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  1. So here is an informal list of gyms I'd generally recommend, and a short synopsis why. These are maybe one-month-stay recommendations. These are not reviews, just quick overall impressions. Keep in mind, I don't really spend a lot of time in gyms during regular training hours, and I'm not drawn to mega-gyms with lots of trainers, students and new facilities. I just get asked this question a lot so this is my best answer on my experiences, and sometimes from feedback I've heard from people I've sent there. If you have a question you can post it on this thread, or create a new thread in this Topic. I've included links to filmed sessions with some of the krus that head these gyms, I'd strongly recommend watching them to get a sense of the gym and the teaching style. [updated March, 2022] Sit Kru Thailand (Chiang Mai - contact here) Thailand Pinsinchai is a late- Golden Age fighter, so well rounded in beautiful technique, powerful striking, and a great teacher. He was originally part of the Santai krus, so he has experience with western fighters, but has opened his own gym in Chiang Mai. Importantly, he trains his own son as a fighter, and a handful of young (teenage) fighters who are frequently on Channel 7 and Petchyindee shows. The reason this is important is that gyms can have a sweet spot they hit when a Thai team is being built, which makes them very full of focus. Kru Thailand streams training often, you can find video of it here. The gym is on the premises of a resort, so you have a room right there if you wish. The facilities are nice but not fancy, but mainly Thailand is just an excellent teacher and a funny and sincere man. You can see how great Kru Thailand is as a teacher in my hour long Muay Thai Library sessions with him. Session 1 all about technique, Session 2 on clinch Jor. Apichat Muay Thai Gym - Singburi with Kru Diesel (Singburi) Famed Kru Diesel is the big draw of this gym, his best known for having brought up two Muay Khao superstars at F. A. Group (Petchboonchu and Yothin) but he has moved to be the head trainer of his own gym up in Singburi. Kru Diesel is a mastermind for the Muay Khao style, an amazing padman and a truly great teacher. For Muay Khao, this is a top option. Importantly, this is a legendary kru involved in building a legit Thai fight team, who also has lots of experience of training western fighters as well. These kinds of sweet spot gyms that are authentically Thai, but also understand western needs are rare. This session was filmed at FA Group, but you'll get a strong sense of Kru Diesel's teaching: Kru Diesel F.A. Group - The Art of Knees (84 min). A new session is coming to the Library that I've filmed at Fight House in Singburi. Follow Kru Diesel Facebook, he live streams a lot. Manop's Gym (Chiang Mai) - For those that want a gym that is a bit more personal in their training Manop's gym in Chiang Mai is definitely something to check out. Manop is famously known as Saenchai's Yokkao trainer, and he's left Yokkao now to start his own life in Chiang Mai. He is incredibly perceptive as a teacher, very, very technical. I'm not sure I've run into a more precise and intuitive teacher of technique, a man with a gentle spirit as well. He also works really well with young western fighters. The gym is in a quiet neighborhood outside of the city, and seems like a great opportunity learn and train hard. If you check the threads of this forum you will find some very positive, thorough reviews of the gym a solid year or more into its foundation. Also it would seem very women-friendly, as Kru Manop raised his daughter Faa to become a fighter and Somrasmee (first Rajadamnern woman champion) trains there. LGBTQ+ students have found the gym to be welcoming as well. You can see Kru Manop's teaching style in my Library sessions with him: The Art of the Teep (90 min), Session 2 - The Art of the Sweep (57 min) We did this quick video edit of the gym in 2020 if you want to take a look Sor. Klinmee (Pattaya) - Tappaya Sit Or was Rajadamnern Champion at 135 lbs and was a loved Channel 7 (Kiatpetch Promotion) fighter, facing many top names of his time. He was born and raised in Pattaya, so is a foundational presence in the Muay Thai scene here, which is a much more established region than most realize (most folks think of Bangkok and Isaan). This gym is small but spacious and has produced a great number of fighters over the couple decades since it opened. Tappaya raised all 3 of his kids as fighters (his youngest son still fights), as well as well-known members of his giant Muay Thai family (Sudsakorn, Sinsamut). His nephew has a gym right up the street (Rambaa) and, while Tappaya can come off a little guarded at first, he's a charming and funny man, in addition to being a fantastic and experienced padholder. At the time I'm writing this, the gym still has 5 teenaged to young 20's Thai fighters, but most appear after school lets out, so it's a pretty quiet gym. There's not much sparring to speak of and most of the bagwork is just drills, but the padwork is good and their students are good clinchers. The people I'd recommend this gym to are those who already know how to train themselves without a lot of hand-holding (like me, I do my own bagwork, shadow, and conditioning without needing to be told or it coinciding with anyone else doing it), or people who are interested in an intimate version of training. It basically feels like a private class with Tappaya when he holds pads (the rounds are long and timed by your padman occasionally looking at a clock on the wall, not a timer... so I think they're 4 minutes with 1 minute rest, but it varies) and he's a great teacher if you make it clear you are interested in instruction. His Thai fighters range from 52 kg to 67 kg. #122 Tappaya Sit Or. - Muay Khao Strength In Femeu (82 min) watch it here Tappaya is arguably Pattaya's most successful local hero (excluding Samart and Kongtoranee, neither of whom were born in Pattaya but trained at Sityodtong), as he was a Channel 7 fighter, as well as holding the 135 lb Rajadamnern title for 3 years (1997-2000), and a WMC champion. Tappaya was a Femeu fighter himself, but he trains his fighters in more of a Muay Khao ethic, to be very strong and very adroit in clinching. Contact them on FB: Sor Klinmee Baan Rambaa (Pattaya) - Rambaa is the nephew to Tappaya, and at Rambaa's gym you'll find more of the Klinmee family as trainers. Rambaa's gym is full of little kids, who train sincerely, even though not all of them fight. He has two young-20s Thai fighters, who fight on ONE and Bangkok Stadium shows. Rambaa walks around with a stick, mostly corralling the kids, but he also engages with training as a padman or supervisor. His fighters are known for their resilience, it's a hard-working and hard-hitting style, but he does give importance to technique and has visiting Legends every so often on Sundays to help advise his fighters. With Rambaa and Tappaya just 100 meters from each other, you could very easily treat the two gyms as circuit (although you'd have to pay both, as they're separate businesses). Although Rambaa is a traditional gym in the sense of it being a community space, full of kids, and he places importance on traditional technique, it's also modern to the degree that there's a cage (Rambaa was Thailand's first MMA World Champion), sometimes grappling training, and a large flat-screen TV that plays fights from Entertainment Muay Thai promotions and UFC while the kids train. #86 Rambaa Somdet M16 3 - The Art of the Stinging Attack (67 min) watch it here Contact on FB: Baan Rambaa Silk Muay Thai and Kitchen (Pattaya) - this gym was founded by a former student of Tappaya Sor. Klinmee. Daniel learned in a traditional pedagogy of Thai style gym and he's made a concerted effort to honor and maintain the "Thainess" of training in Thailand, while also having a very comfortable, familiar style of training for westerners. His current gym is on the edge of a lake, which lends for beautiful runs and a nice breeze coming through the open side of the space, nice equipment and spacious training room. He is building a new location, so the set up will change from what I'm describing about the lake, but the new space is meant to be bigger and I've driven past the site and it's still a lovely, out-of-the-way area. It's about 20 minutes from Pattaya Beach, so you're close enough to the city that you would never lack for anything or feel isolated, but it's far enough that it's a quiet and beautiful area. Daneil works with his students, holding pads, clinching and sparring with them himself. He has Thai trainers who have been through a few of Pattaya's other gyms (this is common, but it's also great in that they all have a community relationship among them), he has a small number of Thai fighters, and a large group of western students with a variety of motivations. He is connected to the fight promotions both local and in Bangkok, so it is a fighter's gym. Find them on FB: Silk Muay Thai Gyms I Haven't Been To in While But Probably Still Recommended Kem Muaythai Gym - clinch heavy, gorgeous mountain location, run by a great fighter in Kem, access to Isaan festival cards. Kem's Muay Thai gym may be one of the best in Thailand, high up on a mountain near Khorat. I call it the Shaolin Experience. Big beautiful resort like grounds, grueling training sessions, at times lots of active fighters. The connection to Isaan fighting is very special, there is nothing quite like festival fighting. It's one of the best experiences you'll have as a fighter. I wrote about the gym a few years ago here: Kem Muaythai Gym: Hardcore, Beautiful, Clinch Gym - You can see Kem's teaching style in the Muay Thai Library: Session 1: Building a System (52 min), Session 2: Mastering Everything In Between (80 min) Hongthong Gym (Chiang Mai - contact here) - My private with Joe Hongthong was absolutely wonderful. He thinks creatively about the fighter I am, and then about how to enhance that. They've had successful women fighting out of their gym, and from personal experience I'd say that if you are a Muay Khao fighter Joe would make a wonderful teacher. The gym is very connected to the local Chiang Mai fight scene, and to Bangkok fight opportunities and is very fighter-oriented. mid-sized western fighters seem like they've had success training and fighting out of this gym. Watch Joe's training style: Developing the Muay Khao Style | 87 Minutes - Joe Hongthong - Chiang Mai Please post all gym recommendation questions you have for me here on this thread, or start your own thread. That way the conversation can develop and benefit others too! (This list and its descriptions will be revised over time)
  2. 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?
  3. Muay Thai and Taekwondo are stronger and weaker, and how is it compared to Chinese Kung Fu
  4. I can handle being punched and kicked, because I like blocking. But I cannot for the life of me, bring myself to reciprocate and mirror their strength. Please don't tell me to just keep practicing because I did for at least a year and I am getting annoyed at myself to be quite frank.
  5. Hey guys, so today i noticed one thing, loads of people kick almost the same, but there is 1 part of the kick that's different, and that's the ankle. I see some people kicking with ankle pointing down, others flexing them toes all the way up, my question would be which is the correct way? Or if they both are correct what's the difference between the kick making these small adjustments?
  6. Hey guys im new, I have a technique question. there at alot of different voices on the correct kicking technique, e.g. i saw samart saying.. always straight leg (both legs) and pull the kicking leg bag quicker. and I've seen one with singdam saying to bend the knees slightly (to not over flex the knees??), to put myself on the spot.. ive provided a video of me kicking a bag. i do have alot of other questions but i thought i'd take the plunge . thanks. john. video-1586170597.mp4
  7. 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.
  8. I just wanted to relate to everyone part of a conversation we were having with Sifu McInnes in Pattaya when filming with him for the Library. I think the conversation will make the session cut, but I'm not sure. We were talking about the loss of the Golden Age techniques, something Sylvie and I talk about frequently. The part that she and I emphasize is that the great fighters of the Golden Age are no longer in the fight game. They find themselves outside of gyms, many of them no longer involved in Muay Thai at all. Not only are the techniques being lost, but the men of that age, their personalities, their knowledge depth, also are being lost. Sifu though had a different point. He has the perspective of someone who was super active in Lumpinee fighting in the Golden Age. He was close to Arjan Yodthong of Sityodtong, in fact Sifu says that he built his house next to the gym at the time, so close was their working relationship. He said for a decade he traveled the road to Lumpinee with Arjan Yodthong, week after week. His point though was not that the great fighters are no longer in Muay Thai, but that its the great coaches who made those fighters are no longer in Muay Thai. Of course Arjan Yodthong who made an incredible number of champions sadly passed away, but Sifu said that many others have died as well. In fact he challenged us to name a single legendary Muay Thai teacher who is still strongly connected to producing stadium fighters. We thought for a minute and could only come up with Arjan Surat of Dejrat Gym. But Sifu objected. Arjan Surat was a young man then, when the Golden Age was happening. That is not the generation he was referring to. It's the generation that was before. That was the generation which actually produced the legends of the Golden Age. And, as we both agreed, it is irrevocably lost because the entire system that made those great instructors, the Yodthongs of Thailand, is gone, the entire feeding system to Bangkok is heavily altered, radically changed. The quality of instruction, even at top Thai gyms, is no longer what it was in those days, Sifu claimed. He said that he would sit in Lumpinee with legendary coaches and they would just make money hand over fist following their bets. They could see which fighter was going, and in what round. He said that kind of knowledge, all the infinite perceptions are gone. It's a great session, so much in it technically, but that conversation will stay with me. With the Library we are trying to save the techniques, the Muay, and something of the men who fought so brilliantly in those decades, but Sifu reminded me that the ecological loss is even more than that. It's of the generation before them, the men of Muay Thai who were shapers of that greatness we all look back on. Some stills from the session (you can follow my photography on Instagram)
  9. Just a thread of fights I love, as I run into them. I watched this first one last night and it just stayed in my memory, almost as a haunting. Hippy fought everyone, and he fought up a ton. As good a fighter as there ever was, but just too small to make the huge impact others have. In this fight you can see it all play out. He's just too small. He doesn't have the power to really effect his larger, super boss opponent Jaroensap. I love his valiant fight here. watch the fight here
  10. This was my guys first competition. Sharing it here, because this is quite a nice, private forum rather than a place where you can get concrete feedback. Bit of background: My fella is ex-army, was discharged due to injuries that meant he was not allowed to go on tour in Afghanistan. He was training with me for 8 months prior to this, with no martial arts experience outside of what he had learned in the military. These months were consisting mostly of us drilling the basics and an ongoing struggle to get him to fully commit to his strikes in sparring. He is always the gentleman and doesn't want to hit anyone too hard, which I respect, but I also felt this made it difficult for me to judge his process. When we confirmed that he had a fight booked, I came to the conclusion that the easiest way to get him to really commit to power shots was to hone his leg kicking game in order to get him confident, without having to sacrifice too much balance from throwing those beginner body kicks. There was an issue however. I learned that I am not particularly good at TEACHING leg kicks, despite them making up such a big part of my game. I go back to the drawing board, we re-learn the leg kicks and we essentially drill them for 5 weeks. Specifically focusing on reacting with leg kicks and moving backwards while leg kicking along with L-steps and hand traps to keep him fighting, while moving back towards the ropes. This was the end result. I was worried initially, as I am still new as a coach and this is my first fighter rather than hobbyist who trains for fun and fitness. After the first round, I ask him how he's feeling, he says it's good. I warn him that we don't know how our opponent will be coming out in the second round. After more of the same in the second round I tell him to keep doing exactly what he's doing. I found that I didn't want to suggest anything or give him any advice that would necessarily make him over think and lose the work he was doing. There are a lot of things that I want to work on, getting the fundamentals more solid - but I'd love feedback from you guys, Sylvie, Kevin etc. as a fresh perspective can only help. My fighter is in the camo shorts. I had them made specially for him as a tribute to his days in the royal army, the linework in the colours of his team. All the best
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Posted about another few gyms on here and got some great feedback so hoping for the same! Going to Thailand soon and I’m considering spending some time at the famous F.A. Group gym as I’ve spoken with them and they now do accommodation. Has anyone been here and trained or spent a bit of time there? Any information very thankful
  15. I've stumbled on a giant idea, in fact an idea so large it touches on nearly every aspect of life, and every aspect of what make Muay Thai like no other fighting form in the world. It's also an idea that is so large writing about it proves daunting, an in fact unimaginable, as so much of it is full of the tangential (consequences), and explanation. Just taking it on feels like selecting a single hair at the end of a tiger's tail, and giving it a quiet pluck. But here's to just diving in... The Paradox of Courage - How the Poet Saves the World There is a fundamental, seemingly logically paradoxical contradiction to bravery or courage. Without fear, there is no courage. The courageous person is not someone who feels no fear. In fact fear itself can be argued to be essential to courage. Much as someone who has lost the ability to feel pain, and so might move physically and emotionally in seeming defiance of pain, a person who has no fear might appear courageous, but what we cherish about courage is very different. It's the very ability to feel it, and then overcome it in someway. The value lies in contradictions being able to persist together. This contradiction will form the essence of the heroic, in a certain line of Philosophical thinking. Walter Benjamin, a German social critic and philosopher was living through the tidal rise of World War I. He was a young man and two of his friends had committed suicide over the impending catastrophe that was about to rip European culture to shreds and end any semblance of the Old World. He was struggling with the role of the poet, what could a poet matter in the face of this terrible World conflict that was going to tear at the fabric of reality? What did the deaths of his friends even mean? He took on the examination of a poem by the German poet Holderlin, which itself was an examination of poetic courage. In fact that poem existed in several versions, one of which was titled "Courage", the other "Stupidity" (or "Timidity"). It's hard for us to imagine poets and courage placed together in the same thought construct, except in maybe the most metaphorical way. Can a poet be "brave" choosing words as men are being brave (like, really brave) in trenches while everyone around them is being cut down? But bear with him, and me, because this is about studying the nature of an art, and its importance to us. We love and value an art because it reveals things to us, important things, and it sets our course. The soldier in the trench is brave, in part, because we have stories, indeed some very artful, poetic stories that last for epochs, of bravery. Walter Benjamin took hold of what was a fundamental logical puzzle of Holderlin's version of the poem. Why did Holderlin go from "Courage" to "Stupidity" or "Timidity" (what is the meaning of this change?). What Benjamin locked onto, and of course there is debate over his interpretation because people like to debate, what he locked onto was that fundamental binary of what courage is. That one is courageous in spite of, but in a sense dependent on FEAR. And, correlate to all of that, the more fear you felt, the more courageous you could be. Note: for instance, a fighter who just walks forward, numb, feeling nothing, not even perceiving danger, as if that part of her or his brain is turned off, is not admirable. Is uninteresting. Such an imagined fighter is only interesting to the degree that we project our own fears, what we would feel if we stood there, if we create the contrast. The poet, he argued, in his most heroic (and this is a very male world, Germanic heroism) is the one what looks straight into the divine, straight into the beauty of the world, with no filter on, and is completely dumbstruck. He is immediately aware that no word he utters is of any value, cannot communicate that terrible, awful, tremendously beautiful thing that he sees, his only response is pure gibberish, imbecility, nonsense. That is the extreme condition out of which the poet's courage take seed. That is the reason Holderlin changed the title of his poem in the last version from "Courage" to "Stupidity". It's supidification. Once stupidified, the poet then courageously seeks to speak. At first he is merely babbling. He is like a baby, but he wades in, and seeks to hold onto the thing that terrifies him. He does not try to dismiss it, or nullify it. He wants to keep it, and bring it forward. He struggles with that terror, and seeks to articulate it. He wants to bridge the world of terrible beauty (the unspeakable, divine) and the articulate. Above is an essay fragment describing the way that Benjamin proposes that the poet saves the world through his submission to fear itself as a fundamental relation, embodying all the fears we have of the bounded world. Now, this might sound like a bunch of mumbo jumbo to you. Abstract words describing Germanic Philosophy far removed from the concrete things that matter. But let me suggest to you that what it is talking about is perhaps the most concrete thing in the world. Fear. When I say it is concrete, I do not mean its a "thing". It's concrete in that it is a fundamental relation. Every organism that has ever existed is built on a single grammatical plan. Attraction vs Aversion. Philosophy likes to talk about all kinds of binaries, it plays games with concepts left and right, but when you dig right down to the root of binaries you are entering the absolute fundamentals of not only human experience, but all of experience. Fear, aversion, trepidation forms the very weft our what we are. You cannot get below this fundamental pole in the binary. There is nothing more fundamental. So when Benjamin is waxing poetic about the poet and his relationship to fear, this is not just the imagination of Greeks lounging near white statues eating grapes. He is talking about the Ur-logic of all of life. And he is talking about the death of his friends, as the horrible figure of World War is about to rip through all life and culture. In the figure of the poet he is outlining the beauty of the fighter. He gives us the key to understanding why we love fighters so much - for those of us who do - and what separates out fighters from each other. What is it about fighting that invokes so much that is important? Autarchy of the Relation - What Sets Fighters Apart The Greek suffix -archy we know in words like plutarchy, patriarchy, matriarchy. It means something like "rule by". But in Greek it goes much deeper than that. Something that is ruled is really genetically founded by, in something. It goes like a mighty oak with roots that sink deep within a soil where we cannot see. Benjamin proposed phrase to describe the irreducible nature of the Poet's Heroism (and for us, the Fighter's Heroism). The Autarchy of the Relation. The thick girded oak is self-founded, self-ruled (auto+rule) out of the relationship itself. It is not founded on fear, nor on courage, but out of the relationship between the two of them. We talk a lot about overcoming fear, and sometimes imagine that fear is something that we fundamentally need to be done with. You finish it off, and them move onto the next thing (ideally), and when you struggle with fear you are somehow failing in some way. But Benjamin, in his figure of the poetic, is saying no: you bring the relationship with you. The heroic consists of the relationship itself. There is no maturing past fear. There is no growing out of fear. If you have lost touch with fear you have lost touch of the relationship. It would be like a poet who writes and is no longer terrified of Beauty. Anyone who has sparred understands this immediately. These abstract words and concepts suddenly boil down to real things. The fundamental core act of sparring is really an emotional one. Sylvie writes about this in a forum post here, if you want to take a tangent: What I want to call attention to is how even the absolute beginner in training, when she or he stands in front of someone who can possibly hurt them, or shame them, is standing right on the precipice of greatest heroic, chasm-facing dimensions of all the world. This is the same precipice that every organism that has ever beat has lived. This is the Autarchy of the Relation. Fear, and how to speak when you are dumbstruck. As fighters many learn fixed patterns of how to "speak" in sparring, and then in fighting. These are formulaic vehicles designed to take you forward when you feel fear. When you feel aversion. And trusting in these, using them to cross the divide, is much appreciated. But...using vehicles to crossover is missing what is really happening in fighting when it comes to its highest art. At its highest art, what is principal is the Relation itself. It is the presence of fear, and the willingness to submit to it, fully. The Ceasura - Poetry's Gift to Understanding Fighting Much of what we do, in fact maybe almost all of what we do, is to try and get fear (and its sister, pain) to stop. We move away from things that threaten to hurt, either physically or psychologically. Or, if we are really brave, we rush through the dangerous zone to the other side. We have all kinds of irrational "fears" (fears that we imagine if we looked at them soberly, would vanish) and if we can just get through the immediate "Stop!" we are told everything will be ok. We jump in the cold water, swim across the brook, and are refreshed on the other side. This is something that is different than the Autarchy of the Relation. At its highest art you do not rush through the fear-zone, only to find the happy ending on the other side. The happy ending is just one more version of the avoidance of fear. What you are afraid of will simply disappear. At the highest form of fighting, it does not disappear. It is preserved. It is held in a sacred binary. Note: This perhaps speaks to the western preoccupation with the knockout, and the deep dissatisfaction it has with Thai style Muay Thai which often shuns the knockout. The knockout for the west is the relief, the cessation of the fear. It's all over, nothing to fear anymore! The monster is dead. It's nothing more than the parallel of having run away so well you never have to see it again. Muay Thai in Thailand has developed a much keener sense of the preservation of the Relation, holding fear and courage together. You are not, principally, trying to END the fight, as in, end the fear, the aversion. You are standing in it, graced. Readers of David Goggins will be familiar with this. Goggins an an ultra athlete who uses his extreme training to confront and overcome his own weaknesses and fear. Not to move too far from the topic here is the Rogan interview if you don't know him: One of the most compelling things that Goggins preaches is how much he chaffs at people who work out, work hard, expose themselves to the extreme in order to be done with it. He felt he ran into this when training to be a Navy Seal. He felt many of the men were "tough guys" who walked around with the badge of their official mark, having gotten to the other side. Goggin's motto was "always back to square one". For him he was always returning to exactly how he felt when he lifted his first weight, ran his first mile. This is the very same horror that Benjamin through Holderlin was talking about. Just because you run ultras doesn't mean that when you wake up at 5 am to run you don't feel horror. In fact, for Goggins, you put those shoes on in order to feel horror. That's the Autarchy of the Relation, remaining in touch with the core binary of fear and courage. Now, let me take a further detour into the poetic to explain one of the most beautiful things about fighting, and give key into how to watch and appreciate fights. The caesura. The caesura is a gap, a break in a metrically line of poetry. It's used in various ways across human history, but it always has the impact of placing an empty spot, a null value, within a larger economy of expression. Here are famous uses of caesura from the history of literature (from wikipedia): The opening line of the Iliad: μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ || Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος ("Sing, o goddess || the rage of Achilles, the son of Peleus.") Opening line of Virgil's Aeneid: Arma virumque cano || Troiae qui primus ab oris (Of arms and the man, I sing. || Who first from the shores of Troy...) The opening line of Beowulf reads: Hwæt! We Gardena || in gear-dagum, þeodcyninga, || þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas || ellen fremedon. (Behold! The Spear-Danes in days gone by,) (and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness,) (We have heard of these princes' heroic campaigns.) There is great nuance to how caesura are used, but for us its enough to just appreciate how it is always a gap, always a silence, a breath. Holderlin argued that this gap, this break - not only in lines, but in dramatic structures - had the potential to signify the fundamental relationship between fear and courage itself. Benjamin's Autarchy of The Relation is signified by the caesura. It's the moment when in the film-strip of representations (frames which each "show" some event), there comes a frame which shows representation itself, which is just a weird, fancy way of saying "I'm speechless", or "representation isn't sufficient". Pictures won't do. This is the dumbness of the poet before the beauty and tragedy of the world. It's a single piece of emptiness in the presentation. Now this is where it gets really fascinating. And how we come down off of those ivory towers of the poetic and narrotology, and into the nitty-gritty of the things that motherfucking matter to all of us in this world. The caesura, the gap, is the gap that exists between fighters. It's the space that sits there and is unresolved. It's the bubble that is invisible that generates the entire theatre of conflict. It's what generates the heroic and the poetic, and its what makes fighting, when it is at its highest, one of the great art forms of the world. We are dealing with the very fabric and Ur-source of all relations, of every single thing you and I do in the world. Every word we say, every gesture we make. When I say that that space between fighters is the caesura, I'm not being metaphorical, at least to the degree that they perform the same thing. They invoke and instantiate the Autarchy of the Relation. The reason for this is that each fighter feels fear in relationship to this gap, this space. We think of a fighter maybe fearing another fighter, but fundamentally they are fearing the space itself. As organisms our virtuality, the way that we experience space, project ourselves into the material world, represent and orient ourselves is through both fear and spatial compassry. We are negotiating the caesura in front of us in all things. And in the art (and sport) of fighting this is not only literalized (the performance involves a real space) it is performed by agents, by actors, onto which we can graft ourselves. We are projected into the space and relation through the spectacle. This is the interesting, vital thing. At its highest the fighter does not seek to extinguish the fear. This would negate the relation. She/He seeks to preserve it, and act it out in terms of courage itself, to create a continuity between fear, being dumbstruck, and action (finding words). And all the things we love about fighters, each and every style of fighting and be defined by the quality of that fighter's relationship to the gap, that space sitting between fighters. How much do they stand it in, how often? Can they persist in it? Do they avoid it? Do they rush through it? And, at a deeper, more poetic sense, how do they relate to the gap in terms of their own rhythm? What metrical expression do they use to work through that gap, gauge it, negotiate it? For me, when I watch fights now, I don't even watch strikes anymore. I mean, yes, I see them, but my eye is locked onto the gap between fighters. What is the relationship between each fighter and the gap? It's the glue, the Autarchy of The Relation, which puts all the elements together. If you read poetry, it's like discovering that there was a ruling meter all along, beneath the words. Watching the Gap - Why Muay Thai Is Special Watch this fight between two young Thai fighters providing an example of what I'm referring to, the sense of fight space. watch the fight here - or if that link doesn't work, try this one (mobile) I'm presenting two fights that just fell into my feed, almost by accident, together. It's not that they are individually primary examples, but they do work to illustrate fundamental differences between the Thailand of Muay Thai and the Muay Thai (and kickboxing, and MMA, etc) of the rest of the world. If you would take 10 minutes and just watch the fight above, but in so doing, mostly just watch the gap between the fighters. Yes, the variety of strikes, the changes in tempo are beautiful, but watch the entire fight looking at the gap, the caesura. This is the fear-gap buried at the heart of all fighting arts and sport. Now watch this fight below, from ONE Championship, a version of Muay Thai that is maybe closer to kickboxing in its encouraged fighting styles (fast clinch breaks, etc) as it seeks to popularize Muay Thai to an international audience. It features a popular western fighter in Liam Harrison, and an older Thai in Rodlek. Almost all the talk about this fight was about the strikes. But watch the extremely simplified gap-relationship, when compared to even the children fighting above. The very vocabulary of relations to the gap in this second fight consists of Harrisons' safe leg-kicks (his specialty), and his kind of hold-your-breath-and-go memorized combinations through the zone (a very common western style of fighting). Rodlek on the other hand also takes a very simplified approach to the gap, he's just gradually shrinking that gap, in a kind of slow motion vice-grip, making Harrison more and more uncomfortable. It's nothing complex, Rodlek though is in positive relation with the gap. More comfortable in it, and working through the gap, almost using it as a weapon. Debates occurred as to how much "damage" Harrison did with his leg kicks, or how tough Rodlek is. But what I want you to see is far beyond this fight. Look at the differences in vocabulary between these two fights. Look at the intense variety of spatial relationships, and attempts to control, work through, live through the gap in the Thai fight, and the very simplistic march down of the One fight. These are not the same sport, not the same art. As a commercial product you can certainly see the imperative of the 2nd fighting style. It can appeal across cultures, enter into different markets. It encourages viral like fight edits that can frictionlessly slip through social media platforms. It is segmentable. Reproducible. It also grafts more easily onto the immense popularity (and visual structure of) MMA. (Think about the gap, the caesura in MMA.) But, what I'm calling attention to is that the deeper, more profound vocabulary of fear and its sister courage as found in traditional Muay Thai in Thailand, and reaching for an explanation as to why Muay Thai might be the greatest artform in the world. What is incredibly special about Thailand's Muay Thai is how it has created a value, an aesthetic of performance that maintains the Autarchy of The Relation. It has created a poetry of staying in the spaces of fear, and relating to them. And in that aesthetic and those skills it accedes to the highest endeavor of humanity, reaching up to and beyond the poetics of German Philosophy, and Ancient Greek culture itself (considered a root of all the things we think and believe as westerners). And, it presents it all, without dilution, for the common man to see, to witness. Yes, it does require some education of eyes to see, you have to learn to look at the gap between fighters, and not their strikes - I am reminded of the admonition: The music, not the words. Now look at this Golden Age fight, all time legends of the Golden Age. You can pick 100s of fights from this era, but just watch this fight looking at the gap. Karuhat takes a big lead counting Kaensak who is one of the all time greats, 2x fighter of the year. Kaensak happened to be using the low kick as an early primary weapon. Much of this fight is Karuhat defending his lead. Just look at how buttery he is in the gap. On the edge of it, in it. It's like a force field, a bubble, as Kaensak fights his way through it trying to come from behind. Kaensak was a ferocious kicker and puncher. There is some concern that the poetics of Thailand's Muay Thai are being lost, a real concern. But one can see much of what Karuhat does in the fight between the young fighters above. You can feel the same relationship to the gap, the caesura, so we have not lost the thread. What I want to call attention to is not what is better fighting than some other form of fighting, but rather to the buried meaning in fighting itself, and the secret way that is expressing something so close to our soul, all our hearts, and the urge that we must hold onto this. Fighting, at the highest, vocabulary-rich manifestation is putting into reality the things that poetry and the plastic arts, what many consider upper reaches of cultural achievement, and fashioning them out of the raw sinews, nerves and spirit of human beings. Fighters are artists of themselves, and in that way are the mid-point between the dumbstruck and the brave, what we all aspire to be. The fighter takes up in her or his real hands the substance of the thing that the painter lifts when she or he lifts the brush, the composure does when striking piano keys, in a way that transcends or at least bridges class, and radicalizes art itself, touching the chords of what makes us what we hope to be.
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  17. Hello all! This is my first post and I am really excited to throw my voice in with you! My question is this, what are some "go-to" texts, videos, or podcasts that I may be able to get my hands on to better understand the philosophy (if there is one) of Muay Thai. For example, I have been studying the ancient Greek Stoics for about 5 years (what I graduated in) and have noticed that their teachings have influenced modern Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Roman Catholicism/Christianity. I am wondering if there are any writers or thinkers like that for Muay Thai: people who wrote about the meaning behind each movement or the mental state one needs to be Nak Muay etc. and are revered in the community. Thanks for your time! I'll be googling around as well and make sure to share whatever it is I find.
  18. Background: I trained at Sumalee Boxing Gym for 2 weeks. I also lived onsite. Overall impression (tl/dr): Good for women; good for beginners; good if you want a 'one stop shop' (everything you need is in the gym); not so good for more experienced practitioners. Muay Thai Training: The training is decent but can be improved. Rounds are only 3 minutes long with 1 minute rest in between. In between rounds of pad work/heavy bag, you are expected to do 10 pushups/situps/squats. A typical morning session lasts 90 minutes (7:30-9am) and will usually have this structure: - 15 minute skipping/jumping on tires - Stretching - Wrapping hands - Shadowboxing (supervised - the trainer will correct your technique) - 3 rounds of pads with trainers - 3 rounds of heavy bag (unsupervised - all the trainers are on pad duty) - Conditioning exercises (sit ups, repetition of basic technique) - Stretching A typical afternoon session lasts 2 hours (4-6pm). The routine is similar to the morning session, except there are 3 rounds of light sparring before pads/heavy bag and there are more conditioning exercises. The sparring is supervised in the sense that the coaches will make sure you don't get hurt. However, they won't be correcting your technique between rounds. Overall, I found this structure to be just OK. On the one hand, there are plenty of coaches (2:1 or 3:1 student to teacher ratio) and they are friendly people. They are also very well versed in dealing with beginners and will even go so far as to wrap your hands for you. However, on the more negative side, I feel like there is too little emphasis on technique. For example, most coaches do not correct your form during pad work. There is also no standard block of time dedicated to teaching technique - on 2 occasions, we learnt how to catch a kick and counter but that was it. Furthermore, there is no clinching and most students are complete beginners (they come for the Yoga) - the latter means you really have to hold back when sparring with them. There are 2 sponsored fighters at the gym (1 male, 1 female) but they barely interact with the students beyond a standard 'hi'. Due to the lack of technical instruction during group classes, I highly recommend you do some privates on the side. I did 6 while I was there (700 baht/private, 3600 baht/6 privates) and that's where the trainers really shine. The trainers were all once well-experienced fighters, ranging from having 300+ fights (Keng) to 30+ fights (Na), and will happily work on fine tuning anything you want. They will spar with you, clinch with you, teach you strategy - all with patience and in a totally safe/fun environment. I personally recommend Keng as he is the most experienced and he really breaks everything down very, very clearly to you. Overall, its clear to me that the trainers know their stuff and are passionate about what they do. It is a shame the group training itself is so watered down. Facilities: The gym itself has 2 rings, a general matted area and heavy bags. On the good side, the gym is cleaned regularly and is kept very tidy. They also have new flooring which is nice. On the not so good side, out of all the heavy bags, I was surprised to find that only one was a full length one. Others were much shorter which means you can't practise your low kicks on them. I also found the bags to be filled with very hard material - to the point where I could never go beyond 30-40% on them. The gym does have gloves and shin pads you can borrow - however, most of the gloves probably need to be replaced as there are holes in them (often near the palm area) and they stink. Outside of MT, the gym also offers Yoga classes once a day. I am a complete novice to Yoga but I tried a couple of classes and they were pretty good. The instructor Rhian is very nice, you get plenty of instruction and it is a relaxing experience. There is also a pool on site, a pool table and scooters for rent. There is a pro shop as well which has everything you need for MT - from handwraps/mouthguards to gloves/shinpads to keyrings. The pro shop charges prices comparable to my home country though (e.g. a pair of shorts starts from 1200baht). Accommodation: Accommodation is basic but kept very clean. Food: There is an onsite restaurant which sells both western and thai food. The food is pretty good and almost of restaurant quality. The wait staff are also very friendly and there are (a few) vegetarian choices. However, if you aren’t on a meal plan, ordering a la carte is expensive with most dishes costing anywhere between 5-10 USD. Due to the price, most of the students will instead go to Nana’s around the corner. You can get a dish and a drink for 48baht there. Camp Location: The gym is in a non-touristy area of Phuket. This is good if you want to train without any distractions. This is bad though if you want to do any sight seeing. There is a convenience store directly across the gym which sells basic amenities (washing powder, shower gel etc.) and you can walk 25-30 minutes each way for massages/7-eleven/phamacy but everything else requires a taxi. Safe for women/solo travellers? Very. The trainers are prohibited from making any kind of unwanted advances and the gym is very safe at all hours. There are also a lot of women training there (I'm talking 50-55%) and most students are solo travellers. Gunn, Sun, Lynne and Rhian all understand English and will regularly check in to make sure you are doing ok. Hope you enjoyed my review!
  19. 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.
  20. Watch this video of a very tiny Thai girl fighting an incredible round against a Thai boy. Little Girl Thai Fighter Let's leave aside any personal feelings you may have about child fighting, child safety, etc. And Let's leave out the arguments about gender. There is something unreal in this video, something kind of incredible. This little girl, who probably has had very few fights, and very few sparring sessions, as an acute sense of distance. In her miniature approximations you see essential Thai, as in Thailand, Muay Thai fighting characteristics. The retreat is just out of range, but not only just out of range, it's done with emotional equanimity, not out of fear, just a little step back. And, then her snapbacks with punches, closing the distance again. The counter rhythm is repeated over and over again. This is core femeu control of space, something even western fighters literally with decades of experience cannot, or do not care to manage. The retreating, scoring fighter. Where does this come from? How does this get communicated in such a basic, beautiful way to a little girl? What is the method of transference? This Sense of (Defensive) Space, I suspect, is buried deeply in Thai culture, perhaps in it's Buddhist roots. One of the earliest accounts of Muay Thai, and the first account of a Farang vs Thai match up (Thai Fight 1788!), resulted in the westerner becoming infuriated at the retreat of the King's champion, Mun Phlan, selected to face a Frenchmen who challenged the court: Now of course there are forward fighting styles in Thailand's Muay Thai, many of them, and renowned fighters who owned them. But there a thin golden thread that seems to stretch from the late 18th century all the way to this little girl who preternaturally has absorbed the art of space.
  21. I have a problem - as I'm sure a lot of less experienced fighters do - of backing straight up in sparring (did it in my fight too). Last night was my first hard sparring after my fight a couple of weeks ago and I kept backing straight up sooo bad. Very annoyed with myself as I know this is a problem. Does anyone have links to drills you can do to practice not backing up? I know it sounds super simple to fix, but I feel like I need to practice this outside of regular sparring. It'd be helpful to see some drills or perhaps just watch what/how other people do if they get backed up, but instead of continuing to go straight back they redirect. Any help greatly appreciated. Thank you! :)
  22. I am interested in eventually getting a custom skirt. I'm envisioning the Gladiator style with built-in compression shorts. I've talked to Defila Sport and they price a customized Muay Thai skirt starting at $200.00. Does anyone have recommendations on where to go or look for custom shorts or skirts?
  23. Hello all, I am planning to go train in Thailand for 3 months (ticket already bought!) on September 9 and I have still to choose my training camp for the duration of my stay. I don't really want to hop around different gyms as I won't be there for too long so I want to make an informed decision right away. I am in advanced discussions with Sitmonchai's foreign liaision (Abigail), but I am still not sure if I will go there or not. My background: I am an amateur fighter with 6 fights under his belt (nothing crazy) and would really want to find a gym with serious training and not too much westerners if possible. I have also been training for 3 years now and it would be my first trip to Thailand. I have filtered down a couple gyms in my list: Kaewsamrit, Sitmonchai, Kem Muay Thai, and Namsaknoi. If you could give me a brief overview of your impressions of those gyms would be cool. I am looking to develop a more Muay femur style (technical) if that can help. Here's my impressions of each gym, if you could confirm my assumptions it would be really helpful. Kaewsamrit: Seems like a good old-school gym oriented more towards boxing Muay mat ("heavy hands"). As I need to step up my clinch game as well, I don't know if it is the best option. I do enjoy watching highlight clips of Anuwat Kaewsamrit exploding skulls with his fists though, but I am afraid that this style is a bit limited. Although I am pretty sure they would adjust to my style/level. Sitmonchai: Similar to Kaewsamrit but it is the most expensive on my list and don't know if it's justified. Known for their aggressive style and hard low kicks, I am afraid that it might be a bit one-dimensional as well. I do enjoy the fact that they pair you up with Thais though (if they actually do and how frequently?), major point for me. They seem to have a lot of active fighters as well, which should help motivate me, but I also heard that other than the pad sessions with the trainers, you are pretty much left to yourself to train. I would like to have guidance on what I am doing right/wrong as well and not just hitting pads till exhaustion. Kem Muay Thai Gym: Beautiful location, seems like a clinch-oriented gym with disciplined training. The gym is new and doesn't have much info on it though but my major fear is that it might be geared towards westerners more. I am not a Muay Thai expert with 300+ fights but I do want to have quality training partners. It does seem like a more complete style of fighting is being taught there though. Namsaknoi: The most recent of all the gyms. What attracts me is Namsaknoi himself with the breadth of his technique and his legacy. Seems more oriented towards technique and from what I've heard they only spar twice a week (not enough in my opinion). I am also thinking that it attracts mostly westerners as I haven't been able to find info on Thai fighters training there, and also because it's on a beautiful beach. Thank you, KushGod
  24. 5-10 Above, ideologically problematic fantasy image put into a meme context to talk about fighting and value. The huge father-who-enjoys of psychoanalysis, here upon a heap of HIS violence, his pliant lady treasure practically a part of the amorphous death accumulation, his sword declaiming a verticality out of the mounting matter, the halo of death cult an atmosphere. The Barbarian, invoking qualities of virility that our current Age longs and lurks for, a harkening back to the thymos of primitive effectiveness in space, how the heart displays itself. And then "What Belts?" calling into question the trite trinkets of contemporary measures of what can only be called manliness, even when women pursue it. I can't help but think that in this image and word-set a vortex of ideas descend to a center that is in itself agonistic. Is THIS what men (and women) fight for? Is THIS really the ideal that hides behind so many layers of shimmering achievement? Is this the cage, the ring, the stage? There is an interesting Thai word - and I am by no means even a student of the language - that comes to me: ittiphon. It is a kind of power ascribed to big nakleng (gangsters), though also to many other types, which essentially means "charm". Charm is no small thing in the ancient world. It was the nearly indescribable, indiscernible power to influence others. In Greek antiquity it is strongly associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and with magic itself. It operated from a distance, and had no explanation. It en-thralled. It spell struck. A great orator would be said to have the power of Influence, his words spellbinding. Anything that charms is not to be trusted because its mechanism is largely unknown and unseen. From what I have read Ittiphon is the magnetism of great men. In the case of nakleng Ittiphon also is accompanied by a second power, Ittiroot. This is the power of perceived magical invulnerability. Cannot be killed. Escapes attack. Lucky. Protected. These are the twin powers of the fighter, the double wings that give him (or her) flight. Even the most grounded, unspectacular fighter is moving to and through these two powers. Charm and invulnerability. However ideologically challenged the image is, this is what it portrays. What is victorious notably localized. It is here, on this heap, with this sword, in this person. What is expansive is that this is a realm of death. Here the thinnest whispers of an idea spread out like a shadow very far from a candle. Faint. The battle field of the fighter is inevitably one of death. Not to-the-death per se. But the trading of strikes that ever work to the diminishment of the opponent. I once read that the ultimate tone of a Muay Thai attack is one that makes the opponent seem to collapse from his (her) own internal flaws. The theater of defeat is a kind of collapse or breakdown from within, and that the victor only serves as the means by which this is exposed. There is a kind of nemesis nature to this, in the old sense...divine justice. The crumbling of the opponent, rather than the outright aggression of the victor, makes this a kind of theater of Death and decay, out of which a mechanism, the victor, stands as a shining light of something alluring, the charm and power of the untouchable. These are repeated theatrical performances of localized divinity, the shine and glimmer of the thing that ascends through matter, is born of matter in conflict. How grace and violence are married through combat, invoking something else. Ultimately, the question of masculinity itself arises, and its role in the cataclysm of this kind of arranged apparition. The question...the problem of masculinity though begins to unweave itself a bit when we recognize that masculinity does not inherently belong to men.
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