Saturday, 23 March 2013

We Go Up A Level…Aka The Intermediate Muay Thai Class At Tiger

Sure enough, after a couple more beginners sessions with Mr Miyagi (coincidentally almost  carbon copies of the first lesson, complete with infidelity tales) we got bumped up to the Intermediate level.

It’s not like a friendly graduation thing, the trainer literally accosts you during the warmup, frogmarches you round the corner, and deposits you on the mat of the new class. Anyway, we were promoted.

The Intermediate class runs roughly in the same format as the Beginners one, with “runs” being the operative word.

We were hoping that the get fit onslaught would drop and the technique-finessing element rise in honor of our new status – we swiftly found it was just more intense all round. 
As a swift numerical breakdown:

1) Running. Of course. Heels, knees, arm swinging, all that jazz.

      2) Stretching, and a chance to look at your sweaty, grimacing face in the mirror.

3) Wraps on (nothing makes you feel like a lady more than having someone wrap your hands for you. A marriage proposal perhaps), gloves on, and then partner-based combination drills. Again, your partner is largely picked for you – you’ll understand who you’ve been matched with because the krus will point wildly and occasionally just shove you in the right direction.

      4)  Shadow boxing. Works a bit like X Factor, they watch you and decide which trainer will take you on the pads for the next bit.

5) Three rounds of padwork (we’re guessing they were about five minutes each), interspersed with twenty press-ups in between. As before, how this goes largely depends on who you get as a trainer – one guy helped tidy up my narrow stance, another just yelled “20 left kicks, 20 right kicks, 20 left kicks, 20 right kicks,” continuously at me, followed by, “You smoke cigarettes?” (I don’t) when I gave him the “I am not enjoying this in any way" face.

      6) Three fiveish minute rounds on the bags, interspersed with 20 press-ups.  Often with mandatory continuous jumping knees, and shouts of “more power, more POWER” as a backdrop.

7) Three rounds of sparring.  At this point most people will be able to have a go at sparring (the beginners class housed a few non-starters on that front) – Andy’s end of the room was speckled with more technical, fluid ability (and a few “win at all costs” aggressive types), my side of the mat looked somewhat more awkward and ill-timed.

      8) 30 minutes of lactic acid inspiring fitness drills. Often with a partner – could be continuous kicks, continuous press-up variants, split-lunging jumping stuff, or hopping on one leg back and forth across the room. Whatever it is, it will burn like a mother (bear in mind this is not generally a point in the class that you wish to embrace cardio).

      9) 300 situps and 200 pressups.

Tuesday and Thursday afternoons are “Clinch Days”, which means you skip the shadow boxing but get two ten minute rounds of continuous clinch sparring instead, followed by laps around the outside of the gym.

In terms of the fitness, and this is a personal thing here, I found it problematic. By this point we were taking two bottles of water (one frozen cold, one filled with rehydration salts, which are sold everywhere on the street) to the class, which certainly helped. I was also taking magnesium supplements to help with muscle recovery. But it’s no secret that I’m not of optimum fight age, and I found that 2.5 hours at such intensity was too long, or at least too long to recover enough to train again the next day.

So, despite having fantasised about training twice daily all through January (particularly whilst stuffing my chops at Christmas), what actually happened involved quite a lot of time out, yoga sessions and massage before I could take on another high intensity stint.

For me, a schedule where the technique is split away from the conditioning elements (perhaps in back to back sessions that you can opt in or out of) might have been more workable in terms of everyday training.

And again, from a very personal perspective, I’ll admit I didn’t find these group classes the quickest way to fine tune my technique.

As mentioned a couple of posts ago, I already had some basic Muay Thai knowledge, gleaned from various sources over the years. But whilst I can theoretically string together combinations of basic punches, I am painfully aware that my form looks like that of gibbon full of Red Bull.  So yes, I need some definite sparring practice to find out if those combinations are impractical, but I also need someone to take me aside and say things like, “What’s with these wildly flapping elbows?” “Stop looking off into the middle distance” and “You’ll break your hand if you keep hitting things like that”.

Tiger teach hundreds upon hundreds of folk a week, and the machine-line nature of their business, coupled with the large class numbers, means it’s really hard to build any kind of ongoing training relationship with a singular trainer.

Perhaps if I’d attended on a more continuous basis (see the paragraph above), or bought in to a 10 class privates package, some kind of rapport might have developed. There were certainly a couple of trainers who volunteered advice whilst training (Andy maintains I got roughly ten times more interest than him, on account of my feminine charms).

But, and it pains me to break the hearts of Tiger aspirants across the globe, those were the noteworthy ones.

And in general, there were just as many who looked, well, a bit bored, with teaching hapless farangs.

Three weeks in and the ratio of broken body:learning wasn’t quite working for me.  It was time to rejig my training plans again…

No comments:

Post a Comment