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Which Do You Feel Has More Value? Hard or Light Sparring?  

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  1. 1. Hard or Light?

    • Harder, Fight-Energy Sparring
    • Lighter, Low-Energy, Technical Sparring


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I'm a bit inspired by Coach James's recent thread about kids "fighting" (they're sparring, but James is bothered by it and in his mind used the word fighting in his title, which I think is significant), but also because I just was watching some hard sparring at my gym here in Thailand.

Here's the set up. In the West, we tend to have this "holier than thou" attitude toward "technical sparring" over "hard sparring," usually accompanied by some kind of credit to how "technical and light" sparring in Thailand is. Okay, sure, I've seen very little sparring among Thais in which they're trying to hurt or knock each other's heads off (I have seen some), whereas I have seen that kind of sparring in Thailand but usually when one or both of the people participating are not-Thai. This said, when Thais spar with shinpads and gloves, it's not "light." The word for sparring in Thai len cherng, literally means to "play techniques." That's the point, and usually the spirit of it. But it's not "light" in the sense that the West tends to characterize it as for their own uses and purposes. It is more "lighthearted," but the actual power of strikes and intention is well over the 60% that I'd qualify as "going light." 

I was watching two sets of sparring at my gym yesterday. The first couple were both not-Thai. One guy was from India, the other from Italy. The Indian guy always goes too hard, as judged by me for what's appropriate for practice. But he's never told by the coaches to turn it down, which means they see a purpose to how hard he strikes. He also tires easily. And they never put him with someone who is close to a fight, because they know he goes this hard. The Italian guy has way more experience than the Indian guy and, while he got battered pretty good by hard leg kicks and punches in the first round and a half, he took the lead with clinch and knees to "win" the sparring - as if it were a fight, judged by others. The thing is this: the punches and kicks were 100%. The emotional stress and intention was 100%. And the guy who goes too hard, by gassing and ultimately being bettered in the end, his disappointment was 100%. All of those elements are important for learning how to fight. You have to deal with real stress. You have to deal with the consequences of coming out too hard, too early, if you don't have the stamina to keep it going. You have to learn how your power overwhelms someone and then doesn't. And likewise, the Italian guy has to learn that you can't only practice going in and having everything controlled for you. I was pretty impressed by the way he handled it, honestly, and I'm not very generous in things I like about this guy. As an important note, while nobody was told to take their power down, there were shinpads, large gloves, a referee and spectators to break the two men when things were too heated or stagnant, or to stop the time early if needed. It's still being supervised, just not interfered with very much. 

The next couple were two Thai boys, both about 14-16, same weight as each other but a gulf in experience. One has been training and fighting since he was 8 and surely 100+ fights, the other a handful of years with only 20 or so fights. One loves to go backwards (the experienced one) and gets yelled at for it, the other likes to come forward and strike pretty hard. They both kicked and punched less than 100% power, but not far below that. There were exchanges when the power would go up, but then it would come back down. There was never any "danger" throughout that match, unlike the other one. The biggest difference, however, was the emotional charge. There were moments when the two Thai fighters were amped up a bit, the dominance was real. But they weren't trying to hurt each other. They were trying to dominate each other and shut the other down. It wasn't like that with the non-Thais; there was an element that felt not in control with them, an emotional derailment that felt dangerous... although the Thai men who sat around the ring to watch found it incredibly entertaining.

So here's my point: there is a purpose to hard sparring. There is purpose to "technical" sparring. There is an art to both, and I think both are required for the development of a fighter. But what's "light" about Thai sparring is not the power of strikes; it honestly is in the "asshole factor" of emotional energy put into the sparring itself. It's a lack of control that makes hard sparring dangerous or not worthwhile, not the power itself. Stress is an important training tool. Disappointment is a training tool. Gassing out is an important training tool. To only ever advocate for some kind of pantomime sparring robs fighters of those tools.

 

This was Jame's original post discussion that lead to these thoughts:

 

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I think both are great, in hard you become stronger mentally and psychologically and you learn to remain calmer when someone is going hard with you, while technical is esential to learn and hone your skills. Also depends the level you're at. I think it's important for both fighters to be on the same page before they spar so there wouldn't be any bad blood after this. 

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In the times where you do harder sparring, there has to be an unspoken brotherly agreement. Basically if you land 3 or 4 good clean shots and back him up and his defences are opened even more, you kinda back up and give him a chance to come back.

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I ultimately went with hard sparring, under the assumption that most people who would use this board are probably training in the West - and in my view if you're training in the West and aiming to fight, you're not going to get nearly as much ring time to get used to the intensity of a fight so that hard sparring is a must.

That being said...

For me the ideal sparring is technical, with a slightly slower pace, but with strong contact to the body and light contact to the head. When I see people in my gym sparring technically, I usually find that they're being too light, not being honest with each other and in doing that they don't learn the danger of a fight.  Ideal sparring for me looks like this:

 

Or this:

 

 

When it comes to hard sparring, I think it's completely appropriate to bash people hard in the body and legs if they signed up for it. But I don't think hard contact to the head is ever really appropriate. A fighter should learn to defend his head through strong drilling and light sparring - never through heavy sparring.

I think people read the words hard sparring and they think of something like the Groenhart brothers going to war:

 

When it should be more like this:

 

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To add a little bit more:

I think it depends on your specific situation. A lot of guys would look at Idris training at Double K Gym and think he's being a douchebag sparring partner here, smacking Luke Whelan as hard as he possibly can - but in the case of Idris he was training for a debut professional fight against an experienced opponent and had only a year to do it in (coming from no experience).

I find this sparring session interesting because it was clearly rough, but I find it technical at the same time. There were a few key techniques that Idris kept working on within this session and he was being tested against a champion who was seeking to tire him out and make him work late into the rounds. 

 

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John Wayne Parr tweeted about one of these videos the other day. It seems he's also not a fan.

I totally agree with what Sylvie said about the 'asshole factor' being key in hard sparring. I've been called out on this quite a few times at my gym. I'll be sparring relatively light with someone, then they'll go a little harder, and I'll amp it up in response. Every single time this happens, I'm the one who gets told to slow down or go softer, and I tend to get pissy about that. In the moment, I often feel like it's unfair, because I was only responding with the same power that my partner hit me with. But the difference is that I'm the one getting emotional about it, and that takes it to another place. Other times, I can be sparring pretty hard with someone, but it's totally fine, as long as it still feels like 'playing'. 

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3 minutes ago, emma said:

John Wayne Parr tweeted about one of these videos the other day. It seems he's also not a fan.

Ha, this is the video that got Sylvie writing in the first place. I think JWP and Sylvie are 100% on opposite ends on this. Sylvie looks at this and she's like: These kids aren't even making contact. JWP is like "Holy Fuck!" I think JWP has been outside of Thailand for too long, hahahaha.

 

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The asshole factor and the escalating thing.

Most common thing I've seen around this is where, like, lets say like 2 people agree to do light sparring. Pick a number, say it's 40, 50% or whatever. One of them reckons, oh wait... my training partner is 5 kilos heavier than me... or oh wait, he's an inch and a half taller than me, or oh... he's got like... 2 years more experience than me. Therefore, that logically, scientifically means that I'm allowed (translation: 'Deserve') to hit him harder than he hits me. So he hits me at 50%, but I get to hit him at 80%, and that's the way to make it fair.

So then what happens? Basically the 5 kilo heavier partner cracks him back at 80 to equalise, then the first guy loses his shit, throws his toys out the pram and emotionally hits back at 100. Then claims he had to because the bigger training partner escalated on him, without realising it was his own fucking fault to begin with. 

Not for nothing, but if you get kicked in the balls it's usually someone like this who does it.

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I like "hard" sparring better. Not because it's a more valuable tool - I think Sylvie pretty much nailed the qualities of all the training tools in her post. It's just a matter a taste. I usually have more fun when my partner and I sparr "hard"; but only if we don't take ourselves seriously. When there's too much ego involved, it's annoying as hell (asshole factor). On the other end when people whine about every single little bits of pain, it's also very annoying. 

39 minutes ago, Oliver said:

One of them reckons, oh wait... my training partner is 5 kilos heavier than me... or oh wait, he's an inch and a half taller than me, or oh... he's got like... 2 years more experience than me. Therefore, that logically, scientifically means that I'm allowed (translation: 'Deserve') to hit him harder than he hits me.

Some of my trainers actually abide by that rule. Pretty unfair.

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5 hours ago, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

So here's my point: there is a purpose to hard sparring. There is purpose to "technical" sparring. There is an art to both, and I think both are required for the development of a fighter. But what's "light" about Thai sparring is not the power of strikes; it honestly is in the "asshole factor" of emotional energy put into the sparring itself. It's a lack of control that makes hard sparring dangerous or not worthwhile, not the power itself. Stress is an important training tool. Disappointment is a training tool. Gassing out is an important training tool. To only ever advocate for some kind of pantomime sparring robs fighters of those tools.

 

 

 

This. This is what matters to me. Intent. To explain a little about my background so people understand why this is important to me: I grew up just doing hard sparring, gym war type stuff. Intent is real and many that came up this way saw a lot of damage being done for no real reason other than "can you take it". There wasnt a lot recovery research being taught either. It was a walk it off mentality. Because of that I ended up a chronically in pain 38 year old. Its taken me years to get to the point where the pain is gone and my body is normal, years of recovery and therapy. Im in no way against hard sparring for the right people whether they are hobbyists that want to be tested or fighters prepping, Im just against the mindless hard sparring because tough guy shit. It serves no purpose. I mean, Ive seen really bad injuries in technical sparring, it happens. But sparring like everything else needs to be used as a tool, applied because theres a goal. If the goal is to push someone for competition or because they want it, then the intent is pure. Im all for that. 

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1 hour ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Ha, this is the video that got Sylvie writing in the first place. I think JWP and Sylvie are 100% on opposite ends on this. Sylvie looks at this and she's like: These kids aren't even making contact. JWP is like "Holy Fuck!" I think JWP has been outside of Thailand for too long, hahahaha.

 

I think he sees it the way I do. Its not play, the boy got kicked hard enough in the leg twice to quit. It just seems reckless. Same speed power etc with gear on in a gym and we'd likely not be bothered. Maybe hes triggered because hes a parent and gym owner, so he sees liability? Dunno. Im triggered because its kids and it feels reckless and without purpose. Whether its fake/choreographed or real, it bugs me in ways that are hard to explain. 

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1 minute ago, Coach James Poidog said:

I think he sees it the way I do. Its not play, the boy got kicked hard enough in the leg twice to quit. It just seems reckless. Same speed power etc with gear on in a gym and we'd likely not be bothered.

I checked out another compilation of the same kids, some of it really looked like excellent fake fighting. Punches pulled, like little whacks, but just for sound. Some might be hard (leg kicks, hey, there's no damage in that). This seems like Chinese performance, not far from the stuff we saw with Phetjee Jaa and her brother that freaked out the internet. But as Sylvie said, you don't know for sure unless you are there.

4 minutes ago, Coach James Poidog said:

Maybe hes triggered because hes a parent and gym owner, so he sees liability?

Totally. And Sylvie and me might see this in a very different way because we see VERY competent young fighters all the time. We see 10 year olds that know how to handle themselves better than 30 year olds, so that can color our sense of safety too. But, to me, these kids look like they are swimming in water they have been been in for many years.

 

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1 hour ago, AndyMaBobs said:

 

 

 

 

When it comes to hard sparring, I think it's completely appropriate to bash people hard in the body and legs if they signed up for it. But I don't think hard contact to the head is ever really appropriate. A fighter should learn to defend his head through strong drilling and light sparring - never through heavy sparring.

I think people read the words hard sparring and they think of something like the Groenhart brothers going to war:

 

When it should be more like this:

 

And this too. Hard to the body and legs with gear on and you can recover from it, hard to the head (even with gear on) and more and more research is showing that you have a limit on what can be taken. And the video with the brothers is exactly what hard sparring was for me. Imagine that all the time, up to 4 days a week, and you might sympathize with my perspective lol. And btw, there are some really good gyms in the West that focuses away from hard sparring (its still hard but the perspective is different). They have a perspective where their light isnt as light as people expect, but the control is there and the respect is there. There isnt any escalation and pace, power, etc is agreed on ahead of time. Some guys will go with what can easily be viewed as hard but the intent is just to push. The biggest reason they do this is injury prevention and longevity in the sport. 

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11 minutes ago, Coach James Poidog said:

I grew up just doing hard sparring, gym war type stuff. Intent is real and many that came up this way saw a lot of damage being done for no real reason other than "can you take it". There wasnt a lot recovery research being taught either. It was a walk it off mentality. Because of that I ended up a chronically in pain 38 year old. Its taken me years to get to the point where the pain is gone and my body is normal, years of recovery and therapy. 

 

Exact. My first 3 years, about 7 of us fighting from the gym. We go saturday morning for sparring day, only 1 time per week. Not bloody kidding....one time, half way through training I look around and realise 6 out the 7 of us are sitting on the bench holding ice packs, and one dude got knocked the f**k out and couldn't remember how he got to the gym that day.

That's kinda when I knew.

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3 minutes ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I checked out another compilation of the same kids, some of it really looked like excellent fake fighting. Punches pulled, like little whacks, but just for sound. Some might be hard (leg kicks, hey, there's no damage in that). This seems like Chinese performance, not far from the stuff we saw with Phetjee Jaa and her brother that freaked out the internet. But as Sylvie said, you don't know for sure unless you are there.

Totally. And Sylvie and me might see this in a very different way because we see VERY competent young fighters all the time. We see 10 year olds that know how to handle themselves better than 30 year olds, so that can color our sense of safety too. But, to me, these kids look like they are swimming in water they have been been in for many years.

 

Yeah supposedly these littles come from the same kung fu kwoon in hong kong. They obviously have been doing this a while and are good at it. So for me part of the issue is hard to explain and could be the wushu quality or whatever. Part of it is people seeing this, not recognizing that these people mightve done things to take away the dangers inherent, and then think its ok to do this. Maybe my itchyness comes from that aspect. Dunno. I had to focus on the things Id do different to make it "ok" to me, but theres a lot there below the surface that bugs me and I cant put my finger on it yet. 

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3 minutes ago, Oliver said:

 

Exact. My first 3 years, about 7 of us fighting from the gym. We go saturday morning for sparring day, only 1 time per week. Not bloody kidding....one time, half way through training I look around and realise 6 out the 7 of us are sitting on the bench holding ice packs, and one dude got knocked the f**k out and couldn't remember how he got to the gym that day.

That's kinda when I knew.

Yup. Every week, multiple times even, for years. And for what? Looking back, Im positive it didnt help me or 90% of the people who did it. The ten percent it did help wouldve grown no matter what lol. Now, for me as a coach, is about efficiency. What will make the 90% grow? Hard sparring frequency drops. That being said, the definition of hard and light changes too. Light becomes a little rougher with certain people, hard becomes more about escalation and intent than actual contact. Understanding that its not competition but a form of growth. 

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Yeah. It's only after I stopped doing that and left that gym that I improved, and injury rate dropped way down. Hard sparring's all good, but not that ruthless bloodthirsty shit where ppl are terrified of losing, (in something where there's nothing to lose), tense up, and then unload on their training partner as if it's the uncle that molested him.

Nah, hell with that. 

 

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16 hours ago, AndyMaBobs said:

For me the ideal sparring is technical, with a slightly slower pace, but with strong contact to the body and light contact to the head. When I see people in my gym sparring technically, I usually find that they're being too light, not being honest with each other and in doing that they don't learn the danger of a fight.  Ideal sparring for me looks like this:

 

Or this:

 

I like your point about partners being dishonest with each other when they go too light. I've used the comparison many times that it's like tossing a ball at someone so gingerly that their ability to hit it with a bat is impossible. You have to pitch the f***ing ball, man. If you go too light, it distorts the technique so horridly that you're doing your partner a terrible disservice and they can't properly learn how to respond, block, etc.

Interesting to me, also, is how different these two video clips look (to my eyes), despite them both being a "light sparring" example. The first video with Liam Harrison looks far too light to me. Like, you can only learn how to do tricks in that kind of sparring. There's nothing sincere about the basic movements and strikes, although the tricks and sweeps are slow enough that nobody is going to get hurt. Whereas with Pakorn and Sangmanee, the basics are all solid and the playfulness is present without it being "performed." But hey, my eyes.

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21 hours ago, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I'm a bit inspired by Coach James's recent thread about kids "fighting" (they're sparring, but James is bothered by it and in his mind used the word fighting in his title, which I think is significant), but also because I just was watching some hard sparring at my gym here in Thailand.

Here's the set up. In the West, we tend to have this "holier than thou" attitude toward "technical sparring" over "hard sparring," usually accompanied by some kind of credit to how "technical and light" sparring in Thailand is. Okay, sure, I've seen very little sparring among Thais in which they're trying to hurt or knock each other's heads off (I have seen some), whereas I have seen that kind of sparring in Thailand but usually when one or both of the people participating are not-Thai. This said, when Thais spar with shinpads and gloves, it's not "light." The word for sparring in Thai len cherng, literally means to "play techniques." That's the point, and usually the spirit of it. But it's not "light" in the sense that the West tends to characterize it as for their own uses and purposes. It is more "lighthearted," but the actual power of strikes and intention is well over the 60% that I'd qualify as "going light." 

I was watching two sets of sparring at my gym yesterday. The first couple were both not-Thai. One guy was from India, the other from Italy. The Indian guy always goes too hard, as judged by me for what's appropriate for practice. But he's never told by the coaches to turn it down, which means they see a purpose to how hard he strikes. He also tires easily. And they never put him with someone who is close to a fight, because they know he goes this hard. The Italian guy has way more experience than the Indian guy and, while he got battered pretty good by hard leg kicks and punches in the first round and a half, he took the lead with clinch and knees to "win" the sparring - as if it were a fight, judged by others. The thing is this: the punches and kicks were 100%. The emotional stress and intention was 100%. And the guy who goes too hard, by gassing and ultimately being bettered in the end, his disappointment was 100%. All of those elements are important for learning how to fight. You have to deal with real stress. You have to deal with the consequences of coming out too hard, too early, if you don't have the stamina to keep it going. You have to learn how your power overwhelms someone and then doesn't. And likewise, the Italian guy has to learn that you can't only practice going in and having everything controlled for you. I was pretty impressed by the way he handled it, honestly, and I'm not very generous in things I like about this guy. As an important note, while nobody was told to take their power down, there were shinpads, large gloves, a referee and spectators to break the two men when things were too heated or stagnant, or to stop the time early if needed. It's still being supervised, just not interfered with very much. 

The next couple were two Thai boys, both about 14-16, same weight as each other but a gulf in experience. One has been training and fighting since he was 8 and surely 100+ fights, the other a handful of years with only 20 or so fights. One loves to go backwards (the experienced one) and gets yelled at for it, the other likes to come forward and strike pretty hard. They both kicked and punched less than 100% power, but not far below that. There were exchanges when the power would go up, but then it would come back down. There was never any "danger" throughout that match, unlike the other one. The biggest difference, however, was the emotional charge. There were moments when the two Thai fighters were amped up a bit, the dominance was real. But they weren't trying to hurt each other. They were trying to dominate each other and shut the other down. It wasn't like that with the non-Thais; there was an element that felt not in control with them, an emotional derailment that felt dangerous... although the Thai men who sat around the ring to watch found it incredibly entertaining.

So here's my point: there is a purpose to hard sparring. There is purpose to "technical" sparring. There is an art to both, and I think both are required for the development of a fighter. But what's "light" about Thai sparring is not the power of strikes; it honestly is in the "asshole factor" of emotional energy put into the sparring itself. It's a lack of control that makes hard sparring dangerous or not worthwhile, not the power itself. Stress is an important training tool. Disappointment is a training tool. Gassing out is an important training tool. To only ever advocate for some kind of pantomime sparring robs fighters of those tools.

 

This was Jame's original post discussion that lead to these thoughts:

 

Wow.... So many thoughts and expressions, all of them valid. My two cents worth is as follows. I find that when you spar with young men in particular, they feel they have to go all out as an expression of their manliness. I call it the old bull, young bull. The old bull, me, is calm, not tense and is there to play around and have fun. Your contact is solid but not over the top. The young bull by comparison, still hasn't figured out his place in the world, subconsciously everything he does is about his masculinity, he's all tense and wants to have fun but doesn't have any real idea how to go about it. So, as the old bull, sometimes you have lay the smack down and drop a couple of bombs. If this is done in the correct manner, with the right intent shown the young generally pulls his horns in. Sometimes they don't and things can escalate, but it's been my experience that these types are just pricks and aren't used to being put in their place.

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6 hours ago, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I like your point about partners being dishonest with each other when they go too light. I've used the comparison many times that it's like tossing a ball at someone so gingerly that their ability to hit it with a bat is impossible. You have to pitch the f***ing ball, man. If you go too light, it distorts the technique so horridly that you're doing your partner a terrible disservice and they can't properly learn how to respond, block, etc.

Interesting to me, also, is how different these two video clips look (to my eyes), despite them both being a "light sparring" example. The first video with Liam Harrison looks far too light to me. Like, you can only learn how to do tricks in that kind of sparring. There's nothing sincere about the basic movements and strikes, although the tricks and sweeps are slow enough that nobody is going to get hurt. Whereas with Pakorn and Sangmanee, the basics are all solid and the playfulness is present without it being "performed." But hey, my eyes.

I think the reason Liam might be a bit too light is because in that session Liam was the teacher and the larger guy, so he might not have felt comfortable going any harder in that context. Whereas Pakorn and Sangmanee are both strong stadium fighters who are sparring for training, Liam is a stadium fighter working with a guy with a lot less experience

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8 hours ago, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I like your point about partners being dishonest with each other when they go too light. I've used the comparison many times that it's like tossing a ball at someone so gingerly that their ability to hit it with a bat is impossible. You have to pitch the f***ing ball, man. If you go too light, it distorts the technique so horridly that you're doing your partner a terrible disservice and they can't properly learn how to respond, block, 

And this is my only detractor to light sparring. Too light is an issue. Its like the punch in a demo that goes no where near the person's head. Ive had to tell more than a few people to actually make contact. Like anything else its balance. What is too hard and what is too light ends up depending on the person. Like I said in another post, Ive seen people get injured in light sparring because someone zigged when they should have zagged and a lightly thrown technique ended up being run into. At the end of the day, its combat. Theres a level of risk always. Find the balance. 

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2 hours ago, AndyMaBobs said:

I think the reason Liam might be a bit too light is because in that session Liam was the teacher and the larger guy, so he might not have felt comfortable going any harder in that context. Whereas Pakorn and Sangmanee are both strong stadium fighters who are sparring for training, Liam is a stadium fighter working with a guy with a lot less experience

This also could just be a misrepresentation of Liam lol. Ive seen the man live many times and hes never really been someone Id say goes light. I mean to him, hes probably going light, but he didnt look like that in the video lol. Dude is a savage.  

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    • A question that sometimes is raised is: What is the religion of Muay Thai? Or probably better put: Is there religious meaning in Muay Thai? Sometimes behind this question are the pictures of spirituality within traditional martial arts like Kung Fu or Karate, an idea of self-perfection which is grounded in a deeper spiritual belief. The martial artist is perfecting themselves both physically and spiritually at the highest levels. Many answer this question in the negative, in a way that seems quite accurate at first. There is spiritual meaning to Thailand's Muay Thai. It is a fighting art, a sport, its meaning is in its efficacy. Looking for religious or spiritual beliefs in it would be like looking for them in Western Boxing. Yes, there are important cultural rites & practices which derive from Buddhism and the older form of Brahminism, and even the animism before that, but one does not have to be a Buddhist, let's say, to practice Muay Thai - and often these rites & practices are treated as cultural trappings by observers, a kind of respect paid to the past that could easily be shed without missing a beat. They aren't necessarily active religious practices, some say, while for others within the sport & art treat these as highly meaningful, without which Muay Thai would lose its footing. If one had to give a single religion to Muay Thai it would be its Buddhism, in the sense that it grew out of a culture of Buddhism for the last 1,800 years, and in many respects has the qualities that it has because of its Buddhism. It's traditional treatment of aggression, the way in which its scoring and overall style of fighting has classically handled with emphasis on ruup (posture), balance & self control, its treatment of the affects of anger and fear are quite Buddhistic. And notably within the culture there have been cultural parallels between between monkhood and the path of the young nak muay. You can read about some of those here: Thai Masculinity: Postioning Nak Muay Between Monkhood and Nak Leng – Peter Vail. When we see Thailand's Muay Thai through the lens of Buddhism not only do certain aspects of its scoring and presentation make more sense to foreign eyes, also questions as to how such a violent sport be religious at all finds some resolution. There is an undeniable fabric to Thailand's Muay Thai which seems quite Buddhist, as the dominant religion in region within which it grew. And this is not to minimize that Muay Thai was also fed, perhaps for centuries, by the very high level Muay Thai of the South which has a significant Muslim population. Muay Thai is actually much more of a tapestry than many assume. There are threads in the fabric. We are left somehow with an unsatisfying answer. Yes, Thailand's Muay Thai expresses and comes out of a (largely) Buddhistic culture and holds several rites and practices which are religious in nature - the treatment of the mongkol, the pre-fight Wai Kru/Ram Muay are the most obvious ones - and even we might grant that in the cultural maturation of boys the kaimuay (boxing camp) has stood as an alternative to the wat (temple). Or, we might even imaginatively acknowledge that in its history temples were likely houses that kept Muay Thai and transmitted its form, for centuries (perhaps even in some modest Shaolin sense), a magic-imbued Muay Thai that is likely lost to today (practices outlawed in 1902). But still, what is its religion? Are Muay Thai fighters doing anything religious that is intimately connected to their performance? Is the arduous and obedient training in Muay Thai in any sense a spiritual practice? I believe they are, and there is. "Soul Stuff" and Muay Thai Anthropologists that have studied the history of Siam (Thailand), and Southeast Asian culture in general, have wrestled with thinking about the fundamental nature of its social organization, as it is has appeared throughout the centuries. Mainland Southeast Asia from the 1st century AD went from small settlements and polities to eventual powerful trade centers and then empires, a transformation likely fueled by a connection to India. The great temples of the Khmer, the religious cults to Shiva, the establishment of potent royal figures has largely been credited to what is called "Indianization". The presence of statues to Ganesh, the identification of Thai royalty with Vishnu, even the invocation of the Ramayana in the Muay Thai Ram Muay are all expression of this period of "Indianization" begun nearly 1,700 years ago. This is a very long lineage. A top this layer of pronounced Hindu/Brahminist influence sits Buddhism itself, which transformed the politically Indianized culture further. It's important to realize that these two very strong influences are not (fundamentally) in conflict. The spiritualities expressed in Hindu form, especially in political contexts, were even furthered in Buddhistic devotion. The form of its expression what different, but the fundamentals of power and spirituality remained the same. And this is important to understand. Power and spirituality are bound together. We can see that even at a basic level questions about identifiable religion likely have braided answers.  For anthropologists the answer to why Hinduism, and then Buddhism, were able to powerfully graft onto Southeast Asian culture lies within the supposition of an older belief, something that lies below these historical sedimentations, the receipt of salvation religions which gave voice and form to this older belief. It is this older belief which in a sense glues together the practices, and informs sociability itself, even the secular sociability of today. And this is the belief of "soul stuff". This belief interpretation was first put forward by the preeminent historian of Southeast Asia O. W. Wolters, but for our purposes this summation of it by Michael Charney in his book Southeastern Warfare: 1300-1900 is a very good entry point   Everything in the world has a certain amount of stuff. A potency. And they do not have it in equal portions. Rocks have it, but a particular rock might have a great deal of it. Humans have it, but particular humans may have much more of it than others. Importantly, this is something you can acquire. You can have more soul stuff than you were born with, and it is something that can be transmitted between persons & objects. This can happen through association, physical touch, and a host of magical-religious practices. You can read into Wolter's original discussion of soul stuff here. Because he is investigating the origins of the Indianization of mainland Southeast Asia he is looking at the role of kings, and rulers of polities. For him it was the de-emphasis on lineage, the generational demand for personal performance, proving and acquiring "soul stuff", which kept Southeast Asia from adopting some of the more rigid social forms of Indian culture. Instead, because of the very nature of soul stuff in Southeast Asia political power had a fundamental agonistic quality to it, generation to generation, locality to locality, and (very importantly for our purposes), martial power and spiritual power were expressive of a single thing...soul stuff. He accounts how early kings were defined by their "prowess" and this prowess was expressed into only in terms of martial force, but through religious, aesthetic devotion. Within this under-fabric of Southeast Asian culture was a strong, bonded identity between physical prowess and spiritual prowess...and, the braiding of these two was expressed through "charisma". As Wolters writes:   In the beliefs, the under-beliefs of Siam, the "priest" and the "warrior" were not separate. They were brought together in single personage, and this personage could be recognized by their charisma, their aura, which drew people to them. I think its important to realize that this isn't just a description of the rulers of polities. It actually describes how power ("soul stuff") is distributed throughout the entire lived world. Kings are said by historians to have mandala power, which is to say a certain sphere of influence which flowed out like candle-light in a circle. The further away from the center of this mandala power, the less it exerted itself. But lessor nobles, lessor polities also had spheres of power, a function of their charisma. In fact arguably, everything with soul stuff had circles of charismatic power. Some with very little, some with much more. The religious development of Siam can be thought of as expressing this much deeper, older sensibility toward the world and others, something that still persists (quite strongly) even today. It, in a sense, may animate present day Hinduistic and Buddhistic beliefs with a particular logic of personal potency.  Conquerous kings were also ascetic spiritual achievers who used the charisma of their personal achievement - the sign of their "soul stuff" - to glue kingdoms together. I'm now going to race ahead to the subject of Muay Thai and religiosity, in this context, and work backwards from there. When one is training in Muay Thai in Thailand one is training in soul stuff. If you are not from the culture you might not realize or recognized why you are being trained a certain way, or even what qualities are being instilled in you, but if you undergo the process you are training in the acquisition and signification of soul stuff. And this is to some degree a spiritual ascetic practice, even if you approach it from a completely secularized place, and even if your trainers are not consciously expressing religious beliefs. This is the older form of the marriage of the martial and the spiritual, as it has been inherited, and to some degree sublimated, by the culture. And Thais who train in Muay Thai, who are part of the culture, are training in "soul stuff". The art of Muay Thai is developing the "prowess" which will eventually be expressed as a charisma (as it is culturally defined). One of the most subtly cutting criticisms of contemporary Muay Thai that we've heard was in a casual conversation between the legend Karuhat Sor. Supawan and WBC World Boxing Champion Chatchai Sasakul, both prolific fighters in Thailand Muay Thai's Golden Age. "Fighters no longer have charisma (sanae) today" they mourned. This wasn't a complaint about marketing, it was about the nature of the fighting itself. Fighting did not express the charisma that it once did. The reason why this criticism silently cut so deep is that the development of charisma was actually the point of Muay Thai fighting itself. Charisma is the aura one has, the capacity somehow (magically) draw people to you. It is a certain kind of personal gravity, which directly exudes your "soul stuff". It is your ittiphon, your power. And it can be shown or lies in parallel to your ittirüt, which is your invulnerability. The connection between charisma and invulnerability is what lies beneath classic Muay Thai forms. The emphasis on ruup (posture, visible form), balance, freedom, control, and the fighterly aim of not necessarily "damaging" your opponent, as so much as dominating your opponent in a great variety of ways, including physical damage, is about the cultivation of charisma. This literally is the same kind of charisma of ancient kings, within the same scope of connective beliefs, trained for performance in the ring. Because Thailand is predominantly a Buddhist culture - and has been for much more than 1,000 years, the cultural form of that charisma has Buddhistic expression. In the same way that Buddhist novice monks seek to discipline their bodies, temper the hotter emotions, cultivate a kind of stoicism under travail, the young nak muay seeks to do the same. And great monks, through their ascetic practices, acquire great charisma revealing their "soul stuff". In some sense Thailand's Muay Thai has split off from many of the religious forms of charismatic development, but still expresses the same spiritual reality, even if in practice if falls into a broken, or and much less unreadable state. The ascetic practice, and the hierarchies of respect and rite in the gym are cultural pathways of "soul stuff" development. And arguably, anything you are learning in a Thai gym, whether it's the ability to endless do knees on the bag, or how to stay calm under sparring pressure, or how to properly block, or how to compose yourself under the exhaustion of padwork, are all actually about charisma, a projected invulnerability and magnetic aura, each fighter of which would have their own version. As Wolters emphasized, it is both a physical prowess and a spiritual prowess. Soul Stuff and the Magical Policeman The role of magical beliefs in the history of Muay Thai development is likely quite pronounced. If you would like to read an account which exemplifies the parallels between combat prowess and magical capacities, read the biography of the southern Thai policeman, Khun Phantharakratchadet (1898–2006) whose prowess occurred in the decades of Muay Thai modernization, and Thailand's rise as a modern Nation. It is important to understand that the development of fighting techniques (the knowledge of them, wicha) were historically not divorced from the development of magical techniques (that protected or aided you). Wats, traditionally, were likely a home for both. The tale of Khun Phan, a legendary real figure of Thai early modern 20th century history, recounts his advance as a physically small man who was a fierce fighter, taking on the nakleng gangs of the Sangkla area, and eventually other regions of Thailand, armed with his knowledge of the fighting arts, as well as study of the magical arts at the foot of the famed monks of Wat Khao Aor Or. in Phattalung. He even became proficient in Western Boxing (& perhaps Judo) studying at a wat in Bangkok, as part of his advancement as a policemen. He was a man of a remarkable amount of "soul stuff", much of it acquired through rigorous study and practice. The magical arts of Amulet protection, and sak yant are expressive of this spiritual under-logic of soul stuff. Everything has soul stuff, but pieces of material can be imbued with soul stuff, and because soul stuff is transmittable, it can be conferred to you through proximity or practice. Holy men, through rite and ritual can transfer soul stuff to you, and through spiritual practice you can hold it. Sak yant (sacred tattooing) are often devices of "soul stuff" transmission. They are thought to express/transfer the soul stuff of animals (tigers for instance) or gods, or heroic figures. They are thought to bring powerful energies, and often sak yant specifically bestow powers of charm or charisma (the ability to influence), or the power to command (amnat). In some cases creating invulnerability. Today, in their more commercial form they may be more thought of as one-way transmissions, but originally they involved spiritual devotion and self-transformation through practice. You achieved their powers through a growth in personal "prowess". It's enough to say that in the body of magical beliefs in Thailand we can see the nexus between martial prowess, spiritual power and charisma. These beliefs and practices, based in the logic of soul stuff, developed in parallel to the fighting arts of Thailand. Khun Phan at the age of 90 commissioned a Jatukam Rammathep amulet, believing that the spirit of Jatukam Rammathep had helped him solve a difficult murder case. The creation of this amulet by such an auspicious person, under the blessings of the Holy Pillar of Nakhon Si Thammarat, thought to be invoking spirits of great personage and Buddhistic merit created incredible demand. This is soul stuff.   My brief detour into the magical arts is not to ascribe them or their complex beliefs to the spirituality of Muay Thai in particular. One is not to exclude them either, as still there are amulet practices of blessing and transmitted soul stuff, including those of the mongkol and prajet, or the invocation of dieties in the Ram Muay to begin every fight. More important is not to locate any set of beliefs and practices as necessarily religious, but rather to look at these beliefs and practices to understand how the logic of soul stuff transmittability expresses itself in Thai culture...and in Muay Thai itself. Magic is part of its heritage, but that heritage is founded on much deeper, metaphysical ideas on how power works in the world, and between humans. And this belief, I would suggest, is embedded to this day in even the most secular-seeming aspects of Thai life. There is a Buddhist perspective which may say that because of karma and reincarnation everything we do is spiritual practice. Everything we do is an attempt to alleviate or ease the suffering of existence. In this spiritualization of the world and culture, the belief in the transmittability of "soul stuff", of unequal souls, also can be seen as universal and pervading every practice. Much as a Western philosopher like Foucault may see all our interactions transpierced with discourses of power, all sociability in Thai culture can be seen as practices of soul stuff. It's development, its preservation, its signification, and the ways in which everyone takes position in society in relationship to powerful personages (whether they be local persons of aura, or National) who exhibit soul stuff. It is a kind of religion of existence. Soul Stuff and Muay Thai We can leave aside magical practices for now, and think about how soul stuff and Muay Thai relate. The first and obvious way is that because Muay Thai is a public performance the job of the fighter is to express "soul stuff". That means knowing the cultural signatures of "soul stuff", being practiced in displaying them, including aspects of command and control, invulnerability and of course charisma. Perhaps no fighter in history displayed soul stuff more than Samart, who expressed a very Rama/Vishnu quality, a potent equipoise. You cannot thoroughly understand Samart's greatness without seeing just how much (read here:) he signified "soul stuff" within the culture. This photo of him with the vanquished and bloody (aggressive, Muay Khao great) Namphon, gives some sense of it. But the signatures of soul stuff in Thailand's Muay Thai, and even kinds of personal charisma are not only of one kind. A great, unrelenting knee fighter like Dieselnoi will have tremendous soul stuff. A great pressure fighter like Samson, or a complex style fighter like Chamuakpet (naming legends of the Golden Age). There are various expressions of soul stuff. And, unlike in Western conceptions of "great fighters", soul stuff includes many things beyond the fighter. Samart for instance did not fight up very much in his career. In a Western mind this may be something of a demerit when compared to other great fighters who did. But because soul stuff is transmittable, and governed by association, the fact that Sityodtong gym was so powerful to be able to dictate favorable matchups (or at least avoid unfavorable ones) actually goes to Samart's soul stuff. He is part of a local nexus of power. Sityodtong has soul stuff. Master Tui has lots of soul stuff. Samart has soul stuff. As much as we want to think about fights as being between two isolated fighters in the ring, the truth is that there is much more in the ring than that. All the soul stuff that brought these fighters into being, that is poured into these fighters, is in combat. (This is a big reason why Westerners do not quite understand the role of gambling in Muay Thai. It seems to them to be just a corrupt interference in "pure sport". But in fact it is a layering of the contest of competing powers, men with soul stuff outside the ring...for better or worse. Under the spiritual logic of soul stuff fighters are never just "them". They literally invoke deities with their Ram Muay. In their Wai Kru they evoke their teachers. All of their skills and ascetic practice in training is summoned, publicly, into the ring. Fighters represent and embody.) This is not fundamentally different than the spirit-logic of cosmic battle that governed warfare in the great Ayutthayian Empire 500 years ago. What has changed is "who" is seen to have soul stuff, fundamentally a question of changing culture and values. As to the practice of Muay Thai itself, in the training kaimuay, and in the ring, one has to grasp that the fighting art and the fighting sport cannot be completely separated. Traditional kaimuay are technical houses of the inculcation in soul stuff. One is learning the practices which will give you power in a physical contest, but a contest which ultimately is also a spiritual contest. The techniques of a particular kru, the styles of a particular gym name, are a practical knowledge of Thai combat power. And the conditions of its practice are necessarily those of discipline and ascetic self control. The fundamentals of posture (ruup), timing and balance are meant to create liberty in the fighter, and its presentation to the judges and audience. Specific techniques, ways of blocking, attacking, avoiding, punishing or damaging, controlling, frustrating, overwhelming, are a kind of complex grammar of soul stuff. You display that you have more, and in defeating your opponent, in some sense you take some of their soul stuff as your own. And, as fighters share the ring with you, they too can gain soul stuff through proximate association (if you have a great deal). For deeper dives into this here I write in some detail about the social conditions of Thai training practices through the thinking of the sociologist Bourdieu: Trans-Freedoms Through Authentic Muay Thai Training in Thailand Understood Through Bourdieu's Habitus, Doxa and Hexis, and here I write about how the philosopher Agamben's study of 13th century Franciscan monastic practices help explain the rule-following power of Thai gym training for Westerners: Thailand's Muay Thai Gym, Authenticity and the Escape from Capitalism | Agamben on The Highest Poverty The importance of this insight into soul stuff and its transmittability is I believe that it unlocks much of the question about the religiosity (or spirituality) behind Thailand's Muay Thai. Often it is simply dismissed altogether because it does not seem reducible to the few obvious, formal rites that surround Muay Thai fighting. And, the magical practices of its past do not seem to embody most, or even much of any of Thailand's Muay Thai as non-Thais experience it. I suggest that the logic of soul stuff is so prevalent, so shoots-through Thailand's Muay Thai, even in its most secular and commercialized expressions, its so omnipresent it is almost impossible to see by Westerners (and others) who can carry different cultural view of power. It though is something that is much closer to a Chinese metaphysical concept of Yin and Yang, a base assumption which explains many diverse practices, whether they be spiritual or quite secular, woven into the perspective of a culture and how it bonds together. And, as the historian O. W. Wolters argued, these beliefs lay at root beneath very diverse cultures all across Southeast Asia, spilling well over any particular country's barriers. And...if you kept the logic of "soul stuff" in mind you would get a better sense of what the difficult training in Muay Thai is truly focused on...the melding of the spiritual and the martial going back perhaps 2,000 years, as it is expressed and conceived in today's contemporary culture, and as the art of Muay Thai itself has come to embody it over the past 100 years or so.   For a the primary source on O. W. Wolter's concept of "soul stuff" read here:            
    • SJC74 - Here's my recent January 2023 experience training for one-week at 'Santai', and one-week at 'Boon Lanna', both gyms located outside/south of Chiang Mai city center. TL;DR, I'd pick Boon Lanna Muay Thai for one-month dedicated training with minimal life outside of training, eating, recovering, sleeping.  Context: I spent early October 2022 to early January 2023 in Northern Thailand; 2.5-months in Pai, 1-month in Chiang Mai. I learned Muay Thai basics at Wisarut Gym in Pai at a relaxed pace. I wasn't killing myself during that time, but was able to develop a baseline foundation for the sport and improve general fitness. After leaving Pai in second week of January 2023, I went to train at two gyms outside of Chiang Mai, Santai and Boon Lanna. I did not train at Hongthong, but I did stop by in the midafternoon to see it. Here's my two cents as a beginner. First thing to note, and arguably the most important consideration is how far from old town Chiang Mai you're comfortable being. The best gyms in CM are a ways away from the nightlife/tourist action happening in the city. You'll need to plan logistics accordingly. Having a motorbike, accommodation, quick food/grocery options, social life requirements, touristic desires etc. are all considerations that need to be made. There are a lot of gym options in and around Chiang Mai. Hover over the greater city on Google Maps and search 'Muay Thai Gym', and you'll see many of the options. Most have websites and/or facebook pages to glean information from to get general vibe of the gym, while others have a sparce internet presence that requires an in-person visit to get the scoop. I visited four gyms in total, but only trained at two.  Santai: I trained here 6 sessions total, once per day monday to saturday mostly in the afternoon. This was the busiest gym in Thailand that I trained at thus far, with an average 30 students per session, and 6-8 instructors. This is a good gym if you want to sleep, train, and be social with other students and not have too much of a life outside of training. People spend months living and training there together, so naturally the "family" like feelings evolve amongst students and trainors. Everyone was friendly, but I kept my head down and didn't socialize too much beyond basic pleasantries. A months time is long enough to develop stronger relationships if that's what you're seeking. English was common enough amongst students and trainers to make communication easy and clear. Despite the gym being a bit small for the large number of students, it's equipped with three rings and many bags. Because of the many people, it was lacking in the sanitation department; it felt a bit dirty for my personal standards, but keeping in mind that I've been a long time mild germophobe so learning Muay Thai has been an exercise in acceptance for me. Standards and personal comfort vary of course, I'm just saying it could use a good powerwash and mop.   The general class routine was: run/skip rope, group stretching/shadowboxing technique, padwork, bagwork, clinching, stretch/cool-down. While you're going through group stretch, the woman who handles office/paperwork affairs and the two old-head instructors list names on the whiteboard for padwork assignments. Each pad holder had 3-5 names underneath them and each student would get 3 5-minutes rounds with them. It seemed like the newbies were assigned to go first and each day you'd be with a different pad holder who would work you in different ways, while evaluating your skill level. The two old-head instructors would walk around with their sticks whacking stick correcting form of folks working a bag. You're sort of on your own after padwork, so you'll want to come prepared with a few combinations you want to practice on the bag, otherwise you might be a little aimless and unfocused; at least that was the case for me as a newbie. Overall, this gym was a 6/10 for me. I'm grateful I went and experienced it for the sake of gym comparisons, but I wouldn't return here. Keep in mind I'm rather introverted and would prefer to train with Thai's than foreigners. It was 70/30 foreigners to Thai's training there. I stayed 10-minutes down the road from the gym. There's a main street near gym with accommodation, restaurants, and locals-only night markets. Odds are the only other westerners you'll see around that area are also gym goers. I think someone could quickly improve their skill level dedicating one-month to training here, just don't expect to do too many tourist activities outside of training, eating, recovering, sleeping. Students and trainers fight out of the gym and seem to be in different promotions weekly. If you want to fight, that's definitely possible here.  Boon Lanna: The monday after Santai I moved accommodation down the road 20-minutes to a place near Boon Lanna Muay Thai where I also trained for 6 sessions total, once per day monday to saturday mostly in the afternoon. This is the former Lanna gym Sylvie trained at. She mentioned it's a different gym now than it used to be, so I can give an update to what it is like now. This has been my favorite gym to date. The new owner, Master Boon, sponsors Thai fighters from the Hilltribe, so when you train here, you're mostly training with them. It was 80/20 Thai to foreigner ratio and an amazing experience. Sylvie recently wrote about gyms having golden years where there's a bunch of people training/fighting out of a gym an times are good, and other times when the same gym has dried up and it's a shell of it's former self as people move on. This gym seems to be in early stages of new golden period as Master Boon and his female partner seem motivated and have a good thing going. They are currently having new student housing built on the property attached to the facility. The existing facility is very nice, very clean, wide-open-air facility. There was only one non-thai living there, a Canadian, the rest were Hilltribe boys/men. My technique, confidence, and general understanding of the sport improved significantly in only a few sessions as they paid a lot more attention to me. After light conditioning and shadowing boxing, every session began with light sparing where Master Boon selected matchups, randomizing opponents for 3-4 round. Sparing against the Thai boys was very helpful, but at ~185cm (6-foot) felt strange punching and kicking a literal child. These kids were tough and strong though, and I saw in advance pictures of them online bloodied up smiling after a fight. We both knew that I couldn't hurt them, and we both knew they could wreck me any second, which actually helped me feel relaxed in a way I've ever never felt before. After sparing, padwork, then bagwork. Both of which I felt like I received ample and helpful guidance for improved power and technique. Everyone was patient with me which was appreciated. I'm a slow learner. Classes end with 45min-1hour clinching, which I did not do, opting for strength conditioning with a few others instead, concluding with abs, stretch, cool-down. Sit Thailand MT Gym: This gym is closer to old town, next to airport. Has accommodation nearby, I dropped in mid afternoon just to see it, no opinion. Lookup 'joelxthewolf' on instagram. He documents his training/fighting out of that gym and you can get a sense of things from him. Looks legit.  Hongthong: Drove past. A bit closer to old town, but still outside a ways. Fighters often on local promotion. Sizeable open-air gym. No opinion.  Like I said, there are many others to choose from. Get a motorbike on arrival and spend your first day dropping into several to get a feel before commiting. Manop. Buakaw's Banchamek Gym, Chiang May Muay Thai, Santai, Sit, Hongthong etc. Be prepared to be on the road all day for that, Chiang Mai is surprisingly quite big and spread out.  Here is the average weather forecast is for July in Chiang Mai: "This month is known as a warm month. The average maximum daytime temperature in Chiang Mai in July lies at 31.7°C (89.06°F). The average minimum temperature is 24.0°C (75.2°F) (usually the minimum temperature is noted at night). The amount of rain during this month is high with an average of 145mm (5.7in). It rains an average of 19 days of the month. The sun will occasionally show itself with 121 hours of sunshine during the entire month." Something to consider. I should have taken better notes during my training, but didn't, so these are just some of my recollections/feelings. Ask away with any questions, I'll be glad to give my two cents. I am now training at a small gym in Isaan and plan to be more diligent and methodical with documenting my progress and experience. I'd like to post and participate in this forum more. Thank you Sylvie and Kevin for the platform and second hand push to do so, and all the info you've provided over the years- it's been very helpful for me on this journey and I'm having so much fun. 
    • thank you 😃   can you point timestamps? i think you are right and i'm trying to improve it, specially when i get tagged i "panic". It's getting a little better. About everything else, i guess i'll have to try to discover if it's my thing. I don't know if it counts but because we are a bit silly and unskilled i already experienced some damage.. in the end i'm in the rain and ready to get wet, soon i'll see, whatever happens, happens, maybe i'll drown, maybe not!
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    • It is recommended that you should rest 1 month approximately, after having an eye surgery. I know that you are very very keen about your training. That's the best spirit in you. But at this time I recommend you to rest at least 1 month and if you fear that you may not forget Boxing, I recommend you 2 read books and blogs about Boxing. That'll help you keep in touch with Boxing.
    • Sparring was each day, it's part of the training, also each day you go the bagwork and the pads, so i don't know where you got that idea from.  You never go  without hiting the pads or having spar in the Thailand, unless you're in a really bad comercial gym, but the spar there is way different than in other countries, you develop technique there and go sparr without power, by either legs, hands or clinch, depending on the day . As for technique, they always correct you and try to teach it the correct way, they made a good amount of adjustments in my kicking techniques, sweeps and clinch while i was there, i didn't go into such small details because it would take a whole book to write about how much small things they see and try to work on that. Also i don't think you fully read what i wrote in the blogs, because i don't really remember now all the things i wrote, it was a long time ago, but i went on and re-read the first day i wrote, and it already said i did a lot of pads and clinch , knees and elbows , so i don't know where you got the idea that i didn't do pad work. 
    • Hey mate sorry for bumping old thread, im thinking bout going to Manop for 3 months in nov-dec-jan. Everything you described in your posts are what i'm looking for, but there was some things bothering me.   1) From what I read you barely got to spar? Sparring is a huge deal and important for me.. Why didn't you get to spar in the beginning? 2) You seem to spent ALOT of time hitting the bag, why didnt you get more pad-time in the beginning of your training? I really don't know your level and it was hard to tell from the fight 3) (Probably most important) How are they on instructions? Do they correct your technique? how much do they emphesise on that? Do they teach you proper form, sweeps, techniques, tricks, etc? cause from your posts it seemed like you were on your own pretty much the entire stay     Cheers!
    • I'll recommend Elite Sports, Yokkao and Fairtex.
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