Thursday night I tested for my Level One rating in Muay Thai Kickboxing which entitles me to wear thai shorts to the gym. I think it is the second hardest physical activity I have ever engaged in, the hardest being the first time I completed the Wright Stuff Century (riding my bike 100 miles over big hills).
As I was huffing, puffing and sweating the song "Pretty Noose" popped into my head.
Fallout and take the bait
Eat the fruit
And kiss the snake goodnight
Common ruse dirty face
Pretty noose is pretty hate
And I don't like
What you got me hanging from
Well, OK that song really is about a bitch, but the lyrics applied to me on Thursday night. The instructor had myself and my classmates in what I would describe as a pretty noose.
Things were different when I entered the gym for the test - there was a table in the center with stopwatches and lots of paper with the instructor and assistant instructor sitting there filling things out. Right away I knew that things were going to be rough - I just didn't know exactly to what extent. Some advanced level guys were sticking around too. As I did my preliminary warm up and stretching I noticed that the gym had a much more serious air about it this evening.
We started in as always by saluting the Thai flag and the instructor.
First up was an easy footwork drill. Then we did some shadow boxing, that featured each strike that we had been taught over the last several months (jab, cross, hook, right and left uppercut) and each kick (rear thai, switch, long and short footjab). After this the advanced guys put on the thai pads for us and we went to work on them with combos - we began with punching. We did five rounds of this, two minutes each. The guy who was holding the pads for me was very encouraging and complimented me on my power. It was pretty cool hearing that sound of those pads popping.
After this the guys who were testing did a bunch of sparring, I think it was five rounds if I remember correctly, punches only, and nothing to the head - body boxing. I believe it was at this point that I remembered the song Pretty Noose - we were only halfway done and I was getting gassed.
During the sparring I rolled my damned ankle - too bad, I had to suck it up. I had waaay too much invested in this thing to stop now.
After this we did kick combos for five rounds, then kick/punch combos for five rounds, then more sparring with each other, kicks only. It was crazy.
The floor was getting slick with sweat from us which was no problem for the instructor and assistant instructor - they simply moved us to another part of they gym and moved the table around to view us. Toward the end of this portion I was beginning to red line - I knew from experience with my heart rate monitor that I had to be over 90% by this time. It was becoming mental. Every second between rounds was spent gasping for air, trying to get my heart rate down to 80% where I am much more comfortable. It worked pretty well, but 30 seconds or so into the next round I could feel myself getting back into the red zone.
The sweat was rolling off at about one drop per second - I am not making that up.
Finally, all of the skills and drills and sparring were over and then we got to do....conditioning. Oh yes - cardio kicks, push ups, ab work, sprints in the gym and a few other things. And we were done.
The instructor herded us outside - they wanted to talk about us. I told the other guys that I sure hoped that I passed because I left everything I had on the gym floor. Everyone else said the same thing.
We came back in and the instructor went through each guy (there were only four of us this night) and told them what they needed to improve upon and what they were good at. I was last - I was told that my footwork is a little narrow and that my hook needs a little work, but those things are easily corrected. Outside of that I was complimented on gritting it out after I rolled my ankle - I had no idea they had even seen that. Also, the instructor brought up the fact that I was by far the oldest guy in my class (I am 38) but was the best conditioned. I was surprised at this - the other guys must not have been looking as good as me in the later portions of the class.
I received a few other compliments I don't remember and then the instructor stood up from the table, walked over to me, shook my hand and presented me with my certificate. Five months and four days of work, toil, sweat, pain, bruises, and damned hard work was finally rewarded. My Thai Shorts will arrive early next week.
With that the instructor gave us some info on the advanced MT classes and complimented us on a test well done - he also said that this was probably the best Level One test they have ever had. That might have been bullshit, but that's OK with me - it made all of us feel pretty damned good.
We took a group photo (which I will post here as soon as I get a copy) so you can see what four seriously exhausted guys look like. Myself and the other testers shook each others hands, patted each other on the back and that was the end.
We saluted the Thai flag, the instructor and went home. My head was absolutely buzzing from endorphins, adrenaline and I could tell that I was getting dehydrated. I didn't sleep too well last night. I will sleep very well tonight.