Nong Jeen (6 yrs old) and Den’s Son (3 years old) kicking for Khem
Lanna Muay Thai Kicking for Khem
We’ve all been surprised by what has come of the 50 Kicks for Khem Contest as fighters from around the world have come to donate not only their kicks, but also prizes. Names such as John Wayne Parr and Kevin Ross have been a part of the early action, and it is pretty spectacular to see whole gyms getting behind the effort. You can read about the contest here 50 Kicks for Khem – The Kaitburin Fundraiser for Khem – it just takes shooting a video of your fastest, hardest, best-form kicks and entering in the contest. So get out your phone and do it! I’ll be kicking a little after this fight, I reckon – it’s my 4th fight in 13 days and my shins are a little tender, so I’ll throw some ice on them and do my kicks in the next few days.
But it isn’t about just beating everyone in the world, it’s about being a part of the Muay Thai Community, internationally. The kicks are coming from everywhere, and it means something special to be kicking for Khem who can’t (right now) kick. If you talk to him, you can see it in his eye that he wants to kick and that he thinks he will be able to in the future. I believe he will, too.
So yesterday we filmed all the Thai fighters at Lanna who are all training for upcoming fights. There was bit of a surprise because none knew it was going to happen – Den just pulled them all off the floor after their run. There is something very Thai, a real sense of family that you see in gyms out here when something like this gets going. Muay Thai has a strong performance element in it (as does Thai culture) and I’m sure each of them would have loved to train for this. This is just impromptu kicking. (In fact, late at night after we’d shot these kicks I got a text from Tor saying he and Big wanted to see theirs already – I’m sure they’re already getting competitive about it.)
The best thing is that when all the kicks were done trainer Neung’s daughter, who is 6 years old and doesn’t train Muay Thai at all but does hang around the gym, and Den’s son who is 3 years old, were also called into the ring to kick. Kicking is just what they do. The video at the top is the kicks from the kids. This is what it is about: kicking together; kicking as world-wide family, if we can put it that way. All of us are joined by the rules, the tradition and heritage of Muay Thai and kicking across the planet is demonstrating a part of that. All it takes is a few minutes with your smart phone, and $3 entry fee. We are looking for 50,000 kicks by November 15. So far we are more than 10% of the way there with 5,100+ kicks.
Because these boys are with Lanna and Den is a judge these kicks are not officially part of the competition. Instead, they are showing support for Khem and taking part of the global effort, being part of the bigger-than-any-of-us aspect of this fundraiser and competition. Most of these fighters grew up at the gym since they were young.
Northern Thailand 108 lb Champion Big Pornsawan Kietbusaba kicking for Khem
Big is awesome. He just turned 20 and could absolutely be anywhere between 14 and 30 with the way he walks around. There’s an eternal kid-like joy he brings to everything he does – he’s never serious, always joking and playing – and yet he has a composure about himself that comfortably mature.
Tor Kietbusaba kicking for Khem
Tor is in the final years of his teens and is the only one of the Thai boys to be attending university. He’s the “straight man” in the bunch with a kind of sober, although still very kind and sweet, disposition. He towers over everybody and his kicks seem to unfold due to his length. His dream is to fight in Bangkok, one I have no doubt he’ll accomplish.
Neung Kietbusaba Kicking for Khem
I’ve taken to calling Neung “Little Neung” because there are two at the gym. He is not, however, little. He has the youngest disposition of all the boys and is almost always making or setting up some kind of joke – or running away from Big after one of these practical jokes coming to fruition. He’s also got knockout power in almost all his strikes.
Off Kietbusaba kicking for Khem
Off is the youngest of the Lanna boys and carries himself with a simultaneous memory and rejection of this fact. His interests are hard to nail down but he’s an integral part of the group despite sometimes seeming a bit outside of it. His aerial attacks get amazing height when he’s messing around.
Godzilla kicking for Khem
“Godzilla” isn’t technically a Lanna fighter but he trains with us often. His camp is of the local Police Chief, who is a good friend of the gym, and Godzilla is outside the group of Thai boys but is absolutely a part of the camp. I’ve called him “Swimmy Knees Kid” since I first saw him, which would be immediately understandable upon witnessing the way he curves and pushes his knees in shadow, like he’s swimming with them. He’s not shy but very reserved and incredibly polite – and his legs are each the size of me.