As a fighter, your trainer is everything to you. He or she sweats it out with you every single day, putting in just as much hard work and dedication as you do. You work constantly work together to carve yourself into the best fighter you can be, and perhaps even a shadow of him. It’s an emotional process, and one that creates a bond that is hard to understand by those outside of Muay Thai. Your trainer lives through you, and you live through him. He sees you through some of your most difficult moments, and takes you to your greatest ones. During fighting, training, and sometimes just every-day life, every emotion that you feel is shared with you by that person. On the days when you just can’t seem to get a certain technique right, and you’re so frustrated you want to cry, your trainer is there to assure you it will come with time. On the days when everything comes together, and you can see yourself edging closer to the fighter you want to be, your trainer is there to make sure you keep going. During the triumphant wins, when all of the blood, sweat and tears that you’ve both put in pay off, the glory and pride are equally felt by both of you, as are the frustration and disappointment that sometimes come with the losses. For those reasons, your trainer is often the person who knows you better than anyone else.
For me, this applies not only to Master Toddy, but also the trainer who has always held pads for me and cornered me for my fights alongside him. Together with Master Toddy, he took me from a total beginner and moulded me into a fighter. They both helped me to become a totally different person, and one I never thought I could be. As the person who worked closest with me in the ring, I’ve shared experiences with him that I’ve shared with very few other people. As a teacher myself, I can understand how seeing me progress has been as much of a journey for him as it has for me. I respect him like a father, love him like a brother, and treasure him as a friend.
Unfortunately, a few months ago I suddenly found myself left without him. The reasons for this are not something that I feel are important to write about. However, I do feel that it is important to share how that affected me.
As a young woman who has come to Thailand alone to live the combination of lives of a fighter and a teacher, a social life is not something I have time for. As a result, there are very few people here whom I regard to be close to me. My trainer is one of them, and probably the most significant. Therefore, to suddenly find myself no longer under his tutelage left me feeling slightly lost at first. The idea of fighting without him is one that I was apprehensive about, to say the least. He was with me since day one, for almost a year and a half, so to continue my journey without him felt alien to me. Needless to say, there certainly were some tears on my part. In fact, it’s difficult for me to describe how losing him as a trainer made me feel. However, I couldn’t allow his absence to deter me from my goal. Over the last year and a half, I’ve been able to take a great deal of knowledge from him, and that will always stay with me. I am confident that what he’s already given me will serve me well for the rest of my fighting career. Also, Master Toddy of course remains as my main influence, not only as a teacher but as a second father and something of a life coach, so that always remains constant, and that is enough for me.
Living in a foreign country often means living a temporary lifestyle, or being surrounded by others who are. Circles of friends are constantly changing, as people come and go. I am used to people making unexpected departures from my life. The majority of my friends have now moved on from Bangkok, many of them leaving for jobs in other countries, relationships, or due to financial issues, visa problems, or simply growing tired of Thailand. Therefore, I’ve grown used to adapting to sudden changes in my social circle, and having to make do without people who are important to me. Sometimes, it almost feels dangerous to get attached to people. However, I never expected my trainer to be one of those people.
After spending some time feeling down about such an unexpected change in my life, one thing became clear. You can’t rely on one person to help you achieve your ambitions, and then drop them because of their absence. Ultimately, it comes down to you. Persevering, adapting, growing and succeeding the face of change and adversity are what build character, and although I am sad to have made this change, I know it’s the start of a new phase in my journey. In a strange way, I’m almost excited to see where it will take me.