Muay Thai is an Option

12 May

by Mark England (2005-05-12)

Muay Thai is one of the greatest sports ever.It’s intense, demanding, exciting, and beautiful; the list can keep on going. But something else Muay Thai can be is an option. It can be an option for less positive/productive behavior like abusing drugs and alcohol.The intense practices and thrill of competition can be more than enough for people (and kids for that matter) to be inspired to make better life choices. I remember back in college when I started to stay in on weekend nights because I wanted to have a good practice the next morning.Muay Thai gave me an option other than happy hour and I can easily say that I didn’t miss a thing.

I am a PE teacher in Bangkok and the more time I get to spend around kids the more they simply amaze me.They are sponges to the 4th power that don’t miss a beat.Kids tend to idolize whoever they are around which puts those people in a very important position.We cuss they cuss.We act violently and so do they.It’s a lot like programming a computer which fortunately works just as well for teaching love and respect as for the less desirable attributes.Without question we lead our kids by our own example.

There in lies a problem and a solution for keeping our kids off drugs. It is the same reason why simply telling our kids to “just say no” doesn’t work.A solid formula for keeping our kid’s drug free has to be holistic.We have to tell them why they need to “say no”, show them that we ourselves “say no”, and give them ways to explore themselves in a positive fashion.A great way to do this is by taking them to the boxing gym (if you have already tried it than you know).Kids thrive on doing new things with people they look up to.They love just being around us while enjoying that safe comfortable feeling that every child needs.It’s got a lot to do with the association of feelings to the action they were doing when they felt that way.If a kid feels safe and supported when Dad or Uncle Steve takes them Thai boxing than he will subconsciously remember those feelings every time he or she goes in the gym.And if they have a natural affinity for the sport than they could be a lifelong practitioner and have one more reason to stay away from substance abuse (if a homegrown P.E. teacher from Virginia can grasp the concept anyone can).Here is one way it could work out: After a large stack of Saturday morning pancakes and OJ you walk up to a banana bag and fire of some kicks.Now that you have the little guys’ attention you turn and ask the future champ if they want to try.Eyes as big as saucers they will nod enthusiastically.They will be overwhelmed with the fact that you believe enough in them to let them try it out they almost burst with excitement.That has the makings of a special day that both of you won’t forget. I think everyone remembers their first practice and especially so if a super cool grown up was the one to take you.Basically it’s a great way to relate to kids and if you don’t watch out they just might teach you something as well.

Here in Bangkok some friends and I have been given a special opportunity to do just that.On Mondays and Wednesdays we teach Thai boxing to a group of beautiful boys and girls in Bangkok’s biggest slum (The Klong Toey slum).We have kids from 4 to 14 coming in to practice for a variety of reasons.Some kids come in for a little socializing, some come in for the after practice ice cream, and as fate and geography would have it we also have some up and coming fighters (one kid is 14 with 35 pro fights).Our organizations name is The Klong Toey Sports Program for Kids and we are into our second year of operation.What we have seen so far is impressive.With just two days a week practice and an occasional weekend trip to the swimming pool we have seen smiles get bigger, grades come up, and confidence soar.One 13 year old wasn’t in school when he first started coming into practice and to no surprise he wasn’t too happy either.After a year of two days a week practice he is starting to train at a full time gym down the street and is noticeably livelier and more out going.He has also taken on a leadership role in the classes and holds pads when need be. That is positive effect.

In conclusion Muay Thai has a lot to offer us and our children.It can be whatever someone needs it to be.Whether it’s for fitness purposes, hardcore competition, or making stronger connections with our kids Muay Thai is a winner.Thanks for your time and good luck to all Muay Thai stylists everywhere.

“Let us teach the children”

Peace from the East,

Mark England

I would like to make a quick note about one of our sponsors.As you might have guest Fairtex has been a major supporter of this program and the sole provider for all of our equipment needs.When I contacted them a year and a half ago asking for help it took them less than twenty four hours to get back to me with a resounding yes.Since then they have outfitted our gym with everything I have asked for.If you are part of the Fairtex family than you already know what a quality civic minded organization they are.After seeing how well there equipment has held up under the most demanding of circumstances I couldn’t recommend it more.Thanks a lot Fairtex.

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