We all started somewhere. Read our very own Mark “Snuggles” Sayer’s story of his experience fighting with the best in Thailand, and the lessons he learned. Enjoy!
At one point, we were all beginners.
But let’s say you’ve been boxing and training for about a year and you are feeling increasingly confident. You’ve come to crave a good training session. The days after class your body no longer feels like it was hit by a car. “Jab,” “cross,” “slip,” and “weave,” are now part of your vocabulary. You have all the right gear, a gym community, your comfort level is higher.
Yet still, sometimes you might find it difficult to make it to the gym.
When this happens, take a moment and think of how much more challenging it was when you were a beginner. Or, how much more challenging it is for someone new. Someone who feels awkward, doesn’t know anyone, and isn’t speaking the language yet.
A human tendency, and one of our less admirable traits, is to gain a feeling of superiority by comparing ourselves to those less skilled. It’s natural for us as humans to want to compare, rate and rank.
But remember: you will always be a beginner compared to someone else out there.
In 2013, I went to Thailand and for 4 months, I lived in a room underneath the gym at a Muay Thai camp.
I showed up to Sitsonpeenong Muay Thai Camp with a couple of decades of experience, in shape (but still fat by Thailand standards), and with 20 fights under my belt.
However, compared to many of the 16 year olds Thai fighters there, who have close to 100 professional bouts at that age, I was a rank novice. Also, fighters in these camps are usually there because there is no other choice for them and their family.
Despite our differing abilities, I was never treated with anything but respect.
I fought twice during my 4 month stay at Sitsongpeenong. In the first fight, I lost a decision against an inmate in Klong Premier Penitentiary, resulting in a “fifteen minutes of fame” for myself.
Several months later I won my second fight against a local journeyman fighter. I fought the final fight of my career in front of a few tourists, a couple local gamblers, and a handful of street kids the stadium owner let watch for free as long as they didn’t cause trouble. Those same kids would ask my trainer if they could have my used gauze hand wraps afterwards to make toys out of.
Even though the contracted Thai fighters at the gym were fighting at the pinnacle of the sport and I had only scrapped together some very meager accomplishments, I was always treated well. Showing up to work everyday, respecting the culture, and training hard seemed to count. I strive to remember this lesson in humility and graciousness.
It’s Takes a lot of Heart to Begin
There’s a difference between knowing something because you’ve been told and knowing something because you’ve experienced it.
If you’ve been in shape before, or used to be an athlete, you have a tremendous advantage over a beginner. You truly know that the results can and will happen with work, fuel, rest. The true beginner is venturing into uncharted territory with their body. In many ways, what they are doing is more than just difficult, it’s courageous.
So remember, whether you’ve been training for a month, a year or a decade, there will always be someone more experienced than you. Just like there will always be someone with less experience. And more than anyone, those are the people who deserve our respect.