We our so excited for our FIRST Resource of the Month! Check out this interview with local trainer Naomi Cookson, owner of Devilfish in Red Hook, and see why we thinks she’s so cool
Pop Gym: Hey! thanks for taking the time, just a few quick questions to start. First what’s your martial art?
Naomi Cookson: I did Karate for a long time as a kid and then in my mid-twenties started training Muay Thai.
PG: How long have you been training?
NC: I’ve been training Muay Thai for about nine years.
PG: Where have you trained?
NC: I’ve trained in a bunch of different places! I started training in Thailand, and have trained there many times (my family lives there). In New York, I’ve trained at Chok Sabai, Kings Thai Boxing, Crom and Physical Culture Collective.
PG: What kind of martial arts related work do you do?
NC: I’m about to start teaching Muay Thai at a small martial arts studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn! We haven’t started yet but looking to start the classes in mid-May.
PG: What made you wanna open your own place?
NC: I want to open my own place because I think there is a need to increase accessibility to martial arts and strength training. Most places don’t actively discriminate but they are not necessarily intentionally welcoming to all people. Access to training shouldn’t be difficult. But it is still rare to find a truly welcoming place that centers around high quality training, community and inclusivity.
PG: What has studying martial arts brought you personally?
NC: Martial arts has taught me the value of the beginner mindset. Studying martial arts is really a life long and never-ending journey, and it’s much easier to enjoy that if you’re comfortable thinking of yourself as a beginner. I love that you can practice alone with no equipment. Also, the confidence and calm mindset that you get from training, in my opinion, is one of the greatest reasons to train fight sports/martial arts.
PG: What would you say to folks who don’t feel comfortable doing Muay Thai because they feel it’s not their space?
NC: I think most people feel uncomfortable starting Muay Thai. Unless you grew up doing it, it’s a really intimidating sport even in the most welcoming environment. The only person that can decide that Muay Thai isn’t for them is the person them self. I’ve trained all kinds of people, many of whom did not think that Muay Thai was going to be their thing. And then they’ve ended up competing or falling in love with the sport and community. The hardest thing is just showing up the first week or two and accepting that it’s going to be a little uncomfortable.
PG: Who is martial arts for?
NC: Martial arts is for anyone that cares about taking care of themselves and taking care of other people. They are for anyone who wants to be empowered and learn what they are capable of.