Near Saad’s apartment was what appeared to be a gym, and he had long talked about checking it out. He talked about it a bit too long though, so I went and investigated it myself. It turned out to be a kickboxing and karate dojo, and after a short conversation with the head of it, I made plans for us to show up the next week. Monday rolled around, and we were there in our gym clothes ready to brawl. I had always wanted to know how I would fare in a fight, so something like kickboxing was a perfect opportunity. After a week or so, Ryan also started coming out for these good times.
There were a couple of others there, including this particularly smarmy student of mine that I’d have rather not been. The other people there were great though, and were all welcoming to our genuine lack of understanding. The communication wasn’t quite there, but we all had fun learning about the others’ cultures.
The practice started with some jumping rope, which we were pretty bad at. I guess that it has been a while since I’ve engaged in such activity. Once that finished, the cardio fun times continued. The first thing we did were a number of footwork exercises using a rope ladder. These were all sorts of different jumps and lunges and this wasn’t too bad. Then, we had to shuffle back and forth for a minute, followed by jumping lunges that really taxed the thighs. The last piece of the cardio portion were a number of different push ups. I wasn’t able to make it through the full set on that first visit, but by the end it was no problem for me.
We took photos after each practice for his blog.
Once our conditioning regimen was completed, we grabbed some pads and went forward with the drills. I was paired with an interesting guy named Yuya (front and center above) most of the time and we were pretty good together. These drills usually involved a certain series of punches followed by a kick or two. It was incredible how much more powerful their blows were than ours, even people significantly smaller. It was clear to me that I would need to spar with children if I had any hopes of coming up victorious. ‘Perhaps that one student of mine’, I dreamed to myself… I felt like I was able to get some decent form by the end and if given the chance could make someone hurt, though those other guys were lethal.
After we had been attending the twice weekly practices for a month, it was pitched that we should go to a beer garden together. We were excited about such an opportunity to hang out with some genuinely great guys. None of the people in attendance could speak much English, but they were all really open to any level of communication so it would still be a great evening. We gathered at The Chelsea, which is a really nice place used for banquets and weddings.
Everyone together, in what was not a very well lit room
It is situated atop a large hill, offering an incredible view out over Takamatsu. None of us had ever been there for food before, but it was clear that we would be dining fine. From the moment of our arrival, we started to eat and order drinks Ryan was unable to join us on this most joyous of occasions, so we decided to have all the fun without him.
Saad and myself having said fun
The conversation between everyone was great, impeded a bit by the language barrier, but I was able to help out my companion. Everything we consumed was exceptional, and the time spent as we did it flew by. Before long it was time to take a few more pictures before heading back home. It was summer vacation for us, but we both had to go to work the next day, so being out too late was not really in our best interest. Saad lived really close to The Chelsea, so after a short walk home it was time to sleep and recharge.
With our Sensei
Overall, I really enjoyed the chance to take part in a bit of Muay Thai. The people were fantastic and it was something I had long wanted to give a whirl. My only regret was that I hadn’t discover this place sooner. If I can find a good place to do it, I may continue my studies with the hope of actually entering the ring, just once maybe.