By Charlie Norgaard
When most people think of a librarian, they think of a frail, relatively unathletic bookworm; OES’s Upper School librarian, Erika Jelinek, is far from that stereotype.
On a standard work day as the Upper School librarian, Jelinek spends most of her time organizing the library and assisting students with their various needs. The first time I ever talked to Jelinek, her bubbly and cheerful attitude gave me the impression that she wouldn’t dare hurt a fly. I couldn’t have been more incorrect.
In fact, our very own Erika Jelinek is highly trained in the Thai combat sport of Muay Thai, a fighting form very similar to kickboxing.
The Thai combat sport is traditionally known as “the art of 8 limbs”, which refers to the use of punches, elbows, knees, and kicks as methods of attack. The fast-paced, high-intensity striking sport is not for the faint of heart.
Jelinek initially discovered the sport from her 2012 New Year’s resolution to “become more like a Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Her untested desire to achieve her resolution led her to The Yard, a Muay Thai gym in Los Angeles. There, Jelinek trained under Mark Komuro, a nationally recognized Muay Thai trainer who has coached nationally ranked professional fighters such as Joe Schilling.
While also being able to deliver a kick that would turn your femur to dust, Jelinek has made many friends through Muay Thai training, some of whom have even gone on to compete professionally such as her close friend Natalie Morgan who also trained under Mark Komuro.
“When two people consent to be violent, without beating the crap out of each other, you tend to create some pretty strong friendships,” says Jelinek. “A brutal sport like this requires a lot of trust building,” adds Jelinek, “even though you’re fighting each other, you don’t want to lose your composure and completely clobber your partner.” Jelinek praises the friendships that she has made at OES, but many of her closest relationships have come from her fellow Muay Thai fighters.
For the last several years, Jelinek has dedicated hundreds of hours towards mastering her skill as a fighter. Though she never stepped in the ring due to previous injuries, I can tell that Jelinek would be a formidable foe, especially after watching the way she abuses the punching bag in Ferris Hall.
Jelinek has since continued to practice Muay Thai and even occasionally coaches other aspiring fighters for both self-defense and for recreation. I personally hope to see a Muay Thai activity led by Jelinek in the future.