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Muay Thai: A Kicking Habit

For those who like to keep fit, or take up new sports, then the following monthly articles may whet your appetite for taking on a new challenge. Each month I’ll be taking part in a new sport, and reviewing it for you. For those who say you are too old, I must tell you I’m in my sixty-seventh year.

This first article deals with Thailand’s national sport: Muay Thai Boxing.

Arriving with some trepidation for my Muay Thai training session at Fairtex Sports centre, I was immediately put at my ease with the friendly atmosphere.

First, my instructor for the session began to demonstrate individual techniques. We moved back and forth across the boxing ring, slowly performing punches and jabs. After a few times criss-crossing the ring we moved onto some kicking moves, knee attacks and blocking moves using the legs.

Fortunately for me, some thirty years ago I trained in karate, so some of the moves were familiar. The real advantage I had was that my previous experience enabled me to co-ordinate my hands and feet, without having to think about it, and so made it much easier to adapt to the subtle differences in stances, punches and kicking moves. I could see my instructor was quite impressed by the way this ‘old guy’ was picking up the moves so quickly.

After about twenty minutes of practicing the various moves I was allowed a one minute rest break. During that time my instructor kitted up with enough padding for him to qualify to be a ‘Michelin Man’. This being indicative of what was next going to be required of me.

My instructor, being aware of my age, asked ‘How many rounds you last, two?’ with a wry smile on his face. Unaware of what was to come I reserved judgement on how long I thought I would last, but was certainly determined to last more than two three-minute rounds.

The digital clock began the countdown of the first of the three-minute rounds. My instructor barked out commands: jab, elbow, block, as he presented a pad for me to strike.

It was a little confusing at first, the pad presented determining which side I attacked with, and his quick commands meant I had to react not only to which side to attack, but with what I was required to use to attack.

An automatic bell signified the end of the three minutes, and the start of one minute rest. I felt good and not the least out of breath.

The second round started like the first, but now the commands to attack were coming much quicker, and the mode of attack varying just as quickly. I could feel the adrenalin, as my kicks and punches powered into the padding, at times surprising my instructor with the force of them. At the end of the second three minutes I was still feeling quite fresh.

Now into the third round, and into territory I think the instructor thought Id never make, changes in direction, multiple kicking techniques to the head making my aging muscles perform manoeuvres they last did thirty years ago. The instructor began throwing in the occasional attack for me to react to and deal with.

My reactions were becoming sharper by the second, and my attacks were filled with increasing venom. At the end of the third round I began to blow a little.

Fourth round and everything stepped up a gear, no doubt the instructor realising I still retained some of my karate training from all those years ago.

His voice became just a blur as he shouted out instructions to me. The feeling I got in my competition days in karate came back as the adrenalin flowed. All too soon it was over, and I had lasted twice the distance my instructor had predicted, but I must admit I was breathing quite heavily.

Muay Thai is obviously a younger man’s sport, but a great way of getting rid of all that aggression, whilst keeping fit, and enjoying the camaraderie with others. For me it certainly brought back memories of long ago in my competition days – when many of my teeth and I parted company!!

- Wilson F.