Big is probably my favorite fighter at the camp. He’s got the kind of energy that makes me smile just by seeing him. He swaggers around, unable to pass by a bag without hitting it, shuffle past a person without making some kind of physical joke, or pass by one of the gym dogs without causing it to follow him like they’ve suddenly become a little duckling after it’s mom. And his fighting is a very natural extension of all of this. He’s calm, assertive and retains a level of comedy and joy in his movements even when he’s amplifying the aggression. I want to fight like Big fights.
I filmed one of Big’s fights from not too long ago, maybe a month or so. He was fighting a kid who I’ve seen him fight before, a kid who has a similar energy to Big’s but just slightly less boyish – ironically, I suspect, because he’s a little big younger than Big is. His name (the other fighter) includes the word for “crazy” in Thai because his fighting style is such that this word feels appropriate. Not in the brawling fashion that might warrant the moniker in the west, but more in the sense that The Joker is crazy, unpredictable and calmly entertained by chaos; something like that. Big is crazy too in that he will just try anything – he’s the only fighter I’ve ever seen in person who will pull out spinning elbows like a basketball player doing that spinning-the-ball-on-one-finger trick in the middle of a game. Crazy vs. crazy is a good match.
In this fight Big was actually falling behind for the first two rounds. But he comes out in the third with a different intensity, demonstrated strongly in the way he just walks forward, almost perpetually, consuming the space of the ring and putting his opponent on his heels in a way that caused the dynamics of the fight to shift. I love this. I can feel it both as Big and also as his opponent, as I have been on the receiving end of that charge a few times and it’s panic-inducing. So I’m trying to learn how to do it, too. What’s amazing about my short time in practicing this tactic is that it’s incredibly relaxing – just walking with purpose is not altogether different from strolling in terms of mechanics and as such your mind kind of accepts the similarity and produces a nice calm. Then, once the space is eaten up between you and your opponent, you just start striking and your forward momentum beats the hell out of the responsive retreat of the opponent. (Den has solutions to this, but I’m working on crushing those as well.) It’s Terminator mode. In Master K’s words, it’s refusing to be “interrupted.”
This is one of my favorite Vines ever, Big climbing out of the ring after his victory. The lights, his grasshopper limbs, the pace and repetition and how it cuts off as he begins to jump down.