Kelsey Andries

Muay Thai World Champion

Filtering by Tag: IFMA

Canada vs. Sweden - May 26th, 2016

Forgive the (slightly) delayed posting. I did my best to keep things up to date but that combined with training and preparing was a full time job in itself. I also needed some to process this entire experience so I could formulate a coherent post. As I mentioned in the last blog post, I advanced to the Semi-Finals where I met Sweden.

After 3 hard fought round, I lost the decision. I come home with a Bronze Medal. This is not the result I was working for. My goal was to fight the best I could fight, and I knew if I did that, I would have the gold.

But the fact of the matter is, I didn't. I have been trying to figure out what the fu*k happened. And after a few days away from the tournament the only answer I can think of is I cracked. The night before the fight I was cutting weight and something happened. I couldn't take anything anymore. The last 6 months, which was full of big life changes for me, flooded over me and I couldn't breathe. Everything became instantly overwhelming. The sauna...the people...this place. I felt like we have been training for this tournament forever. And then when we got to the tournament, it seemed to last forever. That night everything was loud. EVERYTHING. I locked myself in the bathroom, made a cocoon around my heads with my arms to try and drown out the noise and I started sobbing.

I didn't realize at the time what had happened but I wasn't the same after that. I woke up in the morning and felt off. I weighed in and felt off. My teammates and coach thought I looked better and more rested than before the previous fights...maybe physically I did but my head felt like a bag of smashed a$$holes. I couldn't find my focus, clarity, sharpness. And that made me nervous. I was hopeful that my focus and clarity would come when I warmed up.....or when I got my rub down....or when I hit pads.....or when I did my Wai Khru. But it didn't come. I never felt clear.


Mental clarity/focus is one of my strength. I seem to be able to deal with the circumstances (no matter how crazy or shitty they are), find a rhythm and go. It doesn't mean it isn't difficult for me to do that, but I seem to be able to find it. Until now. And I realized that having that clarity gives me confidence in myself, my skills and my corner.

It's interesting because in retrospect, considering what was going on in my head, I fought well. Nobody could tell that I was off. But for me, it was as if my brain and body were operating on separate wave lengths. I needed them to connect...that is the bridge between the highly programmed Muay Thai robot (my body - that operates without intent) and being able to strategically win (with the presence of mind). 

Art was calling for the left cross and I could hear him. It registered but I could not pull the trigger. Watching the fight now it is SO there. Like painfully open. But I could not get my head to make my body throw a cross. The punch was a critical part of the equation as it was the bridge between my outside and inside ranges. I needed it to score on the way in. That punch was the difference between winning and losing that day.

Despite feeling like I had no head, there are good things that came from this fight. I am getting more comfortable fighting southpaw. I am finding my range and the tools that will work for me. My left kick is coming along. I am having success with my elbows and establishing my range. I am trying to look at this fight and concentrate on those good things, but I am overwhelmed by feelings of anger and sadness. I am mad at myself for not being able to pull myself together...for somehow (not consciously at all) getting in my own way. I am mad about the tournament is scored and left feeling very confused about what sport I just participated in. 

And I am mad because I feel like I let myself down.

Bea was a very fun and strong opponent. The fight was well matched, she had her game face on and she had more power than I thought she was going to have. She kicked me in the ass (literally) harder than I have ever been kicked in my life. She landed the first ass kick and I remember thinking "Shit this girl has some power!". She made me work hard to find my rhythm and range and never backed down. In my opinion, it was the gold medal match for sure. A big congratulations to her as she advanced to the finals and ended up winning Gold against Turkey.


I took a lot away from the fight against her and I will grow from this.  And ultimately, that is the point of this whole game. You don't fight because you love winning...or at least I don't think you should. You fight because you are on a journey of self growth and you use it as a tool to become a better version of yourself.

I have to be careful to remember this and not to fall into the hole of self criticism, obsessive thoughts and thinking that because I lost I am a shitty person. 

I have to avoid creating a story about this loss that I carry around with me for the next however long.

I need to use this fight as a looking glass for my skills (both mental and physical), my ability to handle my emotions, my motivation in the sport. and my confidence.

I am feeling an inkling of self doubt sneaking in and I don't know how to manage this and get back to baseline.

I do know the first step is to get back on the wagon and go to work...

Meditate. Run. Shadow Box. Hit the bag. Spar. Clinch.

And fight again. 
 

Fight vs Melissa Perry

Fight vs. Melissa Perry (AUS), IFMA World Championships Semi Finals May 6, 2014, Langkawi Malaysia

My second fight of the tournament got moved back a day so I figured that would be the perfect time for an update. After my Round of 8 fight against Sweden on May 3rd (who I just found out won the [World Title in 2010] and is a pro.....ahhhhh) I had a few days off before my next match against Australia on May 6th. 

The view from the hotel   

The view from the hotel

 

We laid pretty low for those couple days as my teammate Janice was still fighting and Nate Smandych was set to fight. Days are pretty simple right now. Wake up, eat breakfast, do some emailing/take a nap, have an afternoon training session, eat and then head to the venue to watch fights or compete. The nights are long as the tournament does not start until 1pm in the afternoon and often goes until midnight or later. As the tournament progresses the days will get shorter as there are less athletes competing. 

I think I have told most of you guys that we have to weigh in each morning we fight at this tournament so I am sticking closely to my diet and then sweating the night before and the morning of to make weight. Typical pre-fight weigh in day I will eat breakfast, train, have a light lunch and then switch to fluids only until about 6pm and then nothing after that. Ill draw a VERY hot epsom salt bath before I go to bed and in 20 min in the tub Ill lose about 1lb of water. Then I wrap myself up in my sauna suit, put a towel over my head and get into bed, tucking the covers all around me like a Kelsey taco. Depending on the day I can do another 1.5-2.5 pounds of water just laying there watching TV.  Then a nice cold shower and into bed I go. 

We have to weigh in between 7-9am so the fight day mornings are early, usually about a 6am wake up. I have enjoyed moving first thing in the morning so I throw on my suit and towel, head to the gym and incline walk at a decent pace for about 30 minutes. If I am on weight Ill stop there and if not one more time in the tub and I am god to go. A quick shuttle ride to the venue to weigh in and then back to the hotel to rehydrate and re-fuel. I was quite worried about cutting every morning going into the tournament but it has been a breeze so far. I am not depleted for very long and I am used to fasting from my diet so I feel pretty good. 

So I weighed in on the 6th and after a huge breakfast of everything healthy and delicious I hit the hay and slept.....a lot. I was feeling quite shitty on the 5th. I ate something that my body did not like and lets just say me and the toilet were good friends for the day. I think I even had a fever...but I didn't care. I knew if I was smart I could beat whatever I was feeling so I went and bought a shit ton of Vitamin C and Zinc and pretty much just ate that and drank water and slept. My fight bout for my match against Australia was 37 so I knew I would be late that night...probably around 10pm so I had a ton of time to rest. Sleep, eat, drink, sleep, eat, drink...

We headed down to the venue early as there were several Team Canada fights on the 6th. Janice, my teammate from Calgary was in the semi finals against Peru.....4 time IFMA World Champion. I watched her fight and it was awesome. She fought so amazing against a girl with 60+ Muay Thai fights and years of competition in Karate and MMA. I was so proud of her courage, determination and her performance. It was truly inspiring to see her perform like this. Side note: last summer Janice and I had a few drinks and were talking about our goals in the sport. We both wanted to compete at the IFMA's and represent Canada and at that time it was a huge long shot. Neither one of us were ready to compete at this level but we knew we wanted to. To be sitting there less than 1 year later and watching my friend fight the 4 time world champion was one of the highlights of this trip for me. 

After Janice's match Kru Trevor, Kru Rhino, and Nate squared (Nate Smandych and Nate Bodewitz) started getting me ready by rubbing me down with Thai Liniment oil. This stuff is crazy....think like tiger balm but liquid. It helps to warm up the muscles and stimulate blood flow....plus is smells super crazy so I sniff a little because it wake me up. Kru Rhino told my Nate to help and "rub here" pointing to my chest "because you married". Code for rub her chest because we are allowed. I died laughing at this point. After the oil massage I did some light shadow boxing, then geared up and hit some light rounds of pads with Kru Trevor. The game plan for Australia was simply to build off what I did with Sweden. Play the range game, make her miss and the answer back right away. I didn't do enough answering in the fight against Sweden so I was not going to make that mistake again. 

The fight against Australia was a blast. I was the calmest I have ever been in a fight. I could hear Trevor the whole time and did a much better job answering back after making her miss. I dominated the fight winning all rounds. I landed my very first Acee-bo-jah (sp?) aka flying downward elbow....this has been on my Muay Thai to do list for some time so that was super fun. I also felt so much better in this fight then the one against Sweden. My first fight was the first time I have ever fought 3 x 3' rounds with 1' rest. In Calgary I usually fight 3 x 2' rounds with 1' rest. In the match against Sweden I remember thinking "fuck.....3 minutes is a long time" but that did not cross my mind once with Australia. 

By beating Australia I advanced to the finals. I am to face Russia. That is a dang good birthday present if you ask me. Russia beat Finland in the match before me so I had the chance to watch her. She keeps her hands low and taunts you forward to make you think that she is open....but she is ready with an arsenal of attacks. I just have to keep fighting the way I fight and I will beat her.

Anyway, sorry for the long winded accounts of my life. A few people mentioned they really enjoyed the last post so I figured I would keep going. There is a rumour the fights might be streamed live so if they are I will send the links to you guys. Ill leave you with the view from the pool from this evening. Tough life out here hey? 

Thailand and Malaysia so far

So far the trip been amazing. We started things off with 4 days in Bangkok and in about 6 hours I fell madly in love with this place. The food, the people and then fight life are amazing and something that I am so fortunate to get to experience because of the support of people like you.  

We trained for 4 days in Bangkok at Varipol Gym. The days start off with a morning run around Lumpini park, which I guess is usually beautiful, but there is some political unrest in Thailand right now so the park was the center of the protests. We "falang" aka foreigners were safe to run there during the day but were told to stay away in the evenings. It felt eerie at times to be in there but most of the time we felt very safe and welcome. 

After morning run is breakfast at the hotel and then a foot massage. The first day we were there I had the worst massage ever....I think the girl hated me or something because she rubbed her knuckles on the bony outside of my foot for about thirty minutes straight. I thought she was going to rub my skin off. Everyone thought it was hilarious as they all enjoyed their nice massages....not a great first experience but I didn't let that keep me down. On the third day we where here I actually got a foot massage from a male massage therapist named Joss. He is one of the guys that massages the Nak Muay aka "Muay Thai Fighter" at Lumpini stadium. He was insanely good and then session was more like a treatment for an athlete than a massage. I felt very lucky to have him work on me.

Next was a nap and then lunch. Everything there was delicious. We ate in the streets and we at in restaurants and I never had a bad meal. I had a few ridiculously hot meals that left me burping chilies for a few hours but it was worth it...kind of.

Varipol Gym before training

Varipol Gym before training

Kru Rhino, our Thai trainer, set us up at Varipol gym in Bangkok. It was about a 20 min walk from our hotel so we would pack up our gear and walk through the heart of Bangkok. SOOOOOO awesome. Just like my sister Leah described to me when she was in China, walking through the streets of Bangkok is a flurry of activity and alternating horrible and delicious smells....as well as shops of every kind along the way. We would arrive at the gym at 3pm and then train until about 5pm. IT.WAS.SO.HOT. The first day I thought I was going to die.

Hot Janice and Sean

Hot Janice and Sean

You kinda got used to it by Day 2 an then Day 3 it was hotter AND it was the hardest workout I have ever done. I am grateful to my coach Trevor for making me train in my sauna suit under the heater at Stenia because it did help to prepare me for the insanity.

On the last day of training we learned the Wai Khru, and traditional dance that we perform before each fight to honor our ancestors and teachers, our family and our country. It also protects us from spells and bad black magic and allows us to spread our  magic in the ring. This was an amazing part of the trip for me as I got to stand alongside Kru Rhino and have him teach and explain everything. If I practice enough Ill do my first one in the tournament but I am still a bit rusty so it might have to wait for Canada.

Post training we would refuel for dinner and then either hit some shops or head for another massage. The massages in the evening were longer....usually 90min of Thai Oil or Tiger Balm to help us recover better. It was a great way to wind down before we sleep too.

On the last night in Bangkok we went to Lumpini Stadium to watch live fights and it was insane. The fights were amazing....the crowd was insane....and I was in heaven. The best fight of the night was at 113lbs Lumpini Champion vs the Channel 7 Champion. The guys went so hard and the fight was amazing with the Lumpini Champion taking the win! It is hard to believe how hard these guys hit. The look like giants in the ring.

Being a Nak Muay here is an experience. People yell and cheer for you in the streets. They size you up, touch your muscles and let you know that they thing you are strong. The first day I was here I got told I was strong and had a beautiful body twice...it hard not to fall in love with that. You train, eat, sleep, get massages and explore Bangkok. It really is a wonderful life.

We left for Langkawi, Malaysia on April 30th. On the way to the airport I saw dozens of these beautiful gold Thai statues of a woman with wings and lions feet. I asked Kru what they were and he told me that I saw Buddah. I described the statues** to him in the detail I saw and he got goosebumps and said that I will win the championship for sure. He told me to pray to her when I do the Wai Khru and she will protect me. It was a really special moment for me and I will defiantly pray to her before my fights.

What is interesting is that after this post, I did some internet searching and found this picture of the Buddist Goddess Kinnara. It  is the picture I found that best represents what I say. Kinnara is a "paradigmatic lover, a celestial musician, half human and half horse (India) or half-bird (south-east Asia)".In Southeast Asian mythology, Kinnaris are half swan and half woman. She is known for her beautiful  dance, song and poetry. She is seen as a symbol of feminine beauty, grace and accomplishment.**

We are everlasting lover and beloved. We never separate. We are eternally husband and wife; never do we become mother and father. No offspring is seen in our lap. We are lover and beloved ever-embracing. In between us we do not permit any third creature demanding affection. Our life is a life of perpetual pleasure.[1]

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinnara

 

 

Kelsey Andries © 2016