Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


After not being able to train on Days Six and Seven, my return to the gym on Day Eight was an exercise in mental toughness…all 2.5 hours of it.

I’d like you to meet my guru of mental toughness, Joscelyn Bailey. Think you can’t possibly do one more sit-up? Think your arms won’t hold you for more than twenty push-ups? Joscelyn thinks you’re wrong. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned after a year of training with him, it’s that Joscelyn is always right. (Or ELSE!)

Joscelyn’s classes are tough enough–he teaches the toughest Level 2 class this side of Thailand. But being his partner inspires an entirely new level of fear. After enduring five rounds of a challenging drill, where I was given absolutely no leeway and repeatedly punched (and kicked) in the head, I survived an hour of Joscelyn’s class and thought I was off the hook for the evening. But no…more fight camp “fun” ensued. As the odd girl out, I was paired with Joscelyn. Magically, those next-to-impossible sit-ups I couldn’t manage more than ten of last week were suddenly possible. I not only did the 50 required–Joscelyn made me do 51. And I was the first one finished! It turns out fear is an excellent motivator.

Then my kru Kelly decided we should punch each other hard in the stomach. Sounds like fun! So I endured 50 of Joscelyn’s powerful jabs, and gave him my best shot, thinking that was it. No! Now we had to give each other 50 jab-cross combinations in the stomach. I needed a brief break after a brutal solar plexus shot, but we got through the round otherwise unscathed, only to…KNEE each other in the stomach 50 times! Ah, good times were had by all.

You don’t have to be Joscelyn’s partner for the evening to recognize how strong he is. All you have to do is watch one of his demonstrations in class, or be one of the hapless fools he chooses to demonstrate on. He is one of the most powerful, skilled fighters I have ever seen, and I’ve trained with a lot. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t express surprise at his strength once they’ve seen (or felt) what he can do.

But one of his greatest strengths is pushing people past their previously-conceived limits. So he ended up being the best partner I could hope for, after all.

Thank you, Joscelyn, for believing in me and pushing me past the pain.

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  1. Mystic_Mom

    You are an inspiration Holli!

  2. Story Teller

    Thanks, MM. Sometimes, you just need someone who will push you to succeed without worrying whether or not you’re going to “like” them or even welcome the help. If you’d told me earlier this year that I would survive Joscelyn hitting me 200 times in the stomach, I would have laughed my *ss off.

  3. Zsanett

    Jeez, Holli, you are a tough girl. This whole camp sounds like a killer to me. Do you get some kind of a title for doing it? Or is it just simply for training purposes?

  4. Story Teller

    Thanks, Zsanett. There have definitely been times when I wanted to just give up. That’s where having a strong, motivational partner can help so much.

    My training is for my first muay thai kickboxing fight, tentatively scheduled for November 5th. When I have firm details (and an opponent!) I’ll let everyone know.

  5. V Y-C


  6. Lisa

    Sounds brutal Holli…but you are obviously tough enough to take it AND dish it out! Bravo!

  7. Story Teller

    Thanks for your comments! Vanessa, I figured you would say something about this post. 🙂 You told me I would learn to appreciate Joscelyn, and I definitely have. One of my friends said in response to this post, “But you dreaded Joscelyn’s classes!”, and I said “The reason I don’t like Joscelyn is the same reason I do like him–he pushes me, and he’s hard on me.” I know him enough now to recognize how much he cares about his students, and any “tough love” he dishes out is definitely coming from a good place.

    @ Lisa – thank you so much! I tell you, even though I really wanted to get into fight camp, there are moments that I envy those who aren’t. I watch them having fun with their friends in class while I’m getting punched in the face, and sigh wistfully. There were definitely times that day when giving up was very tempting. But I’ve learned that wanting to give up does not mean you’re weak…it’s wanting to give up and NOT giving up that makes you strong. I’m sure you’ve already discovered this from your own training.

    Surprisingly, my stomach wasn’t sore the next day. I fully expected it to be.


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