This post proceeds Part 1, Some Things To Consider Before You Go. In Part 1 the major question at hand was, What are you really looking for? The next step is to consider what you can take.
What Can You Really Handle?
It’s imperative that you’re completely honest during this part of your process. Refusing to be anything less than authentic will set you in the direction of choosing the wrong gym, the wrong living environment and essentially sabotaging your goals. How? You risk not being 100% present. You risk adding unnecessary drama to your life. You risk being overwhelmed by fear. You risk physical injury. Please don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
Some questions to assist you:
What Can You Physically Take?
Can you run twice daily? How many kilometers per day – 5km, 10km, 15km, 20km? Are you injured? Do you have any physical challenges that may set you back in specific environments (ie. asthma)? Do you have food restrictions? Can you train twice daily in addition to running? Are you able to train hard, meaning hit a bag, do five rounds with a trainer and clinch for a total of three hours straight? Can you train on concrete? Are you able to train six days a week or do you need to take days off? How many days off? Don’t know? That’s okay. Write everything down including what you may not have the answers to. Pay attention to feelings, thoughts and questions that arise. Investigate them. Really think about everything. There are no weak thoughts or answers here. The goal is to determine your physical starting point and any starting point is fine. If an aspect is getting you down, use it as motivation in your current training. In a future post I’ll discuss how to prepare for Thailand so don’t stress about it now. There are muay thai training camps throughout the country that cater to people of all levels. The idea is find the one that is right for you.
What Type Of Living Environment Can You Deal With?
Can you handle living and training with other fighters for the duration of your stay? This means constantly being with the same people including while you’re sleeping (which will be in between sessions if you train twice daily and at night). For men, some gyms have all of the fighters sleep together in rooms stacked with bunk beds. How about shared accommodations with a roommate? More than one roommate? Can you handle random foreign roommates decided by the gym to share a room with you? Do you need privacy? Do you want to live at the gym or live offsite? How about at a gym owner’s house? Can you live with roaches? Rats? How far are you willing to travel to the gym? Can you eat only Thai food? Do you need other food options? How much noise can you live with? Can you sleep in an environment with barking dogs? Roosters? Can you take living without aircon? How about a strictly enforced curfew? Can you be the only foreigner? Can you handle being in an environment where most, if not all people can’t speak English? Can you thrive in an environment where partying is not acceptable? Can you walk everywhere? Can you drive a motorbike? What about living in an area with little to no public transportation? Rural life? Urban sprawl?
What Can You Mentally Take?
Can you work independently? Can you focus without someone ordering you to? Can you motivate yourself? Do you need positive reinforcement? How often? Can you be ignored for all but the five rounds of your training time? Are you fine being the odd one out be it due to your genetics or language barriers? Can you handle isolation? How about living in a new culture? Are you comfortable with traditional Thai culture or do you need an environment that is accustomed to Western norms? How do you deal with criticism? Can you control your temper? Your frustration? How about authority? Can you submit to your trainer although their instruction conflicts with what you believe to be correct? Can you share? Can you handle slack days? Are there people and situations you don’t like being around? What are they? Are you susceptible to potentially destructive temptations? Identify them. Alcohol? Drugs? Sex? Is there something I’ve missed that you need? Need to avoid? Fear?
Again, there are no wrong answers here.
Traditional Thai culture may be a challenge for some women as Western notions of gender equality aren’t commonplace. Thailand’s culture is currently one of transition with traditional patriarchal values and notions of modernity dancing various dances.
Some questions to consider:
How do you feel being treated differently than men? Can you handle always having to wait until every man has worked with a trainer before you go on pads? Can you accept being taught less? How about not being allowed to clinch? Or sometimes being allowed to clinch? How about only being allowed to clinch with young boys? Or only other foreign women and never with Thais? Can you accept not training in the ring? Not being allowed to stand with your head above the ropes? Can you submit to entering the ring under the lowest rope? How about not being promoted and encouraged like the foreign men in the gym regardless of your abilities? Will you accept making less money for your fights? Can you take teasing? How do you feel about flirting in the gym? Dating in the gym? Being judged differently regarding sex than men (ie. double standards of what is appropriate)? Can you be the only female? How about not being allowed to live at a gym? Are you okay with living alone if need be?
In a future post I’ll take you through the process of aligning what it is you really want with what it is you can really handle. Doing so will set a foundation for choosing the right gym, in the right area, for the right period of time, specific to you. Please remember, there are a lot of muay thai training options in Thailand so don’t let any of the above questions fill you with anxiety. I realize some of the questions may be perceived as negative and/or harsh but they’re necessary to the process. Many of these questions are ones I wish I knew were even considerations before I left for Thailand. If you’re really serious about training muay thai in Thailand, the listed questions are important ones to consider.