#WOTD Is To Join A Lethwei Gym
Are we ready for the rainy season or what? This week, I wanna tell you guys about Lethwei – the art of Myanmar Boxing.
I’ve been training with Sayar Lone Chaw, ex-national Lethwei champ and prominent figure in the Lethwei world for 4 years now. Aside from his Thut Ti Lethwei Club fighters, I can safely say that I am one of his longest surviving student 🙂 I doubt there’s anywhere else in the world, you get an ex-national champ to train you nor will you be able to feel the kind of brotherhood that the Thut Ti Lethwei Gym offers, especially in Myanmar.
I usually do a 1 hour training with Sayar and 1 hour on my own, twice a week. My 1 hour regimen usually starts with a 10-minute warm-up jumping on the tires. This actually helps with those who has knee problems like moi. Then, stretching followed by warm-up variation of kicks, push-ups and abdominal work. With Sayar’s pushing (and I mean, he sometimes literally holds a cane when it comes to me simply because I can be such a pain-in-the-you-know-where), I have worked my way up to 1,000 leg raises. Takes me 30mins and I always appreciate the patience of the team of trainers he has who stands there pushing my legs up and down to add resistance to the leg raises.
Then, it’s shoes-off and I get into the Lethwei ring (the shoes come off to respect the spirits of the ring) for 5 bouts of 4mins per bout. It’ll be a lot of power and speed work and definitely anaerobic endurance. Sometimes, especially in the heat, a 4-min round can feel like an eternity and the 1 minute rest feels like 10 seconds!! And before you can even sip your water, Sayar is there with the “Time’s up!! Ready!”
Thereafter, I’m done with training with Sayar and I will do my own set of stuff with the punch bags and weights fashioned out of rubber hoses, pipes and all. It’s a true outdoor gym! This regimen isn’t the case for most of his other students who will have more technique work for their kicks and punches and less time on the ring. I just made my own programming with Sayar because I’m building my anaerobic endurance, you see 🙂
When I get in that ring, it’s some of the most fun I have in my training session because I’m trying to cause him some pain and he’s trying to push me to the limit and we’re both screaming “I won’t give up!!” in Burmese. I’m pretty sure I cause him no pain and any jabs I land on him would most likely feel like a massage for Sayar.
So, I had a candid chat with him the other day to get some insights for my article. Here’s an excerpt of my “interview” with him : (and this was in Burmese and my Burmese is really not great. Thank You to Gu Gu for the part translation!)
Me : Are you happy training me?
Sayar : Yes, of course I’m happy. I have seen you grow from strength to strength. It always makes me happy to see any students improving. I remember when you first started, your punches had no strength at all. Today, I feel it. Good.
Me : *grinning like an idiot* .. So, Sayar, I always say I want to fight competitively. Can I fight?
Sayar : The decision to fight competitively is entirely up to you. And that decision must be made from your heart. If you make that decision, me and my whole team here at Thut Ti will support you all the way.
Me : So, Sayar, tell me honestly, can I fight?
Sayar : NO. (and with his head shaking vigorously to make his point :P)
Me : Why not???
Sayar : You may have the techniques and you have improved a lot, but when it comes to power and speed, you are still not there yet. And you can’t defend. You are still far from fighting competitively.
Huh. Well, he was honest at least. And so, that is that then. Bummer. I wanted to tell him that I can run around the ring to exhaust my opponent but I didn’t think he’d find that funny. But no, I do accept and admit that as fit as I am, I am far from fighter material. To win in a Lethwei fight, one needs to KO his/her opponent. If my punches are merely massages for Sayar, I don’t think I’ll ever be KO-ing anyone at the moment 😛
To those of you who might be interested to meet this ferociously humble giant, do drop by the Thut Ti Lethwei Gym at :
No. (893), WonThaRekKiTa Street, Ward (8), Kabar Aye Road
MaYanGone Township, Yangon, Myanmar.
Tel : (+95) 92 5586 3344
Due to popularity of this gym, you MUST call to make an appointment beforehand. Classes are at 5,000 Ks per hour. And not to worry, the cane really is only reserved for pain-in-the-arses like me. But the classes are just a lot of fun so do go and have a knockabout!