When endorphins aren’t enough

It occurred to me a few days ago that even though I’m in the homeland of muay thai, it’s not the most important thing I’m learning while I’m here. Don’t get me wrong, the technical tweaks are great, but the bigger, and probably more important piece of information that I’ve picked up so far? How to kick my own ass.

Thai camps do things differently than we do at home, which I expected. One thing I wasn’t quite expecting was the training structure. Or, more appropriately, the lack of it. At home, we have set periods of time when we hit the pads, hit the bags, spar, clinch, and cool down. Here, the only thing guaranteed to happen is your pad rounds with the trainers. Before and after that, you’re pretty much on your own to do as much, or little, work as you want. Feel like sparring one of the fighters? Grab your gloves and knock yourself out, if they don’t do it first. Want to go do 5 rounds on the bag and finish with 200 knees and 200 kicks? Great, just make sure you barf someplace off the mats. Feeling a little under the weather and want to call it quits after pads? Whatever you say, see you tomorrow.

The point is, you’ll pretty much get out of it what you put in. There’s nobody to crack the whip on you, and it kind of makes sense. At the end of the day, they know most foreigners are only here for a little while, and the trainers have their pros to tend to, who make their living and make the camp money by fighting. We just aren’t important enough to them to have them go drill sergeant on us, unless we can prove on our own that we’re there to work, not to go get drunk and find hookers as soon as evening training is over. They don’t care if your ankle is stiff or if you didn’t sleep well or if you have a little bit of a cough.

Anyone who’s ever heard me talk about Vision Quest knows that I got a boot in the ass if I slacked. Sometimes it was a physical one, sometimes it was a mental one. I didn’t know what “piker” meant before I got called one for wimping out, but I learned fast enough. So it was certainly an adjustment when I got here and found all that out. But, to bring it back to the beginning, the biggest skill I’m learning out of all this is how to cut out the middleman and cattle-prod myself into productivity. I mean, this time last year, you couldn’t have paid me to run if it wasn’t forced on me under threat of physical pain. Now I go 15-20 miles a week with no impetus other than knowing I need to. Go figure.

In other news, I’m legal! Hooray! It got cut right down to the wire, but with two days before my visa would have expired, we finally got everything we needed all together after two previous failed trips, and successfully got an extension on the third try. I wouldn’t have been deported or anything, but they charge you 500 baht for every day you remain in the country past your expiration date, when you start curdling and smelling bad, I guess. That’s about 15 dollars, which isn’t a ton, but Tryn’s not done until October. Which means we would have been looking at somewhere over 1000 dollars if it hadn’t been taken care of. Not really something you want to have to pay for if you don’t have to, I think.

-end transmission


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