As a fighter, your trainer is everything to you.
They sweat 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 them. 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 them. They see you through some of your most difficult moments, and build you up to your greatest ones.
During fighting, training, and sometimes just everyday life, your trainer shares your emotions. 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.
My trainer took me from a total beginner and moulded me into a fighter. He helped me become a totally different version of myself, and one I’d never imagined 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’s important to share how that affected me.
As a young woman who’s come to Thailand alone to live the combination of lives of a fighter and a teacher, a social life is not something I have much time for. As a result, there are very few people here who are 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. 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’m confident that what he’s already given me will serve me well for the rest of my fighting career.
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’m used to people making unexpected departures from my life. Many 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 those ambitions 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 what’s next for me.
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This is an interesting sequel to your last post on the importance of loyalty and I agree that there is equal importance on self-direction, especially in the ephemeral world of a Thai gym, where the turnover is quite high on a number of levels. I’ve tried to mentally prepare myself and make plans for if my main trainers ever left or if I had to leave my gym for some reason. It’s horrible to think about and I respect very much how you’ve handled it. It’s a painful experience. In my case, I was the one who left when I came to Thailand and I miss Master K immensely, but I also know that what he gave me (and what he continues to give me) is what fuels my progression – it’s not left behind.
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