To preface, Nop is a Buddhist, and believes in reincarnation. He feels that each of us carries over some things from previous lives. He goes on to say:
We believe that your interest, your inclinations, are a direct results of your past experiences. You eventually get drawn back to things that feel familiar, things that you love, even your friends… The idea is that we’ve all met before some place else.
Interesting quote. He then puts forth a question to his MT community asking what drew you to MT and why. The post just went up, but I expect comments to be long and lengthy on that one. Mine got too long so I morphed it into a post as I usually do so as not to pollute the comment section over there.
Oddly enough I got into MT to supplement my biking. Being a distance cyclist I was looking for ways to strengthen my core for longer rides. At one time I was considering training for double centuries, but I don't think I have time for that anymore, and besides I miss six months of riding each year from the weather. I am a biking wimp - under 60F is a no go for me.
So one day I announced to my wife that I wanted to take up Muay Thai in my basement, and teach it to myself with some books. What the heck, I buy a couple of bags and I am off and running, right? Heh. Wisely my wife put the brakes on that doomed to failure plan and told me to join a gym.
But why Muay Thai? I have always been fascinated with martial arts, MT, and fighting in general. Growing up I used to buy martial arts magazines and look at the guys they were featuring, and look at the different weapons for sale like throwing stars, nunchaku, etc. I never did buy any of them. But I did enjoy looking at those magazines and always wondered about taking karate, taekwondo, or some other martial art.
I am not a fighter - it just isn't part of my personality. Even in situations (and there were a few) when an aggressor bullied me around I always walked away (or ran). I still do this today, and was very happy that I did last year in Minneapolis. At this point I have a lot more to lose than some drunk a-hole hassling me in a bar. And I have no reason to send someone to the hospital, which is exactly where this intoxicated person in Minneapolis would have ended up.
In fact, I have never been in a fight in my entire life (and hopefully never will), but ring sports have always been of interest to me. Since I was a wee lad I watched boxing, as that was available on TV. ABC used to have the title fights on at night, before cable and HBO got big. I never had cable growing up, but finally got it in college, and started seeing different types of ring sports on TV such as UFC, Muay Thai, and other types of things. Back in the 90's, UFC didn't have organized rules (you could hit each other in the sack!) so that turned me off big time. Guys like Tank Abbot would simply run across the ring and crush an opponent. It reminded me more of a street brawl than a ring sport. But Muay Thai always fascinated me. Muay Thai showed itself to be an extremely brutal sport (at times) with decent rules and lots of technique. To boot there was a lot of respect and traditions that were shown in the ring. I always kept it in the back of my head.
And the time finally came. When I was 38. Muay Thai has gotten me in the best shape of my life and I have gone places I never thought I would. I am a certified pad holder for professional fighters, and see how hard they train. I know how little most of them get paid too. It is an immense commitment that very few are able to make a living on.
I am not a deeply religious guy nor am I superstitious. But something I made up a while ago keeps coming forward when I think of where I came from and where I am going with regards to MT. I give to Muay Thai, and Muay Thai gives back to me.
I always show proper Thai respect when sparring, or teaching, or receiving instruction or whatever. It is part of the tradition, and I love traditions and history.
MT has given me a lot of benefits.
- Outstanding physical conditioning - I had no idea how cardio heavy MT was until I actually got in there and started. Now I am doing strength training as well and am built pretty well. The Wife gives this the big thumbs up. Winters are much more harsh on me now since my body fat is so low.
- A feeling of self appreciation - In my life there were very few things that I accomplished totally 100% on my own. This is one thing that I never had any help from anyone at and I am being successful in.
- More discipline - I am a fairly well disciplined individual, but going to class takes it to another level. There are a million reasons that I can think of to NOT go to class, but I always go. It doesn't matter if I am tired, sick, hurt or whatever, I always go.
- Self defense - Muay Thai is not the best self defense martial art out there, but there is a lot that can be used to defend yourself if in a predicament. I will say that it is more practical than Karate or Taekwando or some others, but it doesn't come close to Jeet Kune Do, Krav Maga, and there are probably more that I have missed. I am not here to bash any martial art and encourage people to do what they enjoy - Muay Thai is not for everyone. In the end, if you are dedicated to any martial art you are far ahead of 99.999% of the population - not only for your physical fitness, but because you can bring that dedication to your art into your personal life. I am very confident in my ability to defend myself in a hand to hand confrontation with most assailants, if nothing else due to the fact that I have been hit, kneed, elbowed and kicked for the past year and a half and know what it feels like and how to react. But if you don't keep up with your art and stay in shape, I don't see you using a martial art in a self defense situation. If I quit today and got attacked five years down the road I don't know how I would do.
Muay Thai teaches respect for your instructors, sparring partners, and people in general. What I like is that it doesn't go overboard with hero worship (we don't have sensei's or crap like that). Outside the classes and in breaks, we just call our instructors by their first name. I have made a lot of friends at the gym outside of my normal circle of people, and that is great for me. I am in the best shape of my life and am confident that using my skills and fitness that I can defend myself in a hand to hand situation if it were to occur. Being dedicated to MT requires a lot of discipline and effort, but is so rewarding in the end.
I give to Muay Thai, and Muay Thai gives back to me.