Lilian Dikmans Muay Thai fighting
Lilian Dikmans (r) in Muay Thai bout / Pic: William Luu

Why I do Muay Thai

When I walked into Powerplay gym in Melbourne about 4 years ago, I was there to try Muay Thai classes for fitness. I never thought I’d end up in the ring, let alone fighting.

I had done CrossFit for a couple of years prior but had taken a break and was looking to get fit again. The fitness classes at the gym gave me a taste for punching, kicking, elbowing and kneeing things. I was hooked straight away. I needed an outlet for my anxiety and general daily frustrations and this did the trick.

A bunch of fighters trained at Powerplay, and I would see them at the back of the gym via the mirrors, while I was doing the fitness classes. I would watch them hitting the pads and sparring and decided that I wanted to try that.

So I signed up to do the gym’s graded classes that allowed you to progress from beginner to intermediate, advanced and eventually to fight level. I trained consistently and worked my way though the levels.

The first time I sparred, it was pretty embarrassing. I forgot everything I’d learnt and spent the whole round fighting the urge to cover my head with my arms and turn my back on my partner. But I kept at it, and eventually my confidence grew as I stopped flinching. I realized that I could actually take hits and fight back.

This is also when I met my trainer, Theo Gouletsas, and second trainer and sparring partner Jacinta Paskalidis. Theo and Jacinta have taught, and continue to teach me so much. They are the reason that I fell in love with the traditional Muay Thai style. We’ve had a couple of trips to Thailand together for training and they are always in my corner.

I want to fight well

After I started to spar at the gym, I entered a couple of interclub sparring events which gave me a taste of what it’s like to fight in a ring in front of a bunch of people. Then I took the plunge and was matched for an amateur fight. I won the fight but wasn’t happy with my performance. I hated wearing headgear and shin guards.

It was a great learning experience and left me wanting to try again. So I was matched for my first professional fight earlier this year. I was very nervous, but also excited to push myself and see what I was capable of.

Winning this fight I went on to win my second one. But again I wasn’t that happy with my performance because it was messy and I know I can do better. I think this is how I get addicted to things – I always want to do better. At the end of the day, for me it’s not about winning. I just want to fight well. I would rather fight well and lose than fight poorly and win.

I’ve learnt so much about myself from the start of my training to now. Muay Thai has helped me develop resilience and mental strength. Life lessons that I don’t think I would’ve been able to fully explore had I not walked into the gym 4 years ago.

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