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Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu

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Everything posted by Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu

  1. What do you all like to eat before a fight? I'm currently a night before, so what I eat tonight doesn't matter too much, but I do tend to avoid spicy dishes a good 24 hours before a fight. I find Thai omelet over rice is a great pre-fight dish: easy to digest, carbs, protein, fat and salt. I eat sticky rice sometimes because of the belief in its protective qualities, but it feels like a brick in my belly, so not so much one to recommend to others. Back in the US I knew of a gym that recommended carb-loading the night before a fight, which I don't know if that stemmed from having cut weight and avoided carbs for a few days or what. Some folks I know get nervous and don't eat anything but fruit a few hours before. What do you all think/do/recommend? Anyone... Bueller?
  2. It's a complicated issue because what Jazzy initially started saying and what most of the responses have been coming from are based in Thailand, which itself a complicated thing to try to navigate. It's hot as Hades all the time and visitors to the country have a misrepresentation of the entire nation as being like the Bangkok Red Light District in movies (imagine thinking all of the US was like Vegas, or all of Mexico is like the resort beaches of Cancun), so there's an assumed "anything goes and I should dress like I'm at the beach all the time" attitude. Thing is, Thailand is a fairly conservative culture - not in all ways and not in all places, but pretty universally not the kind of place where dressing in less is going to be met with respect for your space and body. Thais don't even wear bathing suits at the beach - most swim fully clothed. So the issue of sports bras and crop tops as discussed here is in reference to that culture. It kind of riles up the gym because it's still a heavily male space and how a woman dresses is perceived to be how she wants to be treated. Even if you wear T-shirt and shorts, simply being a woman means it's worth a go to flirt with you and see if it takes. But the clothes are seen as a message; I reckon that's true in the west, too, but in a less overt perception. However, in Phuket it's not that unusual to see women fighting in a sports bra. On TV the "Muay Thai Angels" show, which is the biggest (as in most expensive) production of female fights definitely sells the looks of its fighters and the women fight in some pretty uncomfortable outfits, which include crop tops. I've been given a crop top to fight in on TV once. But you'll also find lots of Thai and western women fighting in tank tops or T-shirts, which I think is more standard everywhere. What's truly shocking (and I would find it so in the west also), are women who show up to training with their breasts barely covered by their tops, shorts that are too short or you can see their underwear or lack of underwear when they kick; some women, very rarely, will come to training in a bikini. It's bizarre. And heavily inappropriate. I think this issue translates to the west as well though. Lots of women come to training in yoga pants or layered tops that are loose enough to shift around and expose more than what they seem to be covering. Women should be able to wear whatever we're comfortable in, but it's really not that simple because of the social messages - whether intentional or not - that come with those sartorial choices. Men generally wear shorts; that's it. Their nakedness isn't interpreted as anything. And some dudes need to wear some damn underwear; it's horrific when they don't. The men at my various gyms (western men) really take the cake on needing to tone their shit down. They treat the space as one big men's locker room and will change their clothes right out in the open - fully naked sometimes. I mean balls out. And a couple men at my current gym will come and drop their pants right next to me (or my friend who came to visit, also a woman) in order to tie on their cups, or they'll do it in the ring which is basically a stage. The Thai boys will be in their underwear if they're stepping on the scale to make weight, but it's only for a brief moment and they cover with a towel immediately. They also put their cups on in the privacy of a restroom, although once or twice I've witnessed my trainer taking his off with some serious finesse by just loosening the string by barely lowering the waistband and then just pulling the whole gadget out - no exposure at all. So these guys who are making the space all uncomfortable are doing so apart from Thai custom as well. I don't know that this behavior would be considered polite anywhere, but it feels like a definitive "fuck you" to the women who are subjected to it. Meaning me, mostly.
  3. I feel this, so much. It's kind of amazing how the anonymity of the internet can either exacerbate the nastiness of personalities, or allow for less personal responsibility for the way you effect people; I mean, there are good things about it too, like connecting across the globe in a way that being isolated or quiet generally doesn't otherwise allow. But quieting down the echo-chamber of forums, we hope, will give women more courage to lend their voices online more than is common in the current formats. The "comments" sections of internet media are the dregs, man. YouTube comments are enough to make you want to pull the plug on the format all together. But when you clear out the clutter of all that negativity, you can find some really gem-like interactions. I'm hoping that's what we can get at here.
  4. This is absolutely amazing, Charlie - thank you so much for sharing this. I love, LOVE, Erika and RENA but in such a way that seeing them fight each other was a totally bizarre cheering experience, with me pulling for both fighters back and forth. I'll admit that I almost never have a full grasp of what's going on in fights in Japan with the variation in rules (or in Europe for that matter) but this one was particularly strange with the yellow and red cards; especially with each fighter getting both cards, so it seemed like a point was deducted from both? But ultimately I agreed with the decision. If it were scored on a calculator, Erika wins on points and stronger strikes (those left kicks!), but watching the fight Thai style, where the scoring is the narrative of the fight, there was something about RENA's ability to snuff Erika's flurries over and over, especially in that last round, was definitive. Agreed with Kevin though; seeing Erika break down backstage after that fight put a little dent in my heart.
  5. Wearing breathable fabrics is helpful. It doesn't have to be the expensive "wicking" clothing or anything like that (but those are great if you have them), but light cotton or something you could potentially swim in is pretty good. You'll be about as wet as if you'd just jumped in a pool with your clothes on. I totally forget to drink water between sessions as well, which means I'm starting out a little dehydrated each time. That's never fun and it's so easy to forget. So if you can figure out a way to remind yourself to start hydrating about an hour before training, you'll be better for it.
  6. I've seen both men and women dress completely inappropriately for the gym - men wearing speedos, and ONLY speedos to train in, not wearing a shirt when running (down here in Pattaya it seems the no-shirt and no-shoes goes everywhere; even saw a woman in the 7-11 wearing a bikini and no cover up at all), men and women not wearing underwear... the thing is that for the men, it makes us women incredibly uncomfortable but my all-male Thai trainers never cared. They think it's funny, but Den said "I'm a man, he's a man, why should I care." Basically, he's not looking. But for women, even clothing that isn't considered inappropriate in the west garners MASSIVE attention here. And behavior exacerbates that; you can wear sweatpants and a T-shirt and still stir up the gym with flirtatious behavior. It's so interesting to see so many of you talking about how your gyms are, because it's very much the case and not something that westerners think about at all when they come here. You're basically training with young boys. By watching how absolutely rude, inappropriate, impolite and culturally "off" westerners can be when they come to visit Thailand (it's not only westerners, but the gaffes tend to be in a different direction from tourists of other varieties) it's that we seem to think that the entire country is keen to host our "MTV Spring Break" vacations. Thai culture isn't like that - in fact, OUR culture isn't like that, but we're on vacation and so we act outside of what's acceptable for our own behavior and the non-confrontational nature and kind of "adult playground" of Thailand's hands-off approach to legality creates an atmosphere where a lot of people are just being total asses.
  7. this is transposed from a Facebook conversation Oh yes, I know I'm not telling you anything new I do think there's a divide that might best be summed up by the distinction between being an idealist or not. It's very hard to argue against kids having a better (or easier) go of things so early in life.
  8. this is transposed from a Facebook conversation I appreciate your point that the issue is with poverty, but you very keenly point out that fighting is mostly relegated to the need of the family of poor children, whereas middle- and upper-class kids that might dabble in Muay Thai likely won't compete; certainly not at the level or frequency or under the same circumstances as poor kids who fight out of need. But there's a saying about "seeing how sausage is made," in that ignorance of the process of something is the only way it's palatable, and I think that plays into the west's very limited scope of Muay Thai in Thailand. We love Buakaw and Saenchai, or whatever other few names people can rattle off nowadays, but still cringe at child fighters. But there would be no Buakaw, Saenchai, Sakmongkol, Phetjee Jaa, et al. without child fighters. We want a pure-breed without acknowledging how many years of breeding and drowning took place to get that breed. And of course that doesn't mean that we shouldn't seek to amend practices, or to address the very difficult lives of poor families across Thailand. Poverty is a desperate situation with or without Muay Thai fights - kids who don't fight, who work or take care of their siblings or parents or who work in the fields... it's not necessarily less damaging or exploitative than Muay; and I argue that in many cases it's far worse. The kids I train with at my gyms come from a variety of backgrounds and social status, including middle-class kids and kids whose families are in a bad way. There are gradations far beyond what I'm exposed to at my gyms in Pattaya, for sure, but there's something about the community within the gym space between the haves and have-nots that's really beautiful. There is a distinct ethos in which kids are brought up in Muay Thai that I find admirable and their characters are absolutely formed through the training and child social order. And it wouldn't be the same without fights. The kids who don't fight aren't in the same world as those who do. Obviously there are tons of factors involved in that difference.
  9. I don't even know what else to say, other than that I love this. Thanks, Emma.
  10. These are my video reviews of two good sources for equipment and shorts in Chiang Mai: Pi Boy's Twin's shop at the Kalare Night Bazaar and the Sportland shop near the Three Kings Monument. You can read the full review, and the prices I found here: Chiang Mai Muay Thai – Best Prices, Equipment, Custom Shorts – A Review of Shops Sportland by Three Kings Monument Pi Boy's Twins Shop - Kalare Night Bazaar These shop prices and products can change so here is a good place where people can update their experiences of each in comments. Here's an excerpt from my review which sums up most of my thoughts: The 3 King’s Monument Sportland store has much more variety of brands and equipment offerings, but their prices on Twins gloves and a few other items doesn’t come close to what Pi Boy’s Twin shop at the Kalare Night Bazaar offers. I’m a little partial to the Sportland store because they sell my favorite gloves: lace-up Thai Smai gloves, which happen to be pretty affordable and hard to find anywhere else. On the other hand Pi Boy is a great guy to deal with, and if I liked velcro gloves I might go visit him instead. In short, if you are looking for Twins brand gloves head over to Pi Boy, to be sure. Not only are they less expensive, there is a lot more variety of color and design to choose from at Pi Boy’s shop. Add in that you can get very inexpensive custom Muay Thai shorts (really and truly custom; you can do anything) and you can’t miss. But if you need pads, sauna suits, unknown-name equipment, a gum shield/ mouthguard, etc. the 3 Kings Monument Sportland store is a good option. Also, I’ve heard that telling the folks at the 3 Kings Monument store offer a discount if you name-drop the gym you’re training at. I’ve never done this, so I don’t know what kind of discount or if it works with any gym or only particular gyms, or not at all. I guess give it a try; couldn't possibly hurt.
  11. In Chiang Mai you'll have very good chance to fight through Lanna Muay Thai, where I was for 2 years. It is a fighter's camp and I suspect I would not have been able to fight the way I did up there at any other camp. It's up to you to decide if the training atmosphere is right for you. It's very unstructured so you'll have to take initiative, ask a lot of questions (they will help you when you ask), and be self-driven. But there are lots of people to train with. Shay will be excluded from the "men's ring," which is right behind the mixed ring, which is something to consider for her. The location is beautiful, right by the mountains and great for runs, far enough from the Old City that you're not in a trap and close enough that you can get there with very little effort and not a lot of money. There's a preschool across the street, so training in the morning is to the soundtrack of children singing the Thai ABC's, which I always loved, even though I'm not really a "kid person." Otherwise you can check out Santai, which is farther outside of the city in San Kampang. They have limited class sizes, so you'll have to contact Nik on the Santai FB page and ask. They're the opposite of Lanna - very structured, group stretching and organized drills, everyone learns the same style and technique. And Nik is very pro-fight, so he'll get you on a card if you let him know that's your aim. And Teresa Wintermyr has just relocated there; she's got a world title match coming up soon and she's an awesome presence and model for your girlfriend, Shay... I'd love to train with Teresa! If neither of those float your boat there's also Chai Yai and they are connected to the Thapae Stadium, so probably can get a fight easily through them. I wouldn't recommend Team Quest, but they're more BJJ oriented than Muay Thai so it's a kind of side-glance I have there anyway. And there are some places in Pai, which is 30 minutes outside of Chiang Mai and very rural if that's your gig. Not sure how often they come in for fights. Check out the blog "bruised shin" by Andrew if you want to get some info on training in Pai and the fight opportunities and all that.
  12. Yes! Trans women, cis women, and anyone who identifies as a woman are welcome in the Women's Only forum.
  13. This goes a little to mental training. I listen to podcasts when I run every morning and lately I've been way into NPR's "Invisibilia" podcast. This morning was on the topic of fear, how prevalent it is in our (American) culture and its benefits and hindrances. It opens with what kind of free range kids had growing up in the 70's - I was given a really free childhood, personally - and how that's very different now, following the kids from the 70's research who are now parents making very different choices for their own kids based on fear. But, they explain, we're "hardwired" to take notice of frightful things; it has evolutionary benefits. Then they talk about a woman who is literally "fearless." A particular disease causes calcification in the amygdala in the brain and the only emotion it does away with is fear. So she simply cannot feel the emotion; her heart doesn't race, her hands don't sweat, she doesn't get startled by sudden loud noises, etc. Is this being a superhero? Not so much; the doctors who have been studying her for 20+ years now don't give out her real name because it's so dangerous to be fearless. SUPER interesting. Lastly they cover the common phobia of snakes and why this "unknowable" quality is so creepy to so many people. We're not born with this fear, we have to learn it. And a fellow who has found a solution to overcoming his own fear of rejection by basically becoming really practiced at being rejected. That's a great system and one that is incredibly useful for Muay Thai. I get a lot of people writing to me asking "what's wrong with me?" for being afraid of being hit in sparring. Nothing, man... totally normal. You just have to get used to it; get hit and the fear gets less and less. Check out the podcast for "Fearless: Invisibilia" and I recommend the entire series.
  14. It's so interesting to me that some women have a kind of inkling that this under the ropes thing feels disparaging and others don't think it's anything at all. I guess why that's interesting to me is that it's all about cultural context, and in the context of this culture it feels low because it is low. I lived in Berlin for a while and I'd sometimes see those signs in the unisex bathrooms that ask men to sit to pee, so as to avoid making a mess. Being an American, this is hilarious to me because being a Sitzpinkler (a man who sits to urinate, literally "sit pisser") is so emasculating, but my boyfriend at the time who grew up Austria had absolutely no thought about it at all and was, in fact, a Sitspinkler of his own accord. Would women choose to go under the bottom rope themselves, if it weren't mandated? The example of Orthodox Jews is interesting as well. When I lived in the Hudson Valley of New York there were pocket communities of Orthodox and there was a definite friction when the cultural differences were made so evident. And it's definitely true as well that Thailand has a wide range the degree of how conservative people are with these rules. Some gyms don't allow women at all, some have separate rings, some allow women in but have to go under the rope (my gym O. Meekhun is like this, which is amazing to me because those exact same traditions are what limit Phetjee Jaa as a female fighter and her dad complains about it constantly, yet totally keeps this tradition in his gym), some that allow women to go through the ropes but probably would be a bit shocked if she went over (my gym Petchrungruang is like that), etc. There's variety all through the culture, where some places are lenient - like shopping centers that have so many "Toms" (women with masculine tendencies and/or identities) and the kathoey scene - and then temples that are so exclusive and government jobs/ schools that require women to ONLY wear skirts and usually heels...
  15. This forum is still brand new and there's lots of tweaks and adjustments to be made, so please do us a favor and alert us to anything that isn't working or is confusing, etc. This section is the "comments box" so to speak, so let us know of any bugs, errors, improvements, etc. We'll delete the comments when the issue is resolved, so don't be shy to post numerous times if you run into different things. Comment as you go. Things I've had trouble with so far are: at times double posting because it seemed like my comment didn't post, and also that My Media button on the edit screen that was confusing. You can also private message me in the forum here on my profile.
  16. Your visa begins once it's approved, so don't get it too long before your actual flight. It takes a day or two to process, but anything more than a week before you leave is just wasting the time on your visa. When I first came out my non-immigrant, multiple entry, ED visa was through my camp, Lanna Muay Thai. Only a few camps are allowed to offer an ED visa anymore (the rule changed the year after I got mine) - Master Toddy's is one of the gyms that can offer it. So, I had a letter from the camp owner and passport copies of the gym manager, signed, etc. I take that to mean that you need a letter of guarantee from whatever entity is giving you an ED visa, usually a language school. Depending on where in Thailand you are going, you can find a language school online fairly easily, but obviously proceed with caution if anyone asking you to send money in advance. The Walen school is a good place to start looking - they're pricey, but the most legitimate school I've come across. They have locations in different cities and can give you a good idea of the process. My second year I had the same visa but through a language school instead of the gym. My school sucked in terms of teaching me any Thai; it is designed as a way for westerners to have visas and that's basically all it's good for. Bummer because I wanted to learn Thai, but great because the hours are super flexible and I got my visa. Note, you will still have to either check in with immigration or go to a border every 90 days and pay for a new stamp. That's the multiple entry part. Another avenue is teaching, which is a work visa. Anyone just do border runs?
  17. Firstly, thank you SO MUCH for linking your blog. I've seen your comments on my blog and have been so excited to have your insight! The short answer is that the Mongkol goes on after you enter the ring because you are a woman and therefore you go under the bottom rope, but the mongkol is an amulet, so it must pass over the top. The long answer is that it doesn't technically matter if it's your personal mongkol in terms of how the magic all works, but it does mean that if you decided to wear it while going under the ropes you wouldn't be causing an issue to anyone else. Thai culture, traditions, Buddhism and magic are all vertical hierarchies. So the feet are the lowest, most filthy and profane place while the head is the most esteemed, seat of the soul, etc. This is why you have to keep your head below images of the Buddha in temples, duck your head when you wai, never point your feet at people or things, etc. The mongkol goes on the head, it's very "holy" and the amulets shouldn't have anything pass over them (above them), which is why it gets hung so high up when you arrive at the venue or keep it on a wall at home. You'll see men with Sak Yant tattoos refuse to walk underneath clotheslines or low-hanging roofs or whatever, because the magic of the tattoo will be damaged by having something pass over it - same with the mongkol. Here's where it gets tricky though, from a female perspective. Men go over the top ropes to keep their amulets and heads above everything, and the ring itself is blessed. But women are believed to be corrosive to this magic, because we menstruate (at all, not even having to be currently having your period) and so our heads and, quite frankly our lower half, cannot pass over that top rope because it puts us above the magical amulets and would, it is believed, negate the magic. So we go under the bottom rope, therefore not passing over ANYTHING. This bothers me because we have to get to the very lowest, most profane position to enter the ring. We literally go underneath men's feet, in terms of how they climb into the ring. So that's why you get the mongkol put on when you're already in the ring: because you have to go under and it has to go over. I have, for the record, seen Phetjee Jaa enter the ring under the bottom rope with her mongkol on her head. Nobody seemed shocked, it was her personal mongkol and not shared with her brother, but I've only ever seen this happen once. So I don't know if it was a mistake or not. I've had trainers forget and push the top rope down for me, indicating that I should go over. I did once and it wasn't taken well. Anyway, some women aren't "bothered" by the bottom rope thing. I am and have written about it a few times: Lumpinee Meme and The Mitt and the Joke. But I think it's telling that you noticed there was a difference for you and wanted to know why - means it's not insignificant.
  18. Okay, no... I love this soap. Consuming it from a standpoint of someone who has been trying to figure out positions, status, stereotypes, depictions and attitudes about class and gender and Thai-ness... this soap is simply packed full of fascination for me. The swapped gender stereotypes - but not too far outside of norms - of the male actor (Phet), who they mockingly have nicknamed Likay and who simply cannot help himself as he over-performs everything he does with song included, and the sometimes sadistic and a little gruff but beautiful female nakmuay who beats up gangsters and abuses the new guy for being soft. But then the women at the camp, featured so heavily with the male nakmuay kind of being background noise (and ridiculously soft-bodied and white-skinned) end up being both his torturers and taking pity on the male protagonist. If this were an all-male camp, Likay would actually just be hazed and doing grunt work all day; with women around he's given a little bit of sympathy. Then, too, he teases Pim for being so cruel - she's the star nakmuay of the camp, it seems. Certainly tougher than the boys. Twice when she's ordering Likay around (not letting him drink sweet tea and waking him up to run) he asks her "are you a nakmuay or a nakleng (fighter or gangster)?", and "are you a woman or a sadist?" clearly calling in to question and therefore regulating Pim's "femininity" while Likay's masculinity (by his inability to hang with the nakmuay) is pretty much the ongoing joke of the show. The owner of the gym has a daughter who trains sometimes and looks bored the rest of the time, periodically meeting in secret in a cemetery to make plans to escape to Bangkok - her big dream is to NOT be a nakmuay. She's a reflection of Likay, too, who was born into the troupe of actors and now wants to be a nakmuay, thereby snubbing his own father's legacy. It's deep, man! I also get a particular joy out of Pim's constant upstaging of Likay in manliness. Her Muay Thai is terrible, but it's depicted as fierce and so is she. He kind of can't do anything and always wants to turn everything into a soft song and dance, whereas Pim is overpowering him with kicks, outrunning him, showing him how he's wrapping his hands wrong, etc. He's teased endlessly in this depiction of being outdone by a woman, which I'm watching with absolute fascination because as the only woman at Petchrungruang but who has cut out a place for herself as an accepted fighter (which Pim is in this show), the boys are always being teased for losing to "a girl" (me), but also with the understanding that me and Pim are both very fierce. Pim and I are not similar, but in a way we are. It's interesting to see this depicted on screen because it's like a Cliff's Notes to idealized and theatricized Thai attitudes that relate pretty closely to what I'm experiencing. But with more hilarity and less crying. Definitely less crying so far.
  19. Such great insight, and a great point in how going solo or going with a group can strongly effect experience at any gym. This is one of the things I have struggled with in trying to advise people who ask me about where they should train, or what's "the best gym." It's like asking what's the "best" pie. Depends on what you like, eh? Phuket in general isn't my kinda scene, but then again I'd never ever have imagined myself in Pattaya and yet, here I am. Gyms are businesses and have different clients with different interests, etc. So you just want to find a gym that has the same goals that you do and a lot of the folks who aim for gym-beach-gym-beach get exactly what they want out of the big tourist gyms. I absolutely love my gyms but can't recommend them easily as my needs and specifications for why it's good for me don't translate to a great many other people. If you're looking to try different gyms DO NOT pay in advance! A few of these bigger tourist gyms allow folks to book and pay in advance online, probably offering some discount. I highly recommend not doing this, just pay for a few days so that you can make an informed decision based on your own experiences and needs. A guy came out to Pattaya a while back and trained with me one day but then had already paid for two weeks at Fairtex, so that's where he went but he hated the training there. Bummer.
  20. You're so clever to have trained yourself in preparation for training! With only one week there's not much conditioning of your feet you can do, but if you can walk around barefoot to build up callouses, that's always helpful. Your feet get jacked at pretty much any gym. And get your miles up with running. The heat is intense and takes a while to get used to, so being used to the miles themselves makes the transition smoother. This sounds kinda lame and hippie-ville, but focus on your breathing during runs and bagwork-type spurts. Training is tiring any way you cut it, but not breathing due to the discomfort of working with new trainers (not knowing what they're asking for and the totally normal "getting to know you" period of working together) can cause you to hold your breath and you will get way more tired than you think you should, given your conditioning. I have to remind myself of this all the time.
  21. Perhaps the most distinguishing factor of the Muay Thai Roundtable forum is the idea that there will be a separate forum for women only. In the world at large there are not many digital spaces that belong solely to women, and this is even less the case in the world of the fighting arts. Our aim is to create just such a space, where women can come and discuss topics and ask questions with other women with a degree of privacy, away from the shyness, embarrassment, or being drowned out by male-dominated spaces. There's a lot of antagonism and abuse that comes about simply through the veil of antipathy that online anonymity offers. Periodically, Emma and I will receive private messages from women who, quite frankly, just want to ask the advice or experiences of another woman and have to do so quietly and privately because the internet world is just too big and loud and abusive to try these simple questions out in public forums. Asking about cutting weight, training or fighting during your period, or about being hit on at your gym in a public forum results in dozens of cheeky, joking, critical and downright nasty comments with maybe, maybe, a serious response buried in there; and sometimes not even one serious answer. This space is for women to have a voice without all the clutter. How we are going secure a place for women? So how are we going to do it? Well, we're going to do it ourselves, by hand, and we're going to achieve it by wanting it. This takes time and effort, and both Emma and I train/work full time in addition to blogging; but we believe it is worth it. Most of the women initially in this section will come from people Emma and I know personally. The Muay Thai community is small, and these forums really expect to be a small space where conversation can be carried on - both in the General area and the area only for women - so early confirmations should happen within a day of signing up. But no doubt as word spreads there will be women who apply for membership who we do not personally know. If we don't know who you are it isn't a problem at all, in fact we are very glad to have you and you are very welcome to the community, but verification may take some extra effort on both our parts. A Facebook page's history will aid in any confirmation, perhaps followed by email conversation, or the request of a 3rd person reference will suffice, but a quick Skype call will likely be the best confirmation that a new user's identity is female. It's something we'll have to play by ear as it isn't something commonly done. We're sorry for any discomfort or inconvenience caused by this extra layer of confirmation for some, and it certainly isn't fool-proof, but it's what it takes to at least create the space itself, the chance for female athlete and student conversations that don't exist elsewhere. It should be said that if you feel that a member in the women only area has been wrongly allowed access, please do contact a moderator, though we doubt this will be a concern. Because of the rarity of this kind of space we really ask that you keep the women's only section only between women. Know of course when posting that in the digital world anything can be screen captured from within the group, so nothing is 100% secure, but this will be a small space that belongs to us and if we commit to dealing with one another with respect and patience, this community should be very valuable. In the possibilities of this board we also have the capability of creating forums and topics that are visible to only a select number of trusted people. I can't imagine that this is necessary, but it is within the options we can choose for ourselves if a sensitive subject comes up that requires even further safeguards in order to keep fostered conversation going. So while there may be a few extra steps to making a women only digital space, we thank you in advance for your patience in co-creating this. As it is so new we really don't know where it is going, whether it will be big or small - in the end it doesn't matter. This section will be by women for women and as long as it's respectful it will be a success. Hopefully it will become something that will help others and change the way we can talk about things.
  22. Hi Matt, First of all, thank you for reading and following my blog. I'm very excited to hear that you want to fight multiple times in your time in Thailand and that your girlfriend will be sharing this experience with you. Very cool. The easiest place to find fights in my experience has been Chiang Mai. There are various stadia right in the city and they have fights every night of the week. At my old gym, Lanna, I saw that straight beginners (never trained or fought before) can get a fight within a pretty short amount of time, as well as folks with more experience getting a range of opponents. But I'm not really sure about other gyms in the area. Lanna, and the head trainer there Den, was very pro-fight, and my experiences there may not reflect the practices of other gyms. At 150 lbs (~68 kg) it should be fairly easy to find you a fight in terms of size, although perfect matches up there aren't guaranteed. But that's all part of fighting, too. Master Toddy's is a great place to start out in Bangkok and get a feel for a gym that's western-friendly but also still very technically oriented. I don't know how the fight opportunities are looking in Bangkok at the moment, but maybe Emma, Tu, or Katy can jump in on that front. Down here in Pattaya there are a few stadia going on throughout the week, some satellite festival shows, and down on Phuket there's Bangla Stadium for the whole island. I don't know much about how it all works on Phuket and the last report I heard about Sinbi in particular wasn't positive, but gyms (all gyms) go through phases and changes and different people need different things all that. Emma knows someone training there so maybe you could get some input from a source who is actually there and enjoying it through that contact. As with any of these locations, the gym is going to want to see you training for at least a week or so before they think about booking you a fight. This is so they know what you're about, how to match you, etc. Keep in mind a couple things: 1) in your first week of training full-time you're going to need to sleep A LOT; 2) letting your gym know as soon as possible that you want to fight more than once is a grand idea, but then make sure you SHOW them that you want to fight by how you train. Be consistent and coachable. I'd recommend getting your first fight quite early in your stay if you can, maybe within the first two weeks. That way you can gather from the first experience what you need to work on, see the pace and feel of a fight for yourself, etc. If you're going to be moving around to different gyms, dedicate two weeks to the first one you feel is going to support and push you and get a fight there. Then maybe move around a bit and consider coming back if the gym suits you best. Realize though, it may not be easy to get a fight booked at all gyms. My friend Robyn just came out here trying to get 2 or 3 fights down in Pattaya, having already visited me and fought at Lanna two years ago, and it was difficult to find her fights down here (she fought only once). And lastly, if you want to fight a few times in a short amount of time, you're going to have to consider active recovery as part of your training routine. Diligently treating small injuries as you go and training around them after fights will be necessary. In the words of my trainer up north, "eat good, sleep good." I'm fighting up in Chiang Mai twice between May 1-4, so if you're there at that time let's say hello. In fact the fights are arranged through Lanna gym, and I'll definitely visit there during those days. These are scheduled against two extremely tough opponents, some of Thailand's best 2 weight classes above me (Tanonchanok and Cherry) so they should be great fights to see. I'm in Pattaya after that (driving back down on the 5th), so if you're here, I'll be here. Definitely keep in touch either way and hopefully your adventures can be something we all can hear about and maybe help with when needed. If you have any more questions feel free to ask. Anyone have anything to add or clarify?
  23. Hello to All and welcome to Muay Thai Roundtable! This forum is intended to be a place for people of all levels and interest in Muay Thai to come and connect, discuss, and ask questions or offer tips from our various experiences. The Roundtable is a little bit different in that aside from posting general topics which are specifically encouraged, you can also address questions specifically to me or Emma - the idea of this forum grew out of the questions we both have received in private communications - and of course everyone is invited to respond as well. It's a community resource, and hopefully a knowledge store. We've set up some thread categories to help organize and facilitate exchanges, hopefully there will be more as we go and gather more steam. There is a general board, as well as a "women only" board, which is a place for women to discuss issues or experiences which may be too uncomfortable to voice otherwise, but also a place to help foster female Muay Thai dialogue between women. In all boards, please be respectful and considerate of each other. Some guidelines are that inflammatory comments or language intended only to incite is not permitted; respectful disagreement, requests for clarification and difference of opinion and experience are all welcome. This Roundtable is a space for us, so please make yourself at home and be polite both as a host and as a guest. Some online forums are a "Free for All" in terms of moderation and this is not one of them. This Roundtable is a heavily modified space - as such, please do not be offended if a moderator steps in, but also please do not hesitate to ask for a moderator if you feel uncomfortable, disrespected, or attacked. Speak openly, be nice. If you are new to forums be sure to read our Forum Features and How to Use Them post, as it will help make everything more interesting.
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