Age: 32
Occupation: General Manager,
DY Life International

Jianlan Shi is one such Muay Thai enthusiast and an avid sports person. With a unique portfolio in many other fitness activities like endurance riding, Marathon, Yoga and Crossfit, she is the perfect role model for people looking to indulge in sports. Sports form a core aspect of her life and despite her hectic work schedule, she manages to scoop out enough time for her passion.

Thinking about taking up Muay Thai??? Maybe you want to get fit, learn some self-defense or just pick it up as a new hobby. The fact is Muay Thai is dangerous, but the good news is that majority of modern Muay Thai practitioners are non-competitive and in majority of the cases, pursue it purely for fitness and health purposes.

At what age you started your first sport?
When I was in middle school (at the age of 12), I participated in long distance running (5K) for the first time and to my surprise, I placed first. I continued to participate in long distance running up to college.

When I moved to Dubai, I never envisaged that I will fall in love with horse endurance riding. I participated for the first time in Abu Dhabi in 40km. However, the horse was extremely tough on me, I fell off the horse, though luckily, I was not injured. After that I gave another shot at 40km in Dubai and succeeded.

Muay Thai is another sport which I am actively into. Muay Thai or Thai Boxing is the national sport and cultural martial art of Thailand. This sport is all about confrontation. I travelled to Thailand for half a month to train in Muay Thai. I continued to practice it because I fell in love with it. It’s beautiful and expressive. It increases your adrenaline, makes you aggressive and agile. A good Muay Thai boxer requires a lot of hard work and training to remember all movements, to strengthen the core, to improve the endurance; to be brave and mature enough for all fights!

How has the experience been overall?
The sports system here in Dubai is mature and of international standards. Though sports in my home country, China are also well developed, I have acquired skills and trained primarily in Dubai, which has made my life wonderful and interesting. Endurance races in Dubai are world class and amazing and hence, it’s a joy to participate in them.

Which is your favourite and why?
My favorite is endurance riding. There are varied reasons for my choice namely, it calls for high level of cooperation between the horse and the rider. Endurance riding is not only a sport, but also a commitment to your horse and the respect to the equestrian industry. Like any other sport, this sport also requires lots of commitment to understand the horse’s mindset. Once you get the hang of it, you will fall in love with this sport.

Any awards or recognitions that you have earned?
So far, I have competed 4 qualifiers: 2 times 40km, 2 times 80km in endurance ride and am preparing for the FEI (Federation Equestrian International) race in 2018.

Any memorable moment related to adventure sports that was inspirational as well?
During my first 40KM endurance qualifier race in Abu Dhabi, I fell off the horse, which was a bad experience and for some time, I was scared of taking up horse riding. The real challenge of mental, emotional and spiritual growth comes when you get knocked down. I overcame the fear and completed all qualifiers after my failure. Failure taught me to become better in this field.

You are seen boxing with a male counterpart in one of the pictures? Isn’t it rather challenging?
Yes, it is very challenging. Muay Thai is a dangerous sport when it comes to a real fight.
Out of all the techniques and skills which you learn from training, the most important is one’s mindset. A good boxer is never afraid of being punched.

Any failures and what you have learnt from them?
The most importance thing I have learnt is to make sure you do sports safely.I was about to go for a real fight when I was in Thailand. I was very confident about participating in Muay Thai after training for some time. However, I changed my mind when I observed a real fight. I learned that one needs to be really prepared for all the risks, so that you can do sports safely and over longer period of time.

What would you say to women who are really interested in pursuing Muay Thai, but feel intimidated to try it?
Trying something new is almost always intimidating but its empowering! The Muay Thai community is very welcoming. There is a kind of warmth associated with a passion for Muay Thai, a sense of community that feels markedly different from other types of spaces.

Where would you like to see yourself in the next ten years?
I would love to see myself as an FEI (Federation Equestrian International) 3* rider and a professional yoga expert and dancer, too. ■

Written by: Bandana Jain
Photos: Supplied

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this article was published in OutdoorUAE printed magazine issue #92 December 2018 – January 2019

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