Since returning to North America I’m continually asked about my present muay thai training – where I’m training, how my training is going and if I’m teaching. The answer to it all is that I have yet to train or teach muay thai. I need a break. The break isn’t from the art of muay thai, the art in itself remains beautiful to me. Rather, the time away necessary is from the current culture of the sport of muay thai. This culture differs greatly from what is idealized in the West and what by some, is considered the only truth. There are aspects of it and at times I had access, but when I think of stepping into any muay thai gym on any continent at this point in time, what I feel most, is tired.
When I arrived in Windsor I researched muay thai gyms in the city. There aren’t any here. Windsor has a number of other fight sport facilities including MMA gyms. I considered calling some to inquire about hours students could work bags outside of a structured class. I wanted to continue to shape the skills I honed in Thailand. The thought of it created some stress. Returning to North American life was a difficult period for me. I was dealing with the effects of re-entry shock. However, what I couldn’t get out of my mind was the prospect of me, female, petite by North American standards, stepping into a gym and having just one guy, any guy, patronize me or fully and publicly disrespect me. Simple. Nothing I haven’t dealt with before from Western men within the context of muay thai or other male defined spaces, yet this time, in 2012, I was a raw nerve. I wouldn’t be able to laugh it off. Correct an assumption. Ignore it. The only thought that came to me was, I’d make that *#**#**** cry. Not from physical pain, I’d simply liquidate something inside of him. Even for a moment.
A break was needed. I’d be potential poison walking into any gym.
As a result, I spent the next approximate seven months training myself. I didn’t have access to a bag yet wanted to maintain my physical strength. I decided on something easy and effective.
I followed the following workout 5x/week, then moved to every other day:
I’d add anything I wanted to and/or replace either the pushups or squats with another body weight exercise for variety. Abs were a variety of movements including but not limited to sit-ups.
That being said, thoughts persisted of stepping into a gym. I started training muay thai in 2004 (I believe). During my pre-nomadic, pre-Thailand days, I cross trained in a variety of practices – yoga, Pilates, spinning, Egyptian dance, whatever I felt like. I had been lifting weights since highschool. What was it that I needed now?
I realized what was lacking in my life was the feminine. I had spent the past 3.5 years training almost exclusively with men. I didn’t train with another female the last 2.5 years in Buriram. When I’d sense not think what it was I needed, I envisioned happy, non-judgmental women to hang out with. So I found a studio. I found Studio Kelani. It was the only studio within walking distance of my current residence. As things turned out, it was exactly what I needed.
Thailand is a country that very much celebrates the feminine, but a feminine tightly defined. What comes to mind is colour. The feminine in Thailand is a beautiful, soft pink. What I found stepping between the walls of Studio Kelani was acceptance of the feminine in all forms. And a celebration of the red.
Next week, expect an interview with Studio Kelani owner Ioana on Kelani, wellness, simplicity and service followed by an interview with Studio Kelani instructor Jen Nardone on Barefoot Ballet/Pilates and innovation.