Many, many many moons ago Muay Boran was a huge part of my life. Before my first class I was pet-ri-fied - fear of being hit, fear of making a mistake, fear of the complete unknown. I remember sitting on a bench, with the smell of tiger balm wafting up my nose and sarama music floating around the room, and thinking to myself "what the f**k are you doing?". At the end of my first class, I experienced a feeling I had never felt before. I was terrible but there was a sense of accomplishment and a realisation of my physical body that I hadn't comprehended before. A day or so later, the good ache set in to every muscle of my body but I knew I wanted to go back.
I had no intention whatsoever to compete but enjoyed every week learning a new language, being part of a new family, finding different ways to move my body, feeling stronger mentally and physically, and getting quicker (when you have 6ft plus men coming at you, you get quicker, quickly!). Martial arts or self-defence classes are so important, particularly for women - not so that we can go out there beating up people, but to give us a better sense of self, expression, grounding and strength.