ALUMNI: Champion Muay Thai kickboxer Tiffany Van Soest describes her life after Poly and her road to success.
By Kate Santoso, Editor
Since 1887, Poly High School has committed not only to simply educating its students but to also encouraging them to dream big. Poly thrives on the achievements of former graduates and one such Poly alumni, Tiffany Van Soest, recalls her past experiences at Poly and describes how they have shaped her into the champion she is today.
Van Soest’s passion for kickboxing primarily originated from her passion for karate. As an accomplished fighter, Van Soest earned her second Dan Black Belt under Joey Pagliuso at the United States Karate Organization (USKO) at only seventeen years old. After graduating from Poly as a part of the class of 2007, Van Soest attended Cal State University San Marcos where she earned a degree in kinesiology. She was eventually drawn to back to martial arts and discovered her passion for Muay Thai while living in San Diego. Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is a competitive full contact fighting sport that has a heavy focus on body conditioning. Characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, shins, and knees, this form of combat is known as “the art of eight limbs.” Kickboxing, a separate discipline from Muay Thai, involves the use of elbows and clinching.
Van Soest began training Muay Thai in Riverside at USKO then continued her training at Blue Ocean Muay Thai in San Diego. Her rigorous training schedule of heavy strength and conditioning 2-3 days per week helped her win the World Boxing Council Muay Thai International Super Bantamweight Championship in 2012. “When I am in training camp for a fight, I do some type of conditioning every day such as running, swimming, stair or hill sprints,” Van Soest described.
Some of her most renowned achievements include being the first American woman signed to a major promotion and winning and defending world titles in two weight classes of Muay Thai: Featherweight and Super Bantamweight. Van Soest’s incredible feats earned her the famous nickname “Time Bomb.” “I got the nickname Time Bomb during a sparring session. I wasn’t doing well and I got rocked by a punch; according to my instructor, I went off like a ticking time bomb, so the name Tiffany Time Bomb stuck,” Van Soest recalled.
Van Soest acknowledges her cherished memories of Poly and the supportive, collaborative community. “My experiences at Poly influenced me to succeed because I was surrounded by caring and helpful teachers, coaches, and friends that were always encouraging,” Van Soest noted. The professional Muay Thai World Champion and instructor moved to Bali, Indonesia after being offered a position as the head striking coach at the gym there while on a two month trip and lives there now, hoping to use her special abilities to benefit others. “Outside of martial arts and competing, I plan on starting a martial arts and surfing based non-profit organization for orphaned and underprivileged children,” Van Soest said.
Van Soest serves an an inspiration for girls who aspire to challenge themselves and achieve, paving the way for other young women in martial arts to reach their full potential. She reminds Poly students that “life is going to bring many challenges that might deter you or make it seem like your dreams are too big. Keep your focus, be kind to others, and be relentless in pursuit of your goals.”