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Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

Fight Aggression: Alter Personalities OR Growing Who You Are?

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This post grows out of a really excellent thread started by James Poidog on training fighter aggression, especially for those uncomfortable with aggression themselves (that thread is linked at the bottom here). I started answering James and then just realized that this probably deserves a thread of it's own. This was the beginning of my answer:

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Sylvie's done interesting things in this area. I think it's something we are going to pick up in a coming Muay Thai Bones podcast, and maybe she can make a forum thread. There are kind of two basic fighter approaches we've seen. One is the Alter Persona approach. This is where you are a sweet heart out of the ring, but a monster in it. You have a kind of split, and you develop a 2nd You, that you kind of turn into, like a werewolf or something. Sylvie played around with that, but it is was for her only limitedly successful....

Painful transformation.PNG

I hope she hops on here to discuss, but I'm just giving my view. I've seen female fighters go this way. Roxy Richardson advocated for it in some blog posts, Michelle Waterson talks this way. For Sylvie the creation of an alter never was super effective. She wasn't at peace with the values in that alter, and Muay Thai is so much of her soul I think it all was a little jarring, and in a way "not believable" to her, so it didn't quite stick. You definitely see this in male fighters too. The whole "persona" which works well with marketing, etc. But what Sylvie seems to have discovered for herself is the mantra: "The way you do one thing is the way you do all things." which means that if you want to fight differently, you have to bring those values and habits into your life, the way you do other things. An interesting example for instance is that as a Muay Khao fighter you need to constantly be taking up space. More and more space. Sylvie's physically small, often shy or reclusive person. She has been moving out of the way of people for a very long time, sometimes just out of the reality of what happens on sidewalks. So...when you are moving through supermarket aisles, who is the one who moves out of the way first? You don't have to be an asshole about it, but always one person makes the gesture to move first. Who is that person? If you really want to naturally be a certain way in the ring. for instance somehow who takes up space, yes, you can make up the "Space Eating Monster" alter who just gobbles space, or...you can become someone who increasingly takes up space more often, in all things, in all ways.

What I find really interesting about this is that the reason why people are drawn to certain personas, or let's say certain fighting styles, like literally drawn like a moth, is that they speak to something deep inside, something that they might not be reconciled with. Training toward something in technique, or in style, or even persona, in the gym, is a way of working toward that expression, that thing. Alters are way of approaching that, but it seems much cooler, much more rich and transformative to literally take that thing, that desire onto yourself, and start to shape your life with it. I think that's much closer to the arc that fighters are spiritually aiming for in the first place.

There is also always a suspicion for me that when people put on alters that those masks can break, if you push on them hard enough, that the fighter, or even the person in life, doesn't really, really, really believe that that is who they are. And that there can be a kind of fragility to that path. Yes, you can put on masks to grow into them, to give permissions, that's a tool, but what is is stronger, like a slowly growing oak tree, to really become what you dream.

tree growing into rock.PNG

 

The original thread conversation spin off:

 

 

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4 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

"The way you do one thing is the way you do all things." which means that if you want to fight differently, you have to bring those values and habits into your life, the way you do other things

I need to keep that very much in mind.

4 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Who is that person? If you really want to naturally be a certain way in the ring. for instance somehow who takes up space, yes, you can make up the "Space Eating Monster" alter who just gobbles space, or...you can become someone who increasingly takes up space more often, in all things, in all ways.

I have been trying for years to stop being the one who moves out of the way of people when walking in the street. Sometimes I succeed, but most of the time i fail. I'm not the confrontational type. I hate contact and I hate conflict. I've only very recently told people I don't do cheek-kissing (this is the French way of greeting people - I fucking hate it) and sometimes i still do it: when people are too insisting or when I care too much about their feelings or when I'm just caught off guard, and the conditioning takes over.

Yet I love the contact in a Muay Thai context. I enjoy the violence and I actually do enjoy hurting people - and being hurt too, just as much, maybe more. I find it so much easier to take space in this context.

But I don't want my personality/mind to be fractured and dispersed. I think it may be a lot easier to have different personas than to build yourself as a whole person. Having Alter Egos sounds very cool, appealing and romantic. It's a popular trope in pop culture. You see it all the time in super heroes. I was drawn to it for a while - as a sort of trendy thing to aspire to.

But when I think about it and after reading your take on it, it does sound way more badass to simply be whole, just completely yourself all the time. Also to be accountable to everything that you do, and not just be like "well, can't help it, that's my other persona / the demon inside me / the addiction / bla bla bla". Like Eminem with his Slim Shady. "I can be an asshole, and a monster and a psycho because that's not really me actually. That's my other darker me." -> it sounds a bit like escapism. The ring can be a place where you escape. You think you're dealing with whatever troubles you deep inside that created that fracture in yourself by being a monster in the ring, and maybe it does help a little. But if you're ONLY "dealing" with it in the ring and never outside of it, what happens when you can't be in the ring anymore? When you don't have your mean to escape, to let off some steam, what then?

4 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

There is also always a suspicion for me that when people put on alters that those masks can break, if you push on them hard enough, that the fighter, or even the person in life, doesn't really, really, really believe that that is who they are. And that there can be a kind of fragility to that path.

I guess that's what happen then. You're more likely to break at some point. It's too fragile to be split. Look at what happened to Voldemort and his horcruxes. Lol.

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For me, its more that the persona I have when I train or fight is more the real one the one I cant let fully out in normal life. Ive had emotional issues as a kid from past abuse that left me with an unhealthy anger and no real way to deal with it...until I started training. Training let me use it and let it out to a degree that made it manageable in regular day life. If I have an alter its more the good and kind person I trained myself to become. The killer mentality has been there so long, its a part of me no matter what but it has so many detractors in regular dealings I had to learn to manage it and training helped me. Specifically in learning when and where to unleash it in training and fighting. Btw Kevin, this post is exactly why I posted earlier. I love to see how an idea expressed leads to other ideas and thoughts.  

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2 hours ago, Kero Tide said:

But if you're ONLY "dealing" with it in the ring and never outside of it, what happens when you can't be in the ring anymore? When you don't have your mean to escape, to let off some steam, what then?

This is a great point and something I think about with former fighters who've retired, those that stay retired and move onto other ventures and those that cant seem to stay retired even if the majority of fandom thinks they should. I feel like its part of the reason some cant retire to save their lives and others end up with major personality problems that end up on the news (like domestic disputes, etc). Its a tough subject one has to individually address. If your only outlet for certain emotions is fighting then what do you do when you cant? Personally, Ive had to deal with this aggressively. I know now that Im not completely made up of rage and aggression, but it took years of learning to deal with these emotions when they werent appropriate to the situation. Finding other outlets (like exercise) and learning dealing tools (like meditation, psychology, etc.) became invaluable. It became about finding a balance between the things that have become who I am. Not an alter so much as a blend, or a mix that has more of a percentage at the surface during specific situations. Its a work in progress, one I think Ill always be working on, but its always better the longer I live and deal with it. 

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29 minutes ago, Coach James Poidog said:

For me, its more that the persona I have when I train or fight is more the real one the one I cant let fully out in normal life. Ive had emotional issues as a kid from past abuse that left me with an unhealthy anger and no real way to deal with it...until I started training. Training let me use it and let it out to a degree that made it manageable in regular day life. If I have an alter its more the good and kind person I trained myself to become. The killer mentality has been there so long, its a part of me no matter what but it has so many detractors in regular dealings I had to learn to manage it and training helped me. Specifically in learning when and where to unleash it in training and fighting. Btw Kevin, this post is exactly why I posted earlier. I love to see how an idea expressed leads to other ideas and thoughts.  

I am something more like this, except I had almost over-trained my functional self in years of sobriety, such that the “crazy” kept leaking out around the edges.  Fight training has been a godsend, restored me to sanity not least because I don’t have to pretend I’m something else.  Violence for fun was normal in my family.

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23 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

There is also always a suspicion for me that when people put on alters that those masks can break, if you push on them hard enough, that the fighter, or even the person in life, doesn't really, really, really believe that that is who they are. And that there can be a kind of fragility to that path. Yes, you can put on masks to grow into them, to give permissions, that's a tool, but what is is stronger, like a slowly growing oak tree, to really become what you dream.

I firmly believe in what you just said. If you push someone with an alter persona, they eventually "drop their nuts", as we say here. I love your reference to Sylvie's discomfort with adopting such an approach and her stock (which is already very high in my value) has risen exponentially.  I regard myself as Muay Matt, this fits with my psyche and the way I am in general, that's not say I'm a pugnacious type, I'm just confident in who I am. I'm a firm believer in being true, if you aren't the only person you're truly hurting is yourself. One has to be able to look in the mirror, so to speak, and like what they see.

I keep forgetting to let you guys know what an impact you have had on me. I was always convinced that I was the only one who intellectualised on martial theories, most of my friends don't grasp the concepts I come up with, my kru does, but he's a rarity and I have the utmost respect for him and the impact he has had on my life. As a rule, I have shied away from the internet and discussing things in such an open format. Shit, I don't even facebook.  I discovered Sylvie on YouTube after several years absence, and I really can't verbalize how much I was impressed. I enjoy your writing, Kevin. The obvious thought, research and knowledge you put across is truly amazing. Watching the evolution of Sylvie, of course as a fighter, but more importantly as a woman has been amazing.

Edited by Jeremy Stewart
Just wanted to.
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19 hours ago, Kero Tide said:

I need to keep that very much in mind.

I have been trying for years to stop being the one who moves out of the way of people when walking in the street. Sometimes I succeed, but most of the time i fail. I'm not the confrontational type. I hate contact and I hate conflict. I've only very recently told people I don't do cheek-kissing (this is the French way of greeting people - I fucking hate it) and sometimes i still do it: when people are too insisting or when I care too much about their feelings or when I'm just caught off guard, and the conditioning takes over.

Yet I love the contact in a Muay Thai context. I enjoy the violence and I actually do enjoy hurting people - and being hurt too, just as much, maybe more. I find it so much easier to take space in this context.

But I don't want my personality/mind to be fractured and dispersed. I think it may be a lot easier to have different personas than to build yourself as a whole person. Having Alter Egos sounds very cool, appealing and romantic. It's a popular trope in pop culture. You see it all the time in super heroes. I was drawn to it for a while - as a sort of trendy thing to aspire to.

But when I think about it and after reading your take on it, it does sound way more badass to simply be whole, just completely yourself all the time. Also to be accountable to everything that you do, and not just be like "well, can't help it, that's my other persona / the demon inside me / the addiction / bla bla bla". Like Eminem with his Slim Shady. "I can be an asshole, and a monster and a psycho because that's not really me actually. That's my other darker me." -> it sounds a bit like escapism. The ring can be a place where you escape. You think you're dealing with whatever troubles you deep inside that created that fracture in yourself by being a monster in the ring, and maybe it does help a little. But if you're ONLY "dealing" with it in the ring and never outside of it, what happens when you can't be in the ring anymore? When you don't have your mean to escape, to let off some steam, what then?

I guess that's what happen then. You're more likely to break at some point. It's too fragile to be split. Look at what happened to Voldemort and his horcruxes. Lol.

Kero, mate. I really like your openness. This comment is in no way advice. I'm definitely not anyone to have the temerity or arrogance to advise someone on how live. But there is so much truth in what Kevin wrote. I'd kill to be half as good a wordsmith as he is. He is so correct in as I understand his statement,  people who develop alter personas all ways come apart eventually. Occupying your own space doesn't entail being an arsehole about it, if it's genuine. My Kru, I first met him when I was 19, I'm 48 now. I was at a gym and he was visiting and the aura he gave off was just incredible. And he has to be one of the most approachable people if ever met, but you were very aware his space was his space. He's nearly 70 now and the same way. So I guess what I'm saying is be true to who you are.

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17 hours ago, Coach James Poidog said:

For me, its more that the persona I have when I train or fight is more the real one the one I cant let fully out in normal life. Ive had emotional issues as a kid from past abuse that left me with an unhealthy anger and no real way to deal with it...until I started training. Training let me use it and let it out to a degree that made it manageable in regular day life. If I have an alter its more the good and kind person I trained myself to become. The killer mentality has been there so long, its a part of me no matter what but it has so many detractors in regular dealings I had to learn to manage it and training helped me. Specifically in learning when and where to unleash it in training and fighting. Btw Kevin, this post is exactly why I posted earlier. I love to see how an idea expressed leads to other ideas and thoughts.  

Exactly why training is so important,  I reckon. No abuse on my behalf but kinda left to my own devices and just angry at the world. Training was I think what gave me a compass, I watch a lot of mates get in way more trouble than I did. I've lost a mates to drugs and violence. But the one constant was training, I got a trade, I got a wife, I got a couple of kids. I've ran a couple of successful businesses and I truly believe being able to train and have positive people around me has made all the difference.  I'm not saying I haven't made some really fucking stupid mistakes in my years on this earth, but without the release of hard physical training and  discovering through that what you're really made of and who you truly are deep inside, those mistakes would have been far more damaging. 

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1 hour ago, Jeremy Stewart said:

I enjoy your writing, Kevin. The obvious thought, research and knowledge you put across is truly amazing. Watching the evolution of Sylvie, of course as a fighter, but more importantly as a woman has been amazing.

It truly means a lot to hear that others are sparked by my thoughts and my words. As you can tell my mind is ever expanding in its search for implication, and I truly believe that Muay Thai is the great arts in the world, period. And I mean any art. The plastic arts, the literary arts, all of the performed arts. There is nothing that pulls on so many strings, and has the potential to reconcile the traditional and (hyper)modern worlds as much as Muay Thai, that is, the Muay Thai of Thailand.

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I do wonder why I have such an aversion to this Alter-Ego thing. An immediate thought that comes to mind is a comparison to acting. I'm a good actor, I enjoy it, I like impersonating people - I do a very good Karuhat strut. But I'm being Karuhat; it still belongs to him in a way. So I'm "performing," not identifying. I can't remember what actor it was, but someone famous enough to be profiled in a magazine I would read said that s/he liked acting because it allows one to experience very different life choices, without any of the consequences of actually having chosen those things for yourself. I find that kind of bullshit, honestly. I find actors who say they "lose themselves in the role" to be full of shit, too. You're either taking yourself into different silhouettes or you're keeping parts of those characters in yourself; or both. But in my mind, there's no such thing as without consequence. Which I think is what the whole idea of an Alter-Ego is.

I understand the notion that your fighter-persona has permissions that you, in your everyday life, don't. I don't go around trying to knee people's guts out at the supermarket. But I can't conceive of having a different set of values for in the fight and out of it. I'm all unified theory, I guess. If I need to be more merciless in the ring, then I need to be more merciless in my life. I can't hold a value in one context and not in another. There is no escaping the consequences of actions just because of context. You either live a value or you don't. And maybe because it's something that I can't quite wrap my own heart around, I am tending to assume a much larger divide than is real for those of you who do feel these alters... like, it's not so much Jekyll and Hyde as it is Big Alice and Small Alice. Big Alice can pick up the deck of cards and toss them around, Small Alice can't. I get that. But they're not separate identities to me.

 

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2 hours ago, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I do wonder why I have such an aversion to this Alter-Ego thing. An immediate thought that comes to mind is a comparison to acting. I'm a good actor, I enjoy it, I like impersonating people - I do a very good Karuhat strut. But I'm being Karuhat; it still belongs to him in a way. So I'm "performing," not identifying. I can't remember what actor it was, but someone famous enough to be profiled in a magazine I would read said that s/he liked acting because it allows one to experience very different life choices, without any of the consequences of actually having chosen those things for yourself. I find that kind of bullshit, honestly. I find actors who say they "lose themselves in the role" to be full of shit, too. You're either taking yourself into different silhouettes or you're keeping parts of those characters in yourself; or both. But in my mind, there's no such thing as without consequence. Which I think is what the whole idea of an Alter-Ego is.

I understand the notion that your fighter-persona has permissions that you, in your everyday life, don't. I don't go around trying to knee people's guts out at the supermarket. But I can't conceive of having a different set of values for in the fight and out of it. I'm all unified theory, I guess. If I need to be more merciless in the ring, then I need to be more merciless in my life. I can't hold a value in one context and not in another. There is no escaping the consequences of actions just because of context. You either live a value or you don't. And maybe because it's something that I can't quite wrap my own heart around, I am tending to assume a much larger divide than is real for those of you who do feel these alters... like, it's not so much Jekyll and Hyde as it is Big Alice and Small Alice. Big Alice can pick up the deck of cards and toss them around, Small Alice can't. I get that. But they're not separate identities to me.

 

This is why Ive been against it 100%. That sense of it being fake. For me because being "normal" vs my anger self (or whatever you wanna call it, hulk or something like that) felt so fake I had trouble seeing aspects that I could learn and become. Now I see it differently. I realise for me that these are things I can learn amd absorb to make my own. In doing so they become my version and 100% real. Theres this theory that everything we eat and love to eat is an acquired taste. As adults we can eat something and immediately like it, but the thought is its because we already acquired the taste as a child. As children we learned to like some things. Remember coffee the first time? Or beer? The idea then becomes that we dont really have set things in place as to who we are really and as we age and grow we collect the things we become. In that sense we can continue to become, to grow. For me to become better, I had to accept that my perspective of things being fake was limited. Now Im a different person and very much not the angry kid. I became more my "alter" than what I thought was who I was truly. And to be clear I dont mean fake it til you make it, but to really learn to walk in those shoes, to learn to become something else. 

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38 minutes ago, Coach James Poidog said:

For me because being "normal" vs my anger self (or whatever you wanna call it, hulk or something like that) felt so fake I had trouble seeing aspects that I could learn and become. Now I see it differently.

I think I see where you are going with this...

Hulk spining shit.PNG

 

(I hope you don't mind my humor! I just couldn't help it, just love the Hulk too much...)

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Gotta admit, most of this sounds like fairly dark and scary shit to me. Not be squeemish or anything but....shit, thinking too much about this stuff reminds me of those fucked up Tumblrs. But anyway.

Actually, someone on another thread talked about Hannibal, dunno if you guys meant the old movies, the books or the tv show. But in the new series, the main guy kept saying his real fantasy wasn't killing people, but watching a teacup drop and break apart on the ground. In that moment when it smashed, he wished time would stop and reverse, and all the pieces of the teacup would gather up together and be a teacup again.

That's basically what it feels like when you're losing a fight and somehow come back and win. He's stronger, better, faster, nothing's working and you feel like you're drowning and there's no way out. But then all of a sudden something works and you can't believe it. That's the teacup gathering up again.

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21 hours ago, Oliver said:

Gotta admit, most of this sounds like fairly dark and scary shit to me.

One of the most powerful and probably meaningful aspects of fighting as an entertainment form, but also an art, is that fighters do something that is a "peak experience" in most lives. Most of the fans in an audience have had very few purposive fights, and if they had them there were under extreme conditions. What fighters do the "normal" person will rarely do. It makes fighters kind of emotional astronauts, having to live in spaces - to perform in front of audiences - over and over in peak states. I think it can really be a struggle in how to manage going into those states, or at the very least exposing yourself to that kind of duress.

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Not quite sure I understand entirely. 

Just meant dark and scary before because adopting a killer machine animal mean alter persona or whatever is something that always felt out of reach. It's always nervous & terrifying enough before a fight, so usually feel unable to think about anything that complicated. But maybe that's personal inexperience, who knows. 

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It seems that I am the odd man out on this topic. I have and still do practice the split personality.

I am a practitioner of several martial arts but I was not in competition fighting so that may make the difference. I spent many years in law enforcement and executive protection. I learned the hard way after the first time a female managed to cut me that I had to change my attitude. 

I learned quickly to flip the switch. I can instantly go into a neutral mode to deal with situations. I no longer view people as male, female, friend, foe, young or old. You are just something to be dealt with without emotion or remorse. This does not mean without thinking though. I have been told that people could tell the exact moment when I went into this mode just by the way I look and present myself. I will say that sometimes it was hard to come out of this mode but with practice it just became like flipping a light switch. For me this is better than walking around being a asshat all of the time. I just don’t see how it could work any different for my position but I am sure as a fighter this is how I would operate. But that is the difference in the occupations I guess.

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On 6/16/2019 at 5:01 AM, Ben640 said:

It seems that I am the odd man out on this topic. I have and still do practice the split personality.

I am a practitioner of several martial arts but I was not in competition fighting so that may make the difference. I spent many years in law enforcement and executive protection. I learned the hard way after the first time a female managed to cut me that I had to change my attitude. 

I learned quickly to flip the switch. I can instantly go into a neutral mode to deal with situations. I no longer view people as male, female, friend, foe, young or old. You are just something to be dealt with without emotion or remorse. This does not mean without thinking though. I have been told that people could tell the exact moment when I went into this mode just by the way I look and present myself. I will say that sometimes it was hard to come out of this mode but with practice it just became like flipping a light switch. For me this is better than walking around being a asshat all of the time. I just don’t see how it could work any different for my position but I am sure as a fighter this is how I would operate. But that is the difference in the occupations I guess.

I actually understand this. Its similar to how I deal with things now. Going from angry person with an alter for being nice, growing into the nice and learning to have a switch for "business". It became a dimmer switch for me. I dont ever go fully emotionless, but there are levels to it. 

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On 6/11/2019 at 6:58 AM, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Yes, you can put on masks to grow into them, to give permissions, that's a tool, but what is is stronger, like a slowly growing oak tree, to really become what you dream.

Hello!

I cannot really weigh in on this topic too much since I am fairly new to training multiple times a day and for a few hours each day. Also, sparring had to be put on hold due to a concussion.

My intial inkling to this is a bit of a rough ethical question. On one hand this is a very ethical concept; on the other it can be more pragmatic. The approach that Sylvie was speaking of:

On 6/12/2019 at 9:33 AM, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

You either live a value or you don't.

sounds a bit like the makings of being genuine. Which, by many philosophical accounts is sometimes the best answer choice out of all the others. Perhaps, this question could be abstracted away to: What's more ethical: having a disposition true to ones' self (being genuine) in violent contexts; or having dispositions separate of ones' self (being disingenuous) in violent contexts? For instance, perhaps someone in the gym "turns on" the killer robot mentality; engages in sparring, and once the bell rings, they hug it out and show utmost respect for their partner. Is this person being disingenuous? Or is being genuine only limited to the moment and time that a person is following/against their ethical/moral/epistemological axioms? 

So, what I mean to say is this, is a person who turns on the robot killer mentality disingenuous in the moment they are being the killer robot; or are they being disingenuous as a whole? 

I apologize, all i have are questions. Never any answers haha 🙂

 

Oh and, does it really matter if one is being genuine or not while in the ring? My knee-jerk response is yes. However, perhaps fighting is one realm in which being genuine/disingeuous doesn't really matter?

Edited by SPACEDOODLE
I had some typos :P
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16 hours ago, SPACEDOODLE said:

Oh and, does it really matter if one is being genuine or not while in the ring? My knee-jerk response is yes. However, perhaps fighting is one realm in which being genuine/disingeuous doesn't really matter?

I think where it does matter begins even before the ring. There are so many that end up missing weight or portray themselves a certain way on social media but dont seem to rise to that level prefight or during. I think a lot of that is the disconnect between their real selves and whatever personality they are as a "fighter". 

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    • Hi! Is supposed to be https://muay-thai-santai.com/thailand-pinsinchai/ Best regards
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