The sound of a punch or kick making perfect contact is a particularly satisfying one. It leaves you with the same feeling that the crack of a white cue ball does as it smashes through a triangle of coloured balls and is followed by a short silence and clunk as a ball sinks into a pocket. At Kobra this thwacking sound of shins or gloves against leather is accompanied by further sounds, and I don’t just mean Guns n Roses. (Though my preferred accompaniement is a compilation of old style rock taking in some Rezillos, some Clash and some Led Zep).
But even better than the sound of a well-placed punch or kick, is the combination of sounds that Kob and his crew make when encouraging the Muay Thai students. The trainers seems to have a language all of their own, which took me a few days to decipher. The cries of ‘Aaaaghh’ on making contact can be either a good or bad depending on a smile or a scowl. This is the favourite of both Ton and Kob. ‘Ooooh Wee!’ is undoubtedly one that gets everyone smiling. There’s no denying that you’ve done a good job when Sat or Kob exclaims this and then grin wildly at you. Kob then has his own sounds he adds to encourage your movements – “schoop schoop” being used to encourage you to dance lightly on your toes moving backwards and forward. All of this means that the noises that run together can range from the hugely satisfying thwack as your shin hits the pad accompanied by; “Oooh Weee! Aaghh! Yes!!…Schoop Schoop! Schoop Schoop… Elbow! Aaagh! Schoop schoop. Saba sabai…” and ‘Yow!’ (a command to follow up with another kick). All of this is a great encouragement as your legs start to ache, you doubt your abilities and lose your balance on your toes.
Below are just some of the sounds as Kob tries to teach me how to use my knees properly and Joni shows us how it really should be done.