Five days out from my fight. Training has been going very well since I last updated the blog. Last week was 80 percent intensity with a lot of sparring and technique. These past three days have been a lot of heavy boxing sparring and a lot of conditioning. I’ve been having these sparring wars with one of the younger trainers here named Charlie. Charlie is twenty years old and the youngest trainer here. To me he looks very unassuming and the first time I sparred with him 2 weeks ago, I have to admit I really underestimated him and figured this might be the first time I could give a trainer a little trouble during sparring especially since I had been sparring with only Ae up to that point, who in terms of prestige and experience was ahead of Charlie in the Muay Thai circle back in his day. So I went into the sparring session throwing a little more kicks than usual and than I learned that Charlie is just as good as any professional Nak Muay his age in Thailand and so I went to bed hurting. Since than we have been sparring regularly but mostly boxing. We build up to quite an intensity further into our rounds till we are probably going about 80-85 percent. Yesterday, in our last round we were in a heavy exchange and I threw a hard cross at him which he dodged and my 14 ounce glove went hurtling past his head into a really badly hyper extended elbow. Very painful. I slept on it and this morning it was still painful but better than before and I think tomorrow is going to really show how long it might take to feel good enough to fight. I have to say though that I am optimistic and I already consider myself fully healed. A good thing if an injury was to happen it came in the last minute of the last round of my final training session. Today is going to be very easy with maybe some planning and watching videos of great fighters. Tomorrow depending on how I feel I may shadow box a few of my favorite combinations. I must say, the injury aside, I feel very good for this fight. In fact, this fight and the second fight I ever had (back in the US, my only US fight) I feel most prepared for mentally. My last fight was also good but that was because I took the fight on three hours notice and was under no pressure. I feel very confident in my training, and feel it has built up very well to the fight as opposed to feeling like I didn’t focus or stick to a training plan for three weeks and tried to cram in fight training the week or days before the fight. I feel good, I feel confident. I am looking forward tot his fight.
Every fight I have had has been a wonderful learning experience and this one is no exception. The days before and the days after the fight are times of serious reflection about who I am and why I do this. I really feel that every fight I have is a big step in my maturing process as a person. Every single fight holds itself as a great teaching moment in my life on the same level as other moments of trial or challenge such as the illness or death of a relative, a difficult period in my life etc. These are all specific events which have had a strong influence in shaping me as a person. The fights I have had, win or lose have the same effect.
In other matters, the gym had some fighters fight last week in Chiang Mai. The three kids that stay here and one student from Sweden fought. The two young kids, 11 and 12, fought well against more experienced opponents and lost. It was the Swedish guys first fight and he won by referee stoppage in the 4th round. I watched the video of his fight and I was very impressed with how cool he kept himself for his first fight. He did a good job of staying calm and being aggressive when he needed to be. The slightly older Thai boy at 14, fought a twenty year old, got beat up for the first two rounds and ended up KO’ing the guy with a knee to the ribs or belly. I saw this kid fight for the first time in November when I fought as well at Loi Kratong festival here in Pai. He fought against someone bigger that time as well and it looked like it was going to be a short fight in the first round but he kept coming forward and kept building his momentum and stayed determined the whole time and he ended up winning in an awesome fight. The trainers are really happy with Anu, which is the boys name. When he returned his family asked him to come back 3 months and help harvest garlic and rice because it would get them 100 baht a day or about 3 dollars US. This made my trainer Ae, who also is responsible for taking in the kid to live and train at the gym quite upset. He argued with the mother that by fighting Anu can earn just as much money for the family now and later some time when he can fight in Bangkok or in more serious bouts in Chiang Mai can make far more than that. I am assuming the mother finally agreed because three days after coming home he’s back here at the camp and taking a nap in the bed next to me. This incident really made me think about how for many young Thai families sending a kid to learn Muay Thai is a chance for a better life. Now this is something I always knew since I started Muay but it is means something much more and becomes far more profound when you can personally and emotionally relate to it because it’s a story of someone who is currently interwoven in your own life. Anu has so far showed me that he has a lot of heart in the ring and I really wish him the best (even if he keeps stealing my blanket at night) and that a career in boxing can help his family.