Hard Strikes on Steady Grounds

The Yard’s training grounds in the Heights. 

Looking at a warehouse from a distance or up close wouldn’t catch one by surprise since most of the warehouse buildings at or around Ave 26 and Humbolt St. industry area all look similar, if not all alike.

The Yard Muay Thai gym on Ave 26.

In the midst of this industrious neighborhood corner of Lincoln Heights, one of the warehouse, a dark red one, has a large banner out front, displaying: The Yard Muay Thai which adds some character and separates itself slightly from the other buildings.

This once Chinese preserved food storage warehouse, according to Mark, one of the three owners of The Yard, gives people from a diverse background an opportunity to come together and practice Muay Thai, a sport that originated from Thailand which allows the usage of the elbow and the knee during combat.

Stepping through the ajar door, and leaving one’s shoes outside the lobby, one leaves the outside world behind and enters another.

As one takes a casual stroll into the gym, one notices every one is working on their own objectives and areas and at their own pace. Time itself takes a back seat here since the focus is to warm up one’s physical and mental muscles as one gets ready to break some sweat as soon as one begins to practice the exchange of punches and kicks in the Bag Room or exchange them with a partner in the ring.

Mark, one of the three owners of The Yard trains with an athlete.

Although no formal class are held during the gym’s open hours, one can’t help but notice an existing irony that takes place as each group at different areas of the gym operates like a class, depending on the activity one is participating in.

This flow of free spirit energy glides in and spreads itself around the room as it seems to guide the athletes through various stations of activities from jumping ropes, jogging or running up and down the room, practicing one’s fist or foot strikes in the Bag Room or in the ring.

Because the gym’s atmosphere is so easy going, it continues to bring veteran athlete like Josh back. He tells me he has been with The Yard since 2009 when the gym was still located in Downtown Los Angeles. The reasons he continues to return comes from his early influence by his father’s amateur boxing and his original goal to lose weight which gradually changed into the joy and addiction of practicing Muay Thai itself.

Athletes of Muay Thai practice their kicks and punches in the Bag Room.

Speaking of addiction, Milo, another athlete who recently picked up the sport again after a year’s absence, tells me he enjoys forming strategic plans when he spars with his opponent because the combinations in the sport are endless and it’s what keeps him coming back for more.

Ultimately, the journey of training and sparing in and out of the ring comes down to truly learning and knowing about one self; it is through this journey that one learns how to develop and maintain honor and self discipline because without them, as Nesha, one of the trainers at The Yard tells me, you’ve missed the entire point or concept in the sport.

Next post: Thursday, March 1st.

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