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Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

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Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu last won the day on January 6

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About Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

  • Birthday 12/17/1964

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    Pattaya, Thailand
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    Thailand, Muay Thai, cinema, philosophy, the philosophy of Spinoza, post-structuralism, feminism, community building, social media theory.

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  1. The vital moment in the 4th, in the fight above. Dieselnoi calls off the attack:
  2. I realize now that at the time of the original writing we did not have the Samart vs Dieselnoi Holy Grail fight. Here it is:
  3. The photo and my thoughts written two years ago, worth preserving here: This is what Patriarchy looks like. It is not some great evil, though certainly great evils have been committed through its tendencies, as have many goods. It's a structure, a form. You can see it in this silhouette. In the midst of all these men, and boys, thronging like like fish in a Natural school, is one of the greatest fighters of this generation, Great in terms of magnitude, Great in the old sense of the word. There are probably more fights in her single body than all the fights in all the other bodies in the ring...or at least it is not absurd to imagine it so, and to make the count. But, this is the thing. It is an absolute struggle, more difficult than any fight, or even any year of fighting, for Sylvie to even stand here, right where you see her now...in the sparring ring. Every male flows, Naturally, into this ring, like pouring water into a glass. Sylvie fights white-knuckle and teeth-gritting to even stand there, with an adequate sparring partner. It's not that Pi Nu doesn't support her, or women, he is one of the most receptive Thai trainers to female fighters we've ever seen in Thailand, and gives so much. It's that the Form of fighting does not include women, it's not in its core syntax. So it is always as if you are trying to insert a loan word, or a turn of grammar, from another language. And in the case of Sylvie who is an absolute unicorn of commitment, experience and skill, it's a very strange word indeed. It always has to be "put in" the conversation. This means she is forever, and somewhat painfully always wedging herself into the Form, and it will never end, no matter how historic she or her accomplishments become. This is the Form. And, it is even more uncomfortable than that. As a child of the Patriarchy - and I do not use this as a Bad Word, only a descriptor, "founded on the Father", arche, the Old word implies analogical things like "cornerstone", "root", Ur Source - she embodies, and reswallows the Forms of Patriarchy. She feels, instinctively as a buried intuition, that female aggression is suspect, and that it may not work out well. This does not just mean the throwing of fists, but also the insistence and persistence that one needs to Practice the throwing of fists, ultimately to be a part of the Form, regularly. There is just a low ceiling set for women in Thailand, and likely elsewhere, that if you can RIP the pads better than anyone else in the gym, fight hard and regularly winning most of your fights...you have arrived. You are "done". It cannot be conceived by anyone around her the kind of fighter she yearns to be, the kind that Shakes the Earth. So they cannot imagine why she should spar now like madwoman, or, fight like a madwoman either. Just smash the pads, spar once in a while, take your place as a unicorn. They cannot imagine the thirst and the hunger that has taken her thus far, and will take her infinitely farther. So, she takes up her leaden inheritance of passivity and obedience, lugs it to the gym, to the Church of Patriarchy, and yearns out a few small steps toward what can only be seen as a transcendence, a making. All in lead, she forces her way into the sparring ring. How to make that lead Gold. The alchemy of Ages. This is the cauldron, the crucifix. People think it's the Fight ring, but it is here, in this ring, the sparring ring, where "everyone" is welcome, and a unicorn is not (shackled from within, and without). Sylvie pulled a trick. If you (or I) won't let me be shaped by the Form, I'll just fight it out in the REAL ring. I'll use fights - a hoard and a boatload of them, a historic number - to just transform myself, shoot myself out like a star, where none have been. And that has been an incredible hack of the Form, but it only takes one so far. The ring of real alchemy is in the training ring, where the landscape of Patriarchy is most rich and subtle. That is the next battlefield, where the overburden of inheritance can be stripped away, and Eyes, yes eyes, can be truly grown. Eyes are the only path to Yodmuay. There is no other path. And Eyes must be found in the Caldron of the Form. You have to stand there, until standing there means nothing at all.
  4. I should add to the run of thoughts above something I've written about elsewhere. The irony of the built in bias against aggression for its own sake is that Thailand's Muay Thai has produced some of the most skilled, aggressive, stalking fighters in combat sport history. But it doesn't do this through being biased for aggression. It actually does it through its opposite. Because defensive, countering, controlling fighters have traditionally had a scoring bias IF you were an aggressive, dern fighter you had to be very skilled, and effectively aggressive. You had a hill to climb on the scorecard, and do it against highly evolved defensive fighters. As The Bull to the favored Matador, you had to be a very good bull. It's more complicated than this, in that there is not just "one" Muay Thai in Thailand, and I do believe there is almost ideological struggle over ideal representations of excellence (the rural tough guy vs the Bangkok artful guy for instance), but there has been this tension within Muay Thai developed through its Buddhistic perspective on aggression. It's for this reason that we like to say that Muay Thai isn't about aggression, it's about dominance. And there are many ways of being dominant, especially in a scoring aesthetic that praises self control and the control of the opponent. I write this as the husband of a fighter who is a dern, forward-fighting Muay Khao fighter who has fought in the country more times than any other westerner (260), and has lost many, many times to the retreating, defensive fighter who held the scoring bias. Instead of feeling that the scoring wasn't "fair" (ie, Western, or non-Thai) we came to thoroughly embrace it and admire it as beautiful. The advancing fighter holds an extra scoring burden because of how aggression is viewed. It's a puzzle to be solved and brings out much greater possibilities in the aggressive fighter. This feels right to the sport and art of Thailand's Muay Thai.
  5. This really wasn't meant to be about Mike Tyson per se. It just so happened that the beautiful, insightful quote came from his formative trainer, and Mike practically embodies the quick KO fighter. It all came together in a brief space of the writing. But I would never say that Mike Tyson was unskilled. He was spectacularly skilled. In fact Teddy Atlas in his criticism says the same thing. The younger version of him is one of my favorite fighters to watch, and he's inspiring. Sylvie's even stolen from him a bit. This is really about notions of the acme of the sport, what some might say is the deeper value of it as an art, or a meaningful practice beyond that of sheer entertainment. I've written about Thailand's Muay Thai as an artful in the article linked below. The example of Mike though, as a fighter who admittedly came from fear, makes a good wedge into the ideas that are opened up here. It isn't that there shouldn't be KOs, or that there shouldn't be aggression. In fact much of Golden Age Muay Thai was founded on the contrast between "The Bull" (an aggressive fighter, Muay Khao or Muay Maat) and "The Matador" (Muay Femeu). Traditional Muay Thai excellence requires aggression in its pairing. But...the acme fighter isn't The Bull. The acme fighter is the artful, technical fighter who can control The Bull. The concept isn't completely foreign to Western combat sports. Tough guy Rocky Marciano vs silky smooth Sugar Ray Robinson. Everyone understands that dichotomy. What the Ancient Greek orator Chrysostom is talking about in his elegy is an acme image of a fighter, the idea of a beautiful boxer, a boxer who embodies qualities beyond those of his skill set. Noble qualities. He ideally endures the test of fire of the battle, the possibility of loss, and does not seek to end it prematurely. He seeks to crumble his opponent, almost from within, like kicking out the legs of a table. Chrysostom is setting up a hierarchy between this ideal fighter, and other Ancient Greek boxers who were surely incredibly tough. If we wanted to do similarly in western boxing (which unlike Muay Thai does celebrate the knockout as a pure virtue) we might compare sleek footed Ali who won extremely arduous battles, yet was quite artful vs explosive Mike. There have been lots of heavy handed knockout fighters in traditional Muay Thai, many of them celebrated. But the idea that is opened up is that broadly, in traditional Muay Thai the knockout is not hunted for its own sake. It is not a virtue unto itself. If you gain dominance in the 4th round and weaken your opponent, you don't go and chase them into the corner in the 5th round and end them. A fundamental part of this is because of how aggression is viewed, and that there are aspects of the sport which go towards the values of art, and ideals of the perfection of oneself. Where I have written on Thailand's Muay Thai as art:
  6. I would agree with this, that there is always a chance that Thai culture becomes romanticized, "orientalized" or exoticized for Westerners. But we've been living here for 9 years now I believe, and we've done our best to understand the differences in culture that are expressed in Thailand's Muay Thai. Much of this actually comes from Sylvie learning how to specifically win fights under the Thai aesthetic, which involves learning how fighters and fights are scored. A lot of Westerners over the decades have come to Thailand to fight and felt like there has been unfair judging against them, as foreigners. But what we've come to see is that many who have fought in the country just don't understand Thai scoring. A big chunk of that misunderstanding is how aggression is scored in the ring. In the West aggression is almost a pure good. You show aggression, this is a near automatic plus. In Thailand, all things being equal, you have to be very careful in how you show aggression. Aggression on its own actually could be a scoring negative. As a baseline, for instance, in the West the advancing fighter appears to be in control. In Thailand it's (all things being equal) the retreating fighter. If you don't understand this, you aren't going to understand why a fighter won or loss often. It took Sylvie over 100 fights in the country to even learn how to fight a 5th round. It isn't esoteric philosophy, it's actually solving the problem of how to win a close 5th round in this fight culture. These are really subtle skills. Just from learning how fights are scored, and scored quite differently than in the West, the Buddhistic foundation of the culture seems to be the best root explanation for the difference in view of aggression. She wrote about it here: The Art and Psychology of the 5th Round in Thailand
  7. Rodtang isn't really regarded an elite fighter in the context of Thailand's Muay Thai, certainly not historically, and not even of his generation. [Edit in: He was a MAX Muay Thai champion (an Entertainment Muay Thai promotion), then held the Omnoi belt for a year, never was a Lumpinee or Rajadamnern champion, then started fighting internationally...at least by wikipedia.] He's rightfully made a huge name for himself in an International promotion which favors aggression, is designed to promote aggression, and present Muay Thai as close as possible to International Kickboxing. ONE Championship is pretty much tailor made for a fighter like Rodtang. It is nominally a "Muay Thai" promotion. It calls some of their fights "Muay Thai", but they have been highly modified, including the scoring criteria. In many ways ONE is the opposite of Thailand's Muay Thai. They want the knockout, they want the highlight reel moment of aggression.
  8. Yes. Cus is NOT saying that cowardice drives the KO. He is saying that fear drives both fatigue...and the KO. But, when a fighter is effective, that fear turns into "Tiger" energy. It is me that that is adding the analysis to Cus's words that it is still fear driving the KO, which is the observation of Chrysostom, the Ancient Greek orator. The Cus quotation is setting the framework to understand what Chrysostom is saying. Tyson himself though affirms that in his opinion the reason he was so aggressive was because he feared his opponent even more than they feared him. He attributes his own explosive, hyper-aggressive style to the very high level of his own fear. Paraphrasing the quote of Mike's: "If you're afraid of me, I'm a thousand times more afraid of you. That's why I'm more aggressive." Teddy Atlas seems to be saying a similar thing in his criticism of Tyson. From Chrysostom's perspective, this trying to end it fast is a lack of courage and psychological endurance. Not saying that this is the correct interpretation, only setting the frame to understand how some fight cultures do not admire the knockout the way that we in the West do.
  9. This is Sylvie's 269th fight, a televised fight with her commentary: I was able to have a camera in hand for this one and shoot a photo essay on it. You can find it here: The Magic of The Ropes: Fight 269 You can see this quick video scroll through those photos here:
  10. Yes, very much so. Which brings us to perhaps a coincidence of how both Stoicism and Buddhism treat or have programs of self-control. I suspect that the real reason that Dio Chrysostom can speak to virtues that approximate scoring tendencies in traditional Muay Thai 2000 years later is that Thailand's Muay Thai is Buddhistic. So what we are really seeing is that Stoicism (and other Hellenic aesthetics) and Buddhism share a perspective on human affects, especially those of anger and aggression. Thanks for the links, I'll enjoy looking through them. Attached is the article: Athletic Beauty as Mimēsis of Virtue The Case of the Beautiful Boxer which talks about the prevalent social and philosophical attitudes around boxing in the era of The Terme Boxer. Athletic Beauty as Mimēsis of Virtue The Case of the Beautiful Boxer.pdf
  11. I look at this photo and I cannot help but feel that I'm looking at Sylvie's origin story. This exact moment, this Joker's bathroom scene. In truth there is no origin moment, and in reality this was just a moment in the flow of things, but seeing it frozen here, photographically, it bends back through time and founds itself. It's that she is looking at herself, and taking herself in, as a whole, wearing the Frankenstein scars of her recreation, made by Muay Thai, and she does not shrink back. She is incorporated anew, almost literally. The backstory to this moment is that she was booked on a Yokkao fight. What a huge promotional name at the time for a 100 lb fighter who had been mixing it up in the North, fighting at documented rates no fighter ever had before, just pounding the local, very active Thai circuit for 2 years in the country. You can see her record here. She was making history already then, but she was nobody. She had a few passionate supporters, those that had followed her journey from Master K's New Jersey basement on YouTube, but on the face of Muay Thai itself, she was just another female fighter somewhere in Thailand. We were exploring moving down to Pattaya to get more serious training from Sakmongkol, and maybe better clinch training from a little gym filled with Thai boys, but had not made the move yet. Sylvie was a "clinch fighter" at the time, but honestly didn't really know how to clinch yet, and wasn't getting much clinch training back in the North. She was fighting, she was winning, but it was largely just will-power and determination, not really knowing. Suddenly she got an offer through an Italian connection in Pattaya to fight on Yokkao. Wow, okay. The fight was at 46 kg, but then suddenly it was at 48 kg. We didn't care. Sylvie just fought everyone. Giving up weight to someone we didn't know, not arguing for - or having someone leverage for us - small advantages wasn't and isn't our thing. "They change the name, they change the shorts" in the Wanderlei Silva way, something she really embraces. Turns out, she's fighting one of the best female fighters in Thailand over the past 5 years, Lommanee. We had no idea. Giving a few more pounds, huh. Sylvie was diced by Lommanee's infamous lead elbow, and experienced a transformation. This happened on several levels. One, its very difficult to give up significant weight vs elite fighters. Sylvie just wasn't there yet. There heart was there, but she wasn't formed. Secondly, her bloody face zoomed and bounced off satellites and ran through the Muay Thai world. As the Yokkao commentators made protective sexist comments about this worrisomely happening to "a girl", her asking the doctor to let the fight go on with blood streaming down her face became, right then, a kind of superpower of dignity. Sylvie writes about this experience of suddenly being seen here: Can Bleed Like a Man – Lumpinee, Muay Thai, Culture, Sexism and Meme A fighter has to be seen in order to exist, because fighting is a display, a performance before the public eye. It is an art that involves peak human states taken on so as to pull the public in. A fighter who is not seen is not a fighter, in a certain way. This is the first time that Sylvie was actually seen. To this day people tell her they know her from this fight, sometimes even thinking that it happened recently. But she is being bathed in the blood of public vision. She is being born into existence, as a fighter, in an origin sort of way. With 269 fights, the cusp of 200 fights beyond this her 70th, and 218 stitches taken to the face, this was her origin, when she stepped into blood. It's not the first time she's bled, but it's the first time the blood covered her, and she was seen. It's honestly a horrible moment on the face of it. It's embarrassing to be cut in any fight. It's embarrassing to just be out mastered in the ring. There is a well one can fall in with a loss like this, a dark, colluding well. But Sylvie has just incredible resilience, a kind of Phoenix power. Like complex comic book heroes (or villains) she walks with her extreme discomfort and shame like one walks with a shadow. She was seen. She walked with blood. I've known and loved her for a long time now, and I don't fully understand the powers of her endurance and transformation, I wrote a little about in 2016 here, but somehow this fight and that she was seen, bloodied, constituted her as a fighter, assembled her. The epic journalistic Muay Thai Library documentary project was but a flicker of a thought in the future, her years of struggling in the clinch in the training ring were before her, her friendship with legends of the sport, fights upon fights taking on massive weight disadvantages, beating World Champions out of her weight class, all before here...but here she had kind of Madame Bathory'd herself, and embraced herself as a new, imperfect, constructed, hardened, dreaming new thing. A force of fighting. It did not happen at the exact moment when the photo was taken before the mirror, above. But it was happening then. You can see it in her eyes. She is taking all of herself in. There is no shrinking back, no concerned examination. She sees the whole thing of herself. The Yokkao broadcast and all the subsequent images that flowed from it was when she was seen, but that was not the origin. It was when in the aftermath of that blood, those stitches, she saw herself. The path she walks to this day is extremely dangerous. That moment in the mirror was the consummate, retroactively imbued moment of origin...perhaps, but from that origin, from who she began in her embrace became a very difficult climb. It's a quite vertical climb up a rockface where honestly no one has taken hand holds or foot holds before. It began then, but it was only the first day. Since then being seen, and seeing yourself has become the weaving on a loom, back and forth, getting into the ring and bathing oneself in violence hundreds of times. I recall one of the variations of the origin story of Achilles, the near invulnerable epitome warrior of Homeric Greece. The goddess Thetis is said to have thrown her off-spring into the fire upon birth, each time, until she found one that was impervious from her divinity. In some sense, this is what fighting is. The exposure of the flesh to the fire that burns it until you find some composition of the self which remains unburned, unconsumed. I look at that photo at the top of this article and I see that composition. I see that body of herself that takes all of herself in, the stitches of her transformation. Origin Story.
  12. A little more on the idea of the cowardice of the knockout, take in Teddy Atlas's harsh & controversial statement that Mike Tyson "never won a fight". Teddy Atlas assisted in Mike Tyson's training under Cus D'Amato (and had a bitter break with Tyson). At the very least it weaves into the idea that the purpose of the knockout may actually be trying to find a way out of the pressure of a continued fight and the possibility of failure. The sheer explosive, very quick knockout style of Mike Tyson would lend to this possible interpretation of a use of the knockout : In support of this view, as Mike Tyson said in the recent ABC Sports documentary on him: "If you're afraid of me, I'm a thousand times more afraid of you. That's why I'm more aggressive."
  13. It depends on if it is just modified Muay Thai (limiting weapons and changing the way aggression is scored) or if it is technically Kickboxing, as in scored as the sport is commonly scored. If the judges are scoring for kickboxing, as a sport, there are some very big differences. The most important one is that in kickboxing you can take kicks on your arms and they don't score, including head kicks. These are some of the most dependable points in Muay Thai and they are more or less null in Kickboxing. This means your upper body guard is important. It also means that attacks to the lower body can score higher in Kickboxing than in Muay Thai (where low kicks only score if they contort the opponent). The graphic below shows some of this. It's not 100% as head shots in Kickboxing score highly when not blocked. Also, broadly, punches score much higher in Kickboxing. At least that's my sense of it. Also, forward pressure is much better regarded in Kickboxing than it is in traditional Muay Thai. Short advice: pressure, throw in combinations, mix in lots of low kicks, maintain a strong upper body guard, punch more than mid-kick.
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