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Tag Archives: sparring circle

A Muay Thai Sunday In Brooklyn

Sunday was a unique experience for everyone at the sparring circle.  Kru Natalie called me a few weeks ago and asked if we could put something together on this weekend with some of her girls and I was immediately excited by the opportunity to bring new women to the group for a special meet.  Greg generously – and in Greg fashion – offered to open up the gym for us.  And I was amped to hear that Jess and Nicole from Fighthouse would be returning.

Upon parking at the end of the block we immediately met Kru Nat and Wendy and walked around the corner to find Nicole S. standing outside of the gym. The weather leaned more toward mid-November than mid-October and we all stood, bundled and huddled but excited and friendly as we waited for the doors to open.  I was happy to finally meet Wendy, who I’d seen fight at the WKA in June – back then she’d impressed me as a fighter right off the bat in the first round, but I had been mostly happy to watch her warm up (a late fight after a long day of eliminations) by dancing to music pumped out by a lonely DJ at the far end of the gymnasium.  We all happily stood there in the cold and talked a bit about fighting, opportunities and experiences: serious minds, but peppered with humor and a sincere joy for the sport. It was a happy 15 minutes in hiatus.

When Greg came and opened the doors we all marched upstairs and piled into the dressing room – all of us into the women’s side, regardless of the obvious absence of any men in the other locker room – and were joined by more members filing in.  The gym was chilled and Greg turned on a small space heater in the corner by the women’s locker room where various girls stood to warm themselves as they put on wraps or stretched.  There was a definite gravitation of those from the same gyms sitting together or warming up near one another, but everyone was open and quick to introduce themselves, or ask each other questions about their different gyms.

We spent a good 30 minutes warming up, and the room itself got a little heat going from our activity.  When we began many girls still donned sweatshirts and first rounds were light and a bit slower in order to ease into the sparring.  In the middle of my second round, I could feel the energy of the whole room and looked up to see that EVERYONE was sparring – in the ring, on the floor, and Angela was hitting the bag before finding a partner (odd number of girls at that point).  It was a wonderful image and the energy in the room was very high and focused (you can see a short vid of it up on the Facebook events page).

In my first few rounds I met up with Nicole S. and Lucy, neither of whom I’d seen in a long time.  Nicole got me all worked up, kicking my legs and smacking me pretty good as a warm up, which is great, just what I like.  Lucy was a tactical difficulty. I’d not seen her since she was recovering from jaw surgery, as she had then come only to kickspar; now she was able to use her hands – which she’s very good at.  I only got one round in with Peelo, but I especially liked watching her go against Kru Nat with long kicks and teeps.

I was eager to spar with everyone, and I managed at least one round with every girl except Wendy, who somehow I missed.  Nicole S. commented to me that I ought to spar with Wendy as she felt she had learned a lot in their round together.  She was especially excited that Wendy had nearly teeped her in the face; exactly the type of thing girls like us get excited about.  Jess and I ended up in the ring together at least 4 times, which was terrific practice as she is one of the very few girls I know who is actually my size. I felt like we both made a lot of progress in figuring out each other’s patterns and working around them (or plowing through them; Jess has a great hook!).

Deirdre from Fighthouse, Audrey from the Krav Maga Federation, and Angela from Kru Natalie’s private instruction (aka Chok Sabai) made their first visit to the group and were all a great addition with a variety of technique and energy to offer their sparring partners.  And Kaori from Sweet Science made her second visit and gave us all good practice with boxing – it makes me so happy when she’s there.  Nicole R. arrived in the last half-hour of the session and jumped right in the ring, stirring it up. When Deirdre matched up with Nicole she couldn’t get over how nice it was to finally spar with a girl her approximate size and weight. This is one of the wonderful things about the circle. Women come here and unexpectedly experience a match up they haven’t had before.

Kru Nat was constantly making rounds, hardly ceasing, full of serious joyful energy, sparring with everyone and more than once giving me a look from across the ring that invited me to jump in.  Our first rounds together were ridiculous, with Kru Nat basically dancing around and taunting me without my being able to hit her even once; but as we got in the ring together again and again I found my pace and confidence with her, ultimately feeling like I’d dropped some of my inhibitions of getting close enough to actually reach her.

In all we sparred for about an hour and a half, followed by some clinching practice with Kru Nat in the ring.  The energy remained high all the way to the end and when I removed my shin-pads just out of the ring, my legs were steaming.  Brilliant.  Some of the girls had to leave at different times during the session, but everyone seemed to have genuinely enjoyed their time there. What a way to change a rainy Sunday.  Before we all headed out Peelo had the great idea to take a group photo – lots of smiles.

ALSO: A Visit From Florina

Last Tuesday was a truly unique experience as well.  Florina Petcu came to the circle and gave quality time to the few of us who happened to be there for this unexpected visit. 

I was particularly touched by her generosity – she’s gearing up for a tournament in BJJ and had missed practice to come by – and her very earnest and kind advice to me, as a fellow small fighter, and advice to Laurel and Nicole as well.  I’d been in contact with Florina before my fight and met her at the actual event in Virginia. Her kindness and support have made her an important inspiration to me.  But this was the first time I’d actually seen Florina’s Muay Thai.  She has such beautiful technique.