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  1. Hey everyone, So I've been training for three months and will be starting to train twice a day in the month of September. I'e decided to prepare for a fight in Thailand in February, and I wanted to know if it's okay to jump right into a professional fight, or rather should I fight amateur a few times before making the jump. I'm currently training at Khongsittha Muay Thai in Bangkok. Thanks!
  2. Just under 2 weeks to go until the big Muay Thai competition fight between England and Thailand at The 02 Indigo in London. The best seats in the house are still available so please hurry as tickets are selling quickly. This event is not only a boxing match but also a fun event for all the family so anyone can come and watch. The main fight will be between Charlie Peters v Saenchai P.K. This promised to be a thrilling and highly competitive fight Event Details The O2 Indigo, Peninsula Square, SE10 0DX London, United Kingdom September 11th September from 7pm Doors open: 3pm Tickets still on sale from £30, You can purchase your tickets below: Ticket Hotline http://www.theo2.co.uk/events/detail/thai-fight Check out our promo advertisement video giving you a sneak preview of what is going to be in store on September 11th, find out who will be fighting who on the night with a glimpse into the fighters stats and some past clips from previous bouts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6P-Wg4IHCE
  3. The husband of the director of this film finally put up a copy for the general public. Featured in this film is the fight author Sam Sheridan of the books "Fighter's Heart" (and "Fighter's Mind"), presumably when he was gathering material he would write about. One can compare the film footage with some of his description of what was going on: The description of that book: In 1999, after a series of wildly adventurous jobs around the world, Sam Sheridan found himself in Australia, loaded with cash and intent on not working until he’d spent it all. It occurred to him that, without distractions, he could finally indulge a long-dormant obsession: fighting. Within a year, he was in Bangkok training with the greatest fighter in muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) history and stepping through the ropes for a professional bout. That one fight wasn’t enough. Sheridan set out to test himself on an epic journey into how and why we fight, facing Olympic boxers, Brazilian jiu-jitsu stars, and Ultimate Fighting champions. Along the way, Sheridan delivers an insightful look at violence as a career and a spectator sport, a behind-the-pageantry glimpse of athletes at the top of their terrifying game. An extraordinary combination of gonzo journalism and participatory sports writing, A Fighter’s Heart is a dizzying first-hand account of what it’s like to reach the peak of finely disciplined personal aggression, to hit—and be hit.
  4. This is going to be a big experiment, but I thought to myself: Isn't this the place to do it? For those that don't know me I kind of keep a low profile. I'm the one holding the camera, the one doing the film editing, or the digital heavylifting so that Sylvie can keep blogging at her crazy rate, and still train and fight full time in Thailand. I'm Sylvie's husband Kevin. I'm 51, and have been living here with my beautiful, brilliant wife in Thailand as she pursues her dream. I do write occasionally for her site, a few articles under A Husband's Point of View, and occasionally I jump into the internet stream to press a point or two on an issue I feel is especially important, but mostly I'm very happy keeping to myself in all this, while I watch with admiration as Sylvie climbs to places nobody really has gone before. But...I am a writer, and in all this time I too have fallen quite in love with the Muay Thai of Thailand. I get to express my thoughts all the time with Sylvie - we think and talk a lot about a number of dimensions of Muay Thai, everything from gender, community, technique, and most importantly it's future. But I don't really give myself permission to just flow in things, to write as I once really did, when I was younger. So, I thought that maybe this is a good space for that, a little corner of this forum where I can journal some of my more loosely connected thoughts, things that arise as I experience this incredible country and culture. Feel free to throw in comments if you like (a comment will automatically subscribe you to the thread, via email - you can all follow this thread by clicking "follow" in the upper right corner), but I'm just going to go ahead without much organization or even intent. You'll see from what follows I write in a unique, not easy to read voice, but hey, that's just me.
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfnZ-WdK4FI This is just a wonderful short documentary on the Petchrungruang star fighter PTT. It's very hard to encapsulate how sweet and kind a fellow PTT is - hey, he absolutely loves Jaidee - but he has an aura. Sylvie wrote about him and his story that is hinted at in the film - but the film itself in its very simplicity, and in how his words in translation guide the basic themes, I just find very moving. What a cool dude he is. It's only about 8 minutes, give it a watch.
  6. This is an interesting rant by a western coach over the custom of female fighters in Thailand having to enter the ring under the bottom rope. I leave his name out because there is no reason to be personal about this, I'm more interested in the weave of thoughts here. These are screenshots because after commenting on the post I was banned from continuing to comment - no big deal, it's his space and Muay Thai internet debate pretty much sucks. This is a huge, balls-out rant about the needed equality for women in sport and in particular for fighting, and it really strikes a powerful nerve in just the pure intensity of the celebration of Miriam Nakamoto -- hey, she was GOOD, one of the best ever. But most views on gender (and race and ethnicity) are not purely of one thing. I took pretty strong exception the characterization of Thai female fighters as generally being "treated as sex slaves and servants" (outlined red above) - does this guy even know much about actual Thai female fighters? After I made my first comment about this I believe he edited the word "treated" to "viewed" and then after making the post private to a circle he edited "sex slaves" to "after thoughts". Despite the changes this is a common trope of the passionate male, western pro-female fight "expert" that I've seen, the idea that Thai female fighters are somehow on the edge of becoming (or in this case, treated like) sex workers. Steven Wright also forwarded this idea as well. It's all part of the fantasy image of the "poor" Thai girl, forced into horrible conditions, and that these conditions make female Thai fighters inferior to the liberated, socially embraced western female fighters of the world. It's a complicated argument. He's very right that female Thai fighters are NOT treated in the way way as male Thai fighters in Thailand, and there are huge cultural (and economic) reasons why. And yes, the bottom rope custom is intimately woven into this. But the willingness to slip into these frankly bizarre and uninformed fantasies about Thai women, is just sexist and to me also (Orientalist) racist. Yes, there are lots of sex worker issues surrounding the plight of Thai women in various socioeconomic groups. But the willingness in the west, especially for men, to see the factuality of Thai women as fundamentally that of having a sex-worker status, especially when it seems that these men often have very little knowledge of the real lives of the Thai female fighters they are supposedly championing, is troubling (and no, I know of very few gyms in Thailand now where women cannot train in the ring with men). We saw this again and again, in the early days, when western men tried to troll Sylvie's fighting - the Thai female fighter is fundamentally just a poor girl, a child, a sex-worker in waiting. This is part of a big western (male) fantasy projected onto an exotic land they don't really know, a land much more complex (ethnically, by class, by belief) than they are willing to believe. Almost every top Thai female fighter I know of I would probably characterize as Middle class. Middle class by western standards. You want to see what these women look like? Here is a list of them Sylvie wrote about, the best under 48kg To his credit the author amended his words after making the rant private to a group of people. But I'm really interested in how these two thoughts: Women are Equal! AND These Asian Women are like Sex Slaves? can unconsciously compliment each other. The fact of the matter is that Thai female fighters are among the best in the world. In my opinion they are better, all things being considered, than their natural counterparts in the west, as a whole. Historically there have been some obstacles to actually showing this though: The best western female fighters (Nakamoto, Kitchen, Randamie, etc) historically have been giants to the best Thai female fighters and for that reason either large western fighters don't end up fighting the best Thai talent (if Thais at all), or when they do it can be with a significant weight advantage. Even to this day many of the top western fighters (Barlow, Meksen, van Soest), when weights are more equivalent, do not fight top Thais in Thailand - in fact these fighters hardly have fought each other. And importantly there are fundamental differences in how western and Thai scoring is done, something that leads to misunderstandings in East vs West matchups, and there are differing motivations at times. There is no "international stage" on which to judge Thai female fighter talent - no, the IFMAs have not been taken particularly seriously by most Thais. Yes, Thai female fighters do face a very different place in the gym than do male Thai fighters, something part of the problemized position of women in Thai culture, but it is incredibly disrespectful to describe that place as generally being like that of sex slaves, in any way, or that this status has lead to a general inferiority of Thai female fighters. The "sex slave" characterization trope for Thai women is a loaded one, instead of respecting Thais, one is just forwarding old stereotypes. Thai female fighters have devoted their lives to fighting. They deserve the respect of what they are, fighters who have long trained and fought in their National art. As to the bottom rope, this is such a complicated aspect of Muay Thai in Thailand it is very hard to untangle. Some Thai female fighters feel disrespected by the custom, some find it to be very meaningful and proper. Because the Muay Thai of Thailand is fundamentally a performance of traditional, hyper-masculinity, pulling on the threads of gender may unravel some of that respected cloth. There is to me no clear, principled answer here (Sylvie feels differently I suspect), but rather important principles that clash. But I do present his rant here because it contains some very powerful imagery in favor of female liberty. But in this case, the fact that the author seems pretty dis-conntected from Thailand itself (it's realities, its people, their beliefs) his particular brand of "Fuck your traditions!" feels a little not right.
  7. A lot of deserved attention is paid in the west to the scoring of individual strikes. Which strikes score, and why? Where did it land? Was it powerful, was it on balance, was it displacing? These are important qualities of Thai scoring which are not readily understandable to western eyes at times and Tony Myers has done an amazing job of clarifying these principles, leading the way toward more uniform and more Thai style scoring. I want to talk about an element of Muay Thai scoring that is less appreciated perhaps: How regularity works in relationship to reversal. Narrative Arc - The Proving of the Past I was watching Sylvie's latest fight against Faa Chiangrai, a Northern Champion she has now beaten 4 times in a row, and was thinking about the scoring in this fight. Faa has felt, more or less, that she's won most of these fights - or at least it is in her nature to protest - and this one was actually very close. What made the scoring really interesting to me is the role that early success and failure played in how later strikes are read. In a nutshell, Sylvie had taken a dominant lead with a power/knee game in the 3rd. Faa then started to control the distance better and landed kicks in the 4th to pull ahead. Starting the 5th Faa was well ahead in a narrative sense. She had been on top, but not dominantly so, when the fight was cresting in the 4th. All she had to do was maintain the impression of the 4th and she had it. The very pro-Thai, All-Thai audience of gamblers even had the odds 15-1, they were all betting on her. And then Sylvie landed this: Now, this is the interesting thing. In order to understand the role this moment played in the scoring of the fight one has to know what happened before. There is nothing in this move/event that dictates its inherent value. First thing to understand is that visually this was by far the most dramatic/impactful move of the fight. If the fight had been filled with throws or drops it would have meant something else. Instead, the whole fight Sylvie had been trying to finish Faa off in the clinch and put her down to the canvas; and much of the fight Faa was trying to stymie Sylvie, and in the 4th it looks like she had too some degree solved Sylvie's power with movement, and had begun to score a little. But when this throwdown happened the entire illusion of Faa's control of Sylvie's power was broken - Sylvie's physicality suddenly re-appeared. All of the dominance of the 3rd round clinch game came back into play. In a single moment of the fight Faa's 4th round recovery and lead-taking was put into a new context. This is the very un-western or at least un-modern nature of Thai scoring. Strikes are not blows that take away a fighter's vitality, like video game life bar points subtracted mathematically, which then are numerically compared in the end. It is instead a performance. A performance of skill, of heart, of Life. And as such story-telling is a significant part of the aesthetic and meaning of what is going on. A fighter can add points to his or her column throughout a fight. But there is a more important dimension to this kind of addition. The narrative of the fight must confirm the meaning of those added up points. The reason for this is that landed strikes are not numerical damage done (or, degree of difficulty wushu-like skill demos). They are demonstrations of dominance, the demonstrated control over the space around, and body of, your opponent. In fights you might very well show control over your opponent (dominance) through repeatedly landed strikes in a round, but if you are not able to maintain control over the space, the nature of that dominance comes under question. That is why later rounds are more important than earlier rounds, generally. In this particular fight Faa was able to cast some doubt on Sylvie's power game that looked so strong in the 3rd. She looked like she had come through it, began to control the space a little better, that it wasn't as effective as it appeared at the time. Only when Sylvie threw her to the ground in the final round did the promise of the 3rd round suddenly come to fruition. It wasn't an illusion after all. How Missed Strikes Help, and Landed Strikes Hurt - Potential Dramatic Energy So far I've been talking about a fight none of you have seen, so it probably hasn't been much help in establishing more universal principles or application. So let me take the counter-intuitive idea that missed strikes can help you, and landed strikes can hurt. One of the biggest focuses of attention in a fight in later rounds is looking for the reversal. It may be because audience gambling is so much woven into the fabric of Muay Thai in Thailand, but the shifting of fortunes (or powers) in a fight is really where the thrill or rush is for Thais, it is what raises Muay Thai up as a drama. Muay Thai at least in some buried, cultural sense is dramaturgic and thaumaturgic in nature. And because the eye is so sensitive to shifts in power or fortune any regularity that let's say is present in the first half or more of the fight is subject to meaningful and dramatic shift. When there is shift, there is emphasis. This means that if a fighter attempted to land a heavy cross over and over throughout the fight, and missed and missed and missed (the Thai fighter Thananchai fights like this), these are not just moments of ineptitude that count towards the proven impotence of the fighter, like so many demerits. They are also the build up of potential dramatic energy. In the very nature of narrative the questions begin to grow: Will the right cross eventually land?! If it lands will it be powerful, decisive? When the cross lands, heavily, late in the 4th round, suddenly everything comes alive. All those missed strikes grow into the promise that they implied. Now, a landed right hand after 15 misses does not win a fight, but it sets up a new context. The result of that excitement is that the fight can move into a phase of re-evaluation - it is in suspension. Suddenly everything that happened before that moment can be reconsidered. The onus on the cross fighter then is to suddenly prove the promise he just demonstrated. My rear hand just landed after all those misses, it was not a fluke. If he lands it again, and again, the tide of a fight can shift dramatically. Or, if he then suddenly brings in other weapons that indicate the aesthetic of power he was miming previously, this too can convince. It is not enough to just land something you missed repeated, but when you do positively break from a regularity you have bought yourself a ticket to a reevaluation moment. You are half way there to victory, a victory born of a sensitivity to shifts in efficacy and momentum. I've seen big leads erased rather quickly through the intensity created by the emphasis on reversal. In this way a single strike landed, in the context of an already established pattern, can be far more potent in terms of dramatic narrative, then assorted strikes landed in a medley of attacks. It opens the door to a certain sort of perception and reevaluation. The role of repeated strikes can work in the opposite direction as well. If you repeatedly land kicks to the body early in the fight (one of the more dependable scoring strikes in Thailand), and then later in the fight you start to be unable to do so (they start to be checked, or you start leaning back and hitting air) in terms of narrative your earlier prowess can certainly work against you instead of just acting like points added up in a bank. When the regularity is disrupted, in either direction, dramatic form calls everything into reconsideration. If you start landing those kicks again, let's say in the 5th round, all those earlier strikes can come right back into play - they have not been permanently erased. But the onus is on you to renew that regularity, to prove the dominance that they were previously indicating, or to provide a new regularity that redeems the previous one in some way. Because the build up of potential dramatic energy works anytime there is a regularity, it can manifest itself in many areas of a fight. In fact it can manifest itself across fights when a fighter becomes known. A fighter like Thanonchai enters every fight with a "bank" of power punching regularity that can work for or against him in terms of narrative. A fighter like Yodwicha has the same in terms of clinch fighting. In a sense each fight for these fighters is a play off of that regularity, the attempt to produce the story of their dominance. The Benefit of Legible Fighting Styles Much is decried about the softer first two rounds of a Muay Thai fight in Thailand, but much of this is a play the fighters are having either with their own reputations (regularity) or with establishing expectation in the fight. When it is done right both fighters are setting up their independent stories, stories which will battle each other to be the "true" one. But I want to think about this entire narrative force in terms of strikes or styles chosen. It's not just "who is in the lead now" and "will they be able to hold it". It's what regularities are being set up, how is the principle of reversal being observed. A lot of western Muay Thai fighters in Thailand - at least that I've seen - do not have very legible fighting styles. By this I mean they do not seem to feel the importance of demonstrated dominance through repetition and readable tactics. Instead they often attempt to demonstrate their skill, the quality of their techniques (or their power) in a variety of fighting approaches. They may start out with a basic approach, but often by the 4th round it looks more and more just like "fighting" - drawing on whatever weapons that occur to them from their arsenal. The reason for this, if my observations are sound, is that the mentality is more one of scoring, and in scoring, often it is scoring as "damage done". It's a math of damage. Or, in some cases, western fighters are trying to just "demo" various techniques, showing how "Thai" they are in their balance and form. But often western fighters don't have a legible fighting approach, a sense in which strikes produce expectations. You want judges and audience to perceive regularities. Yes they are showing heart, yes they may even be showing sound technique, but it cannot be easily read from a perspective of reversal. Thai fighters on the other hand, just to generalize, have a much more legible approach. You can see where the early regularities are in a fight. As a striking tactic is attempted over and over its potential dramatic energy is built up. Will it succeed? I think for this reason there is a benefit for fighters to repeat strikes or tactical approaches, to increase the legibility of their fighting for judges. The Change in Tactics - Reversal of Fortune Due to the nature of regularity and reversal the power of reversal does not just play out in a single element of a fight. It is not just whether a cross lands after multiple misses. One of the more common narrative plays is the change in tactics. A fighter fights in one way for let's say 3 rounds with only middling success, and then in the 4th changes tactics and becomes dominant. This is for instance how clinch fighting is often used, to demonstrate dominance and power that was only promised previously in other ways: something to create the reversal from the regularity before. It isn't just the case of: "well, that didn't work, let me try this". Most of the time this is a narrative approach, one that builds up a regularity for the benefit of reversal. One of our favorite fighters JR (who fights in China) would start out Orthodox for two rounds or so, and then switch to his more natural, powerful Lefty - perhaps just a gimmick, but for him it is about narrative fighting, building in a reversal from a switch. If you are not fighting with regularities you may be missing out from some of the dramatic potential that is essential to Thai scoring. Of course you can try to fight without pattern. If you are a virtuoso you can play above the fight, and let the regularity of your superiority become the storyline, but appreciation of pattern fighting is most of the time an essential component of Thai aesthetics. Because of the importance of legibility if you are fighting and you've missed your last 10 strikes, you are probably in a much better position if most of those strikes were of an identifiable approach, than if they were 10 different kinds of strikes with no readability. The first builds up potential dramatic energy, ready for the reversal, the other just looks like incoherent impotence. The first invites either the future cashing in on those kinds of strikes (will they eventually land?), or a change in tactics that calls attention to a moment of reversal, the second allows almost no firm dramatic way forward, no quality of contrast.
  8. Interview With Z1 Female Muay Thai Champion Miriam Sabot Always great to see interviews with female fighters.
  9. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/nextrondarousey-british-teenager-inspired-ufc-7086817 Article about up and coming Muay Thai amateur Dakota Ditcheva. She's considering switching to MMA because she is having a hard time finding fights. Dakota's most recent fight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWwFOmVLFw4
  10. Vote for your favorite women in Muay Thai and MMA. Voting is open until January 1, 2016 and results will be announced on or after January 7, 2016. http://www.awakeningfighters.com/awards/
  11. This is an anchor post for any discussion on my 101 on Getting Stitches in Thailand blog post which attempts to cover everything from getting cut, to how to handle the ref, to getting stitches themselves, aftercare and socailial consequences in Thailand. if you have running questions or experiences you can post them in this thread and if you need help the community will try to answer. This post and conversation aims to be a foundation for a chapter in the book Emma and I are writing A Guide to Female Fighting in Thailand.
  12. Rare fight footage. Very little video of Erika Kamimura is around. Japan's Erika has been thought of as the best low-weight female Muay Thai fighter in the world until she retired about a year or more ago. She has unusual power for her size. Here she fights Loma Sitajou who is probably a weight class under her at the time. Erika held the 105 lb WPMF title, Loma easily fought at 100 lbs. I've fought and lost to Loma twice and she is very difficult to deal with in the clinch, the best clinch fighter I've faced near my weight, by far. In this fight it's basically her clinch vs. Erika's power combinations. Loma is currently on the Thai National team. Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
  13. Hi everyone. What do you think about dedicating a part of the training to western boxing? When I train on my own muay thai skills on the heavy bag I always split every type of shot. For example I do 20 minutes only roundhouse kicks, 20 minutes teeps, 20 minutes knees and elbows. I prefer to do like that due to a better focus on every single shot. I think Boxing is usually underrated and undertrained in muay thai. So do you think that making some boxing lessons would be good? Of course you can't do everything you do in a boxing fight like weaving, but I think punches would become better right?
  14. An excellent interview of Anne Lieberman who conducted her Fulbright research in Thailand, in part, interviewing western female fighters, including myself (back on my first visit in 2010). She's a great voice for female fighting and is a Muay Thai fighter in the NYC area now. One of the first people to inspire me to research and study Muay Thai and not just live it. https://www.themuse.com/…/fight-like-a-girl-the-role-of-wom… an excerpt: "...But there's another layer to training as a woman in Thailand—one that is more controversial—and that's about the sexual politics at play, especially between male trainers and female fighters. Few farang female fighters come and live in Thailand for extended periods of time. I had the opportunity to interview several of them, as I felt that their experience was integral to how female fighters are viewed in Thailand and how they constantly negotiate their place in a male-dominated sport. Many of them expressed that they felt some kind of sexual pressure from their trainers. The intensity varied: One woman I interviewed was almost raped, another was verbally harassed and made uncomfortable by a trainer's advances; several ended up dating their trainers. In some cases, if a woman wouldn't sleep with her trainer, this affected the kind of training she received. This is not unique to Thailand, though—these kinds of sexual dynamics take place everywhere. (The story of the woman raped by her Jiu-Jitsu instructors in Maryland is a prime example of this.) But what was unique to Thailand is that there seemed to be this perception that farang women were promiscuous partiers and that white women would (and wanted to) sleep with almost anyone. This is one of the many ways the fraught relationship between tourism and sex and sexuality in Thailand bubbles over into the Muay Thai world..."
  15. As a digital marketer and consultant I deal with broad data pictures a lot. I'm attracted to these things. I wrote a post a while ago about how Ronda Rousey had indeed passed Serena Williams as the "most talked about female athlete" if you use Google Trends as a measure. The MTG Charlie Hustle article on the importance of the "casual fan", discussed on the Roundtable here, got me thinking about the current state of Muay Thai in terms of reach and whether or not it is actually growing. Is it? So I thought I'd run some Google Trends for search related search terms and get rough data pictures for how much these keyword concepts are at the fingertips of internet users. Now, keep in mind, things like Google Trends are very broad data pictures. They do present valid data, but the challenge is in how to interpret it. From the looks of it though, Muay Thai is not growing in popularity. Muay Thai as Parasitic on MMA To start off with I ran world wide data for the search terms "Muay Thai", "MMA" and "UFC". It is generally assumed that Muay Thai's popularity has been strongly parasitic on the popularity of both MMA and UFC, and one can see here just how flat Muay Thai interest has been compared to these dominant terms: The potentially alarming thing here is that both MMA and UFC have already peaked (2009-2012) in general popularity as a search term. If indeed the fate of Muay Thai relevance is depended on both MMA and UFC interest, Muay Thai has something of a problem here. A note on the data: my guess is that because search terms like these are often more widely used in times of discovery, searches like "What is MMA?" or "UFC fighters" may flourish when a sport is growing and new people are exploring it. The widest band of growth indeed occurred between 2009-2012. Of the demographic which fighting arts may more naturally find appeal, these kinds of searches are no longer happening as frequently. This isn't to say that once converted MMA or the UFC isn't bringing in more dollars than ever, or that marketing of them to the coverted isn't thriving. But what it does suggest is that the bubble of growth may have already occurred. Now MMA/UFC interests are more focused on maturing its audience, and less able to grow it. Short term this may be great. Long term, though non-ideal. If MMA/UFC is not steadily growing in its sphere of influence, and Muay Thai is truly parasitic on these, Muay Thai has a natural ceiling here. And in fact it seems that Muay Thai world wide has already experienced it's own bubble of discovery interest and now is somewhat on the decline. For those of us who love Muay Thai, we may be experiencing Muay Thai as growing, because the viewership is maturing. But, at least by these data pictures, the discovery of Muay Thai is slowed. Muay Thai and Kickboxing There is a secondary avenue toward Muay Thai and that is interest in Martial Arts, as a somewhat exotic self-development discipline. There has always been the possibility that Muay Thai could flourish much in the way that Kung Fu (and then TKD) did through martial art interest, particularly through the influence of film. In terms of film exposure movie's like Ong Bak (and sadly much earlier, Kickboxer) have helped expose Muay Thai to the world, and now you have everyone from Sherlock Holmes to Jason Statham teeping and elbowing their way through fight scenes, showing that Muay Thai has incorporated itself into the vocabulary of cinema violence. But (above, blue) the keyword/concept of "martial arts" has been on the fast decline since 2004, world wide. In the world "muay thai" has crept above "kickboxing", but this remains incremental really ("kickboxing" does not include "kick boxing" a substantial variation). The decline of "martial arts" as a search interest suggests that the secondary avenue for Muay Thai popularity, that of Asian martial self-improvement is somewhat on the wane. In the United States (above), "kickboxing" (yellow) has a stronger presence than "muay thai" (blue) and "MMA" (red) has been on the decline since 2008. Country By Country Muay Thai Popularity Below are the search term popularity indices by country. As can be seen only Brazil shows a strong increase in the popularity of the term quite apart from the general 2009-2013 MMA bell...slightly so in Italy. Every other country shows the index of the term in decline: The most optimistic way to read this data is that indeed Muay Thai has flourished under a parasitic relationship to MMA and the UFC. And as those elements grew so did Muay Thai. As each of these larger phenomena decline in terms of growth rate (which I suspect is what is expressed in discovery uses of Search), Muay Thai also has suffered. For those of us who are the converted we are experiencing an increase in Muay Thai relevance. The relationship between itself and it's small western demographic is maturing. There is greater understanding of the sport and its scoring, more reach of its Thai stars and their fights, but there remains a very difficult growth curve problem - for those of us cheering it on. I suspect that the real avenues for Muay Thai growth do not remain with MMA and the UFC who themselves are undergoing their own growth issues, and whose current WWE style story lines do not seem amenable to Muay Thai discovery anyways (see the kind of non-coverage of Muay Thai legend Jongsanan in TUF 20 for instance). Instead Muay Thai must fight for it's own branding, something that emphasizes its Thai-ness to the west. Muay Thai cannot just be: left-right-lowkick, or "the Thai plumb" two-hands-locked-behind-the-neck. We say this as Thailand tries to export its stars to non-Thai rule events, and tries to internationalize its sport (un-Thai it) so that the IOC will find it acceptable for the Olympics. Long term though, the "Thai" of Muay Thai is what gives it its unique character and expression, the strength of its adherence. Ultimately, the future of Muay Thai resides in Thailand itself, and with how effectively Thailand can communicate that Thainess to the west. An interesting anecdotal picture perhaps comes from the search popularity pictures of "muay thai" and "BJJ" in the United States. BJJ, I think it fair to say, has certainly grown out of the popularity of MMA, but it also has managed to maintain its own identity to some degree, an art quite apart from MMA, an art that needs to be learned in depth if it is to be of use. In the United States, and the UK as well, "BJJ" has surpassed "Muay Thai" and does not bear the same discovery arc pattern that MMA/UFC shows (below). Brazilian jiu-jitsu is both for the serious MMA fan and practitioner, and composes an art of it's own. Of course these are just wide-view concepts drawing on search behavior phenomena which may have very diverse influences. This is something like a measurement of memes. I do think though that there are worthy, prospective conclusions to be drawn, but real marketing aims of real events, cultural campaigns and real fighters must take a great deal into consideration. Just something to think about. Now that Muay Thai has received it's one-time bump from MMA and the UFC (2009-2012) I do think it must set its own unique course.
  16. I wanted to post my guest post here: Broken Tusk: Breaking the Body and the Art of Fighting because I think this is a really deep topic and possibly there is a lot to be talked about here. The idea is that the fighting arts compose a kind of graphic system that can be used to express an inherent beauty in violence, and that the pursuit of fighting arts, in that they are arts, and in that they verge towards a real violence, can be used to restore bodies and spirits that have been broken. In fact, through fighting the body can be built as a "higher" body, and higher house, a higher vehicle, by analogy. An excerpt: ...Sylvie’s “house of the spirit” doesn’t really exist any longer, not in any sense that we often assume someone to have one. Her house of the spirit, her body, was broken that day of multiple violations. Her spirit has no dependable house, no real protective shell. Since she was 11 she has been living in the ruins of her body-house, and as the human spirit is both beautiful and adaptable she has learned to live in those ruins. She can hide in them, in the broken pieces, use the shadows, the crevices, the places people don’t think to look. She learned since that young age to be in the ruins, of a kind. What Sylvie is doing in Thailand – for all those who don’t get (or worse, approve of) what she is doing – is building a higher house, or one can just as easily say, a higher body to replace the broken house/body she has had for all these years. This is why she strains and breaks herself over and over and over, reaching up to the promise of calm in the onslaught of violence. And like Genesha she cannot stop until the epic is written. This is why the Art of Muay Thai is a salvation and even a duty, the calm she sees in the bodies and faces of so many Thais that have fought since a young age – the poise, the balance, the grace, the ease – it calls her. This attempt is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I'd love to hear the experiences and thoughts of others. So many focus on the violence of the real fighting arts and imagine a motive of something between aggression and rage. But to me the fighting arts, when pursued, are something so different. They compose a base language, and a writing system that uses the broken edges of the body as its instrument. In the article I draw the analogy of the myth of Ganesha, and his broken tusk:
  17. MTG: The Curious Case Of “The Phantom Casual Fan Offensive” in Muay Thai and Kickboxing Interesting article about growing casual fans of muay thai in the west. I became a casual muay thai fan via feminism and women's empowerment. I stumbled across a bjj blog, Jiu Jiu's BJJ Blog. Started reading that, she linked to Sylvie's blog, 8limbs.us and the rest is history. I've also started following MMA. I'm not particularly interested in any of the male fighters though. Came for the bad ass women, stayed for the bad ass women. I'm the kind of bad fan that isn't gonna make anyone any money though. I do my fight viewing via youtube/reddit gifs. I don't buy PPVs or merch. I do feel slightly guilty about that but I'm not hardcore enough to need to see a fight live. Especially since most fight cards only have one women's match which is what I'm interested in.
  18. Fightland: JOANNA CHAMPION'S STRIKING CLINIC We were discussing Joanna's loss to Duannapa Mor. Rattana Bundit at World Muay Thai Angels in another thread and how styles, rules and judging make fights.
  19. (I hope this is the right section) Today a friend of mine accused me of being a fitness junkie because I train four times a week. I suspect it was because I said I couldn't do something with her because I had training. My question is: are we all endorphine junkies or people who don't train regularly perceive us as such because we have different priorities? Is there an actual addiction to endorphine problem when you train almost every day? What is the reaction of the people around you (family/friends) to your training schedule?
  20. Lion Fight 23: TIFFANY VAN SOEST vs. MARTYNA KROL via Martyna's facebook page. Super excited for this fight as I follow both fighters on social media. They have very different styles so it should be an interesting match up.
  21. This short film is pretty incredible in how subtly Muay Thai and women are being put together in a VERY middle class way. I would have to think that this was unthinkable even 5-10 years ago. I love that there is not just one female story, but three. For those that don't know, Muay Thai has a rather low-class image in Thailand and in many ways is not only ultra-masculine, it is of older generations, and has an appeal to rural Thais. It is not "modern". Seems to be put together as a student thesis supported by Rajadamnern Stadium/Singha.
  22. MTG 084: Building A Muay Thai Gym in Issan, Thailand with Frances and Boom Wattahanaya GoFundMe for building the gym.
  23. I wanted to start a thread where we can just place video of female Muay Thai fights that are good to keep together. The title says "top" female fighters and fights, but also hard to find video too, like fights of Thai female fighters that lack exposure. Mostly just a place where you could browse and see interesting full rules female fights. You can post video here and on its own thread too, if you like. [Edit Update: When YouTubes of fights posted become "unavailable" (are taken down), I'm going to delete that post just to keep the thread clean. If you find another video version of the fight feel free to repost it.] Relatedly, this is my P4P World Rank List of fighters 48 kg and under. Little Tiger (WMPF champ) vs Faa Chiangrai The first one I wanted to put up was this underated fight in August of 2014. Little Tiger who is the WPMF pinweight champion seems to be a little selective about her opponents, and I was surprised to see that she was fighting Faa Chiangrai, one of my past opponents, but perhaps not well known internationally. This was for a WBC International Belt. Faa Chiangrai is a really under-appreciated fighter. Great toughness and quite femur. I think she was robed of this decision, even though it was in Pattaya. You can see she was shocked at the outcome. After this fight though Faa Chiangrai was suddenly ranked as the 2nd challenger to the WPMF belt in the 105 lb division. This is pretty interesting because this is a weight class above Little Tiger, and also is a weight class above Faa herself. She is one of the top 100 lb fighters in Thailand, in my opinion.
  24. Black Bird Fly Blog Found a new muay thai blog to follow. The latest post is a review of of Santai Muay Thai Gym
  25. Emma Thomas found an interesting article by Sarah George. It's not long, only 12 pages: Dancing Under the Mongkhon: How Thailand's National Sport a Distinctive Moral Code (PDF) It presents ethical arguments and a framework for understanding how the violence and practice of Muay Thai indeed corresponds to, and even exemplifies Buddhist ethics. Scholar Peter Vail already had written how in Thai Society the Muay Thai fighter falls between the monk and the gangster, something Sylvie wrote about here: Thai Masculinity: Positioning Nak Muay Between Monkhood and Nak Leng, and George takes up some of the monk-like comparisons Vail talks about, as well as some others (including forms of breathing meditation). Most interesting in the article is a quote by a western photographer: ‘Despite the perceived violence of MT (it is very powerful and arguably the most effective system of stand-up fighting on the planet) there is another aspect to it that is internal. How the fighters approach the sport and their training offers glimpses into the personal, internal quest that could be seen as very similar to a monk's quest for enlightenment. They understand they have to endure the suffering of themselves to reach a goal (I personally believe that the goal is deeper than the promise of riches and escaping their plight - it's an internal struggle to better themselves continually)…This internal struggle of the fighter might have something to do with why many temples will host MT events (obviously it's to raise money too) but seeing the appreciation on the faces of some of the monks when the fights are on, you can tell that they're recognizing one of their own in the ring’ I have to say that having been to lots of festival fights with monks present - they are often out at the edges smoking like teenagers under the bleachers - this projection of them seeing fighters as "one of their own" seems pretty exaggerated as a proof of Muay Thai spirituality. Many monks seem pretty mundane at these events. But that doesn't eliminate the overall point that indeed Muay Thai as a way of life is a method and means of self-control and discovery, and that this process fits neatly into the aims and ways of life of Buddhism. I see this even in how Pi Nu teaches at Petchrungruang. I can see in his eyes that there is always something to benefit someone in them learning proper Muay Thai. There is a kind of ethical ballast to the calm aesthetic of what he sees as beautiful. And this goes from beginner on up. You can see the same in these opening scenes involving Kru Bah who ethically instructs children using Muay Thai (Kru Bah is referenced in the essay): George's technical arguments about non-violence and Buddhist ethics seem less convincing to me, though you may be more persuaded than me. At most she seems to argue that because Muay Thai violence is non-life threatening it does not violate Buddhist principles. This does not quite measure up though to the idea that it exemplifies them. But perhaps it does, in a way that George does not fully draw out. By the practice of equipoise, the exertion of what she calls "force" (morally neutral) in the artifice of combat Muay Thai's version of non-violence is simply not descending into the emotions of violence. And this is instructive. She also references Buddhist mediation techniques which she connects to Muay Thai breathing, and the reception of a student ceremony Yok Kru, which no longer really exists as prevalent in commercial Muay Thai as far as I know. These two feel like stretches to me, but still are interesting ethical orbits around Muay Thai and its heritage. Arguments about how camp Muay Thai improves the lives of children, seem to be on good footing, and go towards her larger view that Muay Thai itself, especially in its more traditional form, is somehow essentially good for the health of a Nation. Bottom line: there isn't a lot written about the ethics of Buddhism and Muay Thai and at the very least this seems like a great starting point for conversations about the moral force of Muay Thai as a heritage. for a collection of academic articles on Muay Thai see here
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