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OldBones

Question about "The Jade Dragon Set"

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I've had the fortunate experience of living/training in Thailand many years ago (2000 & 2004), so I think I have a general idea of how adult training breaks down.  However, now that I have kids of my own, I always wondered about Thai kids just starting out their muay thai journeys. 

Scouring the internet for info, I've come across a lot of articles critical of children training and fighting muay thai.  In contrast, I've listened to interviews with Francis and Boom Watthanaya who demonstrate the positive impact of muay thai on their community's kids.  Furthermore, I've read Sylvie's article about the rambunctious "Jade Dragon Set" at her gym.   

That all said, I was wondering, for those of you who've lived/trained in Thailand at gyms with kids just starting out (I'm talking age 6-8), what do their training sessions look like (I'm talking specifics--number of kilometers ran, rounds of shadowboxing, heavy bag, clinching, etc)?  I'm really interested in the detailed progression from pee wee to stadium professional.   At what point do the pups just start on the same program as the big dogs?  

Any info would be super appreciated.  Thanks all!

--J 

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1 hour ago, OldBones said:

I've had the fortunate experience of living/training in Thailand many years ago (2000 & 2004), so I think I have a general idea of how adult training breaks down.  However, now that I have kids of my own, I always wondered about Thai kids just starting out their muay thai journeys. 

Scouring the internet for info, I've come across a lot of articles critical of children training and fighting muay thai.  In contrast, I've listened to interviews with Francis and Boom Watthanaya who demonstrate the positive impact of muay thai on their community's kids.  Furthermore, I've read Sylvie's article about the rambunctious "Jade Dragon Set" at her gym.   

That all said, I was wondering, for those of you who've lived/trained in Thailand at gyms with kids just starting out (I'm talking age 6-8), what do their training sessions look like (I'm talking specifics--number of kilometers ran, rounds of shadowboxing, heavy bag, clinching, etc)?  I'm really interested in the detailed progression from pee wee to stadium professional.   At what point do the pups just start on the same program as the big dogs?  

Any info would be super appreciated.  Thanks all!

--J 

It depends a lot on the gym, as well as if there are other little kids training. For example, when I was training with Phetjee Jaa and her brother Mawin, they had a little cousin who trained but not too seriously. So, he came on the morning runs but never ran the full 5-7 km, but would run a bit and then jump on the back of the motorbike that accompanies fighters when they run. (There is almost always a motorbike or car following fighters, as a safety precaution against dogs, cars, kids getting left behind, etc.)  However, at a gym where there are more kids of the same age training, it might be more structured with them running together.

The Jade Dragon Set only train in the evenings, after school. They arrive when the regular training is winding down and they have to wait their turn. They jump on the tires and tear around in the smaller ring until a trainer is ready to pay attention to them, and some days they don't get formal training at all. Lately the younger fighters (teenagers) have been holding pads for them, but if one has a fight Kru Nu or Kru Gok will hold for that one. They do drills, mainly, not so much "freestyle" padwork that you'd see in older students. They have to march back and forth in shadow, knee against the ropes 200 times, kick the pad 50 kicks each side, etc. They sometimes kick the bags but it's more or less counting out 100 kicks or knees or whatever, not what you'd call "bag work." They spar and clinch with each other, but usually 2 rounds (that's about 10 minutes). Usually that ends when someone starts crying, but if there's enough of them the others keep going and the one who is crying sits out for a bit until he's ready to start again, and if he doesn't want anymore he's never usually forced.

So, it's kind of a version of regular training, but not the same intensity.

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On 6/30/2019 at 12:31 PM, OldBones said:

At what point do the pups just start on the same program as the big dogs?

If you've read Sylvie's posts on the Jade Dragon Set, and also about Petchrungruang, you'll know that a big part of the early training isn't about actual "fight knowledge" or good "techniques". It's a slow process of pulling a young boy in line with the culture of the gym, and involves lots of playing, or pseudo-playing, which creates lots of relaxation, but still in the context of hierarchy. This combination of relaxation (playing) and discipline (hierarchy) is what will make them the fighters they will be. In my opinion this is why it's super important to be in a gym like the one that Pi Nu runs. The whole process is guided by a knowledgeable eye, Pi Nu who has help raise some of the best fighters in Thailand, through his pack method. There is no scheduled time for the boy to suddenly enter the big boy process. He's always watching for how they are responding, feeling when things are too much, or two little. When to challenge and when to ease. It, from what I've seen, is a very FEEL thing. And, to complexify things, he isn't just weighing each boy, he's weighing each boy against the other boys, using the group to kind of steer a multi development. There kind of is no replacement for that kind of feel and sensing.

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Appreciate the above insights.  The FEEL vs KNOWLEDGE concept is something I've only recently begun to really understand--and not with just muay thai (but in many aspects of life).  

This is obviously where the tutelage under coaches with hundreds of fights coupled with endless opportunity for individual fight experience creates the breeding ground for amazing nak muay.  I guess I'm humbled to admit that the root to all of my questions comes from a very American tendency to attempt to find a "hack" that circumvents the cultural context that makes muay thai the beauty that it is.  

In this regard, aside from a few outliers and mavericks, I wonder if America could ever catch-up from fully homegrown systems.  I feel there are so many cultural factors that also stand in the way.  That said, I know that USMF is pushing to get youth involvement growing with the Youth Development League, and we're already seeing the IFMA junior team doing very well.  

Suppose only time will tell.  

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