Muay Thai in Her 90's
The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Muay Thai in Her 90's

As you read this, we have been traveling for work and are again on several days of flights back to Asia, with a few errands on the way. For the next two months in Asia, I will check in and post from Internet cafes as we make our way through work and travel on overnight trains and ferries. Here is the link to the post and photos from last year on our way back.

I won't have access to Internet or e-mail for the next week. If you have questions, I won't be able to receive them until after that. Check for posts already here on Fitness Fixer. The post New Year's Resolutions Made Easy gave a list of labels that access all posts with each topic. I drafted a post on long sitting that Healthline staffer Jerry will post for you on Wednesday, thank you Jerry.

If you send photos, send small jpgs so that my e-mail does not fill, and so that I can directly upload them without finding a graphics program to resize them for posts.

Later this month, at the full moon, we hope to be learning more about wound healing at the Thaipusam. Then back to the north to the Muay Thai Monks on Horseback, and training at several places in Thai Boxing.

On our travels through Thailand we hope to see our friends, including an eagle who adopted me.

These ladies are in their 80's and 90's. Last year we all went to the King of Thailand's flower exposition. They wore their best clothes. When friends arrived with their truck, the ladies easily climbed up the tailgate over the side of the truck bed. I thought Paul and I should ride outside and let them sit inside. The daughter took my arm and said, "No. She stronger dan yooou!" They explained that the Grandmothers had sat outside all their lives, and walked before they had rides.

We will stay for some time at a school that has become a home to us. The cook there, named Ahn, escaped from desperate conditions in Myanmar (Burma). Earning a few dollars a day in Thailand, working long days without time off, is riches by comparison. One year I got her a children's ABC book to learn to read English. I was thrilled when she took the arm of another Burmese helper and sat with the book, writing in page after page. She worked on it for days. She proudly presented it to me - translated all in Burmese. She thought I wanted to learn Burmese and spent her only free time to do this as a present for me.

A few years ago, before leaving the US for Asia, some of my students asked if they could donate to help her. About 150 students enthusiastically agreed. They signed a card, that we translated into Burmese. They all put money in a hat, totaling strangely, only about $50. I matched it to make a $100 gift. This is more than a month's salary for Ahn. We could give her much, put her niece through school, with so little.

I put it in a drab little purse and wrapped it as a present. Ahn graciously received the gift of what she thought was an ugly cheap bag. She smiled and thanked us and bowed low. I told her, "Look inside later." The next year, we found that she donated the entire amount to the temple to ask for blessings - for us.

At the same school, the Grandmother there is a feisty funny lady. We came to love her quickly and look forward to seeing her every year. She is in her 90's. I am not sure exactly, but maybe more than 95. She loves to joke and tease. In the photo above she is sitting at lunch that Ahn brought. She sits easily in full squat and rises easily.

Once as we were entering the school, she squatted down fully to rummage through her purse to get her keys. I tried to get her photo. When she saw me raise a camera, she bolted up and ran to a table with Western style chairs, and sat there, upright, with legs crossed and hands on her knees. She said she didn't want her photo "sitting like a farmer." Nothing I could manage to ask in my best Thai convinced her to let me show the world how strong and great she is.

Last year, while visiting them, the subject of Muay Thai came up, a martial art which is the national sport. She once ran a Muay Thai school. The next thing we knew, she was giving us lessons. I trained and competed in Muay Thai in the Netherlands and Thailand, and know that she gave us all a tough training. Then she grabbed her friend, a lady in her late 80's and sat her on the floor for a lesson too. Look how easily they bend and sit on the floor in this photo.

Here is a short movie of the last 30 seconds of her giving a lesson. Click the arrow to play. Watch how easily they both rise to a stand at the end. We hope you feel happy and inspired by her, and try it too. Last summer, she passed away, strong to the last.

Click the arrow > to play this video I took of her teaching:

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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.