What I love the most about Muay Thai is that it’s more than just fighting and pointlessly punching each other in the face. It’s an experience that teaches you way more than just how to fight. For me, it’s all about finding where your limits are, pushing your body to these limits, and trying a bit harder during the next training session. This way, you put in 110% effort, which is the constant drive for improvement. You may be in pain afterward, but it is temporary. What’s more important is that you can clearly see the improvement you have made. To me, this is really rewarding physically and mentally.
My name is Lukasz Markowski. I am from Poland, but I have lived in Ireland since 2005. I have a degree in electronic & computer engineering and I am an analog IC layout engineer at Analog Devices. IC layout was not covered in detail during my studies, so I saw it as a challenge. I felt like I had the background knowledge of electronics that would enable me to do the job, and I decided to try it. I eventually moved to Limerick when I was offered my position at Analog Devices.
My two main hobbies are martial arts, Muay Thai specifically, and crafting scale models of various vehicles out of paper. My journey with martial arts started when I was 15, when I practiced Mugendo Kickboxing. I found it to be a great workout that developed fitness, stamina, flexibility, and built muscle at the same time. It was a great skill to have for self-defence, it was great for mental health, and it put you in tune with your body. I then had to suspend my training and focus on engineering studies, but shortly after I moved to Limerick, I started to attend the local EireMuaySiam gym, where I currently do Muay Thai.
My role model in Muay Thai is Saenchai, formerly known as Saenchai Sor. Kingstar. He is a fighter from Thailand who won the prestigious Lumpinee Championship title in four different weight divisions, while mostly fighting larger opponents (his height is 1.63m, which is quite short). This tells me that you can achieve so much and get through any adversities if you put in the work.
The most important thing that I have learned from my Muay Thai training (apart from the techniques of punching, kicking and striking with knees/elbows) is that the training never ends. You may consider yourself good, but there is always someone fitter, stronger and better than you to look up to. This makes you strive for further improvement and gives you the drive and the motivation to carry on. I think that the most important quality of a Muay Thai fighter is determination – if you are determined to achieve something, you will do all the training that needs to be done to get there without giving up.
My favourite move by far is the back kick. It is where you rotate your body 180 degrees before extending the leg for the kick. The rotation creates momentum that makes the kick really powerful. It is not really common in Muay Thai though; it’s something I learned at Kickboxing – I really liked it and it stuck with me.
So far, my favourite experience with the sport is when you partner up with someone for an exercise and they notice the improvements that you made and tell you about it. It’s also a great experience to try to motivate the training partner to push harder when they are tired and starting to give up. Of course, this can happen when the roles are reversed and the partner can motivate you if you are the one doing the exercise and starting to give up out of tiredness. It creates a bond between the two people and shows that it’s somewhat of a team sport, even though it doesn’t look like it. My future goal is to take part in some kind of a tournament event. I look forward to stepping into the ring and putting my skills to the test, which is something I have never done before.
Looking at my other hobby, I first became interested in scale models when I was about 7 or 8 years old. My father had a similar hobby and stopped at some point – sometime later, I found his unfinished models and decided to finish them. From that point on, I was interested in the hobby and decided to continue. Usually, I like to make army vehicles or airplanes from World War 2.
The tools needed for making models vary a lot. Of course, you use the most basic tools, like scissors or scalpel knifes for accuracy, but you can get very creative. For example, I used a 1.2mm syringe needle to cut out tiny circles by pressing it into paper. These would then be extracted from the needle tube and glued onto the model before painting to simulate rivets or bolt heads. Tweezers are used for small components, which there usually is a lot of. A lot of the time, the toolbox increases in size as you develop the hobby – you find yourself in situations where you have to improvise to make something, so you come up with a tool yourself depending on the needs. Different glues are also used for different applications. For example, wood glue is water based – if used on large surfaces, it would cause the paper to warp and buckle, so that is avoided.
Not a lot of people are aware of this (because it is quite a niche hobby), but you can actually buy a model design – it comes in the form of a magazine, but the paper is a little thicker. The model is in a mesh, so you cut it out, shape it and glue together. There usually is a “skeleton” made out of thicker card that keeps the main shape of the mesh. Painting is not usually required as the mesh comes with a nice graphic design; sometimes it contains weathering effects, so the finished model looks very photorealistic.
I have two models that I am proudest of. One is a Jak-3 Soviet fighter plane, because of the detailed cockpit and interesting paint scheme. The second one is the Soviet T-50 light tank because the tracks are made out of separate links, which was a very time-consuming and repetitive task.
I currently have one unfinished project – a BMP-1, which is a tracked infantry fighting vehicle. Unfortunately, due to a lack of time, it has been waiting in the drawer for a long time now. I’d like to find some time for the scale models to continue making them.
Scale model making is much less daunting to start because you do it on your own. My biggest advice is to find an online forum about it and post a build log. Many experienced people will post their opinions and give hints and tips on how to do things better next time – that is mostly how I learned myself.
While they are not directly related to my line of work, I think that both Muay Thai and Scale Models engage the brain and keep it active and exercised, which translates to a productive person at work with fresh ideas every day. Muay Thai also improves my self-confidence, patience, and mental health, which makes me a better person. This translates to being an overall better employee.
I think if a person is interested in martial arts, they should not be shy about it and just go and try it. Of course, it is going to be intimidating at first, especially seeing that the people that have been training for a while are much better. But the truth is that all these people have also been in that place some time ago and they realise it very well. Because of this, they will not look down on you. They will help you out instead.
In my opinion, it is very important to share and talk about the passions of technologists, because I feel that there is a huge misconception about people like us. It seems like the general opinion about technologists is that we are nerds or geeks that are secluded from society and don’t socialise or do anything outside of their stereotypical line of work. This is totally incorrect, and people should be made more aware that we can also be very interesting people with interesting pastimes.