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So, I’m on my way to training this morning on my motorbike, and up ahead I hear an explosion, and see a huge cloud of smoke. Then I hear what sounded like rapid fire from an automatic weapon.
I’m not sure why, but I continued on toward the cloud of smoke. I saw a procession of people all dressed in white, walking down the middle of the road. There must have been 300-500 of them. They were marching, and traffic just went through them and around them. It was a parade.
When I got to the cloud of smoke, the group lit off another flash-bang, and another massive set of firecrackers. (Asians have the best fireworks!!)
People were lining the street, and would give food offerings to those in the parade. Many of those in the parade had all sorts of strange things pierced through their faces. The parade was marching right down the middle of the road, and traffic was not blocked from them…they just shared the road. Only in Thailand!
Apparently, it is Vegetarian week in the South of Thailand. According to the manager of the hotel I am staying in, Southern Thais follow a little bit different version of Buddhism than Northern Thais. I imagine this is similar to Southern Baptists and any other form of Christianity. They share the same general belief, but do not agree on how to actually worship it? I am no religious scholar.
Eventually, I made it to Tiger Muay Thai. I was feeling pretty good about training this morning until I saw a GIANT walk in. This guy was HUGE, and he was putting on hand wraps. That meant he was going to be in my class, and I KNOW these Thai trainers all too well…He was going to be MY partner.
We have to run for 20 minutes before class starts every day. It’s 4-5 laps around the training compound. I have a bad back and bad knees, so running is possibly my least favorite thing to do in the world. My back hurts for 3 days every time I do any extended running, so I take it nice and slow. I almost NEVER pass anyone when doing this run, but I found myself passing the GIANT for the second time. I thought I would make nice with the guy, so I made a comment about how since his legs are twice as long, shouldn’t he be going twice as fast? He just looked over at my and gave me a dirty look. I could tell we were going to become close friends.
When we were ready to do Thai pad rounds, I asked one of the older trainers if I could go with him. He said ‘No…You too much power.’ I was flattered, but assured him I would Sabai Sabai (Relax, Relax), so he said ok. I had three super mellow, Thai pad rounds with him, which was kind of nice, I hadn’t realized how stiff my back was from the run, and all of the intense sparring from yesterday until we started. So pairing up with him was actually something that happened at the right time and right place for me. Especially when I learned what a D-Bag the giant was to spar with.
My first round wasn’t against the GIANT, but we were put into the same group, meaning four of us would go up into the ring. We would pair up, and then rotate until you have sparred everyone else in the group.
Round one, was the tougher of the ‘Stans’ vs Goliath, and me against one of the Chinese ‘Trainers’. I could see that stan and the giant going at one another like I had expected, while the Chinese guy was REALLY, REALLY bad. He would turn his head with the slightest contact. He had zero technique, and should not have been allowed to spar even in the beginner class. I was going super light on him, but he would want to stop after every time I touched him. All of the trainers were watching the stan and the giant, so after our round, I went over and told Robert (The head trainer for the advanced group) that if he let this Chinese kid spar either one of the other two, they were going to kill him. Of course, he ignored me. And of course, 10 seconds into the second round, the Chinese kid was laid out flat on his back, wondering what day it was.
The giant has a wingspan that is AT LEAST twice mine. He came out and cracked my in the face, right off the bat. It got more contentious from there. He was throwing some heavy leather, so I caught him with one of my patented axe kicks. He started crying about how axe kicks are not allowed in sparring. I said WHAT?!? You are three times my size, and you just kicked me with a roundhouse to the head, but Axe Kicks are ‘illegal’??? Whatever! He then threw a pretty hard body kick, which I caught and attempted to sweep him with. His leg was so long, that I couldn’t even come close to sweeping his other leg. He freaking lit me up. He punched me in the head with about 15 unanswered shots, while I continued to try to sweep him. He started yelling, ‘Don’t catch me, Don’t catch me’ while raining down a barrage of punches. I was too fucking stubborn to let his leg go…I was going to get that sweep God Damnit!! I didn’t get it, and have some pretty good marks on my face from his barrage of punches to show for it. It was fun. Goliath 1 Mike 0…until NEXT TIME!!!
I went with the ‘Stan’ for my third round. He was a lot better today than he was yesterday. I take back what I said about him. He is still a D-bag, but he was tougher today than I remember him being yesterday. He looks a bit like Dan Henderson, one of my all-time favorite fighters. He is, however, no Dan Henderson! He is REALLY, REALLY bad in the clinch. Looking back, that is how I roughed him up yesterday. Today, he was a lot harder to get in the clinch. He didn’t engage in close quarters. Used better footwork to avoid the clinch, and was all around a better fighter today. It didn’t hurt that I had just gone against Andre the Giant, while he rested after KOing the Chinese kid, but I give him his props. He is definitely a gamer.
After training, Hahn and Bubble stopped by my hotel while I was sleeping. I love seeing her little face. They are picking me up in the morning to go to the Buddhist temple, and then the festival associated with the Vegetarian week.

It is super nice to have Thai friends that can take you to things like this in order to really experience Thailand. I was also blessed with making another friend here at the hotel. The manager, Rosecy, and her husband took me to the fishing store yesterday to pick up some fishing gear. They have offered to take me with them when they go fish in the sea, which I am totally stoked for. But, for now, I have all of my gear set-up and ready to fish next weekend on the lake next to my hotel.

The Author, Mike Stidham, owns and operates the Ultimate Combat Training Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. UCTC offers classes in Boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA, as well as a wide range of Fitness classes to Men, Women, Children, groups, and private lessons.

 



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