It started like any other trip to the gym. Every week I drive two hours to see my coach Jongsanan. He told me that his trainer from Thailand would be visiting soon, and that I needed to train under him every chance I had before my certification test. So I had a suspicion that he may be there on that day.
In 2010 Monlit Sitpodaing was chosen as the best Muay Thai trainer in Thailand. He has consistently produced countless champions, and is known to profoundly change any fighter who trains under him. Not sure really what I expected, because he looked pretty normal to me. Middle aged Thai guy, wearing glasses and taking his shirt off at every opportunity to show a soft middle-aged midsection. There was no hero sound track playing in the background. No earth shaking. No angelic halo. Just a guy.
Then he trained me.
And I changed…forever.
During the following month we became friends. He stayed at our home, we arranged seminars at my fight school. We toured the wine country, ate food, and laughed. But more importantly we trained. I could feel him reaching inside my mind and moving things around. Fixing this, refining that. Threw a lot away, and put in quite a few things that were not there before. I was being crafted by a genius.
I knew the time for him to return to his homeland would come sooner than any of us wanted and before I knew it I was having my last session with him. For many reasons it was the hardest one. Afterwards I started putting my things away and saying my goodbyes. We were both men about it. No tears, just a huge hug and a sincere “See you soon”.
I think about that man every time I step on the mat. Every time. I remember the last moment I saw him as I left the gym that day.
I swear he had a halo.