In a sport that demands so much of its practitioners, both physically and mentally, a little grace can have a big impact.

In a sport that demands so much of its practitioners, both physically and mentally, a little grace can have a big impact.

I recently traveled to South Carolina for a family vacation, and in true Muay Thai fashion, I broke away from family for a couple days of training at Charleston Muay Thai.

I always get a little nervous training at different gyms, because you don’t know what to expect. Even though I’m secure with my technique, I wasn’t sure how I’d fare endurance wise after nearly a month off from training for sickness, vacation and injury.

Head coach and owner Jeff Grady welcomed me with open arms. He’s creating a great environment and really fostering some killers that are fighting regularly at top promotions in the US and Canada. When you see some animals like Amy Peduto and Anna Toole constantly getting after it, it’s easy to wonder if you belong in a place like that!

I didn’t do too bad during class surprisingly. Even though I was not at my best, I managed to get through class. I moved around and sparred a couple rounds after class, and that’s when I really felt it. I kept thinking, damn…I should be able to get through 5 rounds of sparring after class no problem. 

I was not happy with my performance. The thing I love about Muay Thai the most is that there is no one to blame but yourself if you are not getting the results you want. It was the eye opener I needed.

No one gave me a hard time. They didn’t judge me even though I was not at my best. The hospitality was real. It made me realize that we are all on different paths and at different levels in our overall training. It made me realize as a coach that how we treat people can directly impact their experience in Muay Thai and in turn their lives. It also helped me realize as a coach, I have a responsibility to stay in better shape. Their kindness allowed me to look at myself honestly. 

No one was making me feel bad but me, because I wanted more from myself. This was a turning point for me. I came back to Nashville rejuvenated, ready to double down on my training and creative practice. I was ready to get back to the level of discipline that I embraced during Covid and fight camp. 40 is not an excuse. Moving, challenging oneself and embracing the life of an athlete is not for the young alone. It is truly a gift.

Even though we are proponents of tough love, a little grace and kindness in this sport of violence can help people keep people on the path.