6 months on…

Today marks my 6th month here in Thailand and it’s amazing how much things have changed…

When I first arrived, I never thought I would get over being home sick to the point where I just didn’t want to get out of bed. I was suffering from anxiety and depression and was still being medicated for these ailments. I was overweight from binge drinking and eating with my ex boyfriend over December and while I was fit, I wasn’t really fighting fit.

My physical condition is the thing I am most proud of at this stage. So far this year I have avoided any major injuries. I have suffered a bad sprain to my left ankle, jarred my right shoulder in clinching, and have narrowly avoided a stress fracture in my right ankle (my signature injury!). I have your usual bumps and bruises along the way, but nothing which has put my training at a complete standstill. The only two times I have stopped training was from being sick.

The first 4 months were tough. Whilst I managed to acclimatise myself quickly, the training was long and gruelling and I was struggling to keep up. My only saving grace was that I fought regularly when I first arrived here which meant a lot of extra rest days and only 8 or 9 days of intense fight training for each fight.

 

Now, I am probably the fittest I have ever been (in a fighting sense) and it is really showing in the ring. My last 4 opponents gassed as I continued to charge forward in the final rounds. My body is dealing with the training well which means I am now also lifting 3 times a week in an attempt to finally start shifting the last of my annoying body fat.

I dropped 4kg in the first 3 weeks of my being here but ever since then my weight loss has stalled. I have been so fortunate to have on board, my new nutritionist, who is assisting me in my nutrition to not only fuel myself for training, but to help me shift my body weight and composition. I’m still a long way off, but I am hoping to see some great changes in the 6 months to come.

Last night I watched back through the fights I have had this year (barring the one I await the video for). I watched them backwards. It was really interesting to see how my strengths had developed and how I seem to have lost some of my abilities along the way.

When I first arrived, I didn’t know how to clinch. I understood the basics but when you put me in there, I was clueless. My sparring was average, enough to hold my own against a basic fighter but I still didn’t know how to use all my power in the ring. As the fights progress, you notice that the sparring aspect of my fight game is now getting better, but what is the most surprising to me is that my clinching is what is winning me fights. The thing I was hopeless at 6 months ago has won me my last 4 fights against girls that are ultimately, better fighters than me!

I owe my clinching growth to the minor injuries I have had along the way. For a few fights, I was unable to spar which left me clinching twice a day. It really built my skills and turned them into muscle memory. I have a long way to go in my clinch game, however my current trainer, Kru Nai, is really focussing on my knees and clinching. He too believes it is what will make me a great fighter.

I was awarded the Bangla Stadium Championship belt this year and went on to defend that belt while avenging my only loss in my professional career.  It’s no world title but it’s fun and gives me something to work towards.  I have been awarded this belt 3 times now.

I’m still not the amazing fighter I want to be… but I feel like I am headed in the right direction. I no longer feel nerves before my fights, just happiness. If ever I feel a sense of doubt, or nervousness, I remind myself of where I am. I look around the stadium and it makes me smile. I’m living the life I want to be living, doing something I love.

I still get homesick – especially at the moment. It’s been a really long time since I have seen my friends and family. So much is happening at home that I am missing out on. Friends and family getting married and having babies. People following their own dreams. It makes me miss home. But not in the sickening way it did at the start of the year. I miss my gym and my all of my families back home, but there are not enough words to say how grateful I am, for the endless encouragement and love.

When my boyfriend left me, I was heartbroken. I still feel sad and I still miss him some days, despite how badly he hurt me. What I have realised though, is that it has provided me to opportunity to continue living out my dream. I can be here, I can fight, I can do this, for as long as I can make it happen. Everything else is secondary – and that’s ok. I have grappled with feelings of selfishness, for being here away from my loved ones. At the end of the day, my friends and families support echoes into my life here. I have not lost touch with my most valued family and friends back home and I’ve realised – that’s how it should be.

I am no longer medicated for my depression and anxiety. Some days I really struggle with it still – especially on days where the exhaustion from training has set in. All in all, I feel like being here has moved me into a place where I feel content and at peace. When you take the time to reflect on your life, both past and present, it makes it easy to see how good life is – especially when you are living your designer life!

I am keeping my brain active by learning Thai on the side. It’s getting better and I am enjoying it. I’m hoping to be semi fluent by the end of the year. Kru Nai is really interested in learning new words in English so I love our little training sessions with a side of Thai-English/English-Thai (or “opposite” as Kru Nai likes to call it).

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I have learnt to cook a vast array of foods in a rice cooker. Living in a 1 room situation means no cooking appliances, so I have been heavily reliant on my rice cooker and blender. I am excited to be moving into a new house today though – one with a kitchen!

My hair has become my signature. Each fight comes with a new colour – unfortunately the purple took to my hair like a dark pink, and I will have to start rotating colours – but it’s definitely become a bit of a thing. The trainers are always fascinated by my hair.

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In addition to Absolute MMA in Melbourne, I have also welcomed on board three new sponsors in the last few months. Elite Combat Nutrition – the guy that is going to help me get lean! Pure Energy and Kombat Cafe – the food that is going to fuel the beast! I will be eternally grateful for your contributions – you are all making my journey possible.

Finally – I am home. They say it takes 6 – 12 months to settle into a new place but I found over the last two months in particular, I have really felt at home here.  I do my grocery shopping as per usual. I do my washing as per usual. I know most of the local resturant and food vendors that I frequent and I can ride anywhere you can go on the island (with, or without a scooter overloaded with stuff!). Sinbi has become like family to me. The trainers, like big brothers, like to poke fun at me. The boss likes to pick on me too – by calling me big boy – or demoralising me in sparring. The friends I have made at training are amazing – and ones I will keep in touch with no matter where in the world I end up.

It’s been a crazy 6 months – full of exciting and terrifying change. I can’t wait to see where the rest of the year takes me.

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Photo credits to Dave Pritchard (Sinbi Muay Thai), Lisa Styles and Kelly Wendel

 

3 comments

  1. Freddy · · Reply

    Hei!
    i follow emmas and sylvies blogs and therefore came across urs aswell! Great read u got there! Im very excited about ur career n development so far and am very curious how ur journeys continue!

    just a little question. What’s ur training schedule in lifting look like? It isn’t that common for Thailand to implement heavy weight training, isn’t it? I came across very different opinions so far, ranging from avoid lifting to implement and ho for it as much as possible.
    for me personally lifting helps alot reduce body fat without bulking muscles.
    hence I was just curious how your lifting looks like.
    if u already posted about just let me,know the link, I haven’t yet looked in depth on ur blog!

    cheers to Thailand from good old Germany!

  2. Freddy · · Reply

    Hi Gemma!
    I recently started following ur blog. I follow Emmas and Sylvies and came across urs! Keep the posts going, I love to see how other girls do in the martial arts.
    Regarding this post- I was woondering how your lifting looks like? Since I started training I trained with various coaches, each of them haveing differnt opinions on lifting. Some say they would never recommend to lift, some incorporate it in regular fighter training.
    For me personally lifting helped a lot to get leaner and stronger (not that I am lean atm, lol).
    How is training/lifting schedule look like? Do u think u cld post about how that lifting goes- what weights u do and what ur improvements are?
    I also understand if u do not wish to post about ur specific training, Im just curious 🙂

    Cheers and regards from good old germany!

    Freddy

    1. Hi Freddy!
      I am so sorry for the delay in my reply – I didn’t get a notification that you had left a comment.
      You pose a very interesting question in terms of lifting and there are a lot of different opinions about lifting and Muay Thai. I would be happy to write a more detailed post about this for you!
      Thanks for following my journey! I’ll get the new post up for you as soon as I can 🙂
      Cheers!
      Gem

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