My journey as a female fighter in Muay Thai


I started out training in Muay Thai (MT) in 2012, at Vanda, initially for fitness and as a hobby. I didn’t think I’d stick with it for long, however, as time passed I ended up participating in tournaments whilst growing both inwardly and outwardly. I began sharing my experience in Vanda to the new trainees.

In the beginning my stamina was terrible, I couldn’t skip for 5 minutes and I wouldn’t dare to even think about completing a 2.4km run (I gradually overcame this)! I was timid, had low self-confidence and would doubt myself, not confiding in anybody. I was afraid of getting hit and even hitting back. I had no self-discipline when it came to training and would be one of the first few to give up, refusing to step out of my comfort zone. It was pretty pathetic.


A year passed, I decided to put myself to the test in the ring but my first two fights were disastrous. I was nervous, afraid and defeated before each fight began. I stopped competing, and lost all motivation to train. I gave up and hardly went to Vanda Boxing Club. My weight started to increase and I would sporadically visit the club when I felt guilty about my body changing for the worse.

In early 2015 I found the motivation to start training regularly again, observing the hardworking and positive attitude of people training in the gym at lunchtime, as well as the camaraderie of the Vanda Fight Team. I had a good chat with my head coach (Coach Kelvin) and pulled myself back on track with support from him and my teammates.

I had a third fight and this time round I won, however something in me felt that I didn’t do enough. I won the battle but I lost the war. The war of inner demons and noises repeatedly reminding me of my first two fights. The war of the fears I couldn’t overcome and negative emotions that I tried to push out. This struggle kept me from improving.

Our training regime differs from the fight camp training you receive in Thailand or at other gyms in Singapore. You may think that training is just long distance running, hitting 3 rounds of 3 minutes of pad work, some clinching and sparring but that is NOT the case! For someone like the old me with no stamina, inconsistent attitude unwillingness to step out of my comfort zone,  it was very tough. I would drag myself into the gym and dread the training that lay ahead.

Sometimes I asked myself, do all gyms out there train this hard? What was I doing this for? I constantly questioned our training methods. My poor attitude and negative mindset resulted in me not giving the training my 100% and finding excuses not to train. I was going through the motions, not enjoying the training or understanding the benefits. The same old mindset with so many fears and uncertainties didn’t change until after my 5th fight.

Old me, dead and gone…


It got to the point where my head coach approached me and we had a personal talk with each other regarding what happened in the past, what is happening now and what will happen in the future. Thankfully this mentoring steered me in the right direction with a fresh approach to the psychology of training. I was constantly reminded over and over again to change my mindset and correcting this will result in a better attitude that will directly affect my fights and also life outside the gym. I’m thankful and extremely grateful to my head coach and teammates for their support spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally. These are the true and real life experiences I learnt in this Muay Thai journey.

1) Be blessed for what you already have.
2) Find the motivation from within.
3) Stay humble, you will learn much more.
4) What is there to fear, nobody is untouchable.
6) Be unshakable.
7) A strong spirit and a sound mind go a long way.
8) Do not overthink, it creates unnecessary distractions.
9) The fight has already started from the beginning of your first day in training and ends with the final bell of the last round.
10) The outcome of the fight doesn’t make you a winner or a loser.

Now, onto my 6th upcoming fight, I find myself coping better and dealing with unnecessary thoughts. Overthinking doesn’t help, it will lead you to have more negative thoughts that ends up with negative results. ’Negative words result in negative actions’. What you say is what you will become.

If I had not joined MT in Vanda I would still be very negative in my head and approach to the challenges of life. I would especially say to all females out there, stop doubting yourself whether you can achieve your goals or not. Nothing is impossible. I train 6 times a week now which was unthinkable just over a year ago. At 6am I’m out of the bed and ready for life. 7am you see me doing my endurance training every Wednesday in the club. This coming 27th February, I’ll be fighting a female professional fighter that has more experience than me. I’ve won the fight already, what about you?



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  • Well said and well written..humble as always, its always true what ive always heard and learn all this while, like a malay saying “the more you know the more you dare not raise up your head and the more you will feel yourself being so tiny in this world.” Keep up the spirit Shirley, and always remember where you always step.

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