Facing Mortality and Finding a Family at FaMA

Mortality is not something you think about in your twenty somethings. Death and decay come for everyone, irrespective of age, but you believe in the invincibility that you’re afforded because of your youth. 2017 is likely the fittest I’ve been my whole life. It’s been a constant source of amazement to see what my body can do now, observe the subtle changes to its appearance and also the damage it can sustain. This is one time I’ve probably taken it too far.

My trip to the Maldives was a true mixed bag. I was in the most beautiful place in the world, with my hearing and ability to balance, rapidly deteriorating. By the end of the second day, I couldn’t hear anything in my left ear, I couldn’t walk straight and I was highly discouraged against going into the water. I made the most of the trip by slowly shuffling to nearby places, reading and taking in the view. But it was so hard, not having control over my body and not really knowing why. Most of all, I was going from training and walking kilometres everyday to lying down for long periods of the day. I ended up spending most of my last few days in the Maldives, sleeping, to pass the time.

Arriving in Singapore, the ENT specialist told me that the hearing loss and my inability to balance was due to a viral infection that had made its way to my inner ear (non-contagious because of where it’s located). After describing my last couple of weeks, he deduced that it probably came from the cold I had caught in Sydney, a couple of days prior to the start of my end of year holidays. He said more things, about this being a semi-emergency, about the potential of permanently losing my hearing in my left ear and about second line treatments if the copious amount of drugs and supplements he had given me, didn’t work. I can’t remember the last time I cried in a doctor’s office but I did that day, as he validated the fears I had been harbouring over the last few days.

Having any sort of permanent damage to your body is obviously not ideal. But losing my hearing was a particularly isolating experience. It felt like I was within and without, in the middle of people, busyness and activity but unable to completely grasp the context. All I thought about during this time was how my solution in Sydney to being sick was to survive on caffeine and pain killers to get through work before my highly anticipated holidays. There was probably nothing I could have done to prevented the viral infection but the way I had gone about it was incredibly stupid, with complete disrespect for my health.

What was meant to be a short sojourn in Singapore turned into an extended stay so I could be close to my specialist. While half my head continued to feel like it was stuck in a tunnel, my balance was slowly returning. I could feel myself going into a dark place and I knew if I didn’t exercise or train soon, I would go crazy. I ended up attending one of Sam A’s classes at Evolve MMA. I could barely hear him during the class because he was always standing to my left which meant I accidentally volunteered to demonstrate freestyle bag work simply because I had no idea what was going on. My balance in Muay Thai is already not great and my condition which exacerbated this, showed in my pad work. Slightly embarrassed but emboldened all the same, I decided that I could still continue on my tour of martial arts gyms in Singapore.

If you’ve been watching my Instagram, you’ll have seen that this tour ended at FaMA. It has become my favourite place in Singapore and the place that I’ve gone to every morning before I start my day. I was afraid I would get lost getting there but a student wearing the FaMA rash was kind enough to lead the way. I was nervous about signing up, but was given such personalised treatment in the form of a tour of their amazing facilities, during which everyone stopped to say hello to me. I was there for Muay Thai while almost everyone else was Brazilian Jiu Jitsu but there’s a real sense of camaraderie between the two as both classes perform the warm up together. I still had balance issues but Kru Ping was incredibly patient with me and following under his tutelage has taught me a lot in such a short amount of time. After each session I would always end up hanging back because it was fun chatting to people. I had every intention of trying multiple gyms across Singapore but it was the inclusive nature of FaMA that made me want to stay.

Muay Thai has made me more in tune with my body. As such, daily training at FaMA also became a test for me to see if my balance was improving. It was also the perfect distraction for me, the thing I looked forward most to, so I wasn’t just focused on the 14 different types of medication I had to take in the morning. Being involved in this sport has once again allowed me to look after my mental health and to participate in wonderful communities like FaMA. Once again, when all else fails, Muay Thai will always be there to guide me.

Right now, my balance is more or less restored. There is still a blocked and ringing sensation in my left ear but I am optimistic about my appointment with my specialist tomorrow. In the last 8 or 9 days in Singapore, I’ve seen so many facets to this incredible country. Some good, some bad, but if this gym is a microcosm of the country, I can confidently say that the people of Singapore are truly incredible.

Thank you Kru Ping for being endlessly patient with me to improve my basics. Thank you Masato for your clear dedication during training, it inspired me to push myself harder. Thank you Jeff for all the photos and Terry, also for training and for yong tau foo! Thank you James for talking to me right after my first session, for giving me my first taste of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and for finding my inability to properly back roll amusing. Thank you Professor Zoro, Wendy, Heon Chi and everyone in my first BJJ Basics class who made it so much more comfortable for me. I had so much support it was almost hard to know who to listen to! Thank you Steve for being my very first interaction with FaMA when I messaged on Facebook, I wouldn’t have turned up if it wasn’t for you. Also for constantly encouraging me to give BJJ a try. Thank you to Felicia, John and the third guy (I’m so sorry I didn’t catch your name) for sparring with me yesterday. Thank you to everyone that said hello and goodbye to me, this tiny Asian girl who came from nowhere and now seems to live at the gym. Thank you FaMA. Thank you Muay Thai.


FaMA (Fitness and Martial Arts)

3A River Valley Road, #02-03, Clarke Quay, 179020


6352 0992

Recommended Articles


  1. Hey Sam, Hope you get better very soon! 🙂
    – the student wearing FaMA rash

    1. Thank you so much for you wishes! And most importantly THANK YOU for guiding me to FaMA when I was so nervous and confused. What a journey its been!

  2. […] you’ve read my previous post on my experience training at FaMA in Singapore, you would know the backstory of how a cold in Sydney escalated into a viral ear infection that […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *