Only 3 hours after I had arrived in Thailand for the first time in my life, Grand Master Toddy told me to get in the ring. That’s how I began my first Muay Thai training lesson. As I was being taught the eleven punches of Muay Thai, I couldn’t stop muttering to myself: this is mental!
Originally I’m from Israel, but I’d been living in different places around Africa for the past couple of years. I had been trying my luck in all sorts of business ventures, but I wasn’t happy with myself. I was slowly discovering that “businessman” is not the kind of title that suited me at all.
How it all began… Leading up to my first Muay Thai training experience
At the time when the words “Muay Thai” first entered my vocabulary, I had been living in Addis Ababa (in Amharic: “New Flower”), the capital of Ethiopia, with my friend Ronnie – a 47 year old British war hero – and his two daughters, Tammy (11) and Melissa (5). Ronnie had travelled the world on his military pension until he decided to settle down in Ethiopia. As a single father he is now more concerned with pony-tails and training-bras than with fighting… but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a beast of man, who for many years taught people deadly combat skills.
When I started complaining about my physical fitness (lack of), he started showing me a thing or two that could be done with the human body (such as push-ups on your thumbs alone). I was embarrassed at barely being able to do anything at all on five fingers, and not to mention the fact that his daughters were showing me self-defense moves that I couldn’t counter (“My Kung-Fu Pandas”, Ronnie calls them…)
For me that was it. With my twenties coming to an end, I decided that it’s now or never to get into shape. Ronnie eagerly put together a fitness program to “beast me up”, and it was decided that I should pick up some form of martial art… I really wanted to see Thailand, and Ronnie had lived there for years and told me so much about it so it was a no-brainer for me. The first Muay Thai training seeds had been planted.
I sent about 50 emails to Muay Thai gyms in Thailand, trying to find out if I could stay long-term and have a professional training experience. To my extreme disappointment, all of their replies really put me off. Their English was a problem for starters, and they all seemed geared towards taking my money. The worst part for me was that in order to stay long-term, I would have to leave the country every month or so on an expensive and time consuming visa-run, which I did not like at all. It seemed as though my dream of coming to Thailand was coming to an end before my first Muay Thai training session even started… 🙁
Then came the email from Bryan and the Master Toddy Team in Bangkok, reassuring me that the gym is well-run, accredited by the Thailand Government: Ministry of Education, that they can help get me an educational visa for a year, and that Master Toddy, the legendary trainer of world champions, would be personally overseeing the whole thing. I did some research online and saw that what they were saying to me on emails was legit…
Yes! Very shortly after that I packed by bag and got myself to Bangkok, to have my very first Muay Thai training experience 🙂