Today, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu of 8limbs.us came to train with me at Master Toddy’s. She and her husband, Kevin (as well as their lovely dog, Jai Dee) made the trip from Pattaya in time for morning training at 7:45, which I found pretty impressive, since they had to leave at around 5am to get here in time. They came to thank Master Toddy for setting up Sylvie’s upcoming fight on the Queen’s Birthday at Sanam Luang against Saya Ito, and it gave us a great opportunity not only to finally meet in person but also to do some training together. I’d been in contact with Sylvie for quite some time even before Under the Ropes existed, but only online. It was wonderful to finally meet her face to face. You can read her post on this here.
Almost immediately after they arrived, Sylvie and I got into some sparring. It was really great to be able to work with someone my size. In fact, Sylvie’s actually slightly smaller than me, which made it even more surreal. That’s certainly something that I’m not used to. We started off as we always do at our gym, with limited weapons, just using the left side. After that, more elements were added after every round. In between each one, Master Toddy gave us both instructions, things to work on and extra things to use, and both of us seemed to need to focus on following up after strikes. We’d both come out after landing something, or stay back after knocking each other off-balance instead of taking the opportunity to destroy the other. You could say that it might have something to do with sparring with a friend, but I know that it’s a consistent problem for me, so I’ve been consciously working on it. It’s nice to know that it’s not just me! It was great to work with Sylvie and I immediately felt that if we could do that all the time, it would be really beneficial, certainly for me, but perhaps even for both of us. It’s just so rare to have someone else my size, especially a female. That, coupled with her wealth of experience, made her a great sparring partner for me.
After sparring, we did some bagwork before padwork with Kru Singh. Sylvie went in before I did, so I took a round to watch her on the pads, as did half of the gym! (See below for video). It’s always a compliment to a fighter when people stop to watch them work. The thing that I think everyone found very surprising about Sylvie is how much power she has for such a small person. I can see where she got her ‘Prikkinu’ nickname from! Tiny, but powerful. I certainly felt it a few times in sparring, but this became even more apparent when we did some clinching. Holy hell, that girl is strong. While I held my own in sparring with her, she completely and utterly destroyed me in the clinch. I loved it, though. You’d be surprised at how much fun you can have while getting your ass kicked when you know you’re learning something. I gathered from following Sylvie’s extensive documentation of her fights and training that I would have to avoid letting her rush in or clinch, because that seems to be when she really lights her opponents up, so I was trying to work on keeping my feet moving and turning (although, I’m not sure how well I executed that!) After training with her, I can clarify that her knees are just as deadly as they look and her skill in the clinch is pretty amazing, something she says has improved greatly since she began training with Phet Jee Ja, the unstoppable ‘little girl who fights boys’.
Here’s a video from Sylvie’s Youtube channel of her doing a round of padwork with one of my trainers, Kru Singh, as well as a few photos that I took.
After training, we all grabbed some lunch at Oh La La Cafe at Onnut, one of my favourite lunch spots. I take pretty much everyone who visits the gym there, so the staff there are used to me turning up with various fighters. It was wonderful to sit with Sylvie and Kevin for a while and just talk Muay Thai. Not only that, but to do it face-to-face rather than online, as we always do. They are both really lovely. It’s always great to link up with like-minded people and they are a couple who I have been meaning to meet for quite some time. I’m really happy that we got to meet and I most certainly intend to make it a more regular thing, since they have recently moved to nearby Pattaya and I have just reduced my working hours to part-time. We really have no excuse not to. It was also a meeting of Muay Thai dogs as Sylvie and Kevin’s recently adopted puppy Jai Dee got to meet Cloud, the gym’s pitbull cross who belongs to one of our fighters, Jesse. There’s also a tiny chihauha at the gym, Jipjoy, who belongs to Master Toddy. However, she’s not interested in making friends with other dogs (she’s far too much of a princess), which always makes Cloud sad because he just wants to play. So, it was nice that he had a friend to hang out with for a while. I didn’t manage to get a picture of them together (dammit), but there’s some individual photos of them below. All in all, today was rather wonderful and something I hope we can repeat in the not too distant future. Again, be sure to read Sylvie’s post on it, she wrote about her experience of meeting and training with Master Toddy for the first time and also has some nice videos in there. I’ll be seeing her again at her fight on the Queen’s birthday.