It’s not every day you get to kick your boss in the stomach. Does it count if he has fair warning and wears appropriate protection?
I was encouraged to attack not only Derek, but also other members of The Greatist Team and even several strangers at our introduction to Muay Thai last weekend. Muay Thai’s a form of combat that comes from ancient Thailand, where it’s still the national sport. Down at Evolution Muay Thai in NYC, we learned the basics from studio owner Brandon Levi.
The class of about 30 included beginners and some more advanced fighters. (I fear my uncontrollable flinching as my partner prepared for a roundhouse kick revealed which camp I belonged to.) As we scurried in from the subzero weather outdoors, I set my Hawaiian-themed glass aside (was no one else confused by the name of the sport?), and got started with an intense 20-minute warm-up session.
Like kickboxing and other forms of mixed martial arts, Muay Thai’s about striking the opponent while standing. It involves eight points of contact— the hands, elbows, legs, and knees— and maneuvers like kicks, punches, knee strikes, and elbow thrusts. Levi had us partner up to practice the moves in short choreographed routines.
If we weren’t yet busting out clinches and neck wrestling (save that for when someone forgets to turn in an article), everyone at least looked hardcore in our combat gear: arm pads for defense and boxing gloves for throwing punches. We took turns blocking attacks and developing proper form with our kicks (hit your partner’s glove with the shin, Levi advised, so as not to break the tiny bones in your feet) and punches (always keep hands in front of the face for protection).
As we gathered round for some last-minute stretching, I half-hoped for a Karate Kid situation, where the hour of practice kicks and punches would suddenly translate to complete preparation for combat. No such luck. I guess that’s just incentive to return for another class.