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Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

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Everything posted by Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

  1. 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.
  2. Can't speak as a fighter, but as an observer, especially for westerners, training & fighting is a self-disciplining act. You are putting yourself through something, and when that manifests itself as something like low-body fat, and exposed muscularity, it makes sense that that is part of the meaningfulness of doing that. It also helps that big cutting is seen as a way of gaining advantage in matchups, so if you win that way, it makes sense for it to add to the meaningfulness of the training & cut. But, you are right, it does detract from just becoming the best fighter you can be, developing the skillsets to win in fights closer to your walk around weight, etc.
  3. There is a very strange experience, drifting slowly through this photograph as the faces of the fighters and krus of the Dejrat Gym in the mid-90s. Just seeing the photo as it was on the wall would never elicit this feeling. Even standing before it, there is very little psychology, very little sense of individual histories. Rather, one might get a sense of a moment in history, this history, this gym. But, as the screen pulls across these faces the entire photograph opens up. You can see and feel the differing disposition of each man or boy, the qualities of their nature, as they face the hardness of the art and sport of Muay Thai. They are all differing materials, exposed to the same forceful wind. There is just such extraordinary variety and humanity here, revealed at this level of a view. In some ways, the documentation of a photograph can always give and bring more, than whatever we imagined of it. This photo has hung there, low on the wall, near the training ropes of the ring, for countless years. An anchor-point to a year back in time. But, here it becomes another kind of thing. A record, caught on a sliver of time, and somehow it all seems precious, and Muay Thai itself of that time feels precious. You can feel it eradiating. Muay photography feels like it should do something like this. Because it is a historical form it should capture more than it seems to, capture in the sense of a net cast, not knowing completely what is in there. We are documenting more than events, or physical dynamics. We are capturing times, and because it is an art, we are capturing times that are layered, sedimented with other times. We do not even know all the things that are in our pictures. This is the original photo: This photo is also part of my photo essay Chatchainoi: The Man of Stone
  4. This is one of the most interesting things for us who laud the excellence of the Golden Age of Muay Thai, and the ages that surround it. The very truth of the matter seems to be: Fighting excellence has come out of great cruelty, intense difficulty, and even injustice. We think somewhat glamorously about things like how Dieselnoi's patron was a mafia boss and godfather, in the Hollywood sense, but this is, in a lived reality, a realm of harshness and crime. The romance we have towards traditional hierarchies include also injustices, and dictatorships in life. Muay Thai (as with so many fighting sports in the world) likely laundered not only slews of monies (gained from cruelty & suffering), but also social statuses. This is the nature of it all. It might be said that it was an immense oppression machine, a compression machine, that produced not only the excellence of these fighters, but also the fights and promotions that produced them. Talking this over with Sylvie, this seemingly inherent connection between cruelty and fighting excellence, historically, makes me value all the more the precious achievements in Self that people like Dieselnoi, and fighters of his age produced. These men fashioned high art, of themselves, in the harshness of opportunity and circumstance. From where we stand now, it seems like the worse thing of all to forget these men, to forget or lose what they created, out of that harshness. It was that medallion of gold that they mined from their flesh, forged into an art and history. When we remember them, when we document them, we extend its reason for being. Dieselnoi once was talking about the differences between his historical fate and that of Samart, in the context of having beaten him in the fight of the year, The Holy Grail of Fights. He says, he would not have wished upon anyone his fate. He explained that in Thailand it's not how you go along, its how things end. Just like in a 5 round fight, it's the 4th round that matters. For someone like Dieselnoi its the ending that matters, for all of us who are seeking to record and celebrate the creations of these men, the excellence they drew out of extremely harsh circumstances, its about fashioning that ending for them, the one that says: It matters. We can do that now.
  5. 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.
  6. [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
  7. TANGENT This account of Caipoeira instruction in Brazil reveals a program of imitation and more importantly memesis in social transmission not very far in principle from kaimuay osmosis in traditional Muay Thai. Click the link above for more extensive citations, but this section talks about how physical imitation alone (mirroring actions consciously) makes a very poor conduit for the passing of cultural knowledge surrounding an embedded practice. This suggests that rote drills only provide a very narrow band of what makes up an art: In contrast to more mechanical copies of physical actions, Bourdieu's generative habitus (which would be buried in the training melieu) exists as an explanation for the feel of an art or practice, likened to the style of painters, or handwriting:
  8. TANGENT This from Making Knowledge: Explorations of the Indissoluble Relation between Mind, Body and Environment edited by Marchand, the first chapter discussing the embodied knowledge of Capoeira in Brazil, a fighting art that comes closer to dance than most. The emphasis is on the largely instruction-less, mimetic transmission and creation of the knowledge and art. Without the concretizing ballast of thousands of full contact fights as laboratory, Capoeira may bring forward the social creation of a fighting art, having parallels to aspects of Thailand's Muay Thai training (socially created, often mimetic in transmission). Aesthetics and efficacy in tension. If there is one theme when we interviewed legends of the Golden Age and before, it was that nobody actually taught them their style, they created it through social integration in the kaimuay, play (endless sparring, clinch) and by watching. Sirimongkol (FOTY 1972) told us that when he arrived in Bangkok from the provinces he didn't even really know how to fight (a common refrain, but likely a purposeful exaggeration). He learned by his account almost exclusively by watching and imitation, or as Bourdieu would say, mimetic transmission. Continuing on in the essay, making the distinction: In my article The Slow Cook vs The Hack Thailand Development, I discuss the metronome effect in the training in a Thai kaimuay, the way that practices and habits of Muay Thai transmit themselves across the social space, almost unconsciously. The nature of this kind of development is a focus of this cited article, an excerpt a little further along. The tension in the theory, as the author examines the teaching and training of Capoeira (which appears in some ways quite different than that of traditional Muay Thai, which is not master-centric, despite sharing non-verbal components), is between just how much skill development is is conscious or unconscious. Bourdieu's concept of an unconscious habitus which acts as the generative grammar of a space point to hidden aspects of kaimuay training, such a socially correct hierarchies or gendered expectations, which underwrite the more fulsome aspects of technique and skill acquisition in Thailand's Muay Thai. The generative habitus, likened to the painters style, a person's handwriting, a way of being of a class of people, helps explain the transmission of aspects of an art not contained in physical technical imitation: Capoeira's malicia is compared to Bourdieu's habitus, an all pervading vision of the subject and the world, positioning and conditioning the art. This is not too different than the acquisition of embodied principles of Muay Thai in the kaimuay, aspects such as auton, ning, ruup, haut, various rhythms and dispositions that communicate the ethos of the art, and even more particularly the ethos of a gym:
  9. One fundamental note, it occurs to me to add, is that when we see and feel the wobble our immediate thought is that something is wrong. And there are good reasons for this. It usually means that something is amiss, some piece of balance, or a placement of weight, or even timing. Sure. But, there is another thing going on when the wobble presents itself. It means that the student, the fighter, is risking the wobble, feeling and exposing themselves to the metastability, and this exposure may very well be the PATH to a refined sense of balance and (meta)stability. Yes, the wobble may be corrected by direction. Put your foot here, be sure to keep your hand up...yes. But ultimately it is about the body engaging with the very instability itself, and finding/feeling the unique ways in which it can ride the line of the wobble. Just as a skateboarder or a surfer does.
  10. Much has been made of the role of play in traditional Thai pedagogy. Instead of more rigidly define skills taught mechanically, with precision, a great deal of Muay Thai in Thailand is developed in group experiences, through play and imitation. I've written about this a bit in these two articles: 1. The Slow Cook versus the Hack – Thailand Muay Thai Development 2. Precision – A Basic Motivation Mistake in Some Western Training And relatedly, Sylvie and I have talked about flow state in our Muay Thai Bones podcast, episode #2 This post is about metastable states, and the wobble. You can read the more complete quote from an essay on Simondon, sited at the bottom of this post, but this section below presents a beautifully simple illustration of what a metastable state is. A wobbling bowling pin. It is nether falling, nor stably at rest. It is neither, and in a sense, both. The thread linked at bottom is about Brain Criticality, and the theory that the human brain pursues and exists upon a line that rides between phases, a line of criticality, which is not that different than the metastability of a bowling pin mid-wobble. And, while a bowling pin will not wobble any important length of time, a living system, the human brain, may have evolved to ride on this line of wobble. This is when we get to deeper philosophical ideas, and more practical ideas in skill development. A reason why a system might want to ride the wobble, and not lay in an energy state of stability is that a sunken state of rigidity cannot take in events outside of its structure and framework. A system that has wobble can more readily incorporate unanticipated information, is more readily able to adapt. Buddhism tells us that life is suffering, and that nothing can stay what it is. Everything is in a line of decay. What is this other than the wobble of existence? The critical line of dissolution. The legendary Thai 19th century monk Somdet Doh likened living to falling from a very tall tree. If theories about brain criticality are correct, no matter how simplified you make your life, or complex, the brain will find a critical line in it, like the surfer's line in a wave. I suspect that this is the reason for so much simplification in Buddhistic practices of meditation. They simply experience, strip it down to such bare elements, in order to expose the Nature of that wave, the way the brain will find that line, that wobble. When life (and experience) becomes much more complex, it's much easier to blame (or credit) our states on dramatic moments or events...but, the same line of criticality is likely at work, we're taking the same line on the same kind of wave. This could mean in a very interesting way, that the ascension in fighting skill is a form of meditation. Meaning, it's about seeking that line, the surfer's line, on a narrowly defined wave, a wave that triggers fear, adrenaline, flight, amygdala, shame and pride, drawing on our baser instincts and social relations. The practice is full of techniques, practices, but ultimately what is being sought in that line of criticality. Its for this reason that while the training of specifically defined, and mechanically correct skill-sets (in drills) could very well be advantageous, this isn't really the practice of what elite fighting is. It's not about being able to perform memorized patterns under great stress. Ultimately, it's about finding that line of criticality, a line that embraces the wobble, the way that a fighter can be both stably unstable, such that it can be open to a great variety of information. This is something Sylvie and I talk about as "growing eyes". You cannot grow eyes without seeking the wobble, in your training. Because its about hunting the wobble, gaining a feeling for it, there must be a degree of uncertainty, and in fact often a very high degree of uncertainty...sometimes the bowling pin will fall. The shorthand for this is play. In this way we gain access, perhaps, to the artistic line that combat fighting realistically presents, and why we thrill when we see fighters find it.
  11. We live in Pattaya which has a pretty different weather pattern than Bangkok, despite being only 2 hrs away. It's on the sea. Maybe someone living or experienced in training Bangkok can answer?
  12. I suspect that this isn't a conceptual thing, a failure of communication, but rather a feeling thing. It takes time to feel comfortable with contact. An idea might be to create more acclimation friendly experiences to start out with? You can explain to them why closer is better, but until they feel it it won't be real. You can for instance modify the drills to include light punches on the arms, instead of the head, where the point is to actually feel (and give) the contact. Just developing a touch, touch, touch experience might open the door to more comfort.
  13. A question on Reddit had me compiling a list of fighters or krus in the Muay Thai Library that had a shorter man's style. Here is a preliminary list for everyone: In the Muay Thai Library these are shorter fighters who fought taller opponents, or krus that taught a short man's style. Many of these are legends of the sport. Many of these are pressuring Muay Maat (punch-heavy) fighters. As a shorter fighter it is often advantageous to collapse the pocket, sometimes develop a low kick game: Arjan Metprik (kru of the very tough short FOTY Thanonchai): https://www.patreon.com/posts/48810277 Chatchanoi https://www.patreon.com/posts/57425804 Morakot: https://www.patreon.com/posts/47524832 Pairojnoi: https://www.patreon.com/posts/43891886 Samransak: https://www.patreon.com/posts/38992145 Rambaa: 1: https://www.patreon.com/posts/37838229, 2: https://www.patreon.com/posts/26699042, 3: https://www.patreon.com/posts/13625213 Hippy: 1: https://www.patreon.com/posts/hippy-singmanee-7145938, 2: https://www.patreon.com/posts/14697690 Chamuakphet: 1: https://www.patreon.com/posts/34875441, 2: https://www.patreon.com/posts/22159245 Kongsamut: https://www.patreon.com/posts/kongsamut-sor-76-20147137 Kongtoranee: https://www.patreon.com/posts/18090011 Lakhin: https://www.patreon.com/posts/32055712 Samson: 1: https://www.patreon.com/posts/31628485, 2: https://www.patreon.com/posts/samson-isaan-art-19485162 You'll see in a lot of these fighters they use a lot of weapons, attacking high and low, and try not to stand at distance. A good place to start might be someone like Kongsamut, or if more advanced, someone like Chamuakphet. and tons of Karuhat links here. He fought way up, though he is a very difficult fighter to emulate: https://8limbsus.com/muay-thai-forum/topic/1061-is-there-a-way-to-view-all-videos-by-a-trainer-all-of-karuhats-sessions/
  14. The new Karuhat shorts we made are pretty incredible. There's something about them when they are right there in front of you that just is a bit electric, like how he is. In celebration of him, and these new shorts, we're giving away a pair of these. All you have to do to enter is write on this thread what is about Karuhat which makes him like no other fighter. You can writing anything from a breakdown of his fighting style, his techniques, to how he makes you feel as a fan of his muay, or what he means to you. If you follow Sylvie and me you know he means a great deal to us. Anything that substantively expresses or explains his specialness. Please only enter if you are a fan of his. There may be more than one prize offered, but first place goes to the answer Sylvie and I find the best or most interesting. We'll run this give away for about a week. Forums aren't too popular, so there will probably be very few entries, so you'll likely have a pretty good chance to win the shorts! This is in celebration of those who support our forum and longer forms of thoughtful communication. You don't to be fancy in your answer, just sincere and thoughtful. If you are new to the forum your first post may be automatically held for moderation due to anti-spam, nothing to worry about. The shorts are pretty amazing, you can find them here. 100% of the earned profits go to support him, so if you want to buy them in support please do! Below is a quick video of the shorts, followed by some photographs. If you don't know Karuhat yet, you can find all the links to video documentation we've done of him. He is very likely the most documented Golden Age Muay Thai fighter of Thailand, thanks to the support of the Muay Thai Library Project. You can find those links here: And, as always, I'll drop the Muay Thai Scholar footwork edit as a key introduction for those who don't know him. I've watched this thing 100x:
  15. It's a very small, sweet set up. Yodwicha is one of the best fighters in the world and he's there, and an excellent teacher. He has lots of experience with helping westerners from his days up at Kem's gym. It will not be crowded, and the krus/padmen should be invested. Yodwicha's wife who runs the gym is really sweet, and speaks English, so in a small gym that's a big plus. The only question is the location which isn't in the center of BKK. If you end up there let me know how it goes, I'd love to know.
  16. Parallel Thought This 4 minute quick edit below, of how Samart dealt with the Muay Khao invasion of the Fight Space by Namphon is a bit related to the above. Rather than illustrating the Fight Space aesthetically, it brings out a technical solution to the pressuring of the Fight Space, because Samart often liked to control the fight space with distance. You can watch the full 30 minute edit and discussion of the technical solution Samart used here: Samart's Attack and Control of the Groin vs Namphon | Kevin's Notes (30 min)
  17. One of the most interesting things that has developed through all our filming and review of the styles of legends of the sport, studying tape of their actual fights, and watching them correct Sylvie in live time, has been a sensitivity toward what I call the Fight Space. It feels like a very productive concept when thinking about fighting styles and energies, an order quite different than what often gets much more attention: techniques. The Fight Space for me is an imaginary bubble which exists between opponents, sometimes roughly equivalent to "the pocket", but not always. It's a kind of psychic space - without getting too woo about it - in that a lot of what fighting is about is body mapping, and the virtual way we project our body into the forward space, in the view of physical and emotional threat. A great deal of time is spent perfecting or regulating strikes (techniques), but sometimes less focus is on the Fight Space itself, and the fighter's relationship to it. If we are talking about the highest levels of Thailand's Muay Thai - mostly drawn from the Golden Age - what distinguishes that excellence is how those fighters engaged with the Fight Space. It's not just that their techniques may have been different, the myriad of ways, the styles of Fight Space engagement were special. And styles produced different approaches to the Fight Space. A femeu fighter like Samart may choose to control the Fight Space with distance, and lance it with punctuated attacks, a pressure fighter like Samson Isaan might smother and squeeze the fight space, cutting through it, while it in with blows, a fighter like Karuhat might press against it defensively, and them melt and liquefy himself along its edges, as if he's balancing an invisible yoga ball. Many fighting styles can be characterized by how they engage with and use the Fight Space. How long they stay in it, how they manipulate it, or leverage it. In addition to these questions, how one trains in Muay Thai also can create lots of Fight Space habits. These are invisible comfort zones that we practice in relation to learned techniques and fight actions. Sylvie and I have talked about before how lots and lots of padwork can create habits of padwork spacing, which not only groove comfort levels of specific spatial effectiveness, but also can make you quite vulnerable to changes in that space. The same thing can occur with lots of drilling with regular partners. We think about how techniques are being practiced, but we do not often think about how what is really being rehearsed are fixed distances and a narrow experience of Fight Space. Because a great deal of fighting is about engaging the Fight Space, this can leave a very skilled fighter vulnerable. All this is to say, I think a lot about Fight Space, and it's pretty much how I watch fights. It's also how I think about Sylvie's development as a fighter. It's one reason why we've moved away from heavy padwork and into much more sparring, because sparring - if you have the right partners - presents many more Fight Space problem solving. Part of this had been pretty regular sparring with Yodkhupon for the last year. He's not ideal in that he's about 12 kgs bigger than Sylvie, but he does have Golden Age rhythms, which means, he poses Golden Age Fight Space puzzles. What I'm really talking about here though is a different way of looking at Fight Space that involves watching sparring rounds in a different way. The video below shows this. The video is degraded through high contrast, almost to an abstraction level, and speed WAY up. The idea is to zoom out, away from any technique choices, and notice patterns within the basic movements and responses. In a certain regard, it shows the Fight Space (as the constant between opponents), and how a fighter is relating to it. This is just experimental, but it is really interesting. As a matter of this case what was happening is that we noticed that Sylvie was developing a habit of jumping out after landing strikes. You CAN do this, but it presents a very different narrative and relationship to the fight space. It leads to more point fighting. It has been kind of an unconscious habit, because he's just so big, and it's not altogether bad. In fact, its good to know if this is what is happening. In the video below we have two compressed "give ground after scoring" rounds. The next 3 rounds were the next day when Sylvie committed herself to NOT giving ground after landing. This goes more in the Muay Khao style of using pressure on the Fight Space as tool against your opponent, an invisible tool. We've talked a lot about this quality of Muay Khao fighting, you can check out our analogies with Persistence Hunting in this article here: Muay Thai Aesthetics, Keto, Persistence Hunting and the Shape of Time. Just the same, in this example, I believe you can see the difference in the 3 final rounds, in terms of the Fight Space itself, as well as rhythms and energies. Neither of these energies and patterns (1st two rounds, last 3 rounds) are correct or wrong. Each requires a different skill set: If you are going to be scoring and retreating - in traditional Muay Thai - you need to be quick with defense and repositioning, read the fluctuations of the present score carefully, and be timely in your punctuated attacks. If you are going to be persistence hunting you need to develop fast eyes for close range counters, be more closed and intelligent in your short range weapons, and develop a nose for your opponent's fatigue and decay. But, you can see in this example that this kind of zoom-out on sparring gives a perspective where these things can be thought about and improved upon. Part of this as well, is about developing awareness of unconscious patterns of comfort and movement. If your fighting style is composed of lots of unconscious movement patterns you can be taken off your game quite significantly by simply being forced to move in ways that aren't in your groove. When this happens you can get a sense that "nothing was clicking" or that your opponent is moving in ways you can't anticipate, when in fact it's just a change in the Fight Space, and the unconscious ways you like to deal with it. In the video you'll see, for instance, Sylvie's circling left a lot. This is because we've found that she has an unconscious pattern to drift to the right, related to a bunch of less optimum positions. So...go Left is a thing for us. It makes your choices more conscious, and develops skill sets and perceptions in areas of the Fight Space map that would be otherwise less explored. The change in the rounds below which involves holding ground after a score is the same sort of thing. A retreat on score was growing as an unconscious habit, so consciously mapping the "stand your ground" after strikes that land is about becoming more conscious, more present. In the video you can see the difference in energy, and in the way that Sylvie is contesting the Fight Space itself. Generally, this is pretty good because she's a Muay Khao clinch fighter, even though she's been broadening her vocabulary and style a great deal over the last year. This is about investigating your own style, becoming aware of the shape of you as a fighting artist. These are things that you can of course see in real time, if looking for them. The sped up, contrast abstracted video is just an additional tool in how to aesthetically present and experience them as a viewer. Conceptual knowing only go so far.
  18. An interesting gym to look into is Yodwicha's gym. It's located a bit further out from the center, but it's small and you'd get good attention. We sent someone that way a few months ago and they seemed to be really enjoy their time: Sylvie's walk around: I'd just start with regular training and see how you can handle it physically and mentally, and then add in privates if it seemed like it is something you'd like, just playing it by ear. No need to plan that way in advance on this question.
  19. Adding to the concept family that could support Brain Criticality is the metaphysics of Simondon, a largely forgotten influence on the Philosopher Deleuze. His appeal to Dephasing and Metastability to understand how things become individuated in the world matches up with much that has been discussed in this thread. A great overview article is here: Gilbert Simondon An Excerpt:
  20. The above photo is of Arjan Yai, instructing during a filming of a coming Muay Thai Library session. The photos that follow are also part of that photo series. What I'm interested in this post is the way shallow depth of field, and also lens "compression" (I know it's not a real thing) can be used in situational Muay Thai and other sports photography, to bring out the psychology of what is happening, and less the structure of a scene. In the above photo I'm struck by just how sculptural the face becomes, as the focus falls off, how the eyes and some features come forward, and dominant, expressing the emotional state of Arjan Yai. He's a proud man, speaks from authority, and somehow facially those aspects kind of float in the space in a really interesting and powerful way. Below are other photos from the series, you can see how the depth of field plays out in those scenarios, what may be communicated. Of course shallow depth of field means many more misses than hits when photographing, which makes captures during sport contexts more precarious, but I think something important is possible in this. You can see my photo essays, that are also examining this use of shallow depth of field here: Muaynoir Behance.
  21. Just some associative writing on the subject of poetry, brought on by @Tyler from Florida's thoughts on poetry and meter. Last week we were filming with Chatchainoi, a fighter called The Man of Stone in his day - you can see my photo essay on him here - and there were several moments when he would interrupt training and make corrections which really seemed musical. This in the sense, he objected to the rhythms and beats that Sylvie was making, and in fact at one point started making the fight music sounds, on a pretty quick tempo, to indicate what he was teaching. Get on this rhythm. Now, there are a lot of rhythms in Muay Thai, and many ways of fighting within them, off of them, but Chatchainoi has what I suspect is a very old rhythm. He was a very small fighter who pressed his opponents, had heavy hands and knees, and was always in the fight space. He had been with the Dejrat Gym since the 1990s, you can see him pointing to his photo here: His trainer was Arjan Surat who still is the owner of the gym, now at the age of 70, and they teach a very old Muay that they trace back to Arjan Surat's Arjan, a Muay Chaiya fighter. They don't "teach" Muay Chaiya (a Southern Style of Muay Boran), but somehow the dark root of their Muay, the Muay of the gym, goes down into that earth, still training very good stadium fighters. It's a hard, defensive, pressing style. All this is to say, Chatchainoi had a rhythm for fighting in his mind, unlike many other Thai trainers. You'll see this in the Muay Thai Library session if you watch it, but there is a point where Sylvie and he do a kind of leg kick battler in sparring, and he was very demonstrative in objecting to how Sylvie was "getting him back". She was getting the point back, but in completely the wrong way. I've been in all these MTL sessions, and around lots of high level Muay Thai, and even though I was there I couldn't quite feel what he was talking about. Sylvie felt it. What this brings back to my mind was back when I had a great passion for Greek Tragedy, and taught myself Ancient Greek, and begun translating the great tragetists. This is all metered poetry. And there are ostensibly 3 great authors. Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. When you read Sophocles in the Greek you are just almost awestruck by the complexity of the writing. He makes full use of the twists and delays that are possible in Greek, and has an incredible dexterity in his language. It's really something. But, for me, when I read Aeschylus, thought to be less sophisticated, less evolved than Sophocles by many critics, his language was just earth-shaking. It has a stoniness, and oldness, a rigid power that Sophocles's flowing ribbons and wordplay just does not. It's closer to the earth. It feels like its of a time when a tragic play was also a rite, a power. This is what I felt when watching Chatchainoi's rhythm, the one in his heart that he insisted on. It was older. It did not have the dexterity or sophistication of perhaps another fighter, and I'm pretty sure he was criticized as "low IQ" for how many strikes he purposively took back in the day (a common thing to say about tough, derning fighters), but what I learned in filming that session was that his rhythm, his feeling for what is right and proper poetry as a fighter had structure, a structure of heart and sinew that you learned and conditioned. And, it was not the same as that Arjan Surat had, who trained him. It was his own. But the family of the techniques of that gym were Aeschylean.
  22. Another very interesting fine art parallel, beyond poetry, is that of dance. In this hour conversation I talked with Thais about the ways in which Thailand's Muay Thai sheds light on dance, and even more the case, how dance helps us see into western pursuits of Muay Thai, the development of styles, the role of techniques, pedagogy, and projects of expression.
  23. I kind of marvel at this paragraph, so much is in there. I love the references to the iambic beats, and the heartbeats. There is inner rhythm - its not just rocking back and forth, the rock sets the metronome so that every variation can ribbon off from that. Like thinking music is just a baseline. But, if you don't learn these rhythms, or even learn to look for the feet of a poem, its true, it just looks like stuff. Maybe cool stuff, oddly beautiful or styled, but its intricate, sophisticated manipulation of an opponent, a stage. You are right, so much as to be known to even be able to read what is going on. Not just technical facts, but cultural facts. The why of retreat. The why of taking an extra measure. Arts of course can always risk becoming too courtly, riding towards inefficacy, playing toward pure aesthetic, those who understand codes. But somehow - though BKK point fighting can be a thing - Muay Thai over the decades has avoided it, enriching itself from constant influx from the minor literatures of rural parlance, dialects of fighting styles far from any palace, and the fact fights are engaged in such full-contact brutality, that works to correct with consequence anything too stylized, too abstract. Muay Thai has always had this highly tensioned dialectic between BKK cosmopolitan sophistication and up-country / down-country labor and creation, which makes it unique as a historical document, and incredibly rich as a fighting knowledge. I think you are very right though about the anxiety of influence, because when you are touching Muay Thai proper, you are actually reaching across and touching a whole culture, or an array of subcultures. And when you change Muay Thai, you are changing the fabric of something more than a sport.
  24. Some additional background on Sirichai. Lots of people know him from our Muay Thai Library session with him teaching Long Clinch, a really unique use of a clinch technique that is often only transitory. Below is the free trailer clip: You can watch the full hour with him in the Muay Thai Library here, it's one of the best and most interesting clinch sessions in the entire Library: As a sidenote, I strongly suspect that his unorthodox Long Clinch use, which involves a low head, was eventually shunned by his first BKK stadia gym Tor. Pran49. If you lose doing unorthodox things in the stadia it can make the gamblers angry. Lots of experimental techniques and approaches get pruned by this fear of angering the gamblers. From what I recall they tried to make him more of a puncher towards the end. Because Kru Diesel has his own system, is famous for locking fighters, and Sirichai has a very good lock since he was young, I suspect we won't be seeing much Long Clinch from him now. That being said, we are thankful for being able to document his Long Clinch technique, and even writing an article about it and editing together this film study of his use of it through the first years: you can read that article on his Long Clinch here As Sylvie says, we've known Sirichai for such a long time. He was incredibly self-driven, disciplined and quiet. If you want to know just what he was like as a fighter, we even filmed these two rounds of him destroying someone in the clinch at a festival fight 8 years ago. As you watch his fights today you can stare back at the skills and techniques he used back then, and see a continuity. And, now that he has one of the great Muay Khao krus of Thailand, we can also see what Kru Diesel's hand can do with such a diligent fighter, that already has a strong foundation. Sometimes fighters just have to find the right trainer to grow their possibilities. Here he is clinch wrecking 8 years ago: We filmed with Kru Diesel and with Sirichai for an upcoming Library session only a few weeks ago. While there Sylvie interviewed Sirichai about his upcoming first fight. It gives a glimpse into what he is like as a person.
  25. Above are cover photos for six of my photo essays that are now on Behance. You can see my profile and them here. I've written a Twitter thread on why I made this move to Behance, and what its taught me as a photographer, you can read that thread unrolled here (quick screenshot below). It tells a bit of my story of how my Instagram account just completely vanished one day, with no recourse or even a real explanation, something that gave me to try Behance, and Adobe sharing platform for artists. My experience with Behance opened up larger thoughts about photography in the digital age. One of the great challenges of a photographer, whose work is essentially to freeze time, lock it up in a frame, is that increasingly the life of the work then depends on putting that frozen chunk of Time into a faster and faster moving stream. Perhaps that was always the case, if we thinking about the stream of capital, investment and flows of photography commerce, but the work itself once lived, presented, in isolated places. In books, or in galleries and shows if fortunate. The frozen moment lived selected out, in a fixed place, a viewing context. Sometimes this was part of stories being told, in a magazine article, flipped between pages, or in a Newspaper, but the frame's relationship to stasis, a fundamental aspect of what Photography is, felt primary. With social media stream becoming a fundamental dissemination and viewing experience this relationship to stasis has changed. And it becomes a real challenge to give your selected out stills a place withing the living stream. Right now Behance's storyboad-like projects are really interesting. Not so much as final homes, but in a way the creation of your own gallery, which could become a dialogue in editing. A secondary path I've experimented with is using video to then create a more personalized stream, in the sense of recording a viewing experience in Behance. You can see one of this shorts here. Tempo and timing is introduced into the presentation, without submitting the images to the rushing waters of a social media platform, which is pretty counterproductive aesthetically: It feels as if Photographers will need to creatively engage digital possibilities in order to create the kinds of spaces, the kinds of relationships to stasis, that are necessary for the character of their craft. We need to find boxed frames and small streamed experiences which bring out the stasis we create. I ran into this very interesting one called Spatial on the Apple app store. It's a digital gallery I believe oriented toward NFTs, but open to non-NFT work. It recreates the viewer experience of a gallery, remarkably delivering the concrete aspects of a digital version of art (change of angle, atmospherics, changes in light, etc) in a virtual way. Here we can see how stasis and flow (and viewer agency) can work together. A screenshot of Tweets of a digital artist I follow: For photographers of action, like fight action, this kind of kinetic representation makes even more sense, as the images are displayed in a volume and the viewer is given and almost bodily agency over the view. Also, the richness of increasing powers of resolution that are coming to photography are given a space to breathe, instead of compressed into a tiny square. The aesthetics of size are embraced, which matters a great deal when even thinking about the sale of photography and it's place in personal and public spaces. Because photographers freeze time, how people experience photographs in relationship to Time becomes of paramount importance to just what photography is.
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