I recently read an article discussing all the things women have to say goodbye to because they train Muay Thai. While I agree, Muay Thai does make it a bit more difficult to be super girly, I don’t think it is or should be an either or. And this goes for guys, too. I don’t think that just because you are a Muay Thai fighter you have to give up being other parts of yourself, even if it may be difficult to keep those other parts intact. Now, the author does say she knows other fighters have probably found ways around around training and fighting to connect with other parts of themselves or do their hair or their makeup or their nails, but it got me thinking.. do other girls think like this? Maybe there’s a girl or guy out there that wants to train Muay Thai, but thinks they’ll have to give up certain parts of who they are to do it. You certainly have to make a commitment and bend and morph things to fit your new lifestyle, but you can definitely have it all, if you want it.
If Muay Thai has taught me anything, it has taught me the importance of balance.
Muay Thai culture, tradition, training, and fighting is riddled with this idea of balance. Finding your center in your stance, being able to raise your leg at any time in order to check, sealing the ring, the Wai Kru, combinations, conditioning; everything has some sort of connection to balance. When you think about fighting, you can’t just think about your moves, you have to think about the counter, the balance between you and your opponent. So, why should this balance stop outside of training?
A Muay Thai fighter is more than just the sport. A good fighter has to have balance that goes beyond the ring. They need to exercise their mind, as does a non-fighter, to realize their strengths and weaknesses. That means getting up in the morning and training and then going to do something else! Whether that’s getting a cup of coffee and reading, or going to work, or school. Life isn’t just sprint kicks and pad work.
You have to strike the balance.
And I get it. It’s hard doing two a days, six days a week. (Especially, if you are weight cutting.) But after going through a fight camp where I didn’t really value myself as Jillian the human being and only being Jillian the fighter, I realized I neglected a huge part of myself because it was just too much effort. I was too tired to get dressed in anything other than sweats in the middle of the day to work at the gym, too tired to wear makeup, too tired to read or socialize. I was a Muay Thai zombie. Until the weekends.
I started working at a clothing store again. On Saturdays and Sundays, I connected with my other side, my girly side. Clothes that weren’t Thai shorts felt foreign to me and make up? Urgh. I dreaded it. I was so tired and so hungry and it just was so much effort to pick something out and put on makeup and do my hair and look presentable in the eyes of society and blahblahblah. But looking back- it was my attitude, not the activity. Yes, I was under a lot of stress, but instead of looking at my job as an outlet for my creativity, as my balance, I looked at it like it was punishment.
Any moment, any situation, can be looked at from thousands of different viewpoints, tainted with thousands of different opinions, colored by thousands of different voices. But really there are two outlooks with tons of variations- positive or negative. You can choose to see an obstacle in front of you as the worst thing that has ever happened to you or you can see it as a challenge.
SO, you want to be a Muay Thai fighter, yes? Don’t lose yourself in the process. Don’t lose pride in yourself. See your new life style as an opportunity to play with all the intricate little details that make you you, not as stress or punishment. Wear a dress or new shirt to work at the gym, even though it’s not the norm or people will look at you funny. Who cares. Wear it if it makes you feel great and confident, instead of tired and grouchy. Do your hair, at least brush it. If make-up used to make you feel pretty and confident, wear it. If you never did and never will, continue to rock it. If you love being outside, find a way to work it into your training. As amazing and awesome it is to discuss Muay Thai with everyone you meet… don’t let just Muay Thai rule your conversation, find other things to enrich your mind and your life. It’ll pay off in the ring.
I don’t mean to say that the author of the article I referred to earlier isn’t living a balance life or needs to change. Every person is different and different things balance our souls. Just take a look at your own life, does it feel like you’re missing something or you’ve given something completely up that used to make you happy? Change that. Rearrange things until you fit perfectly into all aspects of your life. If you haven’t given Muay Thai a go yet or if you have and you haven’t considered fighting because you feel like it will take over your life… you’re right, it will. BUT, it doesn’t mean you have to neglect or lose parts of your you. It just means you have to take a little step back and find a balance.