And just like that, I was a Kru.
Michael tested and passed, and the seminar ended. There were congratulations and the sweatiest hugs ever and Arjarn Chai gave both Michael and I our certificates. Then with changed clothes, I packed up, and my family went out for dinner at Landmark. Yes, I had pasta, and I took home dessert and finished a whole Landmark Apple Turnover (those things are enormous if you didn’t know) on the chaise snuggled up with my puppy after a most essential shower. I think that shower might have been the most glorious of my life. This is, I suppose, a very fitting place to end this, and truthfully, it is the ending. But in life as we know it, endings are really the beginning of something new, and this is no different.
I did not go to class on Monday or Tuesday after my test. (I heard Michael, in all of his beastliness, did! Though he did confess to me he was hoping to work some of the soreness out.) The soreness – oh the soreness. Michael and I both walked out of the ring with bruising already visible on our ribs. His was definitely from a couple brutally executed body kicks from Kru Raja during his first round. I’m not sure what mine were from, but after watching videos of my rounds, I believe they were from the rapid fire body shots Kru Sonya delivered when I was trying to clinch her. I’m not sure how to describe how I ached – and it went on for weeks! The bruise on my knee when my leg got kicked out didn’t even surface until week three after the test. But eventually, both Michael and I limped out way back to normal.
And life and Muay Thai kept moving forward. We taught classes, encouraged students, corrected students. I had to go back on the road for work because, remember those conversions that had taken me away from home, made my training so challenging, and triggered some clinical anxiety? Yeah, those weren’t finished yet. So in early September, back on the road I went, but this time, it was better. During my time at home and taking the test, the company had caught up on much of our backlog, and our clients hired a new project manager. I fell into a more healthy traveling routine. When things got tough on the road, my mantra was – “Stop complaining. Nothing’s as hard as your Kru test.” I kept up my on-the-road training routine and kept up my meditation practice. It paid dividends.
By early December 2019, the conversions were finally finished. I was able to stop traveling, and at the rank test that month at Black Belt USA, Arjarn King and Arjarn Dr. King presented Michael and I with our red arm bands. (It was the first test we had both been able to attend since our Kru Test). I’ll be honest. It was one of my prouder moments, and I was very happy I could assume my full Kru duties uninhibited by travel.
Of course, it hasn’t all turned out like I thought it would. As you all are painfully aware, Covid-19 arrived in the USA in early 2020. Just like a Kru Test, nothing goes as planned, but also just like a Kru test – NEVER give up. In late March, BBUSA had to transition to online classes as the country entered shelter-in-place. It was a big adjustment. Other students and myself were dealing with space constrictions, technology issues, and classes that were all form work and shadow boxing. The challenge for myself and the other Krus became even more pronounced after Arjarn King had a mountain bike accident in mid-April and was severely limited in what he could do during the early stages of his recovery. For some weeks, we were fully responsible for planning and conducting classes. But you know what? We didn’t give up. Despite bumps and awkwardness, we just kept going.
As I bring this beginning to an end (aka. where, you the reader, exits the scene), we are still limited to online classes and two outdoor classes per week. At the outdoor classes, we are now moving standing bags outside and are finally able to kick something other than air for the first time in months. (Heads up, that’ll make you sore too!) There is still no padwork, and we’re wearing masks, which is quite the challenge in early August. (Almost one year out from my Kru test and I’m still training in this oppressive heat! I guess it was good prep, huh?) But through all of it, I remember Arjarn Chai’s message on my glove cuff, and I know this is just part of the round. So in this round, we adapt, and we move forward. One right after another. And because of all of this form work, I’ve finally got a decent turning hook kick. The right one, at least.
Looks like a new beginning to me.