The Balance Series: Work and Muay Thai Part 1 -- Mia Kang, Sports Illustrated Model and Professional Muay Thai Fighter
The Balance will be an ongoing blog feature on Khongsittha documenting amazing individuals and how they find ways to balance their love of Muay Thai and their responsibilities at work. By making this an ongoing project, we hope to figure out the best methods and ways to get the most out of training, work, and life in general. As you may have heard before, Muay Thai is a way of life, not just a deadly martial art. The most common subject that pops up when we talk with guests at Khongsittha is how to continue their training and diet after they return home. For the majority of practitioners, it’s simply not feasible to train four to five hours a day, and eat Thai food for less than $5 a day. What can be done is to look at what others are doing to continue training hard while balancing work and life obligations.
This week’s individual being interviewed is Mia Kang, Sports Illustrated (SI) Swimsuit model and probably the prettiest Muay Thai fighter you’ve ever laid eyes on. She has a unique look being half-British and half-Korean, and we expect her to take the world by storm this year. She won the SI Swimsuit Model Search 2016 and is a 2017 rookie, who also happens to have recently completed her first professional Muay Thai fight, with an impressive knockout victory to add on top. According to SI, what was originally a 10-day mental vacation to Thailand turned into a 9 month obsession with Muay Thai, with Mia living, training, and breathing Muay Thai. There’s more to her than just Muay Thai and modeling; she’s battled anxiety, depression, and eating disorders, and is currently thriving (Vogue covers this extensively). It’s very rare that you will see these two professions blend into each other, and even rarer to excel at both, which is why we believe that Mia Kang was the perfect person to interview for The Balance. Beautiful and deadly, the exact features that make Muay Thai such an impressive martial art.
KST: Is it possible to excel at both Muay Thai and a professional career?
Mia: Of course it’s possible to excel at both, it just depends on how bad you want it. My work schedule varies from day to day, so my training does too. If I can't make group training, I make sure I get some work in on the bags on my own.
KST: Does Muay Thai help and/or hinder your career as a model?
Mia: I have to adjust my training because Muay Thai does interfere with my work - for example I know that I have to skip sparring or take it easy when I have upcoming shoots to avoid bruising. Sometimes I can't make it to the gym so I just have to run - this helps your fight game too. Sometimes when my work hours are crazy, all I do is shadowbox with wrist and ankle weights, or just jump rope. Doing what you can, when you can, will help you so long as you keep working at it. You can't expect to become great at something unless you are committed.
KST: What are some tips and crucial pieces of advice that you can give (to) those who are trying to balance work and Muay Thai?
Mia: From the surface it seems as if my modeling career and my Muay Thai are polar opposite worlds that conflict with each other. For me though I feel like I need both. The fashion and entertainment industry is incredibly ego-driven - I have to spend so much of my time thinking about superficial things and about my appearance. When I am practicing Muay Thai, those things are the last of my worries. It doesn't matter who I am or what I do. It is an incredibly humbling sport which requires you to check your ego at the door. For me, my two worlds are the perfect compliment for one another.
What to Take Away
Mia willingly put herself in a difficult situation in the form of choosing modeling and Muay Thai as her passion, which on the surface seems like they conflict with each other. The ego within the fashion industry can be overwhelming, and she uses Muay Thai to ground herself and to be aware that sometimes you need to leave your ego at the entrance of the gym door. It’s almost as if the habits and awareness needed to be effective at Muay Thai can be directly translated into increased efficiency and being able to cope with work stress. The only thing that remains in many practitioner’s minds is the plethora of excuses that can arise when working full-time and not being able to get in adequate training.
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The next part of The Balance Series will be an in-depth interview with Manuel Keo, an up-and-coming amateur Muay Thai fighter who balances a full-time job, an amateur career, a marriage, and children with ease. If you’d like to be notified when we publish this article, click here and you’ll be able to subscribe to the Khongsittha Muay Thai Newsletter, covering major topics of interest within the Muay Thai world.