Big update for almost the entire week!
Sadly, I’ve gone and done what I knew I’d do – upon waking up Wednesday morning, my left elbow felt significantly better thanks to the physiotherapy and meds, so of course I decided to take it for a spin. Long story short, I messed it up even worse, to the point where I was unable to even carry anything with that arm or flex it for a day. I’ve still been trying to train a little bit, but I’ve mostly been doing balance work and trying to avoid using my left arm as much as possible (on the plus side, I have significantly improved the smoothness and control of one-armed cartwheels, I might try them on the railing next week).
I have made it a point to show up to the various MMA sessions (they are getting huge, apparently this is peak season) and try to soak up what I can and participate, so I’m still learning a lot of good stuff. It’s very frustrating at times though because I really want to go at it, but I know I need to let that elbow heal (I’m going to try again tomorrow, cross your fingers for me). It’s nice that one of the other guys here is also somewhat injured and unable to participate, so I’m not alone at least.
Friday night I finally had the opportunity to go to some real Muay Thai fights since I wasn’t completely exhausted from training… and wow, was it eye opening! I’m lucky in that my first night out to the local fights was actually a huge “super championship fight” at Nai Harn Beach, so the competition was top notch and the crowd was large and active. What an experience.
The first fight was probably the most amazing in a way – it was a pair of ten year olds fighting! I’ve seen kids training at the gym here and I know they take it very seriously, but this was intense. There’s no doubt in my mind that this level of competition between kids would never be allowed in the States, but at the same time I couldn’t find any fault with it. It was very obvious from watching the fight that they were well trained, extremely good, and actually enjoying the competition. This wasn’t two kids throwing wild haymakers, it was two kids engaged in a serious tactical battle. The coolest thing about it was that you could tell they were having fun – after a number of particularly good exchanges they touched gloves and nodded at each other, but kept going back to it. The fight finally ended in the fourth round when one of them landed a wicked elbow to the head and knocked the other down – unlike the adult fights, that was the end even though the kid probably could’ve gotten up.
After that was a pair of maybe 12 year olds, followed by some 14-16yr olds – all incredibly good, all great sports, all obviously doing it for fun (the fight between the 12 year olds ended when one basically destroyed the other with knees to the ribs, the older kids went to a decision after beating on each other for five rounds). Once the kids were done, two women came out for a championship fight – and just like the kids, man did they let it fly. They weren’t even crazy stocky jock-type girls but looked pretty feminine, making it all the more intense. This fight ended in round five also due to knees to the body, man those must hurt if you’re a girl!
The best fight of the night was of course the “super championship fight” which was actually between two Westerners, an American named Cyrus from the gym I’m at (Tiger Muay Thai) and a Brit named Richie. It was a great fight, but Richie had at least six inches on Cyrus and used his height and length effectively, with long striking knees and some incredible jumping downward elbows. Both guys swung for the fences from round one and the amount of heart they showed to make it all the way through all five rounds throwing at full power the entire time was awesome. Richie ended up winning by decision, but the fight definitely could’ve ended at any time.
By the time everything was over it was closing on 1AM and most of my friends planned on hitting Patong to get some serious drinking and wenching on, but I’m trying to be good so I called it (though I did have two beers last night, the first I’ve had in over a month!). Ended up helping a very drunk Irishman from the gym get home as well as a couple others, the typical experience you might expect, especially from an Irishman – let’s just say he kept deciding he was going to jump out of the truck we were in and “walk home” while we were driving down the road at 50+kmh. Happy ending though.
Saturday I did a little balance work and playing around but mostly read, same thing today. I’m not sure if it’s a local thing, but the pad thai at the restaurant down the road is awesome but does not include tofu or nuts, unlike almost every time I’ve had pad thai in the US. Hrm hrm.
Nine days until I’m off to India! Oh, and if anyone reading this has a recommendation between the Annapurna Circuit or the Everest Base Camp trail in Nepal let me know! I expect to be there for all of May, but that’s only enough time for one (20-25 day trek on both apparently). I’m leaning towards Annapurna but it doesn’t have the sexiness of Everest…