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  1. Fairtex has announced it will begin promoting at Lumpinee Stadium, starting in January, including MMA shows. So... that's happening. They also explicitly state "all genders," making them the second promotion to include women at the stadium (currently GoSport is the only promotion including women there). A Muay Thai Reaction As for how the New New Lumpinee, with its focus on omitting gambling and including very different promotions, one reaction from Thai fans is expressed in this post from a popular Thai Language news page. It says: Lumpinee will accept 3 rounds, 5 rounds, 6 rounds, female fighters, MMA, concerts - everything but gambling. (I assume the 6 round fights are boxing.)
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  2. I’m deeply worried about the future of traditional Muay Thai.
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  3. Every injury is different, but a big part of my approach has been warm water massage, especially for shins, and to not use rest too much. Instead, active recovery: You can also read this article I wrote a few years ago, which details my injuries and some of how I responded to them: Large and Small – The Injuries and Ailments I’ve Had Fighting in Thailand
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  4. My son, 14, and I are interested in going to a Muay Thai training camps in Thailand for 4 weeks in early/mid January 2022. We are both complete novices. The goal of the experience is to learn the basics of Muay Thai, spend time together and have fun while experiencing a new culture. I'd love for this adventure to be positive and result in Muay Thai being an activity we can continue to pursue together as he becomes a young adult. I've done some online research and it seems that there are many excellent camps. Are there any camps that are particularly well suited to a novice father and son team? Ideally, we'd like to either be in the vicinity of Bangkok or near a beach. However, completely open to other parts of Thailand for the right program. Thank you in advance for your thoughts and feedback.
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  5. I understand that we are talking about broadening the scope of viewership, and even the very identity of Thailand's Muay Thai. One can never really be sure if something new is coming to save, or destroy something old or traditional that is waning. I really believe that, but we do need to keep track of where this is going. It's worth noting that Fairtex Pattaya also hosted something called Fight Circus, a bunch of oddity fights November 6th, streamed to the adult cam site Camsoda, and tweeted out in parts. You can read about this show, and see more event examples here Bloody Elbow: Fight Circus 3 videos: Watch insane ‘Siamese kickboxing,’ literal phone booth fighting, more oddities. Pretty incredibly Australian Muay Thai fighter Celest Hansen fought a Phone Booth "Leithwei" fight, streamed 8 days before she became part of the first female bout to fight in the Lumpinee Stadium ring, a huge historic moment in the Muay Thai Thailand. It's highly unlikely that this Phone Booth fight was filmed when streamed, so near the Lumpinee fight, as Celest is cut in the video. It was probably just fed into the Nov 6th stream as if live, or tweeted it out then; who can tell. Celest lives in Phuket, not Pattaya, and again this was only 8 days before she entered the ring at Lumpinee Stadium. But, in the context of changes coming to Thailand's Muay Thai the juxtaposition of the two fights in time is striking. Here is "Siamese Kickboxing" tweeted out from the oddities show. Here Celest is coming out of the Lumpinee ring 8 days after the stream, making huge history, photo series here: You can see Celest fighting the historic fight at Lumpinee on November 13th here [full fight]: The fight oddities streaming show was put on, separately, at Faritex many hours before another historic fight in the evening, also hosted at Fairtex: the WBC World Championship between Souris Manfredi and Dangkongfah. This epic fight marked the first time the new WBC female Muay Thai rankings resulted in a Westerner vs Thai World Championship, which you can see here. In the day fight oddities, in the evening a big WBC female title fight: Aside from the sheer toughness and badassness of Celest being in both of these events, it also provides a jarring snapshot into just how far we can be stretching the tradition <<<>>>new eyeballs spectrum. MMA isn't even the full limit of "extreme" in that reach. And also it brings into view the unique place female fighters find themselves within it. Female fighting, as legitimate, became internationally stamped as legitimate through MMA,, and the transformations that Ronda Rousey forced open in the UFC. Then headlining female fights were embraced by ONE Championship, in some imitation of the UFC, and then by Fairtex itself who set upon creating a female MMA fight team - one of the first in Thailand to do so - starting with Stamp Fairtex. Female fighters in a certain respect represent, or even embody the possibility of new, modern fighting. But as in this case, with commericialization and the need to reach new audiences, one also risks farce and even circus. This occurs just as when female fighters themselves yearn for and reach to be integrated in the traditions and honor of Lumpinee which has excluded them. What does it mean for MMA to be included in Lumpinee? It's a really interesting question with no simple answer.
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  6. Hello everyone, on wednesday I will be giving a talk at the danish art and sports festival Go Extreme https://www.kunsthalaarhus.dk/en/Exhibitions/Go-Extreme where Kevin has kindly agreed to lend me pictures for the powerpoint presentation. The format is very interesting, I think: I will be providing the theory, and two danish muay thai fighters Frederik Fenger and Mikkel Haahr will be displaying the points physically throughout the presentation, concluding with a fight. The argument will be as follows: The classic golden age muay thai dichotomy of muay femeu and muay khao is well established within these circles: the muay femeu is the matador, the muay khao the toro. The muay khao fights with heart, brute force, intensity, relentlessness, violence and strength; the muay femeu fighter is elegant, intelligent, evasive, transcendent, unphased and manipulative. I will argue that the dichotomy of the dionysian and the apollonian as conceived in the work Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_Tragedy is applicable and reflects the same dynamics, ideas and intuitions as our muay thai distinction. Following this, I will use Sherry Ortners classic Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture? http://radicalanthropologygroup.org/sites/default/files/pdf/class_text_049.pdf to further the dichotomy, concluding that these dichotomies as historically created reflect the same relation and opposition: male/muay femeu/apollonian/culture vs. female/muay khao/dionysian/nature. With this concessed, we run into an interesting paradox of masculinity: if hypermasculinity is conceived as the capacity for and willingness to use violence, masculinity cannot also be metaphysically defined as an identity that is opposed to (animalistic) violence. From this standpoint, I will be arguing with Judith Butler that a metaphysical conception of masculinity as a moral or identity of masculinity is untenable, and that through the Heideggerian reading of the greek truth-concept aletheia https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/heidegger/#ReaRelBeiTim, masculinity is an event of dominance, which does not have an intrinsic and transcendent identity or moral at its core, but is created as art from and in the body of the fighter. The reason muay thai is so interesting as a paradigm for the thinking of gender is that it reveals that masculinity, however, is not something radically constructivist or relativistic, seeing that the fight constitutively has a winner and a loser as its ontological foundation. This implies that masculinity is something that shows itself - or lets the truth of masculinity happen - through the art of muay thai. I will try to get it filmed and transcribed so that all of you who cannot attend will get to see it anyways, but I can't promise anything as of yet. Either way I'd love to hear what you guys think about the reasoning and elaborate in case any of you have any questions. Best, Asger
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  7. Perhaps shorts and t shirts with profits to the good man's family? He was well known and loved in Europe
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  8. Thanks for the suggestion. We can't do that merchandise right now, but if anyone wants to donate to his family we can send the money to them. This is our crowdfunding site. We cover all transfer fees. Just send me a message saying how the donation is for: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-muay-thai-legends-in-the-covid-19-shutdown#/
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  9. Here is Dangkongfah posing with her belt the next day with Kru Diesel who helped her train a bit before for this fight out of Fight House in Singburi. Dangkongfah a week before her WBC fight also fought in the National Amateur Muay Thai tournament, a yearly event only among Thais, and took Silver in her weight class.
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  10. Lots of things make Karuhat special to me. All of them can probably be summed up by saying I think he has the definition of “beautiful Muay Thai”. The balance, the footwork, fighting from both sides, and it’s all driven by an Einstein level fight IQ. I appreciate rugged/physical styles as well, but I have a special admiration for femurs, and I feel like Karuhat has an extremely unique expression of top level femur skills. He also seems cool af. He follows my son on social media and has liked some of his training videos. That says a lot about his love of the sport to this day, that he’s still scrolling random videos of no names training, just like the rest of us. In the Samson Library session, when Karuhat asked Sylvie if she thought Samson would fight him…that shit was hysterical. What a G. Some others here have already written much better break downs than I could, I just wanted to show love. I already have the pink shorts and shirt and they’ve become my go to for seminars and “special occasions”. I have so much respect for Karuhat that I feel better about myself rocking his gear.
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  11. Hey Barbara, Happy to help. Thail Long should be open. I know why it was closed, they have a schedule on their website. I was asking my friend Ben and he said, Angry Monkey and Apex are also pretty good. Also, it depends where you're located. Thai Long is just north of the Petite Italy and Ben's home gym is in Rosemont, while angry Monkey is in Verdun. If you ever come to Ottawa, I train at Ottawa Fight and Fitness, it's a very nice a friendly gym. Thought recently they absorbed a boxing gym that closed, so there is a lot of focus on boxing lately, but still a good gym. Anyway, let me know where you go, especially if you go to Thai Long, cause I am moving back to Mtl int he comins months, year, and I was thinking of joining Thai long.
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  12. It was just announced that, starting January 8th of next year, Lumpinee will start promoting an afternoon show that is only children. There will be 4 bouts per card, starting at 1:30 PM. Children have been permitted to fight at Lumpinee for a long time, but there has always been a weight limit (and ostensibly an age limit, but I'm not sure what that was; the weight limit kind of takes care of the age limit at the same time) of 100 lbs. As it's been told to me by Legends and older fighters who entered Lumpinee at that 100 lbs minimum, it's a bit of a forgiving line and fighters sometimes had to eat and drink in order to try to hit 100 lbs, rather than anyone dropping down to it. This new show is lowering the weight limit to 80 lbs, which will allow younger fighters or will at least acknowledge what weight some of those fighters are actually at when they come to the stadium. The intention of the show is to give access and opportunity to dao rung or "rising stars" as they are called in Thai. It's unclear from the announcement who will be the promoter for this particular program, but it's in line with something that Sia Boat of Petchyindee had initiated and invested in for his own promotions prior to the most recent shutdowns from Covid. It is unlikely that this will include girls; but we'll see. Of note is that the graphic used for this announcement are two young fighters Jojo (red) and Yodpetaek (blue), two top young fighters are 12 and 13 years old, who recently fought to a draw on a high profile fight. Neither of these two fighters meet the weight requirement at 80 lbs. For the latest Thailand Muay Thai News Updates check out our Muay Thai Bones Newsletter
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  13. I saw an announcement on their FB page that they are re-opening to the public, but only for private sessions. Their trainers have a lot of experience working with all different kinds of fighters, so probably they're good trainers. But as of this moment they don't allow access to training with their stable of fighters.
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  14. This is our latest Muay Thai Bones podcast where we discuss MMA coming to Lumpinee stadium:
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  15. Seeing the Ungendered Body As Lines of Force quoting to begin... The above are the concluding thoughts of the excellent short article: Fight like a girl! An investigation into female martial practices in European Fight Books from the 14th to the 20th century by Daniel Jaquet. It presents in brief the basis of a coherent argument that though there are physiological differences between the sexes, distributed over a population, martial arts are about developing the advantages you can have that overcome any physical differences that might weigh against you. I present this argument about Muay Thai and women more at length in: The “Natural” Inferiority of Women and The Art of Muay Thai. Just as shorter fighters can fight (and beat) taller fighters, smaller fighters can beat heavier fighters and slower fighters can beat faster fighters, whatever projected or real physiological differences between women and men there may be, they can be overcome. That is the entire point of a fighting art, especially any art stemming from combat contexts. Interestingly enough, Daniel Jaquet actually points to modern "institutional competition" as over-informing the way we think about the capacities of a fighting female. We think in terms of classified differences (weight classes, and even rulesets, etc), and one of these classifications is simply gender. Fight Like a Girl.pdf The article documents a conspicuous absence of women regarded as (possibly) equal combatants for nearly 700 years in combat literature, as gender became more codified in the European tradition. Jaquet marks a foothold in the timeline with this sword and shield technical manual in 1305 (Liber de arte dimicatoria), one of the last documentations of an assumed and illustrated gendered equivalence, at least for purposes of instruction. There is a great deal to think about in this topic at large, but here I'm most interested in the effects modernization, or rationalization of a fighting art can lead to ideas of gender equality, under fighting arts. And some of the ways modernization can push against it was well. Jaquet's finishing remarks (above) speak to this basic, rationalizing idea. Bodies are all different, they are all capable of differing physical actions, amounts of force being applied, speed of reaction times, etc. It follows, just as physical weaponry like swords or shields are force amplifiers, so too are the analogical "weapons and shields" (techniques) when practiced in a fighting art. If you know how to throw (or slip) a punch, you are within a force amplifier. The rationalization of fighting arts is a modernizing concept of extracting aspects of a traditional process of embodied knowledge practice, and classifying it, for pedagogic reasons, analysis, or commercial use. Seeing gendered bodies as force equations is rationalization. If you follow my writings you know that I have a great deal of hesitance regarding the eroding forces involved in the rationalization of fighting arts, both in terms of teaching and commercial performance (we can lose valuable and hidden habitus as we re-contextualize practices), but this does not mean that I wholesale resist rationalization/modernization. Instead it can act as a scissor, weaving and unweaving as it goes. As Jaquet points out, modernization itself also brings forth conventions which can regard important, liberating rationalizations of a fighting art. How Rationalized Jui-jitsu Changed the Early 20th Century Fight World What I'm really interested in is something that Jaquet does not pursue, and it's something that I have only touched on in my reading. What follows therefore is going to be only a broad sketch of intuitions that would be interesting areas of study. I was particularly struck by this 1905 photo included in his article: And the note tells us, this is the Duchess of Bedford training in Jiu-jitsu in England. I have not dug deeply into the history of Jiu-jitsu's immigration to England through Japanese masters, as well as other countries all over the world, but I assume this is part of a powerful rationalization impulse found in Japanese martial arts, much of it typified by Kanō Jigorō and his invention of Judo. Influenced by Western ideas of rational education and theories of utilitarianism Kano had the dream of modernizing traditional Jiu-jitsu along educational and health lines, and spreading this modernized version all over the world, eventually making it an Olympic sport. Judo and other forms of modern-leaning Jiu-jitsu spread internationally at this time, and the Duchess of Bedford's Jiu-jitsu no doubt was a part of this diaspora of the fighting art. Famously, it reached all the way down to Brazil, eventually becoming today's Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, but at this time it it also reached Siam (Thailand). King Vajiravudh of Siam (reign 1910-1925) was actually raised and educated in England in his youth and young adulthood, for nearly a decade before taking the throne. He brought with him not only an appreciation for British Boxing (which would deeply shape the development of Siam's Muay Thai), but also, one might expect, Judo/Jiu-jitsu which had growing presence in Britain. In 1907, two years after the photo of Mary Russell the Japanese community in Bangkok is recorded as teaching Jui-jitsu, in 1912 Prince Wabulya returns from study abroad in London having learned Judo, and teaches it to enthusiasts and in 1919 Judo is taught at the very important Suan Kulap College, along side British Boxing and the newly named "Muay Thai". It is enough to say that the modernization of Muay Boran into Muay Thai in the 1920s, in the image of Western Boxing (at the time Siam is making efforts to appear civilized in the eyes of the West), was part of an even larger, in fact world wide rationalization effort lead by Judo/Jui-jitsu. When we see this photo of Mary Russell in England, this is part of the one-and-the-same British movements of influence that created modern Muay Thai over the next decades (gloved, weight class, fixed stadium, rounds). Rationalization is happening. Notably, this unfolds it is in the context of King Chulalonkorn's previous religious reformation of Siam which would have lasting impact on the seats of Siam's Muay Thai, moving it away from temple teachings and magical practices. Siam is becoming a modern Nation, and the reformation of Buddhism (along with Muay Thai) is a significant part of that process: from The Modernization of Muay Thai – A Timeline Returning to the rationalizing efforts of British Jui-jitsu which will almost necessarily un-moor rooted gender bias, with even political consequences. As Jaquet writes, the medical/physical perspective of empowerment and health ended up expressing itself in the Suffragettes Self-Defense Club, to aid in physical confrontations with police: Now, this certainly was not happening in Siam. In fact Siam/Thailand was busy "civilizing" itself in the eyes of the West by importing the strong Victorian views of powerful visual differences between genders. Modes of dress, differentiating the sexes, were even at one point legally mandated by the government in coming decades. What we today read as quintessentially "Thai" traditional attitudes towards the differences between the sexes though complex is actually, perhaps best explained as a Western value and practice importation during the first half of the 20th century. The visual differentiation of the sexes in dress: Thai cultural mandate #10 (1941): Polite international-style attire Civilizing the Savage and Savagizing the Civil What I'm interested in is the connection between the early 20th century rationalization/modernization of Jui-Juitsu in Britain, and today's rationalization-modernization of Muay Thai in Thailand. The schism between Thailand and Britain in terms of gender, under the guise of "civilization" recently and long last was symbolically bridged when women were finally integrated into Lumpinee Stadium promotion: The First Female Fight In Lumpinee Stadium Breaking the Prohibition. Note: the strong division between the genders of the late 1930s and 1940s in the "international-style" of work and dress is also in the context of the construction of Rajadamnern Stadium (1945) and Lumpinee Stadium (1956) under Thai fascism and Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram (Prime Minister 1938-1944 and 1948-1957). It is unknown what gendered Muay Thai practices may have developed without this heritage of an imitation of the West. As an contemporary outsider we tend to assume these "traditional" gendered differences as purely and essentially "Thai" and not a product of Western example or influence. Seeing these two photos, well over 100 years apart, in relationship to each other under the view of Internationalized Rationalization of fighting arts is fecund to examination. There is no clean line that leads between rationalization of the art and sport and the equality of the genders. Importantly, and not without irony, when King Vajiravudh modernized Muay Boran in imitation of British Boxing he was attempting to purge Siam and its fighting art of the impression of savageness. Contestants did die in the ring (probably quite rarely) with rope-bound hands, but more importantly the use of feet and elbows and probably much more of Siamese fighting was seen as primitive by British report. Codifying Muay Thai was no simple desire to just imitate the West as superior, as the West used the motive of civilizing "primitive" people to justify the colonization of peoples, including all the countries in Siam's orbit. No doubt King Vajiravudh had adopted many British aesthetics during his decade in British schooling, but there also something prophylactic to the transformation of Muay Thai before the eyes in the West. Now though, Thailand is bending its fighting art to the Internationalist tastes of greater violence, more aggression, as part of a vision that is pushing it to join what might be seen as a globalized Combat Sports Industrial Complex, battling for eyeballs. And, as I say ironically enough, with this comes the rising commercial viability of women seen as equals. As Lumpinee Stadium seeks to Internationalize itself it brings in women, and also it brings in the "savagery" for which Siam's fighting was (politically and colonially) stigmatized over 100 years ago, as MMA comes to its storied name. The "Be more civilized!" and "Distinguish the genders!" that was once demanded by the globalizing West has become "Be more violent!" and "Equalize the genders!" by the globalizing West...a West that is actually now an Internationalist vision. What is missing from this story perhaps is the equivalence of Britain's Suffragettes Self-Defense Club, which is to say the way in which equality under a martial arts rationalization is connected to the political fight for women's liberties and rights. From my view I suspect that the growing importance of respected female fighting in combat sports is an expression of the increased social and economic capital women have in a globalized world. Women as having real and imagined physical prowess in the traditionally male-coded ring (and cage) symbolically manifests actual changes in female powers in society. Women in rings has grown out of the Suffragettes Self-Defense Club, not now equalizing themselves with embodied knowledge in the streets against police, but rather signifying their political and socio-economic heft to a globalized world. Yet, as all things bend back, the commercialized capture of symbolized female power in the ring is part of its re-domestication, as women's bodies become sites of judgement and eroticized re-packaging, problemizing any overriding narrative of liberty. As women are called to the ring under the auspices of aggression-first promotional fight theater in the double-bind navigation of globalized freedoms, the role of rationalization remains circumspect. Rationalization can and does lead to the re-codification of the genders, as we see with the conventions of institutional competition, as well as within the commodification of the female person and body by combat sport entertainment, yet it also holds the power to un-moor entrenched sexism and bias which work to restrict the possibilities of women as fighter who stands as proxy to the power of women in general.
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  16. Hey guys, first post here I will be in Bangkok for a month in mid December, and I'm looking to attend a serious gym to train all day every day. I'm a 6'1" 70kg 22 year old guy with decent experience in Muay Thai and I'm looking for suggestions on gyms in Bangkok that have: A serious and strict training regimen with an active Thai fighter roster whose statures and physiques are on the heavier side around my weight of 70 kg. Emphasis on practical training practices such as clinching and sparring rather than pad work. Muay Khao gyms definitely interest me as clinching is not taught well where I'm from, but not a must. A gym that can book me a fight Language barrier is not an issue as I can speak a little bit of Thai. I would rather have difficulty communicating rather than being in a commercialized gym whose Thai fighter are separated from the tourists. I have done a little bit of research and it seems like Kem's gym is an option. Any other gyms you guys think will suit me? Much appreciated.
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  17. I agree with Kevin on this, spending some time at a place gives a deeper experience than making it a day-trip. Manop is a great option based on the age of your son. I can't comment on the advantages of gyms based on their locations and proximity to tourist attractions as that's not something we do when we visit gyms, but Chiang Mai in general is easy to navigate and has lots of things to explore. Bangkok is harder to move around in, but also lots to do it you take half a day or a day off.
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  18. To be honest, from my perspective, it feels like "ok we going to allow women fighting so we just gonna allow everything". Pyrrhic victory.
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  19. A really great article that pulls so much together on the events surrounding the opening of Lumpinee Stadium to women, read Emma's: The First Women’s Fights at Lumpini: How We Got Here and What’s Next
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  20. [Update edit Nov 8: This fight to have been rescheduled for November 13 see source, it was at first set for November 6th. But with some disappointment, the card which previously held this fight to be a full 5 round fight, now is listed as a 3 round fight, which certainly alters some of the feeling of what I've written below. The fight will not be a traditional full rules 5 round Muay Thai fight.] [Update edit: Nov 14: The full fight video is posted below. The 3 round fight was changed again back to a 5 round fight, but at least one of the fighters did not know it was 5 rounds until the end of the 3rd round.] While some coverage of the Sanaejan vs Buakaw fight expressed the idea that it was the first time women had fought "at" Lumpinee stadium, it unfortunately due to COVID restrictions at the time did not occur "in" the stadium, and even more importantly IN the ring of Lumpinee. It was a significant step toward integration yet it occurred in a temporary studio ring in the parking structure next to Lumpinee Stadium, in keeping with Bangkok requirements that fights be unenclosed. What that fight represented as a first really was the fact that the Lumpinee name was attached to a promotion featuring female fighters. A huge first - though there have been unconfirmed claims of female fights at Lumpinee, I believe in an alternate ring in the late 60s - for women to be represented in this way. But, historically the more concrete and stigmatizing barrier to women fighting at Lumpinee stadium were beliefs that surrounded the blessing of the ring itself. Sylvie did a good piece on this prohibition here. The prohibition was not that women could not fight on Lumpinee owned land, or under the auspices of its promotion. It was that they could not physically enter...or even touch the Lumpinee Ring, for fear of pollution. (I suspect that the increased intensity of prohibition from entering the ring to even touching the ring may have been due to western tourists over the decades coming closer to the ring physically, though this is just a guess. In the video record you can see female gym owners in the Golden Age, perhaps in a break with decorum, come up to the Lumpinee apron and lean or pound on it, yelling at their fighters.) In any case, when female fighters actually ENTER the ring, this is the historic moment. This moment confronts the very well-defined and belief bound line that separated the genders. This fight, between Celest Hansen (AUS) vs Nongnook R. R. Gila Khorat (THAI), is the anticipation of that crossing. This will happen without audience present, with some COVID restrictions still in place. Things like fight promotions do change very quickly in Thailand, so hopefully this Nov 6 event happens as scheduled, but it does seem women actually fighting not only in the stadium, but IN the Lumpinee Ring is something that is about to occur. I would be very curious as to how the issue of the blessing of the ring and the long-held beliefs that barred women have been adjusted to. Is the ring no longer blessed in the same way, with the same practices? Many blessed rings throughout Thailand allow women to enter their spaces, but Lumpinee may have undergone specific more orthodox rites. At the very least we are seeing a shift in beliefs and opportunities, and the way that gender itself is regarded in Thailand's Muay Thai fight culture. Other articles written by Sylvie on women and Lumpinee: Women in Lumpinee, Thai Female Fighters in the 1990s or my earlier thoughts: Can Bleed Like Man: Lumpinee, Muay Thai, Culture Navigating Western Feminism, Traditional Thailand and Muay Thai [Edit in a historical clarification: Nongtoom Kiatbusaba, The Beautiful Boxer, famously and historically was the first transgender fighter to fight at Lumpinee stadium in 1998, presenting as male, and Angie Petchrungruang in 2017 was the first, visibly presenting as female, transgender fighter at Lumpinee Stadium. Both were allowed to enter the Lumpinee ring because they were regarded as male by the establishment, under the system of beliefs that prohibited women. The Lumpinee fights of both women were steps to today's integration of cis women in the Lumpinee ring.] If you want the latest in Muay Thai happenings sign up for our Muay Thai Bones Newsletter
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  21. In a bit of history, Sylvie reported on the early MMA scene in Thailand way back in 2016 when ONE Championship put on a combination MMA and rock concert event in Bangkok. At the time MMA was, I believe, illegal in the country as it was seen as a threat to Muay Thai heritage, but Chatri and ONE managed to get an exception (or even change the law, I'm not sure). Sylvie's article including an interview with a Thai MMA fighter who was working his way through the very early scene. Some are pointing out that the new announcements regarding New New Lumpinee includes Lumpinee concerts. Perhaps they are thinking of doing similar concert + combat sport events. Read the article here: Insight into Thailand’s MMA Scene – Interview with MMA Fighter Itti Chantrakoon You can see Sylvie's 2016 interview with one of Thailand's proto-MMA fighters here:
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  22. I'm laying this down as an extensive footnote to an understanding that I've felt for sometime, in watching Sylvie toil under the authenticities of Thailand's kaimuay regimens. There is a certain base sense in which we can feel and appreciate that western men and women want to come to Thailand to expose themselves to certain bootcamp-like experiences. While many flock to Thailand to party, relax, drift, fewer come to Thailand from the West to commit, endure and suffer. There is a built in class disassociation in this - although Muay Thai in Thailand is far more diverse than the poverty-stricken images and motivations that become attached to it in stereotypes, under various motivations, Muay Thai is trained not only in rural small towns, but urbanly, in not only in the lower classes, but among the middle classes. People come from the West to even have the freedom of travel, and a kind of vocational selection, are of a different class than most of those in the Muay Thai world. It's not just economically that this is so, it is also a difference in perspective, the way that a person experiences themselves and the project of their lives. It's a difference in what maybe is best called a difference in genus of liberation. Westerners have a kind of interpersonal freedom that comes out of the growing looseness of its social bonds and the atomization of personal definition. In a certain regard, men and women of the West come to Thailand training camps to be liberated, to find, or even construct a liberation, I would argue. Or, perhaps, a restoration. Much can be broad-brushed here. The "freedoms" and disassociations of the West can prove imprisoning emotionally, psychologically, under a great variety of kinds, and the romanticization of Thai customs & traditions, its efficacious, high-level of fighting skill creation, and most importantly the work itself, can become a path to a certain kind of liberty, an evolution that simply cannot be regularly found in one's own culture, if there at all. This article is founded on Sylvie's own, incredibly intense devotion to this kind of project. It's focused on my experiences of it, but though no one in the history of the sport has ever done what she has done - amassing so far 259 fights in the country (more documented pro fights than any female in history), fighting at an unparalleled rate, and month-to-month out-training pretty much everyone in her gym (that chip on that shoulder) for about 8 of those years - I suspect that these truths can be extracted out to much less intense, but still very real projects by other Westerners, male and female, all the way from serious train-cationing Phuket gym goers who may not ever fight to the historic Ramon Dekkers. These are projects of transformation. Bourdieu's Habitus, Doxa and Hexis I'm going to be working from two pages from "Unconscious culture and conscious nature: exploring East Javenese conceptions of the person through Bourdieu's lens", by Konstantinos Retsikas, as found in the anthology Making Knowledge: Explorations of the Indissoluble Relation between Mind, Body and Environment. I use these selections because they provide a succinct explanation of doxa and hexis, in the way that I am thinking about them, but you certainly could turn to more exhaustive primary sources. Also, the essay itself does provide some insight into Thailand's Muay Thai (femeu vs muay khao; Bangkok vs provinces) if anyone wishes to read it. As a way of brief introduction, Bourdieu used the concept of habitus to talk about how one's socially imbued environment (for him a field) structured you, in unconscious ways, inscribing onto your person the social forms of the culture you are in. He was concerned with understanding how class differences, and gender differences (dominations) perpetuate themselves, communicating themselves to new generations. The habitus helped explain all the ways the milieu, or milieus, you found yourself in made you what you are, determining how you saw yourself and the world. You are who you are because you have been unconsciously habituated in mind and, even more importantly, body. The pages below talks about this, and his related concepts of doxa and hexis. The architectural theorist Erwin Panofsky influenced Bourdieu. I suspect that the example of anamorphism in perspective provides a good touchstone for some of these ideas of the structured subject. In the 16th and 17th century hallways would be painted with anamorphism. We see this today in optical illusion sidewalk paintings, but here is an example: Anamorphic paintings make the most sense if you stand in a particular position, adopt a particular perspective, otherwise they can be unclear or outright confusing. Departing somewhat from Bourdieu's field+capital theory, I would argue that the structuring of the habitus works something like this, but not upon your eyes. It works across your whole being. Because human beings crave sense, and draw sense from others around them, you learn to "stand" in relation to the social world so that the "painting" (its structures) make sense. You are positioned. You cannot help but be positioned, because the organism requires coherence. It must find the pattern. Not a painting on a wall, but a highly complex stratification of human qualities gets doled out to people according to class, ethnicity, gender, religion, and a great number of other distinctions. Everyone learns where to stand, so that the world makes sense. And remarkably, everyone is standing in slightly different places, holding the entire kaleidoscope in place, reinforcing its nature. At least, that's a starting point. Bourdieu uses doxa to explain how beliefs about the world become inscribed upon your - well, let's say nervous system - person, through the conditioning of sense through the field/habitus you are exposed to. And these beliefs appear entirely natural. The are part of the Natural World. Not only can't you readily think outside of these beliefs for long, it would probably never occur to you to even do so. Through hexis the body is essentially trained to adopt the perspectives of your social position in the milieu. As written above "whole cosmologies" can be anchored in "motor schemes" and somatic dispositions. It starts almost from birth. This is where things get very interesting. What authentic Muay Thai training in Thailand involves...and I say "authentic" purposely, because it self-authors, it writes (from Greek authentikos "original, genuine, principal," from authentes "one acting on one's own authority," from autos "self" (see auto-) + hentes "doer, being," from PIE root *sene- (2) "to accomplish, achieve."), what authentic Muay Thai training in Thailand involves is the structuring of the Self at the level of "motor schema" and ultimately somaticized belief. You are not just trained in "techniques" that should be accomplished with precision (see my: Precision – A Basic Motivation Mistake in Some Western Training), you are trained in the entirety of your person, effecting every posture, sigh, gaze, gate, tempo, pause and motor reaction. And, it is done in a highly hierarchical milieu, a situation unfortunately that many Westerners may not even perceive because they have not been inculcated in the culture. The more you do see this, the more the field/habitus of the nak muay will shape you. This is done under the auspices of a sport, the National Sport of Muay Thai, and with the aims of communicating the Art of Muay Thai, but also ideally with very concrete aims of winning actual fights under the demanding aesthetics of the sport. When a Kru tells you not to lower your head in the clinch, or bend yourself, he is communicating habitus truths of the art and sport, which align with the doxa of the subculture...a culture which is not you. You are undergoing hexis, which anchors beliefs you do not have, or may not even understand, as your ruup is conditioned. Ruup (posture, frame, outward bodily disposition) is of immense importance in Thailand's Muay Thai. And differing styles, krus or arjan may have different ruup that they teach. But, you are undergoing a kind of unconscious inculcation to the Art. A really important part of this, linked to the authenticity of the training, is whether the gym itself is primarily focused on raising Thai boys to become fighters, and not just working as a business in adventure tourism. The reason for this is that we from the West come to Thailand's Muay Thai as adults. We are already, fully inculcated. Our bodies are already hard wired for our beliefs. In Muay Thai the training of Muay Thai starts in youth, sometimes as young as 6 or 8. That is because it is a process of inculcation. It isn't just acquiring skill, or training techniques that you can repeat in the ring, at will. It's an entire picture of masculinity that is taught from the ground up, inscribed on the body of a boy. The more committed a kaimuay is to that process, the process of inculcation, the closer it will be to those principles, those unconscious truths, as expressed by the martial art. This is a fundamental reason why there is very little overt, physical instruction in traditional Thailand kaimuay, nor verbal instruction (two things Westerners hope for). It's because what is being taught is not "this thing" or "that thing". It's disposition. Its a relationship to the space, the milieu, through authority and peers, accomplished and expressed through technique as folded into practice and extremely difficult training. You can extract the techniques out, but you have removed a limb from a living body. The Trans- Experience of Training (& Fighting) In Thailand There is of course a great variety of training experiences in Thailand, and exposure to those specific inculcating, milieu-bound forces of shaping may only very seldom happen to a select few. True kaimuays that Westerners come in touch with are few and far between, and are becoming even more rare. And even if in one, age, race, gender lack of language skill, physical size, may really impair a direct transference. Most Westerners come to gyms that have trained their business toward the Adventure Tourism of Muay Thai. But, in the techniques themselves, the scoring principles of Thailand's Muay Thai, the arduous training experiences, the kru dispositions, some if not a great deal of the structuring inculcation can come across. What I want to raise here is that Westerners are undergoing an inculcation, a hexis, at the motor schema level, which expresses the hypermasculinity of the Muay Thai art, and if this is done sincerely and with deep commitment, this hexis will start to unanchor your doxa, your world. Again, there are great differences between a commercial Phuket gym and a family community kaimuay, but when you come to train, seriously, you are entering a process of new habitus. You are undergoing a new structuring. If you stay for 3 months the effects of this may be minor or fleeting, it takes a very long time to inscribe a world, a cosmology, but if you submit yourself to new habitus, and experience continual shaping, you are necessarily undergoing a trans- experience. For someone like Sylvie who has spent 8 years of habitus pressures, fortunately many of them in a fairly authentic, family guided kaimuay that existed to raise Thai boys into stadium fighters, this is a world-altering experience. Literally, world altering. It's because the experience is meant to re-write the anchors of your person. In Sylvie's case, and in the case of other serious female fighters, there is also a powerful dis-junction along the lines of gender. One has left the habitus structure of your home culture, the complex anamorphic painting which has told you where to stand for everything to make sense, and you have undergone a specialized hexis training in the art of hypermasculine expression, an inculcation of the bodily dispositions of aesthetic (& effective) hypermasculinity, which is counter to your own gender. You are both in a foreign land, and undergoing the training of masculinist hexis. This is necessarily a trans- experience. The masculinity is not the masculinity of your own culture, so the portrayal does not conflict abruptly with your own lifetime of inculcation. This makes the overwriting of the body on the unconscious level not face as much conflict it might have in one's own culture. When living in the culture of Thailand, moving about, learning the language, forming friendships and bonds, you are being rewritten. You are not in a tug of war between what the gym is inscribing, and what you have been inscribed by your whole life. You are being trans-ferred to another world, starting at the motor schema level. There is not time to go into the rich and complex ways that this inculcation of disposition occurs in Muay Thai. Breathing patterns, signatures of aggression, obedience, principles of auton (endurance), all the ways the body unconsciously signifies itself. It is not so much that these are disciplined away, as, because she was a part of Thai boys who she trained with, under a silent hierarchy, they become absorbed and habituated. Many times they will become conscious aims. Bourdieu likes to focus on the unconscious processes, and this is important, but at times they become dispositional skills that are practiced until they become your own. I am not talking about techniques of Muay Thai. I am talking about techniques of the Body and Person. One has left behind, to some degree, what you "are", and is in discovery of what one can be. Its a flight of self-creation under the exposure to a regime of habitus, doxa and hexis. There is a wonderful, instructive analogy that I cite in my article on Deleuze, Wittengstein and Transidentity. I'm going to quote from it here: For, the body of a racehorse goes beyond our classifications of kinds—though these too demarcate the kinds of experiences a racehorse can have, for instance the experience of mating with a workhorse. A racehorse will likely experience things in a manner no workhorse will come to, while the ox and workhorse will have a community of affects historically determined across species. Deleuze and Guattari suggest that even though a race horse and a plow horse may share a great number of features as part of being from the same species - and there are so many ways to quantify this - at the level of affects, one might even say hexis, a plow horse and an ox are of greater similarity. Their lived experiences in a shared habitus inscribes on their bodies a "world" a cosmology that a race horse cannot have. This is the praxis of training. When you commit yourself to the living milieu of a Thai gym, not only the rigors of physical training (the twice a day bagwork, shadowboxing, padwork, clinch), but when the training is authentic, to the bodily dispositions, the micro-motor adjustments of personal expression, the aptitudes of gaze, posture, gate, rest, aggression, within the inculcation, and the social restraints and demands of authority, friendship, exchange, the plow horse and the ox have something powerfully in common, a "community of affects". A Hexis, and to some degree over time doxa. You have become other than your history. All your possibilities that were before you within your native habitus did not contain this. This is the possibility of a new world, a differing cosmology, and your place in it, through the practices of an art in a culture that is not your own, taken to the nth degree, because it is a trajectory.
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  23. Oh I love that I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT...................but I will learn
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  24. Gambling and Thailand are one in the same You can not remove it form Muay Thai ..or from betting on two rain drops on a window it is completely ingrained in their culture
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  25. Hey everyone! I’m having my first amateur fight in January.! Been doing MT for about 7 years. I’m right hand dominant but left eye dominant because my right eye has very poor vision. I learned orthadox first for four years but then spent the two year trying southpaw. I have huge strengths in both. I was wondering if in your opinion if It’s essential my left eye is forward because it has better vision? Is southpaw a viable option as well or a big no no because of it? Thank you
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  26. This is the historic very first Female Fight IN Lumpinee Stadium overcoming the half-century long prohibition. Between Nong Neuk RR GilaKhorat (Thailand) and Celest Hansen (Australia). if the video does not play, click here
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  27. Habitus & Hexis vs Overt Instruction in Thailand's Muay Thai Anecdotally, showing aspects of disposition that unconsciously are communicated in Muay Thai training, these are three examples of the positioning of the subject as nak muay in non-technical (mechanical) sense. These may feel like subtle, and even quite minor aspects, but habitus inculcation is filled with a myriad of these, across all domains. 1. The wai - Lanna Muay Thai was Sylvie's first gym in Thailand. It wasn't so much an authentic Thai kaimuay, as it was opened by pioneering westerner Andy Thomson and had a history of being a home for sincere, long-term western fighters. It was an integrated western/Thai hybrid space that importantly did raise Thai boys up to become ring fighters, and in many respects maintained very distinct Thai elements. In fact, it was probably the last western-friendly gym in all of Thailand that maintained a separate ring, only for men under the superstitions and bias against female gender, a ring separation of genders I wrote about here: So What’s the Big Deal About Women and the Bottom Rope In Thailand? (There is a lot that can be said about habitus and that ring, I suspect.) Andy was an innovator, but the gym itself was left to be run by Thais, building a few Thai fighters, and training westerners in a more or less "Thai way". There were still strong Thai habitus qualities within the gym when we spent our 2 years there. This story is about how the mother of Chopper, a teen Thai fighter from Isaan who had transplanted to Lanna Muay Thai in Chiang Mai. In a slight digression, Lanna Muay Thai had another name, a Thai name: Kiatbusa. These two names might very well represent two differing habitus that overlapped, a western-oriented one, and the Thai one. In any case Chopper was quite skilled from his Isaan experiences, and he became a sparring partner with Sylvie due to size. Chopper's mother was working class. She was a tuk tuk driver in Chiang Mai, and she was friendly with Sylvie when she would come and pick Chopper up. One day, as I remember it, she pulled Sylvie aside to tell her that she was wai-ing wrong for a woman. She explained to her that it was not lady-like how Sylvie wai-ed, and it was not especially polite. Sylvie had been in the gym training full-time for at least a year or more, I suspect, and had spent a lot of time with the Thai boys she trained against and with. And she had learned wai-ing from all the examples around her. She likely practiced how to wai when she first came to Thailand, with perhaps examples from YouTube even, but she actually, unconsciously, learned how to wai from watching all the teen age boys wai. Whereas Chopper's mother showed her that a woman properly wais with the hands together about chest level, and the head lowering the chin, forehead to the hands, Sylvie wai-ed by placing her hands over her nose, with a little casual nod. We have joked that it was a bit like blowing your nose into a handkerchief. Chopper's mother was in particular concerned with Sylvie's actions as a woman. A proper woman. It was jarring to see her wai like a teenage boy. None of this was on purpose, none of this was conscious choice. I'd add that Sylvie had also picked up a series of grunts and vocal delays from Nuk, one of the old time trainers who talked in an exaggerated way, often grunting in approval to something he heard or saw. She wai'ed like a teenage boy, and talked at times like a grizzled padman. She had absorbed these behavioral qualities, these modes of expression and disposition, mimetically. This is only to point out, the habitus of the gym was constantly inscribing itself on Sylvie, and a large measure of this was unconscious. It's the fabric of dispositions out of which Muay Thai technique and aesthetics grow. It was not two things, but it was a 100 things. A 1,000 things, that dispositionally transferred themselves to her. It's a kind of sculpting of disposition that works itself down to gestures of respect and ways of speaking. As a female training and fighting seriously in Thailand, this necessarily is an adoption of a project of hyper-masculinity...because Muay Thai is a Thai hyper-masculine performance. This cannot really be done without the grafting of any number of supportive dispositions. In Thailand, head position, and head-lowering is extremely important, and is divided by genders. In Thai scoring you learn, technically, never to lower your head (without direct purpose). This is powerful sign of masculinity itself, both in and out of the ring. 2. Calling points. Thailand's form of sparring is quite different from that of the West, speaking very broadly, especially when sparring as a boy. The overriding quality of sparring can be play and experimentation (and not "properly" executing techniques). It is a sandbox of learning to perform, with your whole body, and all the signification of affects that play a role in Thai scoring. Mimetically you absorb behaviors and dispositions from others in the ring. It isn't just techniques that are passed between fighters, it's ways of being, a sense of the game. Every gym will develop its own style of comportment. It develops not only out of the styles of the krus, which work to enforce their own sense of what is aesthetically pleasing or proper, but also from the personalities of all the fighters. It's a melting pot of influences and creation. In the gyms Sylvie has been in calling out your own points plays a huge part of sparring. You learn the theatre of dramaticizing your scores in various ways. This goes to a larger principle of never showing that an opponent has an advantage. You learn to ignore and shrug off anything done to you, and celebrate, or at least indicate all your points. It can be anything from a subtle posture change or smile, to shouting out "ooooi" or some humorous comment in Thai. This can be a very jocular form of training, but it is extremely important to a Nak Muay's performance in the stadia. Sylvie saw this pretty early on, point calling in the gyms she had been in. It's part of the game as much as slamming down a domino might be in dominos. She just could not do it. The way she was raised, as a girl, in her house...but in a wider degree in her culture, was that a woman should never call attention to herself. The habitus of the West, and of her home directly contradicted what was required to play at sparring in her gym. Years passed, it was not possible. The inscriptions of the habitus of the Thai kaimuay were in conflict with those of her history. We are not exactly sure when they changed. There were some conscious attempts to do it, almost to force it, but they were unsuccessful. It was just a matter of spending more time in the water. At some point, several years in, calling points emerged. In fact, Sylvie has a really wicked sense of humor, an incredible playfulness she would not ever show when attempting to accomplish a task, for instance, that started showing through. Eventually, through no actual conscious change, she has become the loudest one in the gym. And, when she goes to other gyms and spars or clinches with Thai boys - something that can be quite stressful for the Thai boy, because he's on stage vs a female - it's her cackling, and joking and point calling that breaks all the ice between them, and allows the boy to call his own points, make his own play. Which is the "real" Sylvie? The quiet, nose-to-the-grindstone girl who would never call attention to herself, or the boisterous, cackling, joke-teller who brings light to the training ring? Each was created by a habitus. A different habitus. Each feels "natural" and a "real you". Perhaps it would be best to say that the habitus of each draws out the potentialities of a person, each equally real. In this case the latter is part of the inscription of hypermasculinity as portrayed by a nak muay, at least in the training circumstances she was in --- there are quiet, non-celebratory Thai nak muay too. 3. Music. One of the most difficult things to learn in Thailand's Muay Thai is the music of its rhythms. Not only do differing styles and krus have differing musics, but the Western ear for fight performance is far out of whack of almost everything a Thai fighter expresses. Westerners will hear things like "relax" (sabai) or "tamachat" (be natural) and have very little access to what these things actually mean. A foreigner can try to approximate the rhythms they see around them, and many of them do. But, this is conscious imitation, and honestly quite far from what these expressions actually are. Many times they are poor copies. One of these principles is "don't rush" (mai don reep). Sylvie knew this principle conceptually, and even in conscious practice, but she never really "got" it. Not the feeling of it. It's about a quality of tempo. You can face a lesson many times, until it finally hits you in the right way, and for Sylvie it was in the Muay Thai Library documentary session with Kru Khorat: #39 Khorat Saknarin - Precise Tensions (97 min) watch it here . For whatever reason, when Kru Khorat told her to stop, pause, take a beat, it sunk in from all that she had experienced before this. This musical, tempo'd aspect of the meter of beats in striking is connected to the Thai principle of making strikes visibly clear, distinct. Not "muddy Muay Thai" (muay mua). This a non-technical (mechanical), highly aesthetic, but still efficacious dimension of Muay Thai. It's something that Sylvie is growing into. In this clip of sparring below, you can see the pause in the beats, resisting the urge to rush through advantage as you build a momentum of effect, demonstrating/indicating control over the space, as well as the playfulness: The nature of pauses or regularity, not rushing strikes is a groundwork of much larger musicalities in Muay Thai styles. Great fighters like Karuaht, with whom Sylvie has studied over many years, was practically a symphony of musical effects, delays and advances. You can try to learn these as part of the form of techniques, for instance the built in delay, as the chest rises up in Karuhat's Golden Kick, as he teaches here: But the more germane aspect of this sub-article are all the unconscious ways the musicality of Thailand's Muay Thai come to be communicated to you in the training environment, the habitus of a kaimuay. Among these things are very small things like learning to delay, to wait, between a single strike and another. These are motor-schema inscriptions that develop unconsciously, though conscious direction and conceptual understanding can be a part of (or a prevention of) acquiring them. I also reference this small bit of habitus/hexis differences between race, gender and ethnicies. I don't know if this study has been discredited or reargued, but it's a famous case of misunderstanding between races in the West. White teachers take direct eye-contact from a student as a sign of submission, attention and respect, whereas in some black culture, a subordinate student would not make direct eye contact. One person, under the habitus of their inscription is showing respect, but it is being read as disrespect in the habitus of their inscription. These are the types of dispositional knowledge and expression we are talking about, experiential signification of the Self. And these are the things which can and do undergo change in the rigors of Thai's kaimuay. The Five Vital Signs of Conversation: Address, Self-Disclosure, Seating, Eye-Contact, and Touch (Berkeley Insights in Linguistics and Semiotics) by Norman Markel | Jul 28, 2009
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  28. Doxa and The Fighting Arts It may seem a bit of a stretch to imagine that cosmologies can be unanchored, and anchored, through motor schema rigor, and exposure to training subculture habitus. But interestingly enough there is ethnological discussion in just this direction. "In Practice Without Theory: a neuroanthropological perspective on embodied learning" by Greg Downey, in the same anthology, Embodied knowledge theory is used to investigate the teaching of the Brazilian fighting art Capoeira. After the author describes the development of "kinasethetic style", through largely non-verbal instruction and more important mimetic accumulation, "forms of moving and gesture, and habits across all practical, linguistic, and cultural obstacles" (notably, this study seemed to be of transmission of the art not in the authenticity of the strucured habitus of Brazil, but in New York), the Capoeira player comes to acquire malicia, in a sense of the game, which is a vision or outlook upon the world, which flows from the social conditions under which Capoeira developed: On malicia: I screen quote and comment more from the article here: The author is very interested in the division between conscious acquisition and unconscious acquisition, because in the fighting arts so much of what is experienced in the intentional practice of the art and its techniques, and Bourdieu on the other hand is insistent that the structuring process of embodied inscription: habitus, doxa, hexis, occurs unconsciously. The reason for this is that Bourdieu is looking for all the hidden ways in which our cosmology, so to speak, is preserved and passed on, especially in terms of injustice. But, it is easy to appreciate that there is a gradation of conscious to unconscious inscription, actions taken which bring to bear structuring at the motor schema level, which come to embody beliefs, and reasons for being. If the author found elements of this from training Capoeira in New York city, far from the original habitus of Capoeira's development (and all the attendant habitus structuring), so much more would one imagine that these inscription occur richly in the native habitate of Capoeira, where the unconscious structuring can become much more thorough. This is why I include concepts of "authentic" Muay Thai training in Thailand. It's not that more commercial, more adventure-tourist models of practice are "less real", as much as they have been extracted further from so much of the unconscious structuring that gave birth and inform the art, a mode of liberation or change. A well-known American coach of Muay Thai joked about people in the West trying to make their Muay Thai training more and more like "real" Thai training, favoring a much more hybrid approach of tradition and western methodology "What do you want? Are you going to have dogs chasing you on your runs?" (paraphrased), referring to the somewhat well known high presence of street dogs on morning and afternoon dogs which will give chase, sometimes a bit dangerously, when the Thai boys run. The truth of the matter is, even something as trivial as random dog aggression (and discovering solutions to it, in a group) can be part of the field/habitus of Thailand's kaimuay Muay Thai. These group runs, running with the other fighters, in fact are structuring processes. Only one of a thousands that happen in a kaimuay. And, the coach is right. Which of the 1,000s of habitus experiences are you going to replicate, in a foreign gym? Not dogs on runs, but maybe wai-ing formally to your coach? As one moves from the conditions of the production of Muay Thai, it is abstracted, and with it the doxa and hexis is changed, because it is within a differing milieu and its habitus. In a larger sense, returning to Sylvie's trans- project of liberty, by way of conscious and unconscious conditioning, involving not only the kaimuay, but also the habitus of fighting, something she threw herself into committedly, with over 260 fights, leaving the limiting structure of her own cultural doxa, reconditioning herself at the motor-schema level, what is the doxa she is taking on, in a hybrid sense, built into and over the doxa of her youth and early adulthood? It can only be called a layering of worlds perhaps, accomplished through the acquisition and performance of a fighting art, under great duress. A re-formulation of the Self, into a line of flight, as the doxa of a new world starts to show itself. A general presentation of the doxa concept:
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  29. I follow a number of Thai language news sources, collections of old photos and programs, etc. Many interesting things come out of these resources, but every now and again I'm shocked by what I find. Recently, I saw a post about a fighter who had been very successful in Muay Thai but suffered an accident with a gun misfiring, leading to an injury which made it so he could not fight anymore. He'd always been heavy-handed as a fighter, so he decide to try Western Boxing (I guess the injury was such that this was still possible, but Muay Thai was not) and became WBC Asian champion, as well as currently standing as ranked #12 for 122 lb WBC World title. That's obviously amazing and I shared it with Kevin. His face even seemed familiar to me but not like I knew him from somewhere, just seemed like he looked like someone I do know. I kept digging to see what kind of Muay Thai career he'd had. Sources said he had over 200 fights, which means he grew up in the sport. As a Boxer, he fights under his legal name, which most Muay Thai fighters do not, but eventually I happened upon his Muay Thai name: Petchatchai.... I know that name; and now I know that face. "Holy shit," I said to Kevin, "it would be absolutely crazy but this might be Chatchainoi's son." More digging... there's a photo. We recently added Chatchainoi to the Muay Thai Library. He is nicknamed the "Man of Stone" in Thai, and his son, as a boxer, carries the name "Rock Man," in phonetic Thai to be said like the English. Chatchainoi leaves absolutely no question to how he got this nickname; he's hard as a fighter, relentless, small and compact but brave and imposing. He comes from the "first class" of Dejrat fighters, under the tutelage of Arjan Surat, who is himself a very hard man and demands toughness like very few trainers still do today. It makes total sense that Chatchainoi's son would be this invincible. He actually has two sons, the younger is called Chatchainoi also and is gearing up for a boxing fight himself. I'd seen him training at Dejrat before. Like his father and brother, he is just hard. Here is a highlight of 11 KO finishes by "Rock Man" Chainoi Worawut aka Petchatchai: And Chatchainoi the Jr, fights with his father's same fight name: Chatchainoi Chaoraioi If you want the latest in Muay Thai happenings and things to inspire: sign up for our Muay Thai Bones Newsletter
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  30. There has been repeated criticism, for years really, about the outcome of fights in the main stadia of Bangkok: Lumpinee, Rajadamnern, Omoi, and Channel 7. Everything is usually brought into shorthand as being sullied by "gambling" and those betting on fights having too much influence over the wins and losses. Sometimes it is pretty blatant; sometimes I don't see why there's an argument, other than maybe from people who lost money themselves. That argument isn't particularly interesting in that it will always be present, always has been present, and isn't particularly fixable. What is interesting is that there are a few strings that attach to this criticism that make it "modern" rather than just the same old squeak on the same old wheel. Firstly, gambling is under serious attack ever since the first wave of Covid in March of last year. You can hear me and Kevin discuss this a bit in our newest Muay Thai Bones episode, but the first big "cluster" of Covid in Thailand stemmed from an event at Lumpinee and was blamed on gamblers. As a result, as Thailand has employed shutdowns and soft re-openings to deal with the pandemic, Muay Thai has been hard-hit by the restrictions and the start-and-stop approach to promotions has made promoters very sensitive, very eager to obey rules and regulations, and Lumpinee's head "Big Dang," has gone hard after the aim of eliminating gambling from Muay Thai shows at all. More established promotions like Petchyindee, Giatpetch, Chefboontham, Omnoi and Channel 7 have not aligned their voices to this aim of eliminating gambling, but they have enforced rules at their promotions (most of which are taking place outside of Bangkok, whereas normally they all would be within Bangkok) which limit the number of audience members permitted to attend the live shows. This is meant to be a measure to reduce public contact, but it's also painted as a means to control gambling as well. (The audience is mainly comprised of gamblers, anywhere.) This is a piece of news in the form of an announcement from Sia Boat, the head of Petchyindee Academy and co-head of the Petchyindee promotions (his father made the name as one of the major promoters in the Golden Age and is probably the biggest promotion now, alongside Giatpetch, who also goes back to the Golden Age but at Channel 7, not Lumpinee and Rajadamnern). Sia Boat basically took the helm when Covid locked down Muay Thai last year. He is very famous, his family is very wealthy, and as legacy promoters he has a lot of authority beyond his age (early 30s). He acts as an ambassador between the "Muay Thai community," which is gyms, fighters, promoters... everyone who makes Muay Thai actually happen... and the Sport Authority of Thailand, which is government power making decisions but not necessarily making any of the wheels actually turn. Sia Boat proposed that a way to solve the criticisms of corruption in Muay Thai is to codify and make uniform scoring and refereeing across all stadia. This is something that Muay Thai fans outside of Thailand may not be aware of, that there are codified rules - like no plowing, what's a foul, the rule that a referee who suspects a fight is being thrown can stop a fight on those grounds and send both fighters out of the ring, etc. A recent discussion is about referees stopping a fight if the fighters are not engaging enough in rounds 1-4, for example, which has recently gone into effect. But the scoring between stadia is recognized and known among Thai fighters, gyms, trainers, cornermen, etc. And it's been this way for a long time. It's not written out, it's just tendencies because referees and judges don't tend to cross between the main venues, just like fighters didn't cross between promoters in the Golden Age, or very much now. Arjan Surat once explained to me and Kevin that Rajadamnern favored fighters who demonstrate technique, whereas Lumpinee favors fighters who "dern" or are more forward in their fights. So, a fighter like Silapathai would do great at Rajadamnern and maybe struggle a bit in Lumpinee, against the same opponent and fighting the exact same way, simply due to how those judges and referees look at a fight. In this recent rule change about fighters being warned and then thrown out of the ring if they don't engage, the venue most affected by this standardization of governing fights mostly affects Channel 7. There were meetings held about whether they need to fire all their officials, referees and judges in order to elimitate corrupt players, but ultimately this "engagement" rule has thrown that possibility into the future. Sia Boat's proposal to the Sport Authority of Thailand has been accepted by the head of that committee, although what it will entail remains to be announced and or seen. Personally, I think it's a dubious card on the table. If they make their standards in line with the Muay Thai that's fun to watch, in line with traditional practices and scoring, maintaining "Thai" Muay Thai, it's great. If they standardize it more toward the "international" and "entertainment" models, it's terrible. If you want the latest in Muay Thai happenings and things to inspire: sign up for our Muay Thai Bones Newsletter
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  31. Thank you so much! This is just the information I needed.
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  32. It's very hard to tell about these kinds of questions because a big part of this goes to what your training opportunities are (sparring, etc), and how coaches feel about your stances (ie, the kind of support you might have). But, all things being equal, I don't think your forward eye would matter that much, assuming you are not blind and can detected motion and shapes easy. Your eyes probably work together, you aren't reading letters off an eye chart. You seem to feel physically confident in both stances. I've always thought that if a fighter had the opportunity they should work towards switching, learning to use their strengths from either side, and hide their weaknesses. It increases a need to read the situation and the opponent, and allows you to attack both edges. But, this is really advising from extremely far away from whatever you are going through. One thing you might find interesting, if you are a patron, is this 2 hr video which traces how the legend Karuhat changed Sylvie from orthodox to southpaw, so she could correct some bad habits, and also put her strong hand in the lead. It may give you ideas for yourself: https://www.patreon.com/posts/karuhat-sor-3-to-13300833 . Karuhat was a switching fighter.
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  33. There's no big Deal in that!! You just have to give your 100% and Keep practicing..!!!
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  34. One of the more compelling female Muay Thai fights happened this week, a WBC Super Flyweight, Muay Thai World Title fight between Souris Manfredi (France) and Dangkongfah Soujainoi (Thai). The fight itself was action-packed, and also pitted quite different fighting styles and skill sets against each other, enough to make it interesting on its own, but perhaps even more so, the stories behind the fight and what it meant brings interest and thought to the match-up. I'm writing here to call in a few more of those details to bring more attention to the fight, and its place in the development of female Muay Thai. Sadly, at this point in female Muay Thai fight history even big fights like this just get an Instagram post with a belt, a few shares and vanish. Instead, there are deep stories and lives that come together in these fights worth writing about. The importance of the fight may start here, with the WBC world rankings of female fighters (below, the top 10 listed in the weight class of this title - unfortunately due to an update typo Stamp is listed twice). The WBC over the last 6 months or so has been working hard to develop a world ranking for female Muay Thai fighters with an international scope in mind. It's extremely hard to grasp Thai and western, and Asian female fighter fight scenes in a single list. They are so diverse, and the Thai landscape changes so quickly, it has felt like a Herculean task to even come close to something fair, timely and accurate. The WBC has thrown all its effort into this, so much so it seems that the competing WMO has followed suit and attempted their own rankings recently. The WBC's is here, the WMO's is here. It's actually good to have competing orgs attempting to build pictures of female fighting excellence because it's so hard to do. As someone close to the pulse of female Muay Thai in Thailand I can see where these rankings can fall short, simply because logistically you have to rely on a select few as advisers, people who are in the game, and each will have their own political alliances, fighters they necessarily are connected to. It's just the reality of rankings as they are very difficult to create, and organizations that work hard to make and maintain them deserve great credit. With two organizations creating rankings though it helps fill in the gaps any one might have. In any case, this was a huge fight in the context of the WBC's effort. They had already had their first WBC belt fight between two Thai female fighters, Sanaejan and Buakaw, with Sanaejan winning the belt at Mini-Flyweight, a fight fought in the Lumpinee parking lot improvised studio due to COVID restrictions - otherwise it would have been the first female fight in Lumpinee Stadium itself, an epic moment in Thai history - the first fight IN Lumpinee Stadium has been scheduled, read about that here. This fight between Souris and Dangkongfah represented the very first to reflect the wide-scope goals of the WBC, the international aims, as it pitted a very solid, experienced fighter from the west vs a very solid, experienced fighter from Thailand, top ranked, bringing the two worlds together. One can get the feeling that these preliminary rankings are in part assembled in order to put on these kinds of fights, for instance opponents can suddenly be added to the Top 10 rankings at the last minute before proposed matchups, but the reality is that we have to start somewhere. We have to start with a picture of the best, and then the best can start fighting each other and determining a truer sense of what an accurate ranking might be. This is exactly that kind of fight. It's the first time under the new WBC ranking system that western and Thai well-known, acknowledged fighters faced off, to create a real hierarchy, and this is exciting stuff. You can see the fight here below, an edit from Dangkongfah's corner Facebook stream: There's more to this match up than meets the eye too. There is a history between these two fighters, and for Dangkongfah a really compelling story that has covered maybe the last 5 years. If I'm not mistaken, Souris had beaten Dangkongfah several years ago in Khorat, in a fight that Dangkongfah protested as a dubious decision. This was earlier in Souris's development as a fighter, when she was with her coach Charleton in his gym in Khorat (both fighters were local to Khorat at that time). They were way off the beaten path, training and fighting away from the bigger shows that people in the west hear about. It's very hard to go your own way in Thailand, so serious props to both of them, (forgive me, as close as I follow female Muay Thai, the details on this are a bit muddy, I'm just trying to draw a broad brush). Surely this victory was a meaningful one. Dangkongfah was, I also believe, simply a young circuit festival fighter at the time, and I'm guessing was up in weight, so likely had that advantage. In fact Sylvie had a remarkable experience with Dangkongfah several years ago when fighting up in Khorat. A (then) pudgy young fighter who was drawn to Sylvie for some reason inserted herself into Sylvie's corner (Sylvie had no corner for this fight and just collected one from the local krus on the mats), and helped urge Sylvie onto victory. You can see clips of this here. We've had some pretty amazing experiences in Isaan, but finding this assertive, confident girl in support may have topped them all. She was full of vitality, confidence, a kind of magnetic enthusiasm. In fact, after the fight she told Sylvie that she wanted to fight her, "just for fun." Sylvie just laughed. Dangkongfah was 16 years old (looked 14 to us) and we guessed close to 60 kg (Sylvie is consistently around 46 kg). You can see that fight and her in Sylvie's corner here. Dangkongfah had won her own fight fairly spectacularly, earlier on the same card. In any case, it introduced us to this incredible energy of a girl. Maybe a year or two later we heard that Fairtex had taken in Dangkongfah, a bit after they had taken on Stamp, starting their commitment to develop a female Muay Thai and MMA fight team. This was in the very beginning of it all. I don't want to be hard about it, but just to generalize from talking to others close to the situation, at the time the feeling seemed to be that Stamp was the real, serious prospect. Stamp was maybe a top 5 female fighter in her weight class in Thailand at the time, coming off a difficult, somewhat blowout loss to Phetjee Jaa, but beating Sylvie at 48 kg. Dangkongfah was instead an overweight, Isaan festival circuit fighter, a funny girl, who was taken on in a different way. There were stories of her being without means of support, I believe, though I'm not sure how much that was so. Her father is the famous fighter Kongfah, for whom she is named. It's enough to say that it may have been a bit of a feeling of charity and generosity in how she was taken in at this early stage of their female fight team, an out-reach from the Fairtex side, not expecting a star prospect. She and Stamp were the first two female fighters of Fairtex. Stamp then was molded into a ONE Championship superstar, and at some point Dangkongfah, having worked very hard to get into significantly better shape while there, left Fairtex. It's difficult to describe this position she was in with enough force. Thai female fighters until a few years ago, had very few career opportunities by the time they turn 18. The best female Thai Muay Thai fighters were all 14 or 15 when they were fighting as prize-fighters very frequently, in the circuits, developing great skill and game-finesse, but once they hit about 16 everything pretty much starts to shut off. You could join the Thai National team and be awarded big money from the government if you get Gold at IFMA World Championships. You could maybe occasionally fight a high-profile fight for a big dermpan, but your training inevitably tails off, your fight opportunities tail off. When Dangkongfah left Fairtex (and I don't know the circumstances of that), she was literally looking at the end of opportunity. She was not that developed in terms of skill, but certainly rich in experience. She was not the best circuit fighter in Isaan, like someone like Loma was. She had just left a huge name in Fairtex that was at the cusp of investing lots of money, and lots of will into building and promoting Thai female fighters. Fighters like Wondergirl and now Dokmaibaa have since joined the team. And Stamp took off like a rocketship, not only as a fighter, but a promoted fighter with a prominent fight program invested in building her name and career. Dangkongfah stepped out of that wake, into what really might be expected to be Muay Thai oblivion, for a Thai female fighter. But...fueled by the example of ONE promotional success, when Channel 8 broke from its MAX Muay Thai contract they started their own version of MAX, with two weekend shows in Superchamp and Muay Hardcore. Whereas MAX had barred women from the ring (Sylvie is one of only 4 female fighters who ever fought in MAX Stadium), the Channel 8 fights did the opposite. They took the lead from ONE and made female fighters, in fact it was Thai female fighters, their headline stars. First, it was Sawsing, a natural star given that she had long been one of the best female fighters in Thailand, but then, interestingly enough, they took on Dangkongfah as a headline fighter as well. From the outside, it would seem like they plucked her out of nowhere. She was not riding a long wave of success, at least not outside a very local scene. She was just an Isaan fighter who hadn't fought very much recently (because she'd been at Fairtex) but with a big heart and energy. But, she matched the Entertainment Muay Thai promotional model perfectly. I've written a lot about how worrisome the Entertainment Muay Thai rulesets can be as a threat to traditional Muay Thai, but...they are also an opportunity. And Dangkongfah thrived under the format. She ascended. What I really love about her as a fighter is how much she defies the passionate westerner perceptions of Muay Thai excellence. We have fantasies of incredible crispness and balance, the effortless gliding across the ring, the impression that you are above the fight through skill and acumen. There are so many examples. You look at Dangkongfah and you see none of that at first blush. But I'll tell you, she is a fighter who has earned with experienced qualities that are intimately Thai, those of the Thai fighter. It's just not the things that appear easily to the eye. It isn't demo-perfect Muay Thai. It's the Muay of experience, it's "bones", as Thais call it. It's the Muay of prize fighting. Yes, what makes Thailand's Muay Thai so special IS the beauty of techniques...but beneath those techniques is another beauty. It's the beauty of the experiences of fighting itself, since a young age. What is so cool about Dangkongfah as a fighter is that because - unlike many Thai female fighters who do express quite beautiful Muay Thai - she does not have those keynotes that people look at for symbols of excellence that in some Thai female fighters can be a kind of "point fighting", she has the other excellence, the excellence of feeling a fight, directing a fight, knowing how to win a fight, and it shows through. This is not a knock on other fighters, many technically crisp fighters also possess this fight knowledge, but her particular mix of fighting skills allows this very special quality of hers, to shine. The "bones" show. It's not easy to see if you aren't looking for it. So, a bit of digression to bring it out. Many not familiar with Thailand's traditional Muay Thai scoring don't really grasp the importance of a narrative scoring model. You can read more about this here: The Essence of Muay Thai – 6 Core Aspects That Make it What It Is. The narrative model means that you have to tell a story in a fight. Progress in what you reveal, in the tempos and momentums that you choose, and they mean something in terms of what has already happened in the fight. Round 3 means something in relation to rounds 1 and 2. Round 4, in relation to round 3. Dangkongfah has been a prize fighter under narrative scoring since a kid. It's not "damage" or calculated "points", it's how much you control the narrative of the fight. It's how much you dominate, and WHEN. Everything builds to a story of your dominance. This is what she is really good at. And you'll see it in this fight. She has a feeling for when and how. It doesn't matter if punches flail out and are ineffective at some point, or if she momentarily loses balance, it's about when they land, and when she's rock solid. When the car gets rolling, she knows how to push. A lot of Thai female fighters will not risk the loss of control (beauty) to get to where she wants to get. She's very unlike many Thai female fighters that ascend to a wide-spread awareness, and it is easy to underestimate her. She is all the guts and IQ that come from fighting as a prize fighter since a kid. If you want to know what she's about, watch her in rematches. She is ridiculously good at rematching an opponent. I've watched her fight many times. Sylvie has fought her, I've seen her fight twice in person. She has a focus and will in rematches that just controls the game. She escaped with a lucky (probably biased in her favor) draw decision vs Dani on Channel 8, and just ripped her in the rematch despite giving up what seemed like visible size. She beat one of the best fighters in Muay Thai on Channel 8, the brand new ONE Championship Champion Allycia Rodriguez (who had just defeated Stamp for the title), rematching her for the biggest side bet of any female fight in Thai history (1 million Baht) and the Thailand title belt, and totally controlled the fight against someone most would say was technically superior. (At the time Dangkongfah had been using social media to argue that she deserved to fight for ONE, the promotion which made Stamp a star, and then out-right beat their brand new champion, who had defeated Stamp for the title... it was a solid argument.) She firmly beat Souris on Channel 8, in a 3 round rematch from their disputed Khorat fight, and so this WBC fight was again a rematch. Anytime I've seen her rematch she's dominated, almost magically. It's not an accident. And, this fight was coming off her first true loss in years, having lost to Barbara Aguiar on Channel 8. She had something to prove. It was a pretty extraordinary performance, this WBC title fight. Souris Manfredi, though she does not have wins versus other WBC ranked fighters (that I'm aware of) has nonetheless taken on HUGE challenges as a fighter, with tough-fought losses to Phetjee Jaa in Thai Fight (maybe the best female MT fighter in the world), a big weight discrepancy vs top fighter Sawsing on Channel 8 and against Dangkongfah herself. She went to Myanmar to fight and win a Lethwei title, and has fought and won in in a Bare Knuckle promotion in Thailand (a promotion her coach just announced she's now pursuing full time, leaving Muay Thai permanently). Stylistically this is a great fight, because just watching Souris you can see how hard she's trained in specific techniques and positions. She's crisp, sound and exudes discipline and commitment. For instance she has lots of early success with nice straight punches that seem to pop through a seemingly porous guard. She looks superior. She presents Muay Thai in a highly trained, well-defined way that is clearly visible to the eye. You can feel that she's worked extremely hard at developing herself. Because we in the West kind of exoticize the precision of Thailand's Muay Thai, we work very hard at tracing those perfect lines, and capturing them in combination. What is so interesting and cool about this fight is that Dangkongfah, somewhat unusually, doesn't have that supposedly "Thai" precision. A legend we know privately wrinkled his nose at Dangkongfah's victory over Alycia, preferring the latter's technique even though the win was clear. A coach might look at her on tape and think: she's full of holes, she's easy to pick off. You can make game plans, and be right about it all...but just try. She has something deeper than technique. She has a feel for the game, she's been a prize fighter since she was young. She made this in the festival fight circuit of Isaan, where "pretty" isn't really what it's about. It's about taking that sidebet when its up for grabs, controlling the narrative and it's about heart. It's a deeper lesson of what fighting is. It isn't picture-book. The Muay Sok legend Yodkhunpon once told us of growing up in the fighting rings of his boyhood Isaan "points are for Bangkok". Drawing from another sport, in baseball you talk about pitchers who have amazing "stuff", and then you talk about pitchers who know how to win even if they don't have great stuff. Dangkongfah is that kind of pitcher, she knows how to win. The final context of this fight is even more remarkable. The fight took place in an improvised ring at the Fairtex Training Facility in Pattaya, the very same place she was the Cinderella step-sister of now world famous Stamp. In fact everyone in attendance to this title fight watched Stamp go through training a few hours BEFORE this fight. One cannot help but feel Dangkongfah herself took into the ring with her that contrast between Stamp and herself, the one who Fairtex embraced and built and she herself who went her own road. Here she was fighting for the WBC World Title in the very same space she was in when she was a pudgy funny-girl from Isaan. Finding herself there in that ring in Fairtex was an unexpected twist of fates. This World Title fight was actually supposed to be the showcase fight under the Lumpinee banner under GoSport's new push to create a different kind of promotion for Lumpinee Stadium. A New Lumpinee. When first proposed I imagine there may have even have been a chance that this fight was going to be the first ever INSIDE the ring of Lumpinee (which has at the time of this writing not happened yet but is scheduled), and maybe even for a WBC belt and a Lumpinee belt (early promotional material from GoSport had both belts advertised on female fights). But, as it happened, GoSport and the WBC had a disagreement, the contract for the belt experienced complications, and the fight found itself on this promotion, Full Metal Muay Thai, put on in the Fairtex facilities due to COVID restrictions. It's enough to say, this fight took a swerve from a possible pinnacle place in Muay Thai history, to a place of personal importance for Dangkongfah. Not Lumpinee, but at Fairtex where she once may have been underestimated. This is the underdog girl. Sawsing, who had come with her family and team of Thai female fighters to support Dangkongfah, posted this photo of the WBC belt on the hood of the car they drove down in from Singburi, that's how special it was for them. Interestingly enough Yannick, a Frenchman who owned Warriors gym in Pattaya, is the generous man who held the contract for the belt. He had purchased the belt (a significant expense) because he felt felt that it was ridiculous that a fighter who becomes World Champion does not get to keep the physical belt in Thailand. Many do not know this, but this is true of Lumpinee belts, Rajadamnern belts, pretty much all belts. So he in real generosity also purchased the belt itself to go to the winner. One imagines he hoped that this belt would go to Souris Manfredi, who also from France. Instead it was wrested away by the festival fighting girl from Isaan, the remarkable, incredible Dangkongfah. If you want the latest in Muay Thai happenings and things to inspire: sign up for our Muay Thai Bones Newsletter
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  35. Karuhat is the ultimate technical fighter! A martial artist genius in his flow of Muay. He is seamless and ferocious. It looks as though he can manipulate time and energy… a superhero He also has a positive friendly energy and a glint in his eyes that makes me smile. He is also very handsome Karuhat is the king of Muay thai. the best!
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  36. As joseph advised you.. keep on Track.. Don't Sit Idle.. Read some authentic Articles/Blogs.. And Keep practicing!!
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  37. So here is an informal list of gyms I'd generally recommend, and a short synopsis why. These are maybe one-month-stay recommendations. These are not reviews, just quick overall impressions. Keep in mind, I don't really spend a lot of time in gyms during regular training hours, and I'm not drawn to mega-gyms with lots of trainers, students and new facilities. I just get asked this question a lot so this is my best answer on my experiences, and sometimes from feedback I've heard from people I've sent there. If you have a question you can post it on this thread, or create a new thread in this Topic. I've included links to filmed sessions with some of the krus that head these gyms, I'd strongly recommend watching them to get a sense of the gym and the teaching style. [updated November, 2021] Sit Kru Thailand (Chiang Mai - contact here) Thailand Pinsinchai is a late- Golden Age fighter, so well rounded in beautiful technique, powerful striking, and a great teacher. He was originally part of the Santai krus, so he has experience with western fighters, but has opened his own gym in Chiang Mai. Importantly, he trains his own son as a fighter, and a handful of young (teenage) fighters who are frequently on Channel 7 and Petchyindee shows. The reason this is important is that gyms can have a sweet spot they hit when a Thai team is being built, which makes them very full of focus. Kru Thailand streams training often, you can find video of it here. The gym is on the premises of a resort, so you have a room right there if you wish. The facilities are nice but not fancy, but mainly Thailand is just an excellent teacher and a funny and sincere man. You can see how great Kru Thailand is as a teacher in my hour long Muay Thai Library sessions with him. Session 1 all about technique, Session 2 on clinch Yodwicha Muay Thai Gym (Bangkok - contact here) Yodwicha is kind of the last of the great Muay Khao, at least in the true sense. Since he doesn't fight in Thailand anymore, his style is more of an "international" hands and forward-fighting, but he never forgets his roots. You'll be training with one of the best fightrs in the world. He's a very generous and patient teacher and his wife Yanisara is a wonderful woman who speaks quite good English which is always a bonus. The gym is behind "Safari World," so it's a quiet area to itself but is connected to a main highway so it's not too hard to get anywhere else. It's a small gym, minimal in many ways but it's open air and comfortable and the "smallness" of it is perfectly suited to the kind of intimacy of training that Yodwicha and his crew provide. Another perk is that Yodwicha is still an elite fighter, so you can be there while he's preparing for fights and see what that looks like, as well as help him if you're of a suitable size. You can see Yodwicha's teaching style in this great Muay Thai Library session in his gym. Or. Kham/Fight House Thailand - Singburi with Kru Diesel (Singburi - connect to them here) Famed Kru Diesel is the big draw of this gym, but there are a number of very good fighters training there too. Kru Diesel is best known for having brought up two Muay Khao superstars at F. A. Group (Petchboonchu and Yothin) but he has moved to be the head trainer up in Singburi, where at the time of this writing he's rebuilding Sirichai (formerly Tanadet Tor. Pran49 - see this quick interview here), a handful of young male fighters. Female superstar Sawsing also trains there and brings female fighter teammates like Dangkongfah, Fahseetong, Petsaifaa, et al. Kru Diesel is a mastermind for the Muay Khao style, an amazing padman and a truly great teacher. For Muay Khao, this is a top option. The gym currently has nearby apartment options, but they tell me to build fighter dorms early 2022. Importantly, this is a legendary kru involved in building a legit Thai fight team, who also has lots of experience of training western fighters as well. These kinds of sweet spot gyms that are authentically Thai, but also understand western needs are rare. This session was filmed at FA Group, but you'll get a strong sense of Kru Diesel's teaching: Kru Diesel F.A. Group - The Art of Knees (84 min). A new session is coming to the Library that I've filmed at Fight House in Singburi. Follow Kru Dieselnoi Facebook, he live streams a lot. This gym is not easy to find, but here is the Google Map link to it. Manop's Gym (Chiang Mai) - For those that want a gym that is a bit more personal in their training Manop's gym in Chiang Mai is definitely something to check out. Manop is famously known as Saenchai's Yokkao trainer, and he's left Yokkao now to start his own life in Chiang Mai. He is incredibly perceptive as a teacher, very, very technical. I'm not sure I've run into a more precise and intuitive teacher of technique, a man with a gentle spirit as well. He also works really well with young western fighters. The gym is in a quiet neighborhood outside of the city, and seems like a great opportunity learn and train hard. If you check the threads of this forum you will find some very positive, thorough reviews of the gym a solid year or more into its foundation. Also it would seem very women-friendly, as Kru Manop raised his daughter Faa to become a fighter. You can see Kru Manop's teaching style in my Library sessions with him: The Art of the Teep (90 min), Session 2 - The Art of the Sweep (57 min) We did this quick video edit of the gym in 2020 if you want to take a look Gyms I Haven't Been To in While But Probably Still Recommended Kem Muaythai Gym - clinch heavy, gorgeous mountain location, run by a great fighter in Kem, access to Isaan festival cards. Kem's Muay Thai gym may be one of the best in Thailand, high up on a mountain near Khorat. I call it the Shaolin Experience. Big beautiful resort like grounds, grueling training sessions, at times lots of active fighters. The connection to Isaan fighting is very special, there is nothing quite like festival fighting. It's one of the best experiences you'll have as a fighter. I wrote about the gym a few years ago here: Kem Muaythai Gym: Hardcore, Beautiful, Clinch Gym - You can see Kem's teaching style in the Muay Thai Library: Session 1: Building a System (52 min), Session 2: Mastering Everything In Between (80 min) Hongthong Gym (Chiang Mai - contact here) - My private with Joe Hongthong was absolutely wonderful. He thinks creatively about the fighter I am, and then about how to enhance that. They've had successful women fighting out of their gym, and from personal experience I'd say that if you are a Muay Khao fighter Joe would make a wonderful teacher. The gym is very connected to the local Chiang Mai fight scene, and to Bangkok fight opportunities and is very fighter-oriented. mid-sized western fighters seem like they've had success training and fighting out of this gym. Watch Joe's training style: Developing the Muay Khao Style | 87 Minutes - Joe Hongthong - Chiang Mai Please post all gym recommendation questions you have for me here on this thread, or start your own thread. That way the conversation can develop and benefit others too! (This list and its descriptions will be revised over time)
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  38. Sylvie has started voicing commentary on a stretch of fights from 2017 which did not get a commentary yet. Below are the last two she's published. Just watching these fights is incredible for me, because of just how far off the map of regular fighting this is. She was fighting maybe 35 fights a year, and at this point she was facing very large opposition, multiple weight classes up, including some of the most accomplished fighters in Thailand. What is more remarkable than anything about these two fights isn't that they happened, but that because she fought so much and faced pretty much anyone promoters would put in front of her, she didn't give it a second thought. This is just a run-of-the-mill week that happened to have the 118 lb Northern Thailand Champion and the 112 lb WPMF World Champion, back to back, 3 days apart. Any of these fights would be a fighter's apex memory, but for Sylvie this is just the regular rough terrain she climbs. For those that don't know, she's a 46-48 kg (walk around weight) fighter giving up 25 lbs and 15 lbs. It's also amazing to have her perspective on so many of her fights. You can see all the video of her fights on her Complete Fight Record page. Any fight # that is underlined and in yellow is linked to the video and many of these are commentary video.
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  39. This as a lengthy answer I posed on Reddit in answer to someone who was attempting to get ahold of the greatness of Samart. He had read some articles and seemed to keep coming up against repeated appeals to his "IQ" and lots on his side teep. As easy as it is to admit or even claim that Samart is the greatest, because so much of his career is unrecorded on video, his celebration does sometimes feel a bit vague. This was my take: The greatness of Samart has a kind of mythological quality to it, as there is almost no footage of his fights in his prime. This means that we kind of fill in the hole in the historical record with his projected greatness. In boxing history this happens as well, you can hear very knowledgeable people talk about Harry Greb (1920s) with reverence, taking him to be as great as anyone who ever fought, with no fight footage. The story of Samart's greatness kind of flows from a few directions. First of all, its about when he fought. He changed the game as it transitioned from the Silver Age of Muay Thai to the Golden Age. I write a bit about this here, he MOVED like nobody else, maybe before or since, but was kind of the first to do it: This gives his a special aura that fighters in history have. They change the sport. The other part of this is, in Thailand itself, and by the fighters themselves, he is regarded as the greatest, maybe the way that Jordan is in basketball. Jordan rode the wave of a sudden popularization and huge economic growth of the sport, and also came to define it. It wasn't just that Jordan was incredible, its the Time he played in, and the aura he developed as his brand in the NBA in terms of marketing awareness exploded. After Samart retired he made movies, he became a handsome singing star, he became a SUPERSTAR, culturally. This is important, because Muay Thai fighters in Thailand have had a stigma of being low class. He was kind of a James Bond of Muay Thai, just as Muay Thai was peaking in popularity. This charm and popularity, beyond the world of Muay Thai, is no small thing to Thais, and to Thai fighters who were his contemporaries. He was a cross-over star. To us, maybe not a big deal, but to Thais huge. Your aura is what you are as a fighter, and his aura grew well beyond the ring. Thais call it sanae, meaning something like charm, but carrying with it the feeling of invulnerability. A "you can't touch this" aura. Legends of the past complain that fighters of today do not have this. Then you add in his WBC World Title. He wasn't a World Champion for very long, other fighters like Weerapol have been WBC champion more prolifically, but for Thais boxing brings much more International honor than being a Lumpinee Champion. The country celebrates and idolizes its boxing champions, especially from that era. Some of Thailand's wide reverence for western boxing excellence came from the strong patronage of boxing from H.M. Rama IX, who not only modernized Thailand's Muay Thai, but also held boxing in extremely high esteem and helped promote it. That Samart and the King had the same birthday date (December 5th) probably only added to the magical connection, in a country where days and dates really matter. So, when you talk with Thais it's all Samart. The other layer of this is that western, English language coverage of Samart becomes exaggerated and embellished (probably), because of his immense reputation in Thailand. A super gifted fighter with great eyes, a fighter who moved like no other, a WBC Boxing World Title, and almost none of his prime captured on tape, its a recipe for idolization. Just as with Jordan, there are arguments to be technically had against his GOATness, if you want to dig into everything. He almost never fought up, and sometimes fought down, so, powerful enough connections gave him matchups that were favorable, albeit against a very strong field. This is unlike many great fighters who were forced into weight classes that were not their own, once they cleaned out their own natural weight division. Gym and matchup power is a very important aspect of career greatness, ask Somrak about that. You can say he wasn't a great clinch fighter, more of an anti-clinch fighter, and that he lost badly two of the more high-profile fights he fought vs Dieselnoi (for FOTY) and Wangchannoi (his final stadium fight). It even could be said that if Samart hadn't come back from boxing to win his 3rd FOTY, his older brother Kongtoranee, who is largely forgotten by English language history, could have had an even better career with more stadium belts, 2 FOTYs, and coming within a hair's breath of winning a World Title in boxing (if I recall?) But these are just jostling greatness next to greatness. To the Thais, pretty uniformly, he is the greatest. You can see the votes we tallied among ex-fighters as to who is the GOAT: https://twitter.com/mediasres/status/1432803403860561921 Only Wichannoi and Dieselnoi are even in the ballpark. Also, really importantly, some of his greatness might not even be evident from video at all. Sylvie never had been a big fan of his fighting style on video, she just isn't a lover of how he fought. Hey, not every great fighter can be your favorite. But when we filmed with him she was blown away by what it felt like to be opposite him. You can see that session here (patrons): https://www.patreon.com/posts/17174396 She's filmed with countless legends and even though they were only working through basic movements nobody moved like him, nobody stood like him. Even in his mid 50s his aura was incredible, and his movements like nobody. He has a naturalness, an ease, that is really prized by Thais, and in person it really hit her. On video she didn't have strong feelings for him, but in person he completely won her over. Everything they said was true! So, for me its a mixture of things. He changed Muay Thai with his style, he had incredible eyes and feel, a very relaxed defensive manner combined with sudden, unexpected power (Krongsak told us, Samart was born to fight), he had gym power to set up favorable matchups, he became a cross-over cultural superstar, and the lack of prime career footage may have even magnified his aura as the decades went by. Also, in a culture like Thailand its very hard to carry the mantle of greatness. So many great fighters end their careers in very difficult circumstances. What makes him great is also how he carried greatness, and still to this day carries it, I think. Here are two related posts: You can also see my 30 minute video study of Samart's victory over Namphon, as a patron: https://www.patreon.com/posts/54893112
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  40. Definitely. The traditional use of the elbow in Thailand was a precision strike meant to cut, but Yodkhunpon used them differently. He used them with rhythm and in volume, often to set up other strikes like knees, to which they are naturally linked. Being padded doesn't really make a difference in this. You would just choose which strike to create openings for, which could include a heavy elbow for a knockout. And yes, you can cut opponents through elbow pads, I would suspect, if you caught the bone and skin just right.
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  41. A few extra thoughts and context on this historic moment. Noteably, not only is there a female fight on this card, but also keeping with the modernizing, internationalizing brand of this promotion, so are 3 round fights, somewhat in echo of the Entertainment Muay Thai promotions in Thailand like Superchamp and Muay Hardcore, which have actually featured female fighters like Sawsing and Dangkongfah as headline stars. Which means that this 3 round, action-oriented promotional style is in some degree also entering the Lumpinee ring for the first time. The female fight will be 5 rounds, and one imagines it will be scored in a traditional way, as will the other 5 round fights on the card. The 3 round fights serve as something of a pre-lim. What makes this of interest is how this is a kind of mashup, or integration of trends that are facing Muay Thai, and that it is being done under the Lumpinee auspices, in the Lumpinee Ring. The GoSport promotion seems to have its eye on this more modernizing style, featuring young announcers that speak in Thai, English and Chinese (if I recall), and appears to have plans to stream fights through their website, perhaps with a much greater emphasis on eventual non-Thai physical attendance (part of the anti-gambling aims of Lumpinee). The movement towards opportunity for women in the Lumpinee ring cannot be completely separated out from these larger trends, as promotionally they seek to bring traditional 5 round fighting together with female fighting and 3 round fighting as well. There is no doubt that the Entertainment forms of Muay Thai, including those of ONE, MAXX and Channel 8, have inspired these changes, there is no telling how this might play out in terms of scoring, which is where traditional Muay Thai and Entertainment Muay Thai diverge. Also worth noting, the "first fight at Lumpinee" honor was given to Sanaejan and Buakaw, two Thai female fighters. It was more than fitting that it was two Thai female fighters to hold this technical honor. In that fight as well a WBC World Title fight was put at stake. It seems that promotionally the relationship with the WBC has broken down, and the higher-profile "World Title" plans for female fights at Lumpinee may have been stalled, perhaps to be picked up by new agreements. Not that titles particularly matter, but in the Thai promotional world they are admitted signatures of history and importance, as New Lumpinee is working to position itself authentically, but also innovatively, in Thailand's present day landscape. The WBC had seemed to be running in parallel to Lumpinee developments, developing a researched and frequently updated international ranking system to support those coming title fights. This meant that organized weight classes and rankings would have been at play in deciding which women fought at Lumpinee, somewhat mirroring the tradition of male fighting in the stadium. Interestingly, this concrete 1st of two women fighting in the Lumpinee ring itself, will be accomplished between a westerner and a Thai female fighter.
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  42. Oh right, I totally forgot you guys are based in Pattaya. Well that's awesome to hear and thanks for you input Emma! Attachai gym seems quite appealing to me at the moment. We'll see how the stars align but I'm pretty hopeful I can go at the beginning of 2022. I wholeheartedly agree, the humidity is no joke and takes time to get used to. When I was last in Thailand about 4 years ago, I think it took me about a month or so to get used to it while training in Hua Hin. But Hua Hin is a beach city and seemed a bit cooler. Thanks for you input Emma, if you haven't noticed it really for the past 10 years that's quite something.
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  43. Hello, So there are a few gyms in Montreal, it really depends what you're looking for. Most gym are (if not all by now) multi sports gym. I know they were two brothers, I believe they were from Cambodia or Laos, but practicing their version of 8 limbs fighting, but I can't find them on google. But for gyms here is a quick review. Académie Frontenac. Mostly for beginniners and people who want to be fit. Classes are both boxing and muay thai and often the coaches are not muay thai guys, they will just add a kick at the end of a boxing combo. But the main coach, is really good and if you're into advance classe, fighting and sparring, then he's running these classes. Also, pretty cheap and lots and lots of classes for anyones schedules. Underdog Boxing. Primary a boxing gym, a very good one (you'll see pros like Jean Pascal train there once in a while), run by two brothers. They have a muay thai "program" run by two other brother, I believe there is only 3 classes a week, tuesday, thursday and saturday. Also very cheap. The advanced team is good, fun sparring, fun training. The two brothers are pasionnated and fun to train with. Thai Long: never trained there but it has a good reputation, they do pretty well in local competitions. Titans: Pretty good main trainer Kru Ash, active and involved in the Montreal and eastern canada muay thai community. Never trained there. Skarbowsky Gym: So Jean-Charles Skarbowsky is apparently taking over the world, he has gyms in France, China, Thailand and now Montreal. I don't think it is open yet, but should open soon. You can contact him on facebook I am sure he will respond. But he obsviously won't be there on a regular basis and the main trainer he choose to run the place seems a bit of a knuckle head, but I don't actually know, I only base this judgement on his facebook profile. Tristar: don't go, their muay thai guy suck and they always lose in local fights. Finally, I got a friend of mine, Ben Rancher, he coaches at two gyms but also in his garage with a small group of people. He's awesome, nice, respecful and very good. You might want to try this. I don't know how much it is. Here is his instagram. https://www.instagram.com/ben.rancher/ Good luck
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  44. So, the title of the forum thread kinda says it all "what makes karuhat special, like no other fighter" Well, it's just that, he is not like ANY other fighter that I have seen, met or fought. Back in 1993 I was in Thailand for the first time training and fighting as a wide eyed teenager, full of red bull and dreams of Lumpinee Stadium! Before I went to Thailand I had studied Samart, Chatchai and Kongtoranee so made my home in Sityotong, fighting on small shows in Pattaya. I had seen video of Karuhat before then but did not know his name or where he trained. I went to Lumpinee one night with the camp to watch Chatchai fight and was lucky enough to be back stage helping out with massage and bandages etc. Considering that there were so many quality fighters in the old Lumpinee warm up area as soon as one character entered all eyes fell on him, like a magnet drawing a hushed attention to him, "Karuhat had arrived" He quietly and methodically arranged his shorts (sans label of course) bandages, warm up shorts etc into a quiet little corner and made his preparations for battle. (I still did not know his name at all then) My Thai was poor and I did not know how to ask. For those who have never been the Old Lumpinee stadium was a strangely magical place, when empty, just an old shack with barely spinning fans and a dusty stink to it, but on fight night a magical place indeed! Chatchai had fought and lost a close decision as the main event was about to start, he, and the other fighters form all of the other gyms hurried to catch sight of the small mad entering the ring with a slight smile and more than a slight swagger about him. "Karuhat had arrived" I was dragged by Kru Yodatong to "watch, watch" and I watched as he explained with his hands as i could not understand him. He placed on hand horizontally at chest height "Boonliai, Chatchai, Dekkers, Numphon, Sangtienoi" then he took his other hand and placed it at his chin level, again horizontal "Karuhat"; he was explaining "there are levels to this" and he is above them all! There started my love affair with his style, grace, power, swagger, smile, style (yes I had replica shorts made up and even a side part in my hair). It was the timing, the bravado, the slickness and the speed that excited me and prompted me to try and copy him in every was at the start of my career. He stood out, he gave and received so much respect with ease. But for me the one thing that makes him stands out is when after winning at Lumpinee, was that I got to say hello to him and share a few moments. In true Thai style, it was less of what was said (very little apart form me prostrating and saying in a strong English accent "Sawadee Krup") He pulled me us and asked "nak Muay"? I nodded, he then did the ultimate Thai thing of squeezing my muscles on my arms, shoulders, and legs, he kind of looked me up and down, I was not muscular, I was not strong and he could see that but what he mimed next will stay with me forever "He spoke in Thai but I didn't understand - I did understand what he meant though" He gestured like a big strong fighter, he pushed his nose down like it was broken, made some clumsy punches in the air, then shook his head, waved his finger to say NO. Then the poined to himself, showed a couple of teeps, a couple of pivots and japs "bop,bop" he said, then he brushed his hand over his face as if to say how handsome he was and no scars "YES YES" and a thumbs up. He was telling me to fight smart because of my frame - then a little smile and he was whisked away for a press conference. So, that's why for ME he will always be so special, he made time for a farang kid in the middle of a room full of experienced amazing Thai fighters. So, I just want to thank him! Thanks for letting me rant and geek out over him for a while :)
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  45. One of the challenges of building a female fight history is actually compiling the records and events of female fighting in such a way that pictures of the sports emerge and tell significant stories. Female professional fighting has been so fragmented and silo'd, driven by imitations of much more prevalent and organized male versions of combat sports, the bench marks of excellence become isolated and often just largely untold. It really was this landscape of female fighting - and for Sylvie pro female Muay Thai fighting - that gave her to take much more hardcoded benchmarks of excellence. Instead of belts accumulated by this org or that, it became immutable things like fighting itself, in a creative process of self-improvement and pursuit of excellence. And also for this reason, she has documented each and everyone of her fights, with as much detail as possible: complete Fight Record. The net result of this extremely committed devotion to fighting itself, match up after match up, taking never heard of before weight differences, has placed her achievement at the top of all pro female fight history, in terms of number of documented fights fought. Below are graphics positioning her fight achievement in the context of other milestone female pro fighters in their respective sports. All of these women deserve to be celebrated, because all of them pushed past limits that defined them, and their opportunities. Each fighter was in a different historical context. The asterisks above reflect the account that Masako Yoshida had 44 MMA fights but also 2 other fights (boxing & shootbox), and that Sakoto Shinashi had among her Tapeology 44 MMA fights a shootbox fight included. source Reddit NOTE: The graphic above has something of an error. Iman Barlow's wikipedia page only has 60 of her reported 93 pro MT fights documented. There may be documentation, she certainly is a historic female fighter, but at least by wikipedia she isn't available. The tildes above reflect the ambiguities in the Wikipedia records of these fighters. Iman Barlow counts 103 fights, but it is unclear how many of these are amateur. The amateur records of Valentina and Joanna also seem incomplete. Sylvie's current fight total is 268 fights (including 9 amateur Muay Thai fights). As noted, female Thai Muay Thai fighters have careers that sometimes stretch into the 100s. For instance prodigious Loma in this interview in 2018 said she probably had over 200 professional fights. Phettae in this 2021 interview said she likely had near 400, each fighting for purses since childhood. Sadly, the documentation on these careers is largely lost to oral history. It's very hard to tell what these guessed-at numbers reflect, but it is very likely that fighting well over 100 times is more that reachable for the most prolific Thai female fighters of Thailand, and for some may rarely stretch into the multiples of 100. It's one reason why Thai female fighters are many of the very best fighters in the history of the world. I'm looking into older female fighter combat sport histories, which I hope to a pull into the picture prolific female fighters. In this end these kinds of fight total histories add to the other storied histories in female combat sports. Belts won, big fights and showdowns witnessed. In the very end just getting into the ring an enormous number of times holds its own measure that says something about a fighter. For those less familiar with Sylvie and do not know the context of her record, she's fought (at the time of this writing) 1,1008 rounds and only been knocked to the canvas 1 time, despite accumulating 91 KO/TKOs, and has faced Internationally ranked, world champions, or local stadium champions 131 times. And over the last 100 fights averaged opponents 3 weight classes above her proper weight class. She has fought in the absolute degree-of-difficulty echelon of her opportunity as a pro female fighter. If there are details that are incorrect, or fight histories that can be more thoroughly filled in please let me know. The true goal is building an accurate and dynamic female history of combat sports.
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  46. I will also say that often when we talk about "Thai" perspectives of sport, which we read as Asian, or uniquely Thai - things such as Narrative Scoring Structure, emphasizing dominance over aggression in scoring, the importance of how you "wear a strike" - these things are not uniquely Thai. We have lots of corresponding aspects in Western culture as well. When talking about the aura of greatness in Thailand, which does have Buddhistic roots, we can find elements of the same in the West. Mayweather is a great example. Yes, there persist all kinds of criticism of him and his perfect record, how he protected himself, dodged Pacquiao until both were old men, etc. But...along with Mayweather comes an aura that goes beyond his fighting in the ring, he's a man who set his own destiny, was able to build an empire, rolling in cash, dodge who he wanted to dodge. There is this larger sense that HE was the Man. It doesn't play out in the exact same way it does in Thailand, but similar things are operating. You get the same with Jordan, who beyond his stats, his game winning shots, was also a very manufactured persona. People may criticize him via this manufactured nature, how the NBA changed the rules for his sake, giving him advantages that past greats did not have...but ironically enough these kinds of critiques (though true), can actually work to further intensify his greatness, giving everyone the sense that he bent history around himself, almost gravitationally. This is only to say, when we think across cultures it is important to isolate themes that do not correspond to our own, especially our dominant theme, but, often it is a second move of insight-fullness to then recognize that these seemingly unique or differing themes do have correspondence within our own culture, often in a minor but still vital way.
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  47. There is an element of That conception of "Greatness" that produces lots of misunderstanding in westerners. We in the west see "great" as a kind of technical thing, like you could extract a fighter out of their circumstances, out of history & download him as a "player". Thais instead do not divorce the fighter from the big purses they make, the powerful promoters or gyms that back them, the influences they have over others. "Famous" & "popular" are the same word in Thai. It means that there is an "aura". I say this because when we asked one of the greatest Golden Age Krus, Arjan Pramod, who his 5 greatest fighters of all Time were, he listed Buakaw as 4th. This is a joke between Muay Thai nerds. The surest sign that you don't know Muay Thai at all is putting Buakaw on a list. But he put him there because of his impact, his ambassadorship to Japan & the West. It wasn't about skill, it's about history. I'm still shaking my head about it, but its because I don't understand - fully - just how Thais see greatness. I think this comes from a deeper concept of "power" (Amnat) & charisma "ittiphon" that ultimately lies within spiritual karma. Those who have favorable circumstances have aura, and are in a way blessed. Samart had a powerful gym & connections & fought down at times forcing more advantageous matchups. For us it might be a critique of his Greatness. But for many Thais these advantages actually add to the substance of a fighter, and are not a detraction. His aura is composed not only of his fighting skills, his character, but everything drawn around it. His situation. Sure, people will quietly detract, make complaints or criticisms. But there is still a strong current of admiration. It is something like being *blessed*. Yodkhunpon once was talking to Sylvie about her drive to one day fight at Lumpinee Stadium. He didn't understand. The reason to fight at Lumpinee was so you could become *famous* (which includes idea of popularity & respect), to have an aura. He told her: You are already famous. It made no sense to him to do the work to have the aura, if you already have it. It's just his perception, but here was a guy who was a devastating fighter during his time, so many battles, but he never got the *aura*, the shine. He didn't have the power behind him to be made into something. I think this was what was behind Arjan Pramod putting Buakaw on his list, and part of why Thais see the substance of greatness quite differently than we do. It's why Dieselnoi will always be the lessor fighter than Samart, despite beating him. Yes, there are counter thoughts & arguments, ideas about who is a *real* fighter, but this stream of authentic admiration remains.
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  48. Gyms that I do not have personal experience with but have heard positive things about, or which I visited and have qualities that might appeal to a certain kind of traveler/student/fighter. These are not gym reviews, just quick impressions. Attachai Muay Thai Gym - this has to have the most beautiful setting of any gym in the city. Not even close. It's run by a legend of Muay Thai, Attachai, who has returned to Thailand after many years as a trainer at Evolve in Singapore. I trained with him in private he has an incredible way of teaching timing, and Muay Thai response, which I've never seen before. Everything had a mix of semi-sparring to it. A really interesting teacher. I sent Emma Thomas over to the gym - she had been looking for a new gym in BKK for more than a year - and she fell in love with it. This was my initial review. All gyms evolve and go through stages and cycles. I've heard largely positive reviews from people who visit Attachai's Gym, although these are mostly short-term visits and day trippers. It's a very friendly gym, playful, but isn't a home for a stable of fighters and I cannot say for certain if it's good for long-term. Santai Gym (outside of Chiang Mai) - lots of people have had positive experiences here, including pro female fighters. I've heard that they teach one style of Muay Thai (from the famed Pinsinchai camp), so they may try to change your kick or your fighting style. This is good in that everyone is more or less on the same page, but also perhaps limited in the sense that the variety of Muay Thai found in Thailand is incredibly rich, even in a particular gym, which for me means more to learn from. People who seem to really enjoy the camp are those looking for "technical" instruction, enjoy more organized instruction, and they who like to bond with other western travelers/fighters, as the camp seems to have nice tight-knit community. They actively recruit and support female western fighters. new note (3/4/2019) - a mainstay as one of the most dependable gyms in Thailand, I've heard that they have in high season removed the cap of students they once had, and that the gym can get a little overpopulated, with the quality of training dropping for some. This is very hard to gauge from afar, but it should be mentioned as a possibility in high-season. Sitjaopho (Hua Hin) - This is a gym in Hua Hin that is quiet popular with those looking for "technical" instruction. It has a strong Swedish connection, as well as a following with some from the East Coast (USA). I've never been here and can't recommend on my own experience, but they have long-term and repeat clients. Chatchai Sasakul Gym (BKK) - the former WBC world champion boxer Chatchai is highly recommended if you want to work on your boxing. Precise technician, great instructor. Probably the best boxing gym in Thailand, home of several current world champions. Private sessions are best. You can see a full private session with him here. They also have some nearby accommodation for longer-term stays as well. Dejrat Gym (BKK) - This is a hidden gem in Bangkok run by the coach of the Thai National Team, Arjan Surat. Watch our session together. It just is a very "Thai" gym, so I couldn't recommend it in a broad way, either in a cultural or instruction sense. It's no-nonsense Muay Thai that is focused on its serious Thai fighters. They have had experience with female fighters. Go here only if you want some sort of immersion, are prepared to work very hard, and be positioned in a traditional hierarchy. Not a lot of English spoken. My session with Arjan Surat: Arjan Surat 2 - His Old School Tough & Defensive Style (94 min) Burklerk's Gym (Lampang, contact here) - outstanding instruction from a Legend in sleepy and beautiful Lampang. He and his wife have opened up a brand new resort style gym in Lampang. I wrote about his original home gym here: Burklerk's Family Run Gym in Lampang. Burklerk has a beautiful, powerful style and each time I visit I learn things. Even 5 minutes with him is gold. It's a small community gym in a quiet neighborhood, but not a fighter's gym really. Go there for the time with Burklerk, but there won't be much sparring or clinching. My session with Arjan Burklerk in his original home location: Burklerk PInsinchai - Dynamic Symmetry (82 min) Keatkhamtorn Gym (Bangkok) - This gym is an authentic kai muay gym in Bangkok in that it is still very focused on growing Muay Thai stadium champions from an early age. This means that it is a great gym for small bodied westerners especially those interested in immersive clinch. Immersive clinch the way Thais learned, but be warned it takes a while.They have tons of young male fighters between 45-52 kg, and are a Muay Khao gym, which means that you'll be encouraged to develop proper clinch fighting habits. I will definitely make this my clinch gym when in Bangkok. The owner, Teerawat Chukorn is a Police Captain and very kind, and speaks English. You can contact them through their Facebook page which will respond in English. Rambaa Somdet M16 (Pattaya) - Want to train with a Thai MMA legend (their first MMA World Champ), and to do so for cheap? Rambaa's gym is awesome in a very Thai way. Mostly it's neighborhood kids, and a few Thai fighters, but every day this small gym pulses with Rambaa's personality. I'm not sure what his current rates are, but he has some accommodation right on premises, a daily/weekly/monthly building right up the street (with air-con and wifi) and his private sessions are some of my favorites. His gym is mostly young kinds, so maybe not ideal for bigger bodied fighters who need clinch and sparring partners (other than the trainers or a few of his late-teen fighters). This is all about his love for the sport. I wrote about Rambaa's Gym here. I'd say it is only for the adventurous, those who know at least a little Thai. PhuketKing Muay Thai Gym - I don't have any experience in the regular training of this gym, but I went to do a private with Kru Pot, the head trainer, for the Muay Thai Library and can say he is excellent. Anything he's in charge of will be worthwhile, especially for Muay Khao style, and he's a really wonderful man. I'd highly recommend private training with him, if you can. My session with him in the Muay Thai Library: Kru Pot" Bunpot Sor. Boonyaa - Muay Khao Depth (63 min) PK Saenchai Gym (Bangkok) I have never been to this gym at all, but it is a favorite of Westerners both who are seeking to train under a big name and those who have been in Thailand for a long while and decide to move over there for the fight opportunities and training alongside contemporary stars of Muay Thai. The head trainer is Detduang Pongsawang, who was a great fighter in the Golden Age. From what I understand it's a kind of "build a bear" method for training, so you can decide how much or how little you want to do by speaking with the manager and he works it all out for you. He sounds very personable and his English is very good. Lanna: [for those of you who have followed me for a really long time, I used to train at Lanna Muay Thai in Chiang Mai - my first 2 years in Thailand I fought out of that gym. It is no longer the same gym I trained at, but it is the same location and under new ownership it is called Boon Lanna Muaythai Gym.] I cannot comment from experience on what training at Boon Lanna Muaythai Gym is like now, but two of my favorite trainers are still there: Nook and Kru Daeng (one of the best privates in Thailand) are still there, and the training seems like it's become much more regimented and thorough. On the other hand I've heard that in high-season months it can become quite crowded (like a few other Chiang Mai gyms) and that this can impact the amount of guided work you can get. I'm only speaking from afar, but I'd say that if you go to Lanna you should plan to also take a few privates with Daeng to make sure you get the most out of it. I still recommend this gym as a place where you will be able to get fights if that's what you are interested in. Chiang Mai is full of fight opportunities and the gym is well integrated into the various promotions.
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