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Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

Gender Expectations, Self-Control and How Thai Maechi and Nakmuay Ying Are in Parallel

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45 minutes ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

The only point re: Achilles and the Nak Muay Ying, is this:

Like Achilles female fighters do not find themselves alienated from Being, but rather only from their contingent moment in history. Like Achilles they must find a language, I would argue an aesthetic language, a fighting rhetoric, in which to express themselves, within the heroic code. As might anyone need to do so, creatively, when their voice cannot be heard.

There are other interesting pathways, in regard to feminine and Achilles. The occult story of the time he spent disguised as a maiden before he went to war, for instance, the role the feminine might play in the warrior spirit, etc. But that's aside from this main point.

Very interesting observations. I can't help but think that the fighting of muay thai is not historically contingent however; what I've been trying to get at with these thoughts is the display of the eternal becoming that is theatralized and performed in muay thai, which can't be reduced to a patriarchal-historical phenomenon. I see plenty of the feminine in muay thai; the ''eternal mother of genesis'' in the relentlessness of the muay khao for example, but I don't see female fighting as having any relevance pedestalized role in the future of muay thai. To the contrary, I suspect the domain of fighting will always see male fighting as the apex of the art. Both because more is at stake in the violence of the male physicality, and because of the odyssean ''foot halfway out the door'' of motherhood that is always latent to female fighters. 

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14 minutes ago, Asger said:

I see plenty of the feminine in muay thai; the ''eternal mother of genesis'' in the relentlessness of the muay khao for example, but I don't see female fighting as having any relevance pedestalized role in the future of muay thai. To the contrary, I suspect the domain of fighting will always see male fighting as the apex of the art.

Perhaps, when talking about "fighting" as a broad category, but Muay Thai, in the classical sense is really at terrible risk, and very likely will just be subsumed by the western "beast mode" ideal. The Golden Age principles of the kinds of "eternal dynamics" you might seek, already are being rather thoroughly effaced, or at least made mute or dumb. The reason why female fighting may actually provide an important role in "saving" Muay Thai proper is exactly because "fighting", more broadly, will be coded as "male", and therefore will be the site of commercialized, "beast mode", hybrid aggro-kickboxing's colonization. It's in the margins that the tradition will be preserved, because the tradition is devalued, and those in the margins are devalued. Exactly in that it took a little 100 lb female fighter in the west, Sylvie, to seriously appreciate the legends of the past, whose lives were already being significantly forgotten, and work to document them. It is not a coincidence that it was a female fighter who did this, and not a male fighter. The very fact that we are discussing Muay Femeu vs Muay Khao metaphysics, that we have the fleshed out identities of these fighters, and even the video of these performances, is because of a woman.

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5 minutes ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Perhaps, when talking about "fighting" as a broad category, but Muay Thai, in the classical sense is really at terrible risk, and very likely will just be subsumed by the western "beast mode" ideal. The Golden Age principles of the kinds of "eternal dynamics" you might seek, already are being rather thoroughly effaced, or at least made mute or dumb. The reason why female fighting may actually provide an important role in "saving" Muay Thai proper is exactly because "fighting", more broadly, will be coded as "male", and therefore will be the site of commercialized, "beast mode", hybrid aggro-kickboxing's colonization. It's in the margins that the tradition will be preserved, because the tradition is devalued, and those in the margins are devalued. Exactly in that it took a little 100 lb female fighter in the west, Sylvie, to seriously appreciate the legends of the past, whose lives were already being seriously forgotten, and work to document them. It is not a coincidence that it was a female fighter who did this, and not a male fighter.

Very beautiful. I definitely agree. However this is not female fighting saving the art, but a female historian and journalist that also fights. The fighting of Sylvie did not reinvigorate the legends and the art, hers and yours colossal work on documentation did. This is an important distinction. 

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9 minutes ago, Asger said:

The fighting of Sylvie did not reinvigorate the legends and the art, hers and yours colossal work on documentation did. This is an important distinction. 

You would be very surprised. When all is told Sylvie will be responsible, not only as a journalist, but as a fighter, for bringing forth the embodiment of the principles of traditional Muay Khao fighting and it's aesthetic aims. She, in her fighting, her ability to beat larger and larger opponents in the clinch (when westerns habitually and historically have feasted on smaller Thais) has actually inspired a generation of fighting to explore Muay Khao fighting. Perhaps not for you, but we have seen a very definite change in fighting style choices, the acceptability of clinch fighting tactics, the efficacy of clinch nullifying size, as readable, through her fighting example. You cannot separate this out from her research and documentation, because her fighting is also part of the documentation. But I think you are missing a piece of the puzzle. It will become more clear over the next 10 years. When a 100 lb fighter is able to regularly beat the best 120 lb fighters in the world (a goal), through Muay Khao fighting, this will save, preserve and celebrate elements of traditional fighting that otherwise would just be lost.

Adding as well, her otherwise unheard of fight totals have already changed the game of how westerners fight and conceive of their fight careers. She has changed the measure. It used to be just counting more or less "fake" or manufactured belts. Fighters never even used to reach for large fighting numbers, repetitions. Now fight totals are part of the new way fighters speak of themselves. In fact fighters are making up numbers. Large numbers push us to think about fighting as Becoming, a process.

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1 minute ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

You would be very surprised. When all is told Sylvie will be responsible, not only as a journalist, but as a fighter, bringing forth the embodiment of the principles of traditional Muay Khao fighting and it's aesthetic aims. She, in her fighting, her ability to beat larger and larger opponents in the clinch (when westerns habitually and historically have feasted on smaller Thais) has actually inspired a generation of fighting to explore Muay Khao fighting. Perhaps not for you, but we have seen a very definite change in fighting style choices, the acceptability of clinch fighting tactics, the efficacy of clinch nullifying size, as readable, through her fighting example. You cannot separate this out from her research and documentation, because her fighting is also part of the documentation. But I think you are missing a piece of the puzzle. It will become more clear over the next 10 years. When a 100 lb fighter is able to regularly beat the best 120 lb fighters in the world (a goal), through Muay Khao fighting, this will save, preserve and celebrate elements of traditional fighting that otherwise would just be lost.

You obviously know much more about both Sylvie, the legends and the climate of the muay of Thailand, so I will not contest any of this. I sincerely hope you are right and that the legacy will survive in whatever form. 

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9 hours ago, Asger said:

To the contrary, I suspect the domain of fighting will always see male fighting as the apex of the art. Both because more is at stake in the violence of the male physicality, and because of the odyssean ''foot halfway out the door'' of motherhood that is always latent to female fighters. 

I let this slide by, but in sitting with me it kept tugging. I'm going to point out something that I think is important. You - I'm going to assume that you are male - are positing really a nearly ontological priority of your own theoretical home in the fighting ring, which would read as more real, more committed, than let's say, that of Sylvie, who has fought in the ring over 260 times. I'm going to assume as well that you have never been in the ring, or at least you have never been in the ring nearly as much as Sylvie, but you position Sylvie, who has been in the ring more than any westerner in history in Thailand, as categoricallly "halfway out the door" (Odyssean), apriori, when compared to you (or any other male) who very likely never have even put your foot IN the door. I don't mean to be rude about this pf course, and yes, maybe you have 100 fights under your belt, and you have put your foot in the ring quite a number of times, but...odds are, not. This really goes to the original subject of this post. That actual lived experiences of human beings are discounted and pre-framed, just along the justified lines of gender. Just as Thai Maechi, who devoted their lives to spiritual development, are put on a lower scale than even men who become monks, symbolically, for only a few weeks, female fighters who have actually put their lives (yes, lives, women have died through the ring) and their social capital on the line, under real violence (Sylvie has taken 211 stitches to the head), are discounted, under some strange logic of the biological capacity to carry a child. Rather than this capacity being something to their super-credit, instead it is to discount them, fighters categorically "half-way out the door". You duplicate the very contradiction which originated this post. I know you don't take this position strategically, but really, naturally. Which is part of the problem. That this division is seen as natural, instead of as constructed. This is problematic.

You may think that I am pushing a technical point, but it is actually a concrete, real world point. Sylvie, who has several careers worth of fights and fought over 1,000 rounds in Thailand, cannot even touch the ring of Rajadanmern, for instance, because of this same logic. While there are western males of very little skill or commitment, even those who have fought their very first fight ever, at Rajadamnern stadium, because they, supposedly "have both feet in the door", by virtue of imaginary relations within their sexed identity.

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14 minutes ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I let this slide by, but in sitting with me it kept tugging. I'm going to point out something that I think is important. You - I'm going to assume that you are male - are positing really a nearly ontological priority of your own theoretical home in the fighting ring, which would read as more real, more committed, than let's say, that of Sylvie, who has fought in the ring over 260 times. I'm going to assume as well that you have never been in the ring, or at least you have never been in the ring nearly as much as Sylvie, but you position Sylvie, who has been in the ring more than any westerner in history in Thailand, as categoricallly "halfway out the door" (Odyssean), apriori, when compared to you (or any other male) who very likely never have even put your foot IN the door. I don't mean to be rude about this pf course, and yes, maybe you have 100 fights under your belt, and you have put your foot in the ring quite a number of times, but...odds are, not. This really goes to the original subject of this post. That actual lived experiences of human beings are discounted and pre-framed, just along the justified lines of gender. Just as Thai Maechi, who devoted their lives to spiritual development, are put on a lower scale than even men who become monks, symbolically, for only a few weeks, female fighters who have actually put their lives (yes, lives, women have died through the ring) and their social capital on the line, under real violence (Sylvie has taken 211 stitches to the head), are discounted, under some strange logic of the biological capacity to carry a child. Rather than this capacity being something to their super-credit, instead it is to discount them, fighters categorically "half-way out the door". You duplicate the very contradiction which originated this post. I know you don't take this position strategically, but really, naturally. Which is part of the problem. That this division is seen as natural, instead of as constructed. This is problematic.

You may think that I am pushing a technical point, but it is actually a concrete, real world point. Sylvie, who has several careers worth of fights and fought over 1,000 rounds in Thailand, cannot even touch the ring of Rajadanmern, for instance, because of this same logic. While there are western males of very little skill or commitment, even those who have fought their very first fight ever, at Rajadamnern stadium, because they, supposedly "have both feet in the door", by virtue of imaginary relations within their sexed identity.

I thought it would be obvious that the odyssean foot was an analysis of the sociological aversion to female fighting and not an expression of my personal beliefs, especially considering my stated affinity for chon and the purity of the force collision of muay thai, which I thought I had clearly described. English is not my native language, so I apologize if I did not make this adequality explicit, but I figured that we were operating under a principle of charity in this discussion. I don't contend nor disagree with your contempt for the sexism of thai muay thai - I'm trying to analyze it. Not only did you mistakenly ascribe me a position I was merely describing as a sociological phenomenon, you went out of your way to discredit my theory on the basis of an ad hominem of pure speculation. I understand that you get sentimental about your wife, but your reply is fucking ridiculous.

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On 4/19/2020 at 5:28 PM, Asger said:

Very interesting observations. I can't help but think that the fighting of muay thai is not historically contingent however; what I've been trying to get at with these thoughts is the display of the eternal becoming that is theatralized and performed in muay thai, which can't be reduced to a patriarchal-historical phenomenon.

These two statements conflict. You can maybe see why it has lead to confusion.

21 hours ago, Asger said:

I thought it would be obvious that the odyssean foot was an analysis of the sociological aversion to female fighting and not an expression of my personal beliefs,

I felt you very clearly put your observations into the non-historically contingent category. Almost all sociological aversion is historically contingent. You seemed to very clearly preface your "halfway out the door" comments with an appeal to eternal things. You seemed to be claiming not a personal belief, I agree, but really an appeal some kind of ultimate reality, which will "always" be the case (not dependent on history). You seemed to be arguing that no matter how history proceeds, these eternal things about women would ground sociological aversion. In other words, it would seem to be argued that such aversion was permanently justified. That's what I have some quarrel with.

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28 minutes ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

You seemed to be arguing that no matter how history proceeds, these eternal things about women would ground sociological aversion. In other words, it would seem to be argued that such aversion was permanently justified. That's what I have some quarrel with.

I do too.

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On 4/19/2020 at 5:28 PM, Asger said:

I can't help but think that the fighting of muay thai is not historically contingent however; what I've been trying to get at with these thoughts is the display of the eternal becoming that is theatralized and performed in muay thai, which can't be reduced to a patriarchal-historical phenomenon. I see plenty of the feminine in muay thai; the ''eternal mother of genesis'' in the relentlessness of the muay khao for example, but I don't see female fighting as having any relevance pedestalized role in the future of muay thai. To the contrary, I suspect the domain of fighting will always see male fighting as the apex of the art. Both because more is at stake in the violence of the male physicality, and because of the odyssean ''foot halfway out the door'' of motherhood that is always latent to female fighters. 

Let me quote the full paragraph, highlighting what I felt were the operative concepts and phrases of what you are saying. This was just my take on it. I see a lot of categorical thinking here, metaphysical claims, that seem to overtly exclude the possibility that this is just historically contingent patriarchy. I'm not sure at all how this can be read otherwise. This will "always" be the case, and women will "always" have this status, not because of the opinions of people, but because that this is essential.

Also, please, just keep in mind that we had come to an agreement of what the values Odyssean and Achillean mean. You took these from my writings, I should have a sense of what they imply. Achillean is much preferred. Odyssean is really a kind of fallen state, at least by my original framework. So when you say: "...because of the odyssean ''foot halfway out the door'' of motherhood that is always latent to female fighters" you realize that you are also describing my wife, who is a female fighter of intense commitment, right? You seem to be arguing that she, and women like her, will always have the latent (and justified) position of being "halfway out the door" because of their ability to bear children. Given that we just had agreed Achilles > Odysseus, in what way should this not be considered a slight of her (and all other serious fighters?). If you scroll up to the top of this post and read the original study "Making Fields of Merit" attached and cited, very similar debates such as these surround the issue of whether seriously dedicated women should be able to ordain into monkhood (while only perfunctorily dedicated men regularly are). This is not me being sentimental about my wife. This is the very subject of this post. Scholars cited in that study debate about whether women are essentially "more attached to the world" due to the possibility of motherhood, and therefore essentially cannot take the same spiritual place that men can in the detachment commitment of Buddhism. It's a strongly analogical argument to the same one you seem to be presenting.

I understand that arguing Philosophy is in its way its own world. It's the play of concepts, ideas, intuitions. But if Philosophy is to have importance, its because it impacts the Real. This is why I spooled out the kinds of conclusions that come from the positions you seem to be putting forth. It concludes with real, specific women, being barred from both recognition and opportunity, and other real specific men, being given the same, in a very asymmetrical way. Historically, this is done through these kinds of "eternal" "natural" appeals of that's just the way it is, and will always be, often with women finding themselves inherently, or latently, on the outside.

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If anyone wants to dive into my thinking on how to view the logic of possibilities of gender in female fighting, this is my essay to read, written 12 years ago:

Wasps, Orchids, Beetles and Crickets: A Menagerie of Change in Transgender Identification

This lays out the full Deleuzian, Guattarian, Wittgensteinian philosophical argument of why we are vastly underrating what is possible through female fighting projects and careers in Muay Thai. To be clear, Muay Thai is not the subject of the essay in any way, but the underlying argument and analysis is directly applicable to Muay Thai and gender. In short, if the analogy is not apparent, when female fighters - perhaps especially western female fighters, but also some Thai female fighters - take on the "clothes" of Thai hypermasculine performativity, this is necessarily the forming of a trans-gender assemblage. What is possible in these kinds of assemblages is infinite, and not reduceable to masculine or feminine essentialities.

The most important - and potent - passage in perhaps all of Deleuze and Guattari's writing (cited in that essay linked above) is this, along with my explication:

Quote

Deleuze and Guattari want us to see a priority of affects, the way that our affects actually work to define what we are capable of doing, and thus what we are. In a telling, counter-intuitive example they suggest for instance that a racehorse has less in common with a workhorse than does an ox. Working within a cartographic measure of parts which undermines any descriptive speciation, they write:

Lattitude is made up of intensive parts falling under a capacity, and a longitude of extensive parts falling under a relation. In the same way that we avoid defining a body by its organs and functions, we will avoid defining it by Species or Genus characteristics; instead we will count its affects…A race horse is more different from a workhorse than a workhorse is from an ox (257).

For, the body of a racehorse goes beyond our classifications of kinds—though these too demarcate the kinds of experiences a racehorse can have, for instance the experience of mating with a workhorse. A racehorse will likely experience things in a manner no workhorse will come to, while the ox and workhorse will have a community of affects historically determined across species. The body without organs is this veritable capacity to be defined through intensities experienced in particular ways; and from these intensities be able to disorganize from one’s history (deterritorialize), and reorganize in a line of flight, “jumping the tracks” of code so to speak, into new possibilities of material assemblage (reterritorializing), just as the orchid becomes an orchid-wasp.

 

By extension, it invites us to see that, depending on how you slice the frame of reference, a serious western female fighter, and a serious Thai male fighter could arguably have more in common, than an imagined cosmopolitan Thai business man (who will never see the practice ring) and that same serious Thai male fighter. The workhorse and the ox. Gender, or any single taxonomy, is not the final frame of reference, and much more interesting things happen and are possible when we look to the specific assemblages being formed. The oxen very well could play an important part in the preservation of the most important values to be found in the art of work horses. Racehorses on the other hand may not. The ultimate analytical questions are: What is the affective capacity of intensive parts, and what are the comparable relations of extensive parts?

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Seeing these two photos, well over 100 years apart, in relationship to each other under the view of Internationalized Rationalization of fighting arts is fecund to examination. There is no clean line that leads between rationalization of the art and sport and the equality of the genders. Importantly, and not without irony, when King Vajiravudh modernized Muay Boran in imitation of British Boxing he was attempting to purge Siam and its fighting art of the impression of savageness. Contestants did die in the ring (probably quite rarely) with rope-bound hands, but more importantly the use of feet and elbows and probably much more of Siamese fighting was seen as primitive by British report. Codifying Muay Thai was no simple desire to just imitate the West as superior, as the West used the motive of civilizing "primitive" people to justify the colonization of peoples, including all the countries in Siam's orbit. No doubt King Vajiravudh had adopted many British aesthetics during his decade in British schooling, but there also something prophylactic to the transformation of Muay Thai before the eyes in the West. Now though, Thailand is bending its fighting art to the Internationalist tastes of greater violence, more aggression, as part of a vision that is pushing it to join what might be seen as a globalized Combat Sports Industrial Complex, battling for eyeballs. And, as I say ironically enough, with this comes the rising commercial viability of women seen as equals. As Lumpinee Stadium seeks to Internationalize itself it brings in women, and also it brings in the "savagery" for which Siam's fighting was (politically and colonially) stigmatized over 100 years ago, as MMA comes to its storied name. The "Be more civilized!" and "Distinguish the genders!" that was once demanded by the globalizing West has become "Be more violent!" and "Equalize the genders!" by the globalizing West...a West that is actually now an Internationalist vision. What is missing from this story perhaps is the equivalence of Britain's Suffragettes Self-Defense Club, which is to say the way in which equality under a martial arts rationalization is connected to the political fight for women's liberties and rights. From my view I suspect that the growing importance of respected female fighting in combat sports is an expression of the increased social and economic capital women have in a globalized world. Women as having real and imagined physical prowess in the traditionally male-coded ring (and cage) symbolically manifests actual changes in female powers in society. Women in rings has grown out of the Suffragettes Self-Defense Club, not now equalizing themselves with embodied knowledge in the streets against police, but rather signifying their political and socio-economic heft to a globalized world. Yet, as all things bend back, the commercialized capture of symbolized female power in the ring is part of its re-domestication, as women's bodies become sites of judgement and eroticized re-packaging, problemizing any overriding narrative of liberty. As women are called to the ring under the auspices of aggression-first promotional fight theater in the double-bind navigation of globalized freedoms, the role of rationalization remains circumspect. Rationalization can and does lead to the re-codification of the genders, as we see with the conventions of institutional competition, as well as within the commodification of the female person and body by combat sport entertainment, yet it also holds the power to un-moor entrenched sexism and bias which work to restrict the possibilities of women as fighter who stands as proxy to the power of women in general.
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    • Great Step Taken. I would always admire Lumpinee as an inspiration!!!
    • I wanted to comment on this theme of MMA in regards also to what Kevin said on your last Muay-Thai Bones Podcast ep 26. Kevin spoke that he felt a red line had been crossed by allowing MMA in Lumpinee. He said He didnt want inferior MMA being shown there as one reason. He spoke of the inferior MMA of One Championship as compared to the UFC. Though the pool of fighters in One is smaller, it has for instance Team Lakay from the Philippines, and the Lee family of Hawaii:  Angela, Christian and now Victoria who could be champions in the UFC too, The UFC is best at exploiting and ruining the lives of its fighters who are subject to terrible contracts and endless bullying by this massive corporation.  Thank God One Championship exists, and many thanks to Chatri Sidyodtong for bringing Muay-Thai and Kickboxing into the program in 2018. The real problem of having MMA in Lumpinee is the problem of MMA itself. MMA usurped MuayThai years ago as the premier fighting art. In the early 90s when they had the first cage fights, it was also a contest of which style would prevail. Unfortunately BJJ 🤢 was the winner in those early years. Muay-Thai was only useful in standup, and striking could only prevail on the feet. If the fight went to the ground grapplers would prevail. Wrestlers, judokas jui jitsu, and sambo fighters could easily take down a stand-up fighter and submit or choke him out.  A third point which makes MMA the most attractive art is the streetfighting aspect which makes it more "realistic" to the bored average Western viewer. So MuayThai is seen as only one part, -and a less important aspect of MMA😢. What I am getting at basically is that from a Muay-Thai standpoint it would be better if MMA:                                         A) Never existed, or                                         B) Would just go away!😈
    • It was just announced that, starting January 8th of next year, Lumpinee will start promoting an afternoon show that is only children. There will be 4 bouts per card, starting at 1:30 PM. Children have been permitted to fight at Lumpinee for a long time, but there has always been a weight limit (and ostensibly an age limit, but I'm not sure what that was; the weight limit kind of takes care of the age limit at the same time) of 100 lbs. As it's been told to me by Legends and older fighters who entered Lumpinee at that 100 lbs minimum, it's a bit of a forgiving line and fighters sometimes had to eat and drink in order to try to hit 100 lbs, rather than anyone dropping down to it. This new show is lowering the weight limit to 80 lbs, which will allow younger fighters or will at least acknowledge what weight some of those fighters are actually at when they come to the stadium. The intention of the show is to give access and opportunity to dao rung or "rising stars" as they are called in Thai. It's unclear from the announcement who will be the promoter for this particular program, but it's in line with something that Sia Boat of Petchyindee had initiated and invested in for his own promotions prior to the most recent shutdowns from Covid. It is unlikely that this will include girls; but we'll see. Of note is that the graphic used for this announcement are two young fighters Jojo (red) and Yodpetaek (blue), two top young fighters are 12 and 13 years old, who recently fought to a draw on a high profile fight. Neither of these two fighters meet the weight requirement at 80 lbs.
    • To be honest, from my perspective, it feels like "ok we going to allow women fighting so we just gonna allow everything". Pyrrhic victory. 
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