Muay Thai – Day 2 3/3/15

This afternoon, we continued our Muay Thai training. I have been really proud of how well all the students have been doing with the Muay Thai!

The students were also given their first opportunity to try sparing with each other. Very light sparing so that they could get used to the idea and the motions involved. Anil and Benny were very well paired, as were Rachel and Julia. Both Katie and Abby held their own against the female fighter helping to train us, while Jason and Zach went up against the gym’s top fighters in their weight class. Our wild card for today is definitely Ray Jack! He has been soaking up all of the information our trainers have been giving us and putting it into practice. He has been doing really well!

Martial arts is not about fighting; it’s about building character. – Bo Bennett

River Swim! 3/3/15

Our morning activity for today was a swim in a local river. The students had a lot of fun climbing the rocks and hanging out in the water. It was a great way to cool off before our next training session at the Muay Thai stadium.

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man. – Heraclitus


Wes Howard and Muay Thai

It was incredibly important for Wes to be able to show the students Muay Thai and experience it with them. He has been looking forward to this for months. Its been so amazing that a lot of the students have come to share his enthusiasm for the sport.

Below are some words from Wes about his experiences with Muay Thai.

I learned the basics of Muay Thai in Koh Tao, Thailand when I was in high school.  A friend of my sister owns a thai boxing gym there, so I was able to learn a few things during my time there.  Since then, martial arts has been a hobby of mine, and I’ve tried to develop my thai boxing skills over the past few years.  I was excited that I would have the opportunity to once again learn from the experts in Thailand over the course of this Field Academy.  More importantly, I was thrilled that I would be able to give our students the same wonderful experience that I was lucky enough to have years ago.  Over the past two days, we have all been learning so much from our wonderful muay thai instructors.  It is my sincere hope that some of the kids may be inspired by this experience, and continue to pursue martial arts upon their return home.


Muay Thai – Day 1 3/2/15

The Muay Thai is amazing and the students are loving it!

One of the main aspects of this trip is the opportunity to study Muay Thai with actual Thai boxers. And you do not get any more authentic then Ponsuriya stadium. The stadium is tucked between homes in a local village. This is the first time the boxers at this gym have had the opportunity to teach foreigners and they are doing an amazing job. The language barrier has been a nonissue. They have been so patent with the students and are willing to demonstrate over and over until our students get it.

Everyone has been really getting into it. But we have definitely had a few stand outs. Jason, who has never done any form of martial arts, has a natural talent for Muay Thai. The Thai boxers have been really impressed with how quickly he is picking the skills up.

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Katie has also been rocking the Muay Thai! She is really enthusiastic to learn and has been doing really well!

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Zach has a very natural Thai boxing body type. His background in martial arts is also helping him pick up the skills quickly.

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“Chris hits like a Mack Truck” – Wes Howard – Wes had to alter his way of deflecting Chris’ punches so he wouldn’t injure his shoulder. So much potential in Chris!

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Abby is loving the Muay Thai and it is loving her back. Her tennis skills are coming in handy, allowing her to move quickly around the ring.

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Ella has been really impressive with her endurance and how quickly she is picking up the skills. Her boxing background is really coming in handy here.

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While these six are standing out, everyone is doing really well! Everyone has been really into the experience and are enjoying learning the new skill. Rachel and Julia have been all smilies while they work with each other to learn the skills. Sarah and Isabel have the punching aspect down!

Isabel also found more children to play with and Dennef’s best friend from the village showed up to join us with is dad!

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. – Walt Disney

Morning Market and Buddhist Temple 3/2/15

The next stop on our amazing adventure is the city of Kuraburi. We went to the night market when we got here and then had breakfast this morning at the morning market. Have I mentioned how delicious the food is here? The students are really loving the waffles with coconut and the Thai coffee.

Our activity in the afternoon was to visit a local Buddhist Temple. It was gorgeous! We got to listen to the head Monk, Dtum, teach and ask him questions. He was incredibly insightful and the students were really enthralled with him.

After the Tsunami, people who had lost their homes and family members stayed at the temple until they could get back on their feet. Some stayed for around 2 years because they had nowhere else to go. He told us a story about a woman who had come to Thailand with her new husband on their honeymoon. She, unfortunately, lost her husband in the wave. She came to Dtum asking why this had happened to her. Over the time she spent with Dtum at the temple, she came to realize that although she lost one person, many people had lost everyone and everything. When she went back to Austria, she became an advocate for the Temple.

Dtum also spoke to us about Karma and getting what you give. He used Jason’s water bottle as a way to demonstrate that if you carefully consider what you do, say, and hear, your mind and soul will be as pure as the water in a closed water bottle, but if you “take the cap off” and let everything in, your body and soul will become murky.

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We also got to interact with the children who attend the Temple’s kindergarden. There are 275 children who go to the temple daily for school. They were so cute and it was so much fun watching the students interact with the children. Isabel loves the little ones! So far, Isabel has been happiest and her smile brightest when she is interacting with the local children.

“If you grow up coconuts, you will get coconuts. If you grow up mangos, you will get mangos. If you grow up coconuts, but want mangos, no good. You can not get mango from coconut.” – Dtum, Buddhist Monk

Soap Making and the Ban TaLe Nok School 3/1/15

The soap making activity in Ban TaLe Nok was extremely interesting. The students really enjoying being able to get into it and participate in the soap making. The soap making group with founded after the Tsunami  so that the women of the village could support themselves. Most of the women in the group had lost their main provider in the tsunami wave.

The soap comes in one of 8 scents; cloves, turmeric, cinnamon, sesame, ginger, saffron, tamarind, and lemon grass.

Before we left the village, we also went to visit the local school. Here is what our students learned about the BanTaLe Nok School.

Katie: There are students from kindergarden to grade 6.

Anna: The first school was on the beach, but the new school is on the top of the hill so it is a safe place from another Tsunami. They learn english, science, social, sports, health.

Jessica: I think they learn Thai language as well.

Katie: They go to another town for high school.

Annie: Traditional music classes too!

Anna: There is a memorial board for the people that died in the Tsunami.

Katie: A lot of the teaching is done with videos that are broadcasted live, but it doesn’t work very well because the teachers don’t have time to go over anything.

Anna: And there are 40 students with 6 teachers. One is from the village. The other ones are from other villages. And they only need to pay for uniforms and books.

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thai Dessert and Muslim Culture 2/28/15

Our last two activities for the day were making a traditional Thai dessert and experiencing tradition Muslim attire.

The dessert we made consisted of coconut sugar, shredded coconut, sticky rice flour, and water. The ladies of the village showed the student show to make the batter and how to seal it in the palm leaves. The leaves were then placed over a fire to cook the batter. It was delicious! The students eat so many of them! And they really enjoyed the process of making them as well.

Another great part of the experience was watching Dennef interact with one of the local children! It was really cute! The little guy latched onto Dennef and decided they were going to be best friends. Dennef went with it and really seemed to enjoy being the center of this little guy’s attention.

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The last part of the evening was experiencing traditional Muslim attire. For the girls, this included a long skirt, long sleeve shirt, and a hijab. For the boys, this included a long skirt like bottom, a long sleeved button down shirt, and a head covering. The people of the village would wear these outfits when on holy days. The female version was very hot! Speaking with Ella that night, we both agreed that the hijab was extremely hot and felt very confining. However, we did really appreciate the experience.

Food makes travel so exceptional, because you get to taste what it’s actually supposed to taste like. To eat the real Pad Thai or finally have a proper curry is something pretty amazing. – Meghan Markle

Net Fishing 2/28/15

Since I missed the net fishing, we are going to have special guest bloggers for this post. Rachel, Ella, and Julia were rooming with me at one of the host family houses, so they got volunteered! As you can see, they really enjoyed the net fishing and eating their catch.

Jessica: Ok ladies, tell me about the net fishing.

Ella: It was really fun! I caught 6 fish!

Rachel: I went out in the water. It was Benny and me.

Julia: You put the little loop on the net around your foot and drag it along the ocean floor.

Jessica: Can you explain the process for me?

Rachel: Three people needed to go out with the guy into the ocean. One person on the left and one person on the right. The net is in a giant bunch, so you need to walk slowly, backwards into the water so it spreads out. You walk into the water up to your neck. Then you put the little loop on the net on your foot. And then you slowly walk back to the beach, making sure your foot stays flush to the ocean floor as you go.

Rachel: It is such a process just to do one thing, to do fishing.

Julia: I was collecting crabs while they were doing it! They were really cute!

Ella: And when they cooked it last night. It was so good!

Jessica: Yah it was! Really delicious!

Ella: I loved it! There is so much satisfaction and pride in eating something that you caught yourself earlier that day.