ONE of my resolutions for 2019 was to fight in my fourth muay thai fight, and hopefully to win.
With the departure of my former coach Visaet Artram, I joined Sharks Muay Thai in Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, at the suggestion of a friend.
Sharks was founded by Jake Low Gek Lin, where its core philosophy of martial arts is technique and structured training.
It currently has three certified coaches.
I was told one of its trainers, 24-year-old Vincent Seaw was an upcoming muay thai fighter in the local scene.
He had a mean, low kick, and had won seven fights via technical knockouts. Out of this, five were achieved via his low kick.
You may find this hard to believe when you meet Seaw in person.
At 55kg, he has the physique of a typical Thai muay thai fighter, the lean sort with a likely 7% fat level.
When I met Seaw end April, he had a 9-1 fight record (it is 12-1 currently).
With that sort of consistent fight record, I had an inkling the training would be brutal.
My mistake was I told Seaw I wanted to fight on the first day of meeting him.
Needless to say, there was no kindness shown in the first training session.
He handed me a set of 2kg dumbbells and told me to punch non-stop for two minutes.
After a one-minute interval, we continued with two minutes of uppercuts, and then two minutes of hooks.
I nearly vomited and had to rest halfway.
Then he asked me to skip while watching me critically, saying my skipping was wrong, slow and would do nothing to improve footwork.
I had to skip his “Muhammad Ali” way which again made me want to vomit.
As for my muay thai technique, he was quite appalled with my shadow boxing. My technique was far from graceful and more importantly, not effective!
So we started from the basics – how to do a basic cross and jab. It was so embarrassing.
Pad work with Seaw was just as bad. He would set the timer for four to five minutes per round. My lungs were bursting and dizziness took over. We would do five to six bouts with a 90-second break in between.
Following that, we either kicked the sandbag or did circuit training, depending on his mood.
How I hated those “torture sessions” with him.
Like it or not though, we fell into a routine of Saturday mornings at 8.30am.
Ready for a fight?
Soon, it became a habit for me to see Seaw three to four times a week. Besides the personal training, I joined classes where I got a chance to spar with other students.
Seaw made me do other exercises on the days I didn’t see him.
“If you want to fight, you must train hard like me. And stop saying the training is torture, ” he said simply.
So I also ran and did sprints regularly.
With four months of training under him, was I ready for a fight?
No, Seaw said in his usual crumpled up, stern face. “I am scared if you fight now, you cannot win, ” he said. We continued training.
“You are still not blocking!” he would scold me while sparring.
He also offered his bare thighs as target practice for my low kicks. I kicked him hard so many times, yet I could not hurt him.
“Eh, harder! Faster! You are slow lah!” he would be shouting at me, although I was already mustering all my strength to kick him as hard as possible.
Then, in September, Low told me he had registered me for the Negri Sembilan Muay Thai Open in October.
This was when the fear really kicked in. It was happening.
My opponent was a young, precocious Seremban girl. I checked her on Facebook and felt the despair rising.
Fight day was on Oct 6 in Seremban.
I barely slept the entire week.
My fight was the first of 40 bouts of the day.
As Seaw handwrapped me and we made our way to the ring, my legs turned to jelly. The fear was so real.
I saw my opponent looking confident and bored. Panic took over completely.
In moments like these, the only thing you could rely on is your training and the coaches at your corner.
Low and Seaw supported me from the corner of the ring. They would be shouting instructions very loudly.
The opponent and I tapped gloves, and the fight started. She wasted no time lunging at me with a push kick while punching wildly.
Your instincts just take over as you fight for survival. I landed a few low kicks on her and listened as Low shouted instructions.
My opponent did not give up easily although I could see her gasping for air. She was like a wriggly fish out of water, trying her best to hit me from every corner.
Before we knew it, the fight was over. The scorecards were tallied, and the referee raised my hand.
I had won. But it had not been easy. My fight record was officially 4-0.
Yes, I was happy, but it felt different this time. I had come to a humbling realisation that fighting was extremely hard.
It may sound cliched but you really have to be physically and mentally strong to fight. Unlike a marathon, the game of fighting is where one person wins, and the other loses.
There is humility in putting yourself out there in the ring, where your wins or losses would be displayed for all to see. The only thing within your control is your stamina and conditioning.
So, while I absolutely dread the torture sessions with Seaw, I shall be going back for more.
In so many ways, martial arts makes you a better person.
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