Why would anybody want to train on their holiday? When you book your ticket, the last thing on most people’s mind is doing hard work on their vacation. More often than not I get the eyebrow raise when I even suggest it. Too bad!
In my experience, martial arts, like food, can be the key to the world, opening up experiences that simply aren’t on offer to the average tourist. At least that has always been that way for Dylan and me.
EVERYBODY has been to Thailand, sampled the water-sports, the food, the beach and the full moon parties. Most people become jaded after their first trip, thinking that what they see (usually sun burnt Aussies) is all there is to it. Anybody that has been on one of the VT1 Thailand trips knows that there is so much more to the country, the people and the cuisine. Every country host’s hidden gems that are waiting to be unlocked and training is one of the best ways to do it.
On our first trip together (I had been twice already, but Dylan was about to meet his first love – the entire country of Thailand), we expected to tick off the normal Thailand bucket-list and get a bit of training in between meals. The next morning we made our way to a local camp. Within a day or two, the Thai people were laughing at our little bellies and our (my) pasty skin. After the first week of training they began to take a liking to Dylan and vanilla shake (me). Despite the language barrier, they found ways to communicate with us, befriend us and slowly invite us in.
By the end of our second week we had done a border run on the back of a ute, eaten a feast on the floor with a Thai family, swam at secret beaches, cornered a drunk (but victorious) Thai fighter and dined at May Kady, Thailand’s (and possibly the world’s) finest alley cuisine. Over the next 23 trips (for Dylan anyhow) we would get to see a side of Thailand, and it’s people, that few are exposed to, all thanks to the martial arts rabbit hole.
Our travels have taken us to Brazil, Japan, Jamaica, USA and Holland, to name a few. In each of these countries, the first thing we always do, after a quick bite, is find a place to train. More often than not the local martial artists want you to see their country from their perspective, whether that means naked co-ed change rooms in Holland followed by midday beers with K-1 legends or Japanese coaches laughing at you as they convince you to eat horsemeat sashimi (which tasted better than it sounds).
There is a catch; once you add training to your trips you will never go back. Try it, you’ll understand. Without it the days feel too long and each time you eat (particularly if you have issues with the eye:stomach ratio like I do) you’ll find yourself thinking “wow, it feels like I just finished the last meal…I’m not really hungry”.
Lastly, and most importantly, life is simply more beautiful on the post training-meal endorphins.
See you on the mat,