I stated that "supposedly" guns and biking were to be my last two hobbies. Well, there is another - but maybe it isn't a hobby just yet. You see I workout in my basement at least three times a week in the colder months and I consider my new venture to be more of a substitution for that than a new hobby. My wife is pleased as she thinks I am a bit bonkers for working out alone all the time in the basement (I can't really argue this). So this new endeavor would be called a workout in a different place, if you like - rather than a new hobby. That makes me feel better anyway.
Earlier this week I went to a gym for a free 30 minute introductory lesson in Muay Thai kickboxing. Conveniently, the gym is just a couple of minutes from where I work. It is a mixed martial arts facility. They teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Jeet Kune Do, Muay Thai Kickboxing and a couple of other things, including "Ultimate Fighting" - they train fighters at this gym to...fight.
This facility has a team, and some of their fighters will be fighting in the Madtown Throwdown, which I will be attending. The instructor has participated in many of these in the past, and even won several tournaments. He is a bad ass.
The gym is located in an old strip mall, next to a hardware store. Not scenic. The "locker room" is - well, just "eh". No juice bar at this club. There are many places in Madison that aren't scenic though. I will be photographing many of them when it gets warm enough to get out on my bike.
The gym is good enough for me - it is nicely equipped with a ring, padded floors, punching bags, kick bags and everything else. But you know what? The lack of luxury/ambiance pleases me. No pompous rich Madison liberal assholes to get in my way.
During the introductory session I told the instructor repeatedly that I am NOT going to get into the ring with anyone. Being a business owner, father, and not being interested in general in having my nose broken it was very important to get this across to the guy. He understood completely and promised me that I didn't have to get hit by anyone to advance in the Muay Thai rankings. They have a system like belts in Karate. First you earn your "Thai shorts", then you earn different color sashes to tie around the shorts. Here is an example of Thai shorts.
They are typically shiny and have Thai script on the front. Don't ask me what this says. Mine will probably say "Dan sucks at Muay Thai" but that is fine with me. I can take a joke.
It is something to shoot for anyway.
There are a lot of martial arts, why did I choose Muay Thai?
I have always wanted to take a martial arts type class but never knew which one to take. As I have been watching fighting as my life went along, I was always drawn to Muay Thai. It is a martial art that I feel I could actually use someday if I needed it. No long flowing, graceful moves or high flying maneuvers, just powerful punches and kicks all meant to destroy an opponent. I look at it as kind of the "peasant food" version of the martial arts world - and I mean that in the best way possible.
Peasant food is things like cassoulets, stews, jambalaya - things like that. They are typically made of easy to obtain, cheap ingredients and can end up tasting marvelous - for a low price. Practical is the word I am looking for.
Another thing that appeals to me is that there is very little ceremonial bullshit involved. You have to salute the American flag, the Thai flag and the instructor and it is on to business. None of this chanting, meditating and other crap that I just cannot stand. The instructor made it a point that I was to call him "Mike", not Sensei, or any other goofy term like that. He also said that the higher level fighters in the gym are not stuck up - that they will help if they can rather than push you aside. We will see about that. And they play heavy metal music during workouts/practice - this I like very much. Informality is good for me.
What is better is the cost. $114 per month, and this includes all the lessons you can take. They have them on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday for the beginners like me. I will probably start with two per week - that averages to 14.25 per lesson if eight lessons fall in the month. Some months it will average out a little cheaper. Any of you enrolled in a health club will realize that this is CHEAP. Oh yea, there is a $250 outlay at the beginning for equipment (gloves, pads, etc.).
Time will tell on this. We will see as the summer rolls along if I have the time and energy to keep up with it. I think I will. As long as I am not fighting like these guys I will be just fine.