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Gom Jabbar - This is Fighting.png

For those that know the Dune series or Dune movie the message above will make perfect, poetic sense. The Gom Jabbar is a method designed to test whether you are a human (and not an animal). I'll leave behind my committed belief that humans definitely are animals, and that it is wrong to imagine a separation and not a continuity between them, but essentially it's the order of a prescription that you must be able to resist your greatest impulses. In this case, your impulse brought on by pain, and ultimately fear of pain. In the story the messianic hero Paul is told to place his hand in a box that will submit him to incredible pain, and the fear of pain.

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If he removes his hand he will be pricked by the mother superior, and killed instantly. It is a test, but a test that stretches out the soul of the hero, from an attenuation of fear all the way to certain Death. This is fighting.

Fighting is not about winning. Fighting is not even about surviving. Fighting is about putting your hand in the box. Its about all the training that you do so you can endure with your hand in the box. The purpose of training, ultimately, is not to train your hand so it can do oh-so-many-things when it is in the box. It's about keeping the hand in the box. We are mislead into thinking what training, and even fighting is about. It's easy to imagine that it's about handling yourself, physically, under pressure. Or, being able to impose yourself upon your opponent. These are worthy ends. There is a great deal of self-cultivation in both of these. But, it isn't about that. It ultimately is about just keeping your hand in the box.

This is the wonderful thing about fighting a lot. I'm speaking here not as a fighter, but as a very close, compassionate observer of a fighter who happens to have fought more than any western Muay Thai fighter...ever. Fighting a lot you get to glimpse through the veils. You think you understand what fighting is after 50 fights. After 100 you realize that you didn't really understand at 50, but now you know. Then at 150 you suddenly see things differently. Now at 240...well, you see where I am going. What is infinitely cool is that the vision you have at any one particular point, let's say that particular ledge on the mountain where you stand, overlooking a drop off and valley, that was earned by you, and you simply could not have had that view 300 meters down, or at basecamp.

fighting basecamp.PNG

It doesn't mean that what you saw at 50 fights was wrong, it was limited. It was limited not only from your perspective - where you are standing - but also because of your narrative. When you are at 100 fights your view will be informed by all the other ground that you covered. You have become enriched.

At first when you put your hand in the box, seriously, with focus, all you have at your disposal is Will Power. You feel that Will Power is your only ally, the only thing that can get you to keep your hand in the box, facing the pain (and the fear). You just grimace in one way or another and just keep that mutha' fucker in there. You keep it in there because it matters to you. You do another round on the bag. You bust it harder on pads. You train through and around injuries. You endure. It's a beautiful commitment. And, it would be enough if that is all there was. Just keeping your hand in there out of force of will.

But a funny thing happens when you keep your hand in there for a really long time. Or honestly, what has been happening is that you keep choosing to put your hand in there. It comes out, you put it back in. It comes out, you put it back in, fully knowing what that will feel like. You come to realize that Will Power isn't your sole resource. In fact, there is something else far more powerful and complete. It's the peace you can try to make with the pain itself, and more properly with the fear. And this leads to personal excavation. This is the real beginning of fighting.

Of course it is wrong for me as a non-fighter to talk of the real beginning of fighting. Fighting has many uses and many values. But what I mean by "real" is perhaps what I would call the superseding value and use of fighting, the one that lies behind all other other values and pleasures we take in fighting. The guiding principle. We would not have really encountered this, in our path, at 100 fights, or even 150. It just wasn't realizable though the seeds of this understanding were certainly growing then. Sylvie had a real breakthrough in this area, back in 2015, four years ago, when she received her Tiger Yant after her 108th Fight. As a close, compassionate observer, this was the first time that it seemed that she became released by the notion that submitting to the fact of the pain - and here, read "pain" as encompassing all the experiences and associative thoughts that repulse - was the only true doorway through it. Sylvie's been soaking in that truth for 4 years now, and over 120 fights more. Keep putting that hand in the box.

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The hardest thing to digest about all of this is that it's not Will Power. It's not straining and pushing yourself back into it. There is something addictive for people who have strong wills. Will is immensely successful in this world. It pushes through things, through people, through circumstances that have less will. The world will bend to will. But the Jom Gabbar is about something else. Fighting is about something else. It involves Will, but it is the wings that grow out of Will, when you let go of that branch and discover you have wings.

This is why people who put their hand in the box, over and over and over again have value. Yes, some of them are just toughened. Great examples of fortitude. They've cut pathways of commitment and focus that others of us, mere mortals, can follow. But occasionally, they break through in their relationship to the box. They find another way, a higher way, that could not otherwise be found in shorter stints.

And I'm going to detour here toward what actually is my focus of writing this. Fights are The Box. Stepping into the ring is putting your hand in the box. And anyone...and I mean ANYONE who has stepped in the ring, no matter how dubious or controlled the circumstances, has done something worthy. They have put their hand in the box. But then becomes the path of the fighter. What follows that first fight is putting your hand back on the box. And then putting it in the box again. And again. And again. What is inside the box is different for every fighter. In the beginning it's just pain, and the fear of pain. Then, pretty quickly, it's the shame of possible defeat, or fear of being "unworthy" of even being in the ring. What develops, as you put your hand again and again in the box is a certain relationship to the fears and pains of the ring. A fighter will build emotional armor for what is encountered in there. Habits or mindsets that shield her or him from what's in there. And honestly this armor is largely just a defense against a deeper relationship with what's in there. You aren't fighting an opponent. Your opponent is just a stand-in, a proxy, a figure designed to trigger your own demons. And those demons will come whether you win or lose.

I say all of this because I'm witnessing a revolution in Sylvie's self, her soul, and I don't even know where it came from, other than to say that it came from putting her hand in the box repeatedly, and opening herself up to what the box can teach. When fighting so many times you can get looped into 20 fight, 40 fight stretches were you have a pretty firm conception of yourself, but then it breaks down, and another conception arises. These kinds of things simply cannot happen at lower repetitions. You cannot know these things with 20 fights, because they come from putting your hand back in the box. Yes, you can learn a lot from training incredibly hard, patiently honing your weapon, struggling through all the adventures of training. Yes. But it isn't the same as putting your hand in the Box as a fighter does.

Take a look at this mental training vlog from yesterday:

This might seem like just some good mental training advice, but I'm really astounded by it, simply because of the meta position Sylvie finds herself in, and importantly the comfort she has achieved in taking that meta position. She's been there many, many times. Groundhog Day. So much so that its starting to lose its tension. It's starting to gain relief. The fundamental issue, the struggle, which might be called the Fighter's Quest, isn't what it seemed it was. Having the right attitude toward the struggle, yes, is the focus of training and ultimately of fighting. But the excavation comes in realizing and working on the structures of judgement that surround that struggle. It is as if we are all watching a television show, and then suddenly realize that the cameras in the studio, the audio and the cue card holder are really the point of the show, not what's happening "on screen". This is pulling at the threads of who you supposedly "are". These are all the things that make the tv show happen. You cannot get to these things only at the level of the show, what is on the screen.

The fighter's struggle, the Box the fighter repeatedly puts their hand in, is the pain (physical pain, fear, humiliation, shame) that draws attention to attention to the frame around the picture. The fighter will be limited in entrench-able ways if they remain "in frame", and do not look at the frame itself. You can win lots of fights without dealing much with your personal framework. This is why winning doesn't really matter to the value of fighting, and often works as a disservice. The point of fighting is to keep putting your hand in the Box, until you learn. You may never learn. It may feel like it's just a goddamn pain box. The lesson cannot be forced. But, if you keep putting your hand in there, and give it time, you will/can learn something incredible.

In this way Sylvie is an absolute astronaut, traveling far beyond the dimensions any of us regularly can reach. She has been blessed in her circumstances. She's very small bodied and she lives and fights in the country of fighting that is like no other. As a small bodied fighter she has an endless number of available, high-skilled opponents that can increase in size. She now is giving up 5 kilos regularly, sometimes 10. A year or two from now, it may be 8 regularly. It's the very rare opportunity to keep putting your hand in the Box, where it really, really, really does hurt. The hurt isn't the pain itself, its all the thoughts that surround the pain of the public display of your soul, as an adversary works incredibly hard to discredit you. And, you do that over and over and over again.

Fighters of the past, or present day fighters of larger size who have limited chance, simply did not (do not) have the same opportunities to put their hand in the Box as many times. What they know of the Box is necessarily limited by this. They do not know less than Sylvie, but maybe it's fair to say they do know less of what they could know themselves, at least in terms of this particular Gom Jabbar. The trial of what a fight is. I wish I could describe this not as a negation. What we are looking at is a shooting star. So many people put their hand in the Box, maybe even many, many times, and then hold onto the "Hand in the Box" award. It's understandable. The Gom Jabbar is fucking serious business. If you've done it many times, or even a few, it is worthy of all our celebration. Every time the hand is placed in the Box something is learned, and there is infinite variety and even contradiction in these lessons, fighter by fighter. But I want to call attention to this other thing. What it means and what it is worth when you really just submit and turn yourself over to the Box itself, all the fears, all the pain, in such a way that it will unravel you, so that you can be remade.

I'm rambling here because I'm reaching for something. I'm witnessing something in my wife that is unexpected, and could never be predicted or forced. The fighting has opened up into very large and valuable truths that point to the fabric of what we really are. It's a kind of alchemy that maybe can only happen at very high repetitions. I'm not sure.  Sylvie could have retired at 150 fights and never come close to this, and all praise would be upon her for what she had done. We would never have a sense of what was lost by her not persevering on. She's passed through several personal veils since then. What is the value for all of us? This is the fighting equivalent of Walking on the Moon.

What is so interesting to me is that vanishing from our sight is even the question: Well, how well did she fight? The aim to fight well, to express oneself in the Thai vocabulary, impose oneself, to solve duress, to meet up with Thai aesthetics demands ultimately unraveling. To get there, where one wants to be as a fighter, requires a disassembly of what might be called persona, the thing you think is "you", that you tell yourself is "you", so that you can tap into forces and streams that lie outside of that frame. The artform of Thai boxing, its full aesthetic, is a pathway to a very unanticipated becoming. If you want to fight a certain way, if you are reaching for a beauty or efficacy or a soul of movement, you have to become other than you are. A soul has been defined as "all the affective capabilities of a person", the spectrum of everything that one could possibility, feel. Like all the radio stations a radio could turn into, even if it currently is on one. Muay Thai, and what I'm calling the Gom Jabbar of fighting, pulls the soul deeper into its spectrum of possibilities. You cannot feel that pull, necessarily, to the same degree, in the same fashion, unless you keep putting your hand in that Box. The reason for this is that the Box, fundamentally, exposes you to your limit, what you think you are, who you are. And each time you revisit that limit, which may or not be changing, you have a chance to alter your relationship with not that limit, but to understand what any limit is, the very nature of limits. 

Where Does the Nature of Limits Lead?

Sylvie White Blade.jpg

 

A Fighter is nothing if not a metamorphosis. Every fighter adapts, every fighter is changed. The fighter takes on a mask, a persona, a shape...forms. This is a ritualistic donning in which the fighter is imbued with power or responsibilities that are not her or his own, and however ill-fitting, or altering, or heavy that mask is, is what changes the fighter. Sometimes the fighter wears different masks. Tries different masks, but they are all in the ritual of fighting, and they are all calling down that god of that particular mask. As you wear masks into the ring - and masks can be anything from ideal thought patterns, to embodied fighting styles, to alter parts of yourself, personalities, armorings - you come to understand masks and yourself better. When you fail a particular mask, many times, you understand yourself and that mask better. Maybe you need a different mask, a different god. Maybe you need to grow into that mask. Only by wearing that mask, over and over, are you ultimately transformed by it. Only by working through masks, do you come to understand what a mask is. Masks are not "false" selves. (It's true, there are many inefficacious masks, usually masks detached from higher values or traditional transport, from process.) Masks are technologies of change and transformation, they pull with them the unseen, the range of affects beyond what you are "are". And, the fighter comes perhaps to understand that she or he has been wearing masks all along, only masks they have become comfortable in, masks they have been told and that they tell themselves are really them. But you cannot just throw off your mask, any mask you've grown into. You have tissue, blood vessels, skin, organs even that have become symbiotic to it. The act though of putting on a mask, to stretch the soul, uncovers something about yourself. And, what is special about the alchemy of the process of fighting is that this is done, this art, is done under duress, sometimes extreme duress. It's an art-form of mask making that pulls on our deepest evolutionary threads, triggering all the alarm bells of our organism - physical survival, and shame (social survival). The things to be learned from growing in your relationship to mask are unending and profound.

God of Muay Thai Bust.jpg

There is a theme building in Sylvie Muay, which directs itself away from the ring, beyond the ring, through the ring. The ring stands in as an analog for the soul in life. It presents in extreme, stark relief the Nature of things. Your relationship to all the things that steer you, unconsciously, in living. The Ring exposes your conditions, and your conditioning. Because it is real, because this mirror is real, there are many ways to fail it. There are serious handholds in the rock where you will be tempted to say: "Ah! Here is a good place to stop." and then to head back down the mountain. The Ring in this way feels Impenetrable. It can feel like proverbial and metaphysical "sound and fury,
Signifying nothing". Many fighters come out of their ring days and feel like they've simply survived. But within their souls, even those who have been muted, I think they know something others do not know. And in some sense the limits of what they have discovered is conditioned by the circumstances and pressures of fighting. I cannot shake the feeling though, the dramatic feeling of difference that I feel between what Sylvie has discovered, and is discovering as a person, maybe in the last 6 months, from where she was, as a person with 150 fights. All of that veil passing would have been lost. There is a feeling like she is now stepping on a whole new continent after sailing across a long and variously believed endless sea. There is a shore here. On the other side.

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I don't really have words to express how much I love this essay. It's incredibly beautiful and well-thought out. <- saying this when it comes to your writings it's like saying water is wet.

I feel you - hahaha. I mean, I think I feel where you're trying to go with this. I'm just a baby in Muay Thai. In French, when you want to say someone is very naive, you say that person was born from the last rain. In English, I think the idiom is: "you were born yesterday". It just so happens that yesterday it rained a lot in my city. That was my Muay Thai birthday actually. I am one day old now. Happy birthday to me lol. I don't understand much and I don't have much to say yet. I'm still going to meow a little here. Though it won't be a profound meow. It's a very high-pitched kitty meow. 🐈

So far, I've never thought that fighting in the ring is essentially about winning against your opponent. I've just been approaching it as another form of Jihad. Not the Jihad expressed in Dune. That's a one aspect of the Dune series I strongly dislike. It wrongly associated Jihad with colonisation and conquest. You can kinda feel that the book was written by a white man... That's another matter anyway. Jihad isn't about conquest and defeating an external enemy. It is simply a neverending battle against your own ego. That's what fighting is for me. Defeating my own ego. The ego for me is everything that has to do with being comfortable - physically, mentally, emotionally comfortable. Comfort brings you nothing but stagnation - to the point where you end up rotting away. Keeping away from comfort is staying closer to pain. The kind of pains that you don't like and find extremely unpleasant/extremely hard to bear. Comfort always has a way to sneak up on you - so a pain that may be challenging in the beginning can quickly become pretty comforting, and even addictive. When that happens, you need to stir away from it and find another kind of pain that you will hate, so you can grow - or die. If you're not able to keep your hand in that box right.

That's why I think maybe I understand a little your Gom Jabbar analogy. It kinda echoed with what I was thinking/feeling even though I never precisely thought about the Gom Jabbar test before. As a matter of fact, the first time I read Dune I didn't understand what the hell was going on in that test haha. I just understood there was a lot of pain involved, a lot of fear (I love the litany about fear Paul recites in his mind during the ordeal), and there was the risk of death. I reread the book several times and each time it brought about more understanding. 

I don't know if I'll ever get to 100 fights in my life to experience the kind of understanding and metamorphosis you talk about here. I don't even know if I will ever experience any kind of real pain to really test myself during my lifetime. I am pretty certain where I'm at right now, it would so easy to extract informations out of me with physical torture. I'm that scared. Some people not only can withstand extreme torture, but they can make up complex lies while under extreme pain. That fascinates me to no end. I guess the not-knowing whether you will be able to endure what could be coming at you is part of the pain. Maybe it's even worth than the pain itself? Well, I wouldn't know. If Paul knew what was awaiting him in the box. If he knew putting his hand in the box was going to be so painful, maybe his mind would've crumbled way before getting in there.

That's why it's so incredible when you know what kind of pain you will get, and go in there anyway. Sylvie has been doing the Gom Jabbar test 241 times so far, fucking hell. It's like the box is her home. I don't even think the Gom Jabbar could kill her now. Her own blood would just fucking transform the poison into protein. Take that, Reverend Mother Gaius Mohiam. Lol.

 

2 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I'll leave behind my committed belief that humans definitely are animals, and that it is wrong to imagine a separation and not a continuity between them

Just a little thank you for this. It irks me so much when people not only think that humans and animals are separate, but that humans are superior than any other species. When people use religion to justify this, it irritates me even more.

 

2 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I cannot shake the feeling though, the dramatic feeling of difference that I feel between what Sylvie has discovered, and is discovering as a person, maybe in the last 6 months, from where she was, as a person with 150 fights.

This prompted me to listen again to the following song. It kinda fits.

 

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Great essay, and perfect timing for me (I actually meditated to the Litany against fear last night). I particularly like how you approach use of  Will, you do have to force yourself thru Will to fight initially (or even just to spar). Early on though, I found that if it was just will that I was struggling against myself so much that I didn't have much for my opponent or the greater opponent (e.g. fear, anger, desire). I also think you undersell your "right" to talk about this, this is all our struggle (every single one of us) because we all walk around looking at the existential inevitability of the end. I fight for a lot of reasons, but most importantly to live a better fuller life because we always have our hand in that box (even if we aren't always aware of it). 

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Man Kevin, I always need so much time to read and just absorb what you write. Its not even the quantity of words but the quality thats so rich and needs digestion time. I love the analogy of the box being fighting. Even more I love this: "You think you understand what fighting is after 50 fights. After 100 you realize that you didn't really understand at 50, but now you know. Then at 150 you suddenly see things differently. Now at 240...well, you see where I am going. What is infinitely cool is that the vision you have at any one particular point, let's say that particular ledge on the mountain where you stand, overlooking a drop off and valley, that was earned by you, and you simply could not have had that view 300 meters down, or at basecamp." I see this as a good description of life and perception through the years (ie: your 20's, 30's, 40's and so on). Great write up as always man. 

 

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I love this part too: "You can win lots of fights without dealing much with your personal framework. This is why winning doesn't really matter to the value of fighting, and often works as a disservice. The point of fighting is to keep putting your hand in the Box, until you learn. You may never learn. It may feel like it's just a goddamn pain box. The lesson cannot be forced. But, if you keep putting your hand in there, and give it time, you will can something incredible." It really resonates. 

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44 minutes ago, Coach James Poidog said:

I love this part too: "You can win lots of fights without dealing much with your personal framework. This is why winning doesn't really matter to the value of fighting, and often works as a disservice. The point of fighting is to keep putting your hand in the Box, until you learn. You may never learn. It may feel like it's just a goddamn pain box. The lesson cannot be forced. But, if you keep putting your hand in there, and give it time, you will can something incredible." It really resonates. 

So awesome James, happy it struck you! Means a lot.

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Thank you so much for this essay. It seems to culminate in an almost fateful way with an event that took place in my life yesterday.

I have been doing mental training for the past 5 years, following an experience in my life which required that I undertook that journey. This weekend I was at my wits end, feeling like I kept running into the same wall, not seeing any way out, not seeing any progress and no path towards progress either. Feeling very down, I went to training yesterday. I was dehydrated and hadn’t eaten properly, and the gym was steaming hot, so I decided on just coasting through this one training. Warm up went alright, got to pads where I was working with a young fighter who’s incredibly gifted, but due to age and size difference, wasn’t getting me too hard. First round goes okay, I’m still not feeling great, but I got through relying on routine. I figure the day will be alright at this point. And then I’m called over to do a round with my kru.

My kru is an old thai gentleman who grew up fighting at Sangtiennoi Sor Rungroj (as far as I can gather from the other fighters). He’s quite reserved and distant, in his late 40’s, and he’s an incredible teacher. He moves so beautifully. He can be a mean son of a bitch though, and he was in a monday mood yesterday. He was very hard on me, not so much focusing on technique as burning me out; of course, not just in a physical way, but rather in a mental way - the physical exertion just acting as a medium, an instrument to unravel and reveal. This wasn’t just pad work, this was feeling for my heart. So, I gave all I had, physically trying to manifest what I believe I am made of, not backing off and channeling aggression and heart even in the face of such superiority - technical, experiential and physical. When the clock finally gave me pause, I fell to my knees to try and breathe, grateful I’d gotten through it as well as I had, feeling proud, thanking him.

I was getting ready to return to my initial young pad holder, when my kru ordered me towards one of the gyms best fighters. This guy is a great pad holder and he is intense as fuck. He’s an incredibly sweet and nice guy, but he’s almost dionysian in his energy when he walks into that gym. To the point where you can barely get through to him while the training lasts. He could tell how battered I was, but quickly made it clear in a nice way that I was not to quit under any circumstance. Not just quit as in leaving the pads, which I wouldn’t do, but quit with the heart while remaining on the pads. Having tapped into the will, which you wrote about, in the previous round, I figured I would try that again, and sure enough I got through it. He embraced me and told me I’d done a great job, which felt amazing coming from him. I was almost puking at this point, so I just got through the rest of the training as best as I could.

Only today did it dawn on me that will hadn’t gotten me through that second round wasn’t the will power that got me through the first round, and which has also gotten me through this first year of training. Something else appeared in me – or through me – that I havn’t experienced before. Something like tapping ‘’into forces and streams that lie outside of that frame’’ of the ego, the persona, the I.

Make no mistake, I in no way dare to compare myself to Sylvie or the monumental path that she is treading, but I do believe I caught a glimpse of what you are trying to communicate in the essay - only having understood it, connected to it - through reading these words.

In some way this new unknown that I will now need to familiarize myself with (in so far as that is even possible?) has carried over to my mental training, seeming to sort of unknit some of these knots that have bound me for a long time. Today has felt different. I have felt different. This event is something that has been underway for a long time – this shore hopefully – and I thank you deeply for writing the essay to give me the words to see myself in, words that show me that I am not alone, words to hope through. Thank you so much to both of you for all that you do.

Best,

Asger

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1 hour ago, Asger said:

but he’s almost dionysian in his energy when he walks into that gym

There is a tale that as Dionysus walked from India to the West his adornments gradually fell from his body, until he stood as Apollo, in Greece.

1 hour ago, Asger said:

Only today did it dawn on me that will hadn’t gotten me through that second round wasn’t the will power that got me through the first round, and which has also gotten me through this first year of training. Something else appeared in me – or through me – that I havn’t experienced before. Something like tapping ‘’into forces and streams that lie outside of that frame’’ of the ego, the persona, the I.

That...is super cool and more or less amazing. It's a beautifully written response, and observation too. Very happy to have read it. It sounds like you are on an amazing journey, well worth everything you have bet on it.

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5 hours ago, Asger said:

Thank you so much for this essay. It seems to culminate in an almost fateful way with an event that took place in my life yesterday.

I have been doing mental training for the past 5 years, following an experience in my life which required that I undertook that journey. This weekend I was at my wits end, feeling like I kept running into the same wall, not seeing any way out, not seeing any progress and no path towards progress either. Feeling very down, I went to training yesterday. I was dehydrated and hadn’t eaten properly, and the gym was steaming hot, so I decided on just coasting through this one training. Warm up went alright, got to pads where I was working with a young fighter who’s incredibly gifted, but due to age and size difference, wasn’t getting me too hard. First round goes okay, I’m still not feeling great, but I got through relying on routine. I figure the day will be alright at this point. And then I’m called over to do a round with my kru.

My kru is an old thai gentleman who grew up fighting at Sangtiennoi Sor Rungroj (as far as I can gather from the other fighters). He’s quite reserved and distant, in his late 40’s, and he’s an incredible teacher. He moves so beautifully. He can be a mean son of a bitch though, and he was in a monday mood yesterday. He was very hard on me, not so much focusing on technique as burning me out; of course, not just in a physical way, but rather in a mental way - the physical exertion just acting as a medium, an instrument to unravel and reveal. This wasn’t just pad work, this was feeling for my heart. So, I gave all I had, physically trying to manifest what I believe I am made of, not backing off and channeling aggression and heart even in the face of such superiority - technical, experiential and physical. When the clock finally gave me pause, I fell to my knees to try and breathe, grateful I’d gotten through it as well as I had, feeling proud, thanking him.

I was getting ready to return to my initial young pad holder, when my kru ordered me towards one of the gyms best fighters. This guy is a great pad holder and he is intense as fuck. He’s an incredibly sweet and nice guy, but he’s almost dionysian in his energy when he walks into that gym. To the point where you can barely get through to him while the training lasts. He could tell how battered I was, but quickly made it clear in a nice way that I was not to quit under any circumstance. Not just quit as in leaving the pads, which I wouldn’t do, but quit with the heart while remaining on the pads. Having tapped into the will, which you wrote about, in the previous round, I figured I would try that again, and sure enough I got through it. He embraced me and told me I’d done a great job, which felt amazing coming from him. I was almost puking at this point, so I just got through the rest of the training as best as I could.

Only today did it dawn on me that will hadn’t gotten me through that second round wasn’t the will power that got me through the first round, and which has also gotten me through this first year of training. Something else appeared in me – or through me – that I havn’t experienced before. Something like tapping ‘’into forces and streams that lie outside of that frame’’ of the ego, the persona, the I.

Make no mistake, I in no way dare to compare myself to Sylvie or the monumental path that she is treading, but I do believe I caught a glimpse of what you are trying to communicate in the essay - only having understood it, connected to it - through reading these words.

In some way this new unknown that I will now need to familiarize myself with (in so far as that is even possible?) has carried over to my mental training, seeming to sort of unknit some of these knots that have bound me for a long time. Today has felt different. I have felt different. This event is something that has been underway for a long time – this shore hopefully – and I thank you deeply for writing the essay to give me the words to see myself in, words that show me that I am not alone, words to hope through. Thank you so much to both of you for all that you do.

Best,

Asger

This made me tear up, no exaggeration. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. 

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5 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

There is a tale that as Dionysus walked from India to the West his adornments gradually fell from his body, until he stood as Apollo, in Greece.

That...is super cool and more or less amazing. It's a beautifully written response, and observation too. Very happy to have read it. It sounds like you are on an amazing journey, well worth everything you have bet on it.

Thank you so much Kevin. The praise of my writing is such a massive compliment coming from you, and the encouragement is much cherished as well. I am on an amazing journey, hard as it may be.

1 hour ago, Kero Tide said:

This made me tear up, no exaggeration. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. 

Kero Tide thank you so much. That is incredibly touching to hear.  

 

Having given it some more thought today, it was almost as if this strength, energy or power I was demanding of myself to channel did not need demanding to manifest; it was something in me that I have discovered I can access - circumventing my ego. In so far as the ego functions as a way of asserting control, and which I have relied on for so long, you cannot imagine the joy of experiencing this force within me that did not need forcing, but seemed to be an expression of the very stuff I am made of. Like pulling off a mask that expresses what I value the most to discover the same face underneath.

What an amazing sport, art, ethic - life - muay thai is.

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