Why do I want to fight?
As I took my first step out of the plane and onto the boarding stairs, the hot, humid air instantly smacked me across the face. It felt as if I had been chucked into a sauna, turned up to the maximum.
Immediately, my sweat glands went into overdrive, little drops of salty liquid starting to ooze out of every pore in my body. Yet, I could smell that something else was flying in the air. Freedom!
Not the Braveheart kind of “freeedooooooom!!!”, but a deep, personal sense of relief and opportunity. All my worries, frustrations and stresses were a continent away. I had been unshackled from all the loads that had been weighing on my back.
In an instant I forgot about my job, social life (or rather the lack of) and the “real world”. I was embarking on a new, month-long adventure where all these things had no meaning and did not matter. For the first time in a long-time, I felt free, unburdened… and happy.
Well, at least that’s how I imagined it would be when I hit the “send” button booking my trip.
All those days sitting in the office, staring at the computer screen, I yearned for my liberation. The burning desire to get away was there, constantly pushing at me. My thoughts would often drift to another world.
In my mind, I visualized finally being able to escape from the utter meaninglessness of a desk jockey life and embarking on a grand adventure.
My imagination went wild and I had dreams of setting out and conquering straight away.
The eternal words of Gaius Julius Caesar rang in my head:
“Veni, Vidi, Vici – I came, I saw, I conquered.“
That’s how I pictured my month-long training jaunt in Thailand. I would come, see, and conquer. There would be no stopping me, like Terminator I would move towards my target in a mechanical fashion.
This would of course sometimes be interspersed with scenes of hardcore training set to motivating, pump-up music. Just like in the movies.
In reality, upon landing in Phuket, my feelings were a bit different from the way I thought I would feel and from the emotions I thought I would sense. Daydreaming in the office is one thing, but reality is often a whole different ball game.
The scene unfolded in a lot less dramatic way. I didn’t step onto the tarmac and feel the hot, humid air. Instead, one of those traditional ramps was pulled up against the door of the airplane. So my first steps led me to the air-conditioned insides of the terminal.
All those daydreams forgot one little aspect of experiencing something new. New, is not only an opportunity, but also a danger. That’s why the first sensations you have are a mix of the positive and the negative.
The initial feelings were of expectation, but also of apprehension about what was to come next. A bunch of fears suddenly flooded my brain: Will the taxi I booked be waiting for me? Will there be anybody in the camp to give me the keys to my housing? Do I really know what I am doing?
I picked up my luggage and ventured outside. Luckily, there was a guy waiting, holding a little sign with my name on it. I hopped into his car and off I went, riding to my date with destiny.
As I sat in the taxi, I watched the hustle and bustle of Thailand. Thousands of cars, and mopeds swerving dangerously in overcrowded lanes, rundown buildings interspersed with new modern buildings, all this in a tropical setting.
During the 45 minute ride from the airport, the day turned to night. Outside, it was pitch dark, yet thousands of lights produced by houses and cars coming from all directions, illuminated the way.
I was wondering how much longer I would have to sit in the taxi, when we suddenly took a left turn into a dark sideroad and finally arrived at my destination, the Tiger Muay Thai camp.
I was finally there! To sit on my throne as the Prince of Bel-Air!
Oh wait, that is from something else. 🙂
I was in Thailand and finally got to camp. This was going to be my home for the next month, the very bane of my existence for four weeks.
I was there to learn to fight, and through this improve my health, and find inner peace.
One thing that I kept thinking about was why? Why did I want to do this? What was this inner drive that was pushing me to train?
Parallel to the physical act of training, I set out to find the answers to these questions.
I wasn’t the only one who embarked on this path. Just in Thailand, at that very moment, there were thousands of Western guys doing the same thing: taking an active vacation or even quitting their jobs in order to train.
Each of them has his own story, but the themes oftentimes are very similar.
This is the first part of a series I plan to write on learning to fight and living in the state of nature as the key to happiness. It does sound like a mix of hardcoreness and sappinness, but in reality it addresses some of the most fundamental questions that have been posed by ancient philosophers from time immemorial.
Before I post all the other parts of this series, read this article on how to achieve things you thought impossible:
Go beyond your limits: how to do the impossible.
I have been writing this series ever since I announced that I was going to Thailand to train Muay Thai in 2016. Since then, I have been to Thailand 3 times to do just that. I have several parts of this series in various stages of writing, but unfortunately my old laptop died and I have lost most of my notes, so it will take some time.