This year, Allie Readmond from Easton Boulder earned a spot on USA’s Muay Thai World Team, meaning she will compete in Thailand at the International Federation of Muay Thai Associations (IFMA) world championships!
Making the world team marks a huge accomplishment for Allie, as the IFMA has crowned the best fighters in the world since 1993 and consists of 140 member countries. Simply put, the IFMA World Championship is the Olympics of Muay Thai.
Being the first home-grown Easton athlete to get to this level, Allie embodies not only her own hard work and potential, but that which all of our students at Easton can look up to aspire to.
Allie first came to Easton Training Center in March of 2017, having never taken a striking class. Though Allie swam competitively for most of her teenage years, including going to State levels a couple of times, she still didn’t consider herself particularly athletic.
Today, Allie holds a Purple Shirt in Muay Thai and teaches Muay Thai at Easton Boulder Tuesdays at 5:30PM, Wednesdays at 5:30PM, 6:30PM, and 7:30PM, and Sundays at 1:00PM!
Creating your own safe space
People come to Easton for all kinds of reasons, but self-defense rises above all others. In Allie’s case, she had just returned from her freshman year of college in Seattle, where she had been sexually assaulted at a frat party. When she came home to Boulder where she grew up, she realized she didn’t want to go back to Washington. She reconnected with her high school boyfriend and enrolled at CU, but soon her grades began slipping; on a physiological level, Allie had ceased to feel safe.
Allie found herself in a constant state of high alert. No matter what she did, she felt like she couldn’t pass a test, and the constant fight-or-flight mode fried her nervous system.
Prevalent theories in psychology maintain that one of our most basic needs as humans is that of safety. If we don’t feel safe, our nervous system doesn’t know how to react. It feels like a rug getting constantly ripped out from under us and we never know when it’ll happen.
“How am I supposed to feel safe in the world now?” Allie asked herself, as many of us do who have encountered a similar experience that rocked our sense of security.
When a counselor at CU suggested Allie learn how to defend herself, she took to Google to research local Kickboxing classes. Whereas other schools required her to call in, Easton’s online lead form provided a way to reach out without picking up the phone, and the reassurance that someone would text to schedule her first class — a relief for someone with high social anxiety.
Her first class fell on Boulder’s classic Sunday noon time slot with an instructor who always brought out a huge crowd. The room teemed with energy, and though Allie first felt terrified, she quickly found herself hooked.
She stuck with it, and soon her sense of self began returning. She made friends and grew in confidence, and as Allie began to feel more comfortable in her skin, she finally felt capable of tackling the knots in her mental spaces. Feeling physically safer gave her the protection she needed to confront the softer, still-scared parts inside herself.
Thanks to the friends she made in her Kickboxing class, her personal quest for self-defense flowered into a community that held each other accountable and pushed each other to get to the next level. Many of the people she started out with are now coaches and instructors themselves, and have gone on to train and fight alongside Allie.
A fluid state of mind
We might understand how the fluidity from her love for swimming transmuted into the fluidity of her love to Muay Thai, the difference being with the latter the dance stays on the feet.
“There were all these little things you had to pay attention to,” recalls Allie, who also did track for a season but found that it didn’t hold her attention enough to continue. “While running was [mostly] breathing and pain, with swimming there was so much technique and something else to focus on, from breathing between strokes, when to change it up, how to make the rhythm between the feet and the hands.”
The ability to tease out the details and the individual pieces of technique helped Allie break down the overall problem at hand and solve the riddle in what manifested as a beautiful sequence of movements. Those who train in Muay Thai might relate.
“Muay Thai is very beautiful,” says Allie, “and when watching it, I can notice body kick placement, knee placement, where the hit falls on the target. It’s so detailed, and I can tease out the nuance.”
The beauty of each technical detail, and how we string them together to produce a deadly weapon in combat, becomes tantamount to, if not more important than, the competition ambition.
From flow to intentionality
Though Allie has a competitive streak, it had previously always manifested more in academics (another reason it was so strange when her grades began to drop.) Once her body felt safe, it was like a switch flipped in Muay Thai. Ironically, while in Kickboxing, Allie never really wanted to do Muay Thai. She loved Kickboxing, and thought she could learn everything she needed on the bag if she ever needed to defend herself again.
It was only when that same instructor threw her and her friend into the Muay Thai class that she confronted her fear and conquered it. And even then, she never wanted to compete; Allie just wanted to learn “how to kick a person.” She never expected for Muay Thai to be so pretty and fun, and at the same time calming.
Having coaches who care and keep bringing you back can make all the difference. In many ways, it became this flow that led Allie through the many levels of her path: she showed promise and talent, and her coaches continued to encourage her to step outside her comfort zone. This was how she ended up doing her first fight camp and smoker, as she was learning how to spar.
After her first smoker, she leaned into the process, and opportunities continued to arise for her, which Coaches Sean Madden and Steve Eiseman encouraged and nurtured. It wasn’t until the last couple of years where Allie found herself taking a more intentional approach to her competitive path, rather than following what had been paved for her.
More than anything, this path illuminated a metaphor for what fighting means, in terms of life: each time she did a fight camp, Allie would tell herself, “Maybe this is the last one. I don’t know if I can go through this again.” And then, right after the fight — win or lose — in that moment of getting through it, everything feels worth it.
Getting through the brutal training process and the fight itself became a metaphor for pushing through the lush and messy forest to see the clearing on the other side. Sometimes it’s a temporary clearing, but it gives us a peek into what lies on the other side of all the work – the light at the end of the tunnel that gives body to the abstract goal pushing us.
Staying calm in the fight
No matter what it is, we’re fighting something our entire lives. Whether it’s death, natural disasters, sickness, sorrow, other people’s projections, when we’re in the thick of it, we can easily forget what we’re even fighting for. When we have the grit to get through the grunt work and see the fruits of our labor, we reach an apex where we can see everything with clarity – even for a moment.
These are the moments that allow us to step back down and put our nose to the grindstone, knowing the work is worth it. And these moments, as we have all found, do not stop at training and fighting — they seep into every aspect of our lives, from school to family to work, such as with Allie’s job at the ER in Boulder.
“Some people come in and take that first class,” says Allie, “and their end goal is to get to fight. They’re thinking years and years and many steps ahead. And that was never my initial desire. It just became the logical next step.”
Many people who just want to fight don’t always realize how much gets put between day one and fight day. Allie kept showing up, dedicated to improving one little thing at a time and always hungry to learn something new. Follow the path, go into Muay Thai fundies when you earn your Yellow Shirt, learn to spar when you earn your Orange Shirt. Maybe do your first Smoker. You may love it, you may not; but you’ll never know unless you try.
After every fight camp, Allie still has the voice that says “maybe it’ll be the last time,” but then she takes it to the finish line and each time realizes, “There’s no way in hell I could ever give this up.”