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Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

The Study of a Muay Thai Guard Through Aesthetics | Diamond Guard

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This post contains some of my photographic study of the Diamond Guard, a Muay Thai specific modification of an old western boxing guard often called the cross-armed guard, used by fighters like Archie Moore, Joe Frazier and George Forman. What I'm really interested in here is how photography itself can be used to explore a technique or a muay (a style), and the role that aesthetics plays in developing truly effective fighting skills and approaches. This is a particular interesting thought case because during the covid-19 shutdown Sylvie and I are working a great deal on this guard, something we would probably never do during regular training stints, and in many ways we are kind of making up its applications, and favorabilities, modeling them on Sylvie's muay as it already is trajectoried. Her Muay Khao forward advances, her drive to clinch engagements, the history of Muay Khao styles she models herself on. I shot these photos as a way of taking an aesthetic slice into the work we've been doing. What I'm interested in here is the way that aesthetics (or Aesthetics) - which often can be derided as the poor of a spectrum which holds "efficacy" on one end, and aesthetics on the other end - is actually the inflection point where the affective powers of the soul, the person, come to bear on the practicality of a technique. How it appears, what it feels like, what it communicates cuts into the shoreline of the Real of fighting. If one is to develop a defense, for instance, how it feels, what it expresses, what it looks like, may be vital questions for a fighter if one is going to reach the higher ceiling of one's capabilities, of its capabilities. Aesthetics, ultimately, allow the fighter to draw on the greater resources of the soul, the Self, to tap in a deeper poetry. And, this photo study is asking the question: What role can photography have in this?




















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observations on this perspective by photographer Dana Hoey, on another platform:





Beautiful photos, Kevin. If photography consists of 4 main aesthetic traits (1. Can stop motion 2. Can change perspective. 3. Creates frame. 4. Consists of light and it’s absence), then these photos focus on a particularly interesting one - the frame. I’ve read Sylvia talking about the frame in clinch, doesn’t apply in the same way here I expect but the guard is a frame for a potential shot. Perspective is also interesting in these. As a purely photographic (non-painterly) quality perspective usually means an odd choice of angle, from the 2nd story or the ground. Here it’s the perspective of the attacker. Very cool.

Also - fight photography usually features #1 - stopping motion. Cool to have your aesthetic built on these more obscure (in fight photography) traits.

Oops forgot two more traits - depth perception (field of focus) and level of accutance or sharpness (my least favorite. Everyone loves sharpness n photos. It’s nice but it’s not the only thing).



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What I'm interested in, perhaps, is how the mood of a technical aesthetic can be capture and intensified by photography, and then possibly feedback and inform the development of the technique itself. Just as the role of play, or impersonation of a fighter can help us embody the technique in a higher, more affectively deep way. As photography is able to focus those aesthetic rays, in a sculpting way, I wonder if it can open up a technique to more of what it can truly be.

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