J. really enjoys Muy Thai. It turns out that he really wants to get into the sparring side of the sport (I’m more interested in the physical conditioning.) That happens in the invite-only Friday night class. I’m proud to say that he’s improved so much over this last year he was invited to go.
Before I go further, I want to give you a glimpse of our instructor, JS. JS is in his mid 30s and incredibly fit. He is strong, fast and a superb instructor. When he works out with you, he is holding back anywhere from 90 to 50 percent, depending on your skill, strength, and readiness. At my best, I could take about 50% from him (and that was a lot.)
So, sparring with JS is a serious affair — it requires a mouthguard, cup, and head gear. It also involves getting hit, deliberately, so you come to understand that you can get hurt and still keep going. J had a breakthrough about it, in his words:
“So, I’m working out with JS and we’re doing jabs and covers. I stopped and said “JS, I want to say something, and I want to be very careful, and clear, about how I put this. I really want to do the Friday class, but I think I need to get hit first. By you, rather than a stranger.
JS looks at him a moment, and replies: “Let me get this straight. Are you asking me to ‘go off’ on you?”
“God no! Just, ummm, get me used to getting hit.”
(JS going off on J is like a Rottweiler attacking a Boxer.)
Ok, another story to amuse:
Last week, J was feeling pretty tired in class, so he was paired with a grandmother, M. Yes, I’m serious, she is a grandmother. But M is also a fitness trainer in superb condition. She’s new to Muy Thai and so isn’t used to getting kicked and punched. They were doing high covers and J was being careful to connect, but not too hard. So M says, “you can hit me harder, I can take it.” J steels himself and hits her harder — enough so that her head kind of wobbles back and forth and she’s a touch dazed. “That’s perfect,” M says.
“I’m going to hell” J thinks, “I’m hitting a grandmother.”