We’ve just launched a Muay Thai Roundtable forum on 8limbs.us, where people can discuss all things Muay Thai. It’s a bit unique in that there is also a “women only” section, which is intended to be a semi-private space for women to talk more openly with one another about issues and experiences pertinent to us, which may otherwise be silenced by the sometimes overwhelming format of the internet at large.
So far, the response to both the general forum and the women only forum has been amazing. The Roundtable is moderated by myself and Emma Thomas, a fellow fighter and blogger out of Master Toddy’s Gym in Bangkok, and a true friend and ally. Emma writes the blog “Under the Ropes,” and is a keen resource for women and men by sharing her thoughts and experiences. It’s our hope that the two of us can help facilitate an open and respectful platform where discussions are about sharing and communicating, rather than the talking-over-one-another and pissing contest that a lot of online forums can lean toward.
The Experience of the Women Only Forum
The women only forum is something I’m particularly excited about and am already giddy over the responses. Women are a minority in gyms all over the world and we’re often isolated both physically and socially in the world of sports, and perhaps especially in the male-oriented fighting arts. It’s hard for us to carve out a space for ourselves, to be taken seriously or even to simply not be left out or set aside. As such, a lot of us end up keeping quiet and putting our heads down to work – but without connection to other women who are having similar experiences, who might be confidants or advisers, or even just another person to bounce ideas or triumphs or difficulties off of. That’s what this place is for. The internet can be a harsh place for anybody but it tends to be aggressive toward women. In online forums for sports and MMA-type categories the most prolific commenters are the loudest and these voices can come from only a small number of persons, but they’re enough to shout down and silence the contribution of others. A lot of these, unfortunately, help to silence women. And while the anonymity of the internet can create a buffer for freedoms we may not feel in our everyday, real lives, it also means you don’t know who you’re talking to. Posing a question that is seeking the ears of other women to an open forum can feel like a crap-shoot; you really have no idea if any other women are going to see it or if they’ll respond, but you can be pretty certain you’ll get a bunch of dudes jumping in to advise, criticize, or joke. What’s amazing about this women only forum is that you know there are other women – and only other women – in the room. So your comments, questions, and shares are without a doubt being seen by your community. This is something men take for granted; it’s something we all should have confidence in.
And I’ve been really happy with what I’m hearing back. Women are both talking openly about their experiences but also with each other. A number of women have already commented that it’s so good to have this space because they have always shied away from internet forums before. My own thrill has been seeing women talking to each other, answering each other’s comments and questions with confidence and authority. It’s a little like when you introduce two of your friends who don’t know each other and they hit it off; it feels amazing! And these women are sharing experiences and advice that I don’t have, like gym experiences at places I’ve never trained, personal journeys and perspectives. Threads I’ve enjoyed, or found informative has been conversation on anti-female Muay Thai memes, menstruation and training, hair styles for training, dating a Thai to name a few. If you are a woman do register and read these and other contributions here.
The Muay Thai Roundtable General Forum
And the general forum has great stuff, too. A lot of people write to me asking for advice on finding a gym in Thailand, which has become more and more difficult for me to answer because I don’t like assuming authority over things I don’t know (a lot of people online don’t have this problem, which is unfortunate). I’ve only ever trained at a small number of gyms and of those only a few for a long period of time. But there are people who have trained steadily in places I never been (like Phuket or other islands), or places I’ve only visited (like Bangkok or Isaan), and they can jump on to answer questions from their own experience. Questions about how to beat the heat in Thailand, how to figure out visa issues, how to prepare for your trip, articles and videos, fight events and news from Japan…you can see the most liked content here. I’m really digging going through all of this myself, and learning things as I go. This is just starting and already there is a knowledge base building up. But we need your contribution to make it work.
It’s only been “live” for a few days and people are signing up, new comments and threads are popping up as the membership grows. I’m not sure really what this forum will ultimately be, but I’m excited by the fact that whatever it will become is being shaped by the people who are joining in. We’re building something. It’s the “us” of 8limbs.us, and that’s very exciting.
More about the Roundtable Forum
If you’d like to know how we are handling the privacy of women on the forum, you can read about it here: Privacy for Women, How Are We Going to Do It? Also, please be patient with the registration process. There are only a few of us, and each account has to be cleared, with female accounts often requiring extra communication. We are trying to be quick to get you through, but it may take a day or two. We need every bit of your help on this, its a big project, and your contributions, everything from patience offered to new topics posted, to comments or even “likes” of posts, words of support all make a difference.