Jump to content

About the incredible Emma Thomas


Recommended Posts

Hi everyone,

I recently read the blog from Emma Thomas that Sylvie had re-posted (I am posting the link to it below).

https://8limbsus.com/female-fighters/by-emma-thomas-muay-thai

It gave me the impulse to write the few words below and I wanted to share how Emma's post touched me to the core:

If you would ask me what kind of individuals I look up to… I would answer that I admire people who have incredible personal qualities such as Courage, Kindness, Generosity, Determination, and Dedication… If you also have great wisdom, chances are you are a role model to me.
Emma's post touched me in many ways and I’d like to express support to this incredible person.


I am one that agrees that the best learning outcomes come from our failures. And more often than not, the harder you fail, the greater the lesson. This is where I stand anyways and I have yet to have managed to deal with successes better than with failures.
I noticed in the article that the rationale for the person to tell Emma to quit was the amount of consecutive losses she had had. Not a valid argument in my opinion. You do something because you enjoy it, want to improve, are passionate about it, want to share the moment and practice with someone who shares the same passion as you, sense of accomplishment, to gain wisdom, know what you are made of and so on… The list of valid reasons for doing something can be endless. I really don’t think that the opinion of the judges sitting ring-side (no matter how qualified they may be) and the official outcome of a fight would be the main reason why fighters fight. It could be the main motivation for spectators but that also has to be proven (many spectators can actually appreciate a fight regardless of the official outcome, unless they bet money). Let’s not mention that stepping in the ring is, alone, a win each time. Let’s also not mention that Emma Thomas stepped in the ring right away at the most difficult place to do so: Thailand, the mother land of Muay Thai. How could anyone with a little bit of common sense tell her to quit after only 11 fights in Thailand. That just doesn’t make sense at all…
I have had successes in life, although I do not recall any of those successes occurring before failing first. I have failed more times than I could ever count; from every failure, there was a learning outcome. At times it was a big lesson and sometimes a smaller, more subtle one. In many occurrences I repeatedly failed before any kind of incremental improvements.
All the times I failed helped me become a better person. For each time I failed there was a lesson around the corner and incremental improvements arose.
On another hand, the ego trip and euphoria provided by unexpected successes have blurred my thoughts and ultimately set me back. Things that worked out on the first try have had a tendency to make me stop pushing and searching for a better self. The kind of feeling that gives the illusion that you’ve got nothing else to learn after all. Retrospectively that feeling is infinitely detrimental to one’s mind and soul.

Edited by Joe Kimble
Fixing typo
  • Like 6
  • Heart 1
  • Gamma 1
  • Cool 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your thoughtful response and kind words, Joe. 

It's really interesting for me to look back on that post with the perspective that I have now. I knew at the time that the person who'd told me to give up was wrong, but it seems even more ridiculous now.

It's crazy to read that I'd only been training for a year and a half at the time, that I'd had 11 fights, and that I'd only had three consecutive losses at the time. Those numbers are so insignificant, they're almost nothing! A few years later, I would go on to have five losses in a row, and even that doesn't mean much at all. Also, looking back, I think I was way too kind to the person in question in my writing. But, I respected them a lot, and that's part of why it hurt so much. You're absolutely right about that not being a valid argument, and the reasons for fighting being so much bigger than winning. 

I actually haven't fought now for over a year and a half, and I go back and forth constantly on whether or not I still want to. Sometimes, all I want is to get back in there. Other times, I'm fine with letting that part of my life go. It's bittersweet to think of that, but the important thing is that those feelings are coming from myself, rather than someone else who thinks they know what's best for me. That guy wasn't the last person who told me to give up, either. After one of my last fights, my boyfriend at the time did, too. Yeah, he's an ex now. 

Thanks again for your post and for bringing this article to my attention. I never liked to revisit this one because it always brought up some feelings of shame and inferiority for me, but this time it was a very different experience. I actually really needed this today ♥️

  • Like 3
  • Heart 3
  • Gamma 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You are very welcome! Your post definitely hit a soft spot in me. 

There are so many people who don't try to better themselves and I think that it causes them to completely miss out on certain fundamental and universal truths.

The fact alone that you had the courage and determination to repeatedly step in the ring and pursued your passion for so many years makes you a Winner in my book (and I'm positive thousands of other people feel the same way I do).

Sorry for the bf, his loss...

Edited by Joe Kimble
  • Like 2
  • Respect 1
  • Gamma 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, emma said:

I actually haven't fought now for over a year and a half, and I go back and forth constantly on whether or not I still want to. Sometimes, all I want is to get back in there. Other times, I'm fine with letting that part of my life go. It's bittersweet to think of that, but the important thing is that those feelings are coming from myself, rather than someone else who thinks they know what's best for me.

This part feels particularly important for female athletes. @Kaitlin Rose Young (and of course you and me, Emma) and I have had a few back and forths about how unique it is for women to be asked when they're going to stop fighting, even after very objectively successful fights! But I love your point here, that whatever you're thinking or feeling about the progression of your Muay Thai career (or your Power Lifting) is coming from YOU. That's so, so hard in the world of sport, where you have trainers and mentors, teammates, "fans" or people who support you (or don't), etc. Everyone has an opinion and, for all the reasons that be, a lot of people feel justified in voicing those opinions to women, especially. It can be hard to tune it out. It can be hard to go against it. It can even be hard to dismiss it when you KNOW it's total bullshit. Which is crazy.

  • Like 5
  • Gamma 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 6/23/2019 at 1:10 AM, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

This part feels particularly important for female athletes. @Kaitlin Rose Young (and of course you and me, Emma) and I have had a few back and forths about how unique it is for women to be asked when they're going to stop fighting, even after very objectively successful fights! But I love your point here, that whatever you're thinking or feeling about the progression of your Muay Thai career (or your Power Lifting) is coming from YOU. That's so, so hard in the world of sport, where you have trainers and mentors, teammates, "fans" or people who support you (or don't), etc. Everyone has an opinion and, for all the reasons that be, a lot of people feel justified in voicing those opinions to women, especially. It can be hard to tune it out. It can be hard to go against it. It can even be hard to dismiss it when you KNOW it's total bullshit. Which is crazy.

You hit the nail right on the head... And those people feeling entitled to "offer" (read: impose) their opinion are men more often than not. It's fucked up.

I have been guilty of this in the past and I am grateful to have people around me who have educated me. 

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Most Recent Topics

  • Latest Comments

    • Just very briefly I want to take up one of the most interesting aspects of the fighting art of Thailand's traditional Muay Thai, an aspect that really cues for me how I watch fights and weigh the skills of fighters. Managing distance. Many people watch "strikes" and look for "points", but there is an under-fabric to strikes, a kind of landscape of them, no less than how a topography will influence how a battle is fought between armies. Even the most practiced strikes rise and fall to opportunity, and in Muay Thai a significant determination of opportunity is distance. Above is a quick edit of Sylvie's last fight up in Buriram, bringing out all the significant moments of engagement, telling the story in about a minute. (The full fight should be up in a few weeks with Sylvie's commentary, as usual.) I'm going to start with Entertainment Muay Thai as presenting an negative can often be the best way to bring out a positive. Entertainment Muay Thai (and there are many versions of it, so we have to be very broad here), is largely principled by eliminating the importance of distance. What is sought, again being very broad, is a more or less continuous trading in the pocket. The quest is for an easy to follow, by the casual eye, "action". Everything is about the distance of the pocket. Setting up outside of the pocket can be regarded as anti-action (so, if you do, you should regularly charge into the pocket...and trade). And fighting through the pocket, to clinch range, is also devalued by very quick clinch breaks, scoring biases (changing traditional aesthetics). Clinch, which historically is featured in some of the most technical fighting of the sport, in Entertainment Muay Thai is more and more understood as a stall of the main goal. Pocket trading. Much of the art of Muay Thai is actually organized around all those distances that border "the pocket", controlling distance through length, or through grappling. In this fight Sylvie is giving up between 8-10 kgs (perhaps more than 20% of her body weight). Now, imagine it being fought under Entertainment aesthetics. What would it be if she just stood in the pocket, bit down, and just traded over and over with Phetnamwan? Would there be any point of such a fight? Yet, as the Golden Age legend Hippy Singmanee once said when criticizing hyper-aggressive, pocket-trading Entertainment Muay Thai, "Muay Thai is the art where small can beat big." Hippy was one of the most renown undersized fighters of the Golden Era. He knows of what he speaks. This fight, in the broad brush, illustrates some of that. More and more we've come to realize that as traditional Muay Thai evaporates slowly from the urban stadia, the only traditional Muay Thai still being regularly fought is in the provinces of the country. It is there that fights are scored in keeping with the art, and fighters retain the all around, multi-distance skills that make that art happen. Clinch is allowed to unfold. Narrative fight arcs are told as principle to scoring. Ryan, a knowledgeable commenter on Twitter and a very good writer on the sport, right away noticed how the ref let clinch flow. You can see some of our discussion there. I recall a conversation I overheard when attending the funeral of the legend Namkabuan in Nongki. It was the passing of one of the greatest who ever fought. During the day-before cremation a casual conversation arose between other legends of the sport, and very experienced news reporters, people who had been a part of it for decades. One of them insisted, Muay Thai no longer existed in Thailand. Others knowingly nodded their heads. But a Muay Siam reporter objected. "No...it still lives in the provinces." And the others agreed. It still was there. We in the English speaking world tend to think the substance of something is what has been presented to us. The Muay Thai of Bangkok is the real Muay Thai of Thailand because that is what we see...and, historically, many decades ago, it did represent the highest skills of the country. But what largely remains unseen is that more and more of the sport is being designed for our eyes. It is less and less for Thais, and more and more for "us", so we can become quite disconnected from what is real and authentic in a cultural, and even efficacy sense. There rhythms and values of provincial Muay Thai, as it is fought, coached and reffed, are part of the rich authenticity of the sport which falls into the shadows when we just look at what is being shown to "us". This fight, how it is fought, shows "the art of where small can beat big", and it shows why. It's through the control of distance. If you are small you just cannot stand at range. You either have to explore the bubble outside of the pocket, too far, or at its edges, and fight your way in to score...or, you collapse the pocket, smother the strikes, and possess the skill to control a much larger bodied opponent. Clinch, historically, is kryptonite to the striker. Muay Maat vs Muay Khao battles are legendary in the sport.  Classic. Who is going to impose the distance which is best for them? It's a battle of distances. And, for this reason, Muay Maat fighters of the past were not experts in trading in the pocket. They were experts in managing clinch fighters, or even high level clinch fighters themselves...and they were experts at hunting down evasive femeu counterfighters as well. Muay Maat fighters were strong. They had to have so many tools in their tool box. In versions of the sport where both fighters are forced to "stand and bang" repeatedly, we have been taken quite far from the glories of Thailand's Muay Thai fighters, and that is because Muay Thai is an art of distance control. This goes to a deeper point about the sport. It isn't really a "sport" in the International, rationalist idea of a sport. Muay Thai is culture. It is Thai culture. Thousands and thousands of fights occur on temple grounds, far from Western eyes. It has grown up within the culture, but also expressive of that culture. And it is a culture unto itself. The more we try to extract from this rich fabric some kind of abstract "rule set" and "collection of techniques" that can be used in other cultures, expressing their values, favoring their fighters, the more we lose the complex art of what Muay Thai is...and in the bigger sense move away from the value it has to the entire world. It's value is that it has a very highly developed perspective on distance management and on aggression. It has lessons upon lessons to teach in techniques of control and fight winning, woven into the DNA of its traditional aesthetics. And these techniques embody the values of the culture. It's all of one cloth. Sylvie has chosen the path less traveled. She's fought like no other Westerner in history (a record 271 times as a pro), and she has devoted herself to the lessor style, the art of Muay Khao and clinch fighting. There are very, very few women, even Thai women, who have seriously developed this branch of the art in the way that she has. And she's done it as a 100 lb fighter, taking on great size disparities as she fights. Because Muay Thai is "the art where small can beat big" there is a long tradition of great, dominant fighters fighting top fighters well above their weight, and developing their in style the capacity to beat them. Fighting up is Muay Thai. Sylvie's entire quest has been to value what may not even be commercially valued at this time, the aspects of the art which point to its greater meaning & capacity. The narrative of scoring, the control of distance, the management of striking through clinch, in the heritage of what it has been. I'm not saying that this is the only way to fight, or that Entertainment Muay Thai has no value for the art and sport. It's not, and it does. But, we should also be mindful of the completeness and complexity of Muay Thai, and the ways that those qualities can be put at risk, as the desire to internationalize it and foreign values become more and more part of its purpose. If we love what we discover when we come to Thailand, we should fight to preserve and embrace the roots of Muay Thai, and the honored aspects of the culture/s which produced it. photos: Khaendong, Buriram, Thailand (temple grounds)    
    • Hi, this might be out of the normal topic, but I thought you all might be interested in a book-- Children of the Neon Bamboo-- that has a really cool Martial Arts instructor character who set up an early Muy Thai gym south of Miami in the 1980s. He's a really cool character who drives the plot, and there historically accurate allusions to 1980s martial arts culture. However, the main thrust is more about nostalgia and friendships.    Can we do links? Childrenoftheneonbamboo.com Children of the Neon Bamboo: B. Glynn Kimmey: 9798988054115: Amazon.com: Movies & TV      
    • I really appreciate your wave patterns analogy; it applies to a lot of interactions. 
  • The Latest From Open Topics Forum

    • Hi, this might be out of the normal topic, but I thought you all might be interested in a book-- Children of the Neon Bamboo-- that has a really cool Martial Arts instructor character who set up an early Muy Thai gym south of Miami in the 1980s. He's a really cool character who drives the plot, and there historically accurate allusions to 1980s martial arts culture. However, the main thrust is more about nostalgia and friendships.    Can we do links? Childrenoftheneonbamboo.com Children of the Neon Bamboo: B. Glynn Kimmey: 9798988054115: Amazon.com: Movies & TV      
    • Davince Resolve is a great place to start. 
    • I see that this thread is from three years ago, and I hope your journey with Muay Thai and mental health has evolved positively during this time. It's fascinating to revisit these discussions and reflect on how our understanding of such topics can grow. The connection between training and mental health is intricate, as you've pointed out. Finding the right balance between pushing yourself and self-care is a continuous learning process. If you've been exploring various avenues for managing mood-related issues over these years, you might want to revisit the topic of mental health resources. One such resource is The UK Medical Cannabis Card, which can provide insights into alternative treatments.
    • Phetjeeja fought Anissa Meksen for a ONE FC interim atomweight kickboxing title 12/22/2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu92S6-V5y0&ab_channel=ONEChampionship Fight starts at 45:08 Phetjeeja won on points. Not being able to clinch really handicapped her. I was afraid the ref was going to start deducting points for clinch fouls.   
    • Earlier this year I wrote a couple of sociology essays that dealt directly with Muay Thai, drawing on Sylvie's journalism and discussions on the podcast to do so. I thought I'd put them up here in case they were of any interest, rather than locking them away with the intention to perfectly rewrite them 'some day'. There's not really many novel insights of my own, rather it's more just pulling together existing literature with some of the von Duuglus-Ittu's work, which I think is criminally underutilised in academic discussions of MT. The first, 'Some meanings of muay' was written for an ideology/sosciology of knowledge paper, and is an overly long, somewhat grindy attempt to give a combined historical, institutional, and situated study of major cultural meanings of Muay Thai as a form of strength. The second paper, 'the fighter's heart' was written for a qualitative analysis course, and makes extensive use of interviews and podcast discussions to talk about some ways in which the gendered/sexed body is described/deployed within Muay Thai. There's plenty of issues with both, and they're not what I'd write today, and I'm learning to realise that's fine! some meanings of muay.docx The fighter's heart.docx
  • Forum Statistics

    • Total Topics
      1.3k
    • Total Posts
      10.9k
×
×
  • Create New...