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June 5, 2024

Easton’s Allie Readmond: Competing Globally + Representing Women in Muay Thai

Tatyana Grechina

Easton’s Allie Readmond: Competing Globally + Representing Women in Muay Thai

One of the best parts of Easton’s program is its ability to welcome new students while staying on the cutting edge of battle-tested martial arts through competition.

Whether you’re a blue belt, green shirt, or brown belt, competition offers a way to test yourself under pressure in the safety of an organized event. Some competitions, such as the IBJJF Denver Open, which brings international champs right to our backyard, offer the opportunity to test yourself against some of the best of your time at your level.

This week on the Easton Community Podcast, we welcome Muay Thai Coach Allie Readmond, who is currently in Patras, Greece, representing the United States at the 2024 IFMA Senior World Championship. 

To hear the full hour –  including Allie’s experience going through fight camp, coming up as a woman in Muay Thai, and how competition has shaped her confidence (and vice versa) – listen to the episode on Spotify or Apple Podcasts!

For Allie, who holds a Brown Shirt in Muay Thai, Easton’s inclusive culture for beginners played a key role in her own journey to the mats

It wasn’t until her training diverted to competition that she found herself needing to carve her own path. Up till then, Allie’s primary goals had centered on finding confidence, community and security in knowing how to defend herself.

Images: Adrian Nigel @fighters.eye

Entering the world of competition, while exciting and challenging, also created a new set of challenges for Allie to navigate physically and mentally – one being the inherent, underlying discrepancy between the male and female fighting experience.

Whereas she has always felt welcome, respected and valued regardless of her gender at Easton, that’s not always the case in combat sports where women are under-represented. 

In some places, men may see the women in their communities as opportunities rather than equals, and treat them as such – whether this means a rest round, an easy target or a way to bolster their egos off the mats.

“In general, with combat sports,” says Allie, “I have a little frustration because women are kind of expected to be really, really nice…and that doesn’t necessarily serve us for wanting to go after each other [in the ring]. Being super nice, smiling in weigh-in pictures – that’s an aspect that’s really unequal. Men are not expected to do that.”

While making friends from all over is often a result of the competition experience, Allie describes that it’s almost expected of women. This supportive archetype may be a comfort to some, but for those who want to keep focused on their goal and the fight ahead, it can feel like an imposed patriarchal pressure geared towards making others feel better.

This isn’t anything new for women, who frequently navigate the balancing act of their needs with the feelings of others – often at the expense of feeling out of alignment with themselves.

Even in many female friendships, hard conversations may subside in favor of harmony, or truths get held back to spare feelings. The result can feel isolating, repressive and sometimes explosive.

In competition, you’re not there to play to anybody’s feelings. You’re there to do your job: be ruthless, respectful and focused. 

“I resent the fact that I need to be everyone’s friend,” says Allie, “that I may have to swallow any opinion I may have or beat down my own expertise around something to play nice and make nice with the people around me. I’m not trying to be a bitch to people, but I’m not here to be everyone’s friend and make you feel better.”

Afterwards, you can connect over something real – a match you both just fought, an experience shared by none other than the two of you. The intimacy is real, not superficial, projected or expected.

Confidence versus arrogance

In contrast to expected, traditional archetypes, when Allie is in fight mode, she wants to keep her head in the game. 

As important as dropping our ego is in the practice room to embrace humility and learn all we can, it’s equally important to reel it back in when it counts. Some aspects of the ego can be beneficial in a fight.

Just as we need our egos at the most fundamental level to help stay out of harm’s way, we also need to find a way to lean into its inherent confidence that we do know best and do have what it takes. For that, we need to learn how to work with the ego.

Images: Adrian Nigel @fighters.eye

While the “feminine” experience teaches women we need to meld to what’s expected (yes, still) and just “be nice” or “easy” in a way men don’t face, this can often directly contradict the warrior spirit a female competitor works to summon before a big fight.

Certainly, some people go into martial arts all ego and require a long road of transformation and letting go, the opposite can be equally helpful if someone struggles with self-esteem. For these individuals, even of extremely high skill sets, it’s not uncommon to find their coaches and training partners believing in their abilities far more than they do themselves.

In these cases, it can help to separate yourself from your fears and insecurities (or perfectionism) by embracing a persona that allows for those usually hidden aspects to surface. There, a layer removed from the apologetic, agreeable and self-doubting player you may present in the practice room, you can let your fierce competitor drive.

The best fighters are not naturally aggressive brutalists; they’re nuanced and humble yet confident in their skills to speak for them. The layers of self and evolution that Allie, and many who train martial arts, experience on the mats – from training and nerding out with her friends to fight camp to competition, demonstrate that above all else, there’s not “one shade” of winner.

For the full episode, join us on Spotify and Apple Podcasts!

[Alle Readmond: Easton’s Homegrown Student Takes on Thailand with Team USA]


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