I cannot kick. This has happened every single day in the last 3-4 weeks so you can imagine how annoying it gets. Sometimes I just laugh at how easy they forget but at 8am, it's easy to get annoyed with this sort of thing. It's actually got worse in the last week or so as I have been trying to do low kicks on the bags (my hamstring pull meant I couldn't do middle to high kicks) but doing so gave them the impression my leg was ok. They just suggest a massage and say that my leg will be better the next day (even after a month it's still bad and I've read it can take a few months). Rest is not a word in the thai dictionary!
Last week I paid extra to do VIP training, which is where you get an additional hour of training every day with a trainer. That was really good. I think I learned more last week than I did in the rest of my time here. New combos, new blocks etc. And everything just seems to click when you are doing it with the same trainer every day.
In the middle of the week my right knuckle swollen up really badly. This is an injury I had last September/October from punching the boards at Taekwondo. It hasn't swollen up as bad as then but I was doing 5x3minute rounds twice a day on the pads plus an hour vip (which is mostly padwork too), so my right punch got lighter and lighter as I was holding back because of the pain.
On the friday night we went to the Wat Chalong market, which is a huge market which is only there once a month or something. I went to the herbal/medical stall and was recommended some type of ointment to use on my hamstring and my hand (cost : 1 UK pound). It smelled like vicks but there was a good chance it was just a mosquito repellent. Nevertheless, I gave it a try. After a minute or so of rubbing it in, my leg and hand feels really warm. Basically, it draws all the blood to the area so this speeds up recovery, I guess a bit like Deep Heat. I was very skeptical at first but I'm a believer now. After a few days of using it my hamstring was feeling a lot better.
Getting back to kicking
Yesterday, my hamsting was feeling a lot better. I was applying the ointment before training and it seemed to help a lot. Plus I was trying to do a little bit longer warming up.
So I was kicking the bag and was getting higher. Fin, the head trainer, noticed me hitting the bag hard and came over and asked me how long I was here for. I told him I had another month or two. At which point he asked if I wanted to fight. I told him I couldn't kick with my left leg but he just laughed that it was ok and that would find me some easy thai guy. Seriously, they will put you into a fight here regardless of injury, sickness or whatever : they just want to provide fighters for the fight nights.
After hitting the bag he told me to go to ring 1. Ring 1 is the ring where 99% of the people training have either fought or are training for a fight. The fact that I had been here for a month and had never been put in there illustrates that they are trying to convince me to fight. They did this with a few other people who fought i.e. they just kept annoying them and asked them to fight and then they did.
The training in ring 1 was better. I was training with Petsila, a nice thai guy who is incredibly laid back and still fights. This guy never trains, never runs and no one ever sees him hitting pads or practicing kicks. Yet he still fights every few weeks and wins!
I was kicking great with my right leg and it felt good. My left leg was a different story, I could only kick up and could only do that at waist height. I'm actually really happy to have at least one leg working again!!!
At the very end of round 5 the whistle blew but Petsila told me to do 2 more kicks. On my last kick I collapsed to the ground. It felt like someone had run up behind me and hit the back of my calf with a baseball bat. It was incredibly painful but I was confused more than anything. The manager, Tuk (who is a lumpini champion) must have saw this as he came running over and said it was cramp and that I should try and walk it off. I tried walking it off but I just couldn't, so I had to hop to my bag. They suggested a massage but even touching my leg is sore. I've had minor cramp before but it usually came on slowly. When this happened I was ok one second and a second later I was on the ground.
So I have to take another few days off for the cramp to go away. Which I'm actually not concerned about at all as it will give me some time to rest my hamstring some more and my knuckle, and the cramp should just be temporary. I still can't walk but it does feel a little better after a nights sleep. Apparently this can happen when you train in the heat and you haven't had enough salt in your diet (it could be dehydration too).
I'm really looking forward to the cramp going away and getting back to training. I can't kick with my left but I'm excited about even practicing with one leg as I have been kneeing every day for a month. I have 6-7 weeks training left so I feel like I'm just starting in a way because training has been a little frustating so far.
Will I fight? Mmm, probably not but I won't rule it out. I doubt my left leg will get to a good level plus fighting means no drinking and running 10k+ every day. After training 5-6 days solid I enjoy having a few beers on the Saturday night.
The other reason is, it could be a waste of time. A guy from Canada called Vincent fought a few weeks ago and it was a total fix. He threw an elbow and completely missed the guy but the guy fell to the ground. The thai fighter realised he hadn't connected and got back up but then went down again with just a small push. It was a complete joke. I heard Vincent was really pissed off and I can't blame him, he had been training 5 hours a day for 3-4 weeks and then that happened. Whats the point.
Perhaps I will think differently in a few weeks if my left leg gets better. Not all fights are rigged and it would be a good experience. Though my main priority this year is my black belt grading in Taekwondo and the risk of getting another injury is high in a fight. Perhaps it would be better to come back next year and do a fight?
My accomodation runs out in the bungalow this weekend so me and my friend James are looking for a new place, Specifically, one with a swimming pool. We have been looking for places but havent found anything as yet. Hopefully we get something in the next few days.
I'll take some pictures and do an update once we move.
A lof of this post has involved me complaining about one thing or another but training frustations aside, I'm having a great time here and would definately come back. It's not like I'm the only one who has been injured. Many people have caught ringworm and someone even caught some variation of the superbug, which doesn't surprise me as all the cleaner does is remove the leaves from the floor i.e. the bags are never cleaned.
I haven't taken many pictures of myself training as yet. I'll maybe do that before I leave. In the meantime, here are some pictures of the gym.
The pictures below are of Rawai beach. It's a pretty poor beach. No one really sunbathes on it, it's used more for boats etc.
This beach is called naehorn beach and is where we usually go. They were taken around 5.30pm so it looks cold but it was actually quite warm. We don't go down in the afternoon as it's too hot, so we wait til 4.30pm+ as it's a bit more bearable.
Hope you all enjoyed the update. I won't lie to you, it's funny seeing the news about all the snow back in the UK as it's been 35 degrees+ every day here since I got here. :)