It is no longer uncommon to see ladies picking martial arts as their main workout of choice today. 27 year old Ivy Seah is one of these examples, and can be seen at a Muay Thai or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) class on weekday evenings and weekend afternoons at FaMA - Fitness and Martial Arts.
We've come to learn that there is often an interesting story behind every individual that comes through our doors. It is not merely about who they are on the mats. In a casual conversation with Ivy, we learned more about this charming and witty personality, her background, interests, and candid outlook on life. And that has made us love her presence at FaMA even more than before.
1. Introduce yourself! How old are you, and what takes place in your life outside of FaMA?
I am Ivy Seah, 27 years old. I work at a digital transformation consultancy. I spend my day supporting a number of business processes, help navigate expansion into new Southeast Asia, prepare decks, run performance reports… "Management-y" stuff.
Other than work, being at FaMA takes up most of my time. When I am not in FaMA, I am getting ready to get to FaMA, walking to FaMA, or getting home from FaMA.
The next likely option would be a bar, I guess. I’m mostly either drinking or fighting.
2. When did you begin training martial arts?
A long time ago, I did Taekwondo and was a 2nd poom belt (Junior Black Belt). I was a very active kid, but the party scene absorbed me into its world and I neglected martial arts for a long time. I only recently rekindled my martial arts journey when I found FaMA.
My initial interest when joining FaMA was in Muay Thai, but I jumped into both Muay Thai and BJJ classes at the same time.
3. What compelled you to start training martial arts?
Watching choke-slams and WWE matches on television. The fighters looked dope! My parents started me young with Taekwondo, and I didn’t hate it. I wouldn't say I was "compelled" to start; is crashed into my life.
I started again as an adult because adult socialising, getting sloshed, and being a sloth on my couch after a day's work made me feel unmotivated, uninspired and lethargic on most days. Running on low energy all the time felt like an unsustainable way of living. So I looked up the internet for ideas to change things up.
I found all these weight loss plans, crazy diets, exercise regimes that flood the internet. They didn’t appeal to me at all. They still don’t.
Trying out a new sport was probably the 587th item on my list, and I experimented with the idea, reluctantly. I can now confidently say it has been life’s best experiment yet.
4. Describe in the following aspects how martial arts has changed your life.
I went from a “zero-activity" lifestyle to spending most evenings at the gym sweating it out. I have perpetual body sores, I am bruised all the time, and I always feel like I want to die. But, as a happy side effect, I lost a bunch of kilos - six, I think? I feel like my cardio has improved tenfold, and I have muscles like a man! And according to my friends, I have developed more defined ankles.
I was fixated on my idea of happiness being, "party hard, meet interesting people, have epic adventures". Those things haven’t changed, but martial arts made me realize a whole bunch of things that matter more: such as relentlessly trying, having "heart", acai, and embracing the “suck”. I’ve come to learn that we are all going to be punched in the face one way or another, it's just the way life is.
My social life has also seen a major shift. The average age of my social circle has drastically reduced - I have even gone on a holiday to Bali with "Killer Kyra” (also a regular member at FaMA), who is 15 years old. I also spend a substantial amount of time with the washing machine, doing laundry, these days. What am I?!
6. Describe one (or more than one) thing that you learned about yourself only after learning martial arts?
That I can actually be fit! It is not some superpower that selected human beings are capable of achieving. And the craziest thing is that the way to get there is to just show up. Then keep showing up. Decline unwanted dinner invitations, and show up. So simple.
7. You recently went on trips to Thailand and Indonesia with some friends from FaMA. How did this come about?
I have always wanted to go for the Songkran (Thai New Year) festival, so when Numnow (FaMA staff) asked if I wanted to join her, I said yes immediately! It was a coincidence that fellow FaMA members, Camille and Marie, were also able to join us. I think the Muay Thai gods aligned in favour of the trip.
The trip to Bali, Indonesia, came about because I was looking to plan a fun holiday. So, I randomly asked a few girls if they wanted to join me for a surf camp in Bali, and maybe even take a BJJ class there. Two of them said yes. It turned out to be so much fun!
8. What brings you joy? Also, what are you passionate about?
Magical moments bring me joy. I recently learned to dive, and it was through this that I discovered a brand new world underwater. There, I could create bubbles, be amongst an array of live seafood (marine life), and occasionally make eye contact with a mystical sea turtle. Those moments were happy moments for me.
Another time while travelling in New Zealand, I encountered two separate occasions where shopkeepers gave me a cookie, and then chocolate milk, both completely free. I don’t know why they did that, but I also knew then that kindness also brings me joy.
I am passionate about about making life an epic adventure, worth living, and soaking in all the weird and wonderful that happen along this journey.
9. What is one thing most of your FaMA friends don’t know about?
They already know too much.
FaMA - Fitness and Martial Arts Established in 2016, FaMA is a world-class martial arts training facility located in the heart of the Central Business District in Singapore. Walking distance from the Clarke Quay MRT station, FaMA’s main goal is to help people improve their lives through martial arts regardless of age or athletic capability. Each program is led by experts in their respective fields. Whether it is weight loss, a fun workout, camaraderie, competition training, or just to break a sweat, FaMA has something for everyone.
Muay Thai, or The Art of Eight Limbs, is a martial art developed in Thailand thousands of years ago to help the Kingdom protect itself against invaders. Using the human body as a weapon, Muay Thai practitioners are well-versed in punching, elbowing, kicking, kneeing, and clinching with their opponents. What was once only used for self-defence and protection of the Kingdom, Muay Thai has grown to become one of the most popular sports not only in Thailand but in the world. Muay Thai is known to provide a complete total-body workout that will help build lean muscle, core strength, and help with weight loss. At FaMA, Muay Thai classes are taught daily by Tanaphong Khunhankaew, or better known as Kru Ping, and Kru Jerel Louie.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ as it is commonly known around the world, is a self-defence martial art that enables a smaller, weaker person to protect themselves against a much larger attacker using leverage and pressure. Formed from Kodokan Judo in Japan, Jiu Jitsu found its way to Brazil in the 1910s through Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese judoka and no-holds-barred prize fighter. During his time in Brazil, Maeda accepted a young Carlos Gracie as his student. Carlos would later pass on his knowledge to his brothers, most notably Helio Gracie - the father of modern Brazilian Jiujitsu. The Gracie family would go on to spread BJJ through The Gracie Challenge and eventually the creation of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Today, BJJ has grown to be more than just an effective unarmed fighting system. It helps young children deal with bullies and adults live a healthy lifestyle. BJJ classes are offered daily at FaMA under the tutelage of Black Belts Zoro Moreira, Robyn Goudy and Thiago Gaspary.