My journey with Bang Muay Thai kickboxing began right after Christmas. My friends and I went to the local fight night and watched a variety of fights in a boxing ring. During one of the fights, my friend leans over and says, “I could see you up there doing that! You should!” It was so sincere that it made think. We got brave and joined the BMT gym. Eight months later we’re still kicking. (Get it!?)
I know nothing about anything, so it’s pretty embarrassing being me. I don’t really think that, but it just feels that way sometimes. Especially when you decide to try something new. Being the new kid is the worst. I was terrified the first couple weeks of kickboxing. My drive to the gym would be a mix of breathing techniques, cursing, and prayer. Eventually going felt more valuable than my fear.
It was scary on the outside, but sweet on the inside. When I first started kickboxing, each punch and kick felt like being introduced to a new character. Each character had a different purpose and played a role. As the punches and kicks link together into different combinations it feels like your characters start to tell a story. Then you add footwork, such as stepping forward and backwards. It becomes choreography and after a while you’ve learned a new dance. When your story and dance runs smoothly together at the same time, we call it “flowing”. When you flow, each combination lets you bring a story to life. Even though you are using rough, tough athletic abilities there is a poetic quality to feeling yourself express it. Scary, but sweet.
After being in kickboxing for two minutes you learn that being new was the good times. You were optimistic then, it was a sort of honeymoon phase. After a while you realize every time you walk into class it’s a neverending abyss of self improvement. Even learning how to hold mitts for others is hard, but brings well-rounded success. When I help a newer person, kickboxing doesn’t feel like a story anymore. Each of their various punches and kicks feels more like I’m helping them recognize a musical note. As I hold mitts for them and sing them through their story, eventually I stop and make them sing it back. Once they get more comfortable and relax a little, they find a natural tune. One of my favorite things is watching new people discover their own song.
I always think I’m doing pretty good in my new journey until I have an off day or someone better (who is everyone) comes along. My attitude is the equivalent to a first grader. I’m super proud of my cow picture, but once you show me your Mona Lisa, I’ll stomp off and crumple up mine. I was always different growing up, so I’ve learned to thrive in uncomfortable situations. It’s when I feel insecure, pay more attention to my vulnerability than my abilities, or accept myself as a failure that stops any growth from happening. In most physical activities there is no glass ceiling. You just have to show up and get better then when you walked in. Not better compared to someone else, but better for yourself. It’s practice.
Muay Thai is a type of warfare that I probably won’t use in the grocery store. Although it is Back-to-School shopping season and I am the mom that buys last minute, so it’s debatable. I’m most likely not going to become a cage fighter. I’m too nerdy. I ate cheesy eggs for breakfast and a string of cheese pulled back and did a slingshot onto my glasses. I always wave to the wrong people on accident. I wave at people waving at me that are actually waving at someone behind me. I have zero upper body tattoos. In Mixed Martial Arts culture I don’t think anybody has time for that. Yet somehow I’ve made it my passion, so none of that really matters.
Here’s the thing: Do you have a passion? Something that brings you joy, peace, or balance? A lot of these things can be found easily. In my case it was an accident, which is why it’s nice to find something you love that feels natural. I naturally like Taco Bell more than I enjoy hard work, so imagine my surprise when hard work felt rewarding. If something inside you feels right, do you explore it or stay safe? Both are dangerous when you think about it, but it’s different for everybody. Kickboxing helped me fall in love with my own story and sing my own song, so it’s worthy of my time. Until I feel stuck and get mad and throw a fit. Big thanks to AK-49 Martial Arts for putting up with me.