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Muay Thai and Masculinity: A talk

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Hello everyone,

on wednesday I will be giving a talk at the danish art and sports festival Go Extreme https://www.kunsthalaarhus.dk/en/Exhibitions/Go-Extreme where Kevin has kindly agreed to lend me pictures for the powerpoint presentation. The format is very interesting, I think: I will be providing the theory, and two danish muay thai fighters Frederik Fenger and Mikkel Haahr will be displaying the points physically throughout the presentation, concluding with a fight. The argument will be as follows:

The classic golden age muay thai dichotomy of muay femeu and muay khao is well established within these circles: the muay femeu is the matador, the muay khao the toro. The muay khao fights with heart, brute force, intensity, relentlessness, violence and strength; the muay femeu fighter is elegant, intelligent, evasive, transcendent, unphased and manipulative. I will argue that the dichotomy of the dionysian and the apollonian as conceived in the work Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_Tragedy is applicable and reflects the same dynamics, ideas and intuitions as our muay thai distinction. Following this, I will use Sherry Ortners classic Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture? http://radicalanthropologygroup.org/sites/default/files/pdf/class_text_049.pdf to further the dichotomy, concluding that these dichotomies as historically created reflect the same relation and opposition: male/muay femeu/apollonian/culture vs. female/muay khao/dionysian/nature. With this concessed, we run into an interesting paradox of masculinity: if hypermasculinity is conceived as the capacity for and willingness to use violence, masculinity cannot also be metaphysically defined as an identity that is opposed to (animalistic) violence. 

From this standpoint, I will be arguing with Judith Butler that a metaphysical conception of masculinity as a moral or identity of masculinity is untenable, and that through the Heideggerian reading of the greek truth-concept aletheia https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/heidegger/#ReaRelBeiTim, masculinity is an event of dominance, which does not have an intrinsic and transcendent identity or moral at its core, but is created as art from and in the body of the fighter. The reason muay thai is so interesting as a paradigm for the thinking of gender is that it reveals that masculinity, however, is not something radically constructivist or relativistic, seeing that the fight constitutively has a winner and a loser as its ontological foundation. This implies that masculinity is something that shows itself - or lets the truth of masculinity happen - through the art of muay thai.

 

I will try to get it filmed and transcribed so that all of you who cannot attend will get to see it anyways, but I can't promise anything as of yet. Either way I'd love to hear what you guys think about the reasoning and elaborate in case any of you have any questions.

 

Best, Asger

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17 hours ago, Asger said:

Hello everyone, finally got the video, hope you enjoy and looking forward to hear what you think! 

Thanks for posting this, and all the work you put into it, and the English subs. So good, full of thought and the presentation is awesome. My very first response would be that I don't really follow why "Muay Khao" would iconically, or symbollicaly represent the female/feminine in your dichotomy (other than grouping it together with Western equations of Nature with Mother). The reason I raise this question is that in many respects Muay Khao is regarded as more "masculine" or at least manly, in the rugged/tough stereotype. It's the cowboy or rural toughman. On the other hand Muay Femeu stereotypes bend toward the feminine. As Muay Khao Dieselnoi has joked of his femeu friend Samart, "he hits like a girl" (if I recall). The femeu fighter in Thailand, when pushed to the extreme, can be seen as ornate (stylized, almost feminized) and lacking in substance, with many qualities that have been attributed to Dionysus. Not a "real man", if we are really speaking in broad terms, merely performing. Whereas many of the great Muay Khao fighters of Thailand have been some of the most masculine, he-man, hard-hitting/kneeing figures of the sport.

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male/muay femeu/apollonian/culture vs. female/muay khao/dionysian/nature

Maybe I'm not reading your basic dichotomy clearly, but that would be my first question. It feels like you are grafting across cultures and contexts in way that may not fit Thai context?

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1 hour ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Thanks for posting this, and all the work you put into it, and the English subs. So good, full of thought and the presentation is awesome. My very first response would be that I don't really follow why "Muay Khao" would iconically, or symbollicaly represent the female/feminine in your dichotomy (other than grouping it together with Western equations of Nature with Mother). The reason I raise this question is that in many respects Muay Khao is regarded as more "masculine" or at least manly, in the rugged/tough stereotype. It's the cowboy or rural toughman. On the other hand Muay Femeu stereotypes bend toward the feminine. As Muay Khao Dieselnoi has joked of his femeu friend Samart, "he hits like a girl" (if I recall). The femeu fighter in Thailand, when pushed to the extreme, can be seen as ornate (stylized, almost feminized) and lacking in substance, with many qualities that have been attributed to Dionysus. Not a "real man", if we are really speaking in broad terms, merely performing. Whereas many of the great Muay Khao fighters of Thailand have been some of the most masculine, he-man, hard-hitting/kneeing figures of the sport.

Maybe I'm not reading your basic dichotomy clearly, but that would be my first question. It feels like you are grafting across cultures and contexts in way that may not fit Thai context?

Thank you very much for your kind words, it honestly means a lot coming from you.

I am definitely grafting across cultures; I tried to group muay khao with the feminine/dionysian/nature through a few points:

1) The connection between cultured and apollonian is obvious; also the connection between the apollonian and muay femeu. This lends credence to the jump from apollonian = muay femeu = culture towards male through Sherry Ortner. If we allow these ''equals'', then the feminine = dionysian = nature, which does not seem far fetched to me (as stated through the quotes from BoT in the presentation, more could be provided), needs to account for the inclusion of muay khao. Honestly, looking back at the presentation now, I probably didn't provide enough argument for this, so let me argue here:

2) The fundamental aesthetics, ethos and narrative of muay is the apollonian aspect of muay thai and what makes muay thai muay thai and not mma without grappling; it is at the core of muay thai. But so is the raw violence - muay thai is not just ceremonial movements, it must be efficient and applicable. The violence that is inherent to muay thai is its dionysian aspect. In the fight, these two opposing but complementary drives are at stake, and obviously it is a dipolarity more than a dichotomy, but on one end is the muay femeu, incarnating the apollonian, and on the other, muay khao, incarnating the dionysian.

3) I was actually trying to formulate your point about Dieselnoi laughing at Samart; any display of masculinity is always also a stylizing of femininity (as they are so conceived culturally and historically!), which is why Dieselnoi can laugh at Samart for hitting like a girl. But imagine if Dieselnoi had lost to Samart, if he had been humiliated in the way muay femeu humiliates muay khao as a dumb beast with no grace nor brains, would he also have added to insult that Samart hits like a girl? I don't think so, because that would have been even more humiliated. 

4) My point was that the stylizing of masculinity, which exists on a continuum of the dichotomies, is always also a stylizing of the feminine, and the muay thai fight is where two styles of masculinity can compete; is the better man the civilised man or the beastman? So muay thai is fundamentally a ritualized fight between the man of man and the animality of man, and this dichotomy (as shown by Sherry Ortner) has historically been genderized. 

 

I hope this sheds some light on why I place muay khao where I do.  

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[while writing this I got a notification that you posted in answer to what I've written above, so maybe you've addressed some of these thoughts. I'll post them just the same, as the path of my thought.]

To add...I do think some of the things you are saying about Apollonian clarity, or manifestation DO map onto really important visual principles of clear and distinct strikes, or ruup. For sure. This is really good stuff. But, I just can't get over the inner-contradiction of adding that final male/female dichotomy to your schema. There are just so many instances were the Muay Femeu fighter fighter has strong Dionysian overtones of the "female", at least in terms of hypermasculnity as feminine...and, so many instances where Thais experience Muay Khao fighters as quite manly. Which is to say, the way the gender is read in the culture doesn't seem to map well, or perhaps cleanly, onto a basic male vs female divide.

Here are some photographic evidence.

Samson Isaan in some ways is a prototypical Muay Khao fighter (which you would argue is fundamentally, dichotimously "female". He's named after the region of rural Muay Khao and after a Western tradition strong man. He basically is "He-man farmboy". But you would place him on the female side of the ledger.

273948150_Screenshot2021-12-07170341.thumb.png.ad6de241f7d4327a0ba2c1d909a4de26.png

28668600_Screenshot2021-12-07170409.thumb.png.47430653ea81bc70ac2ccef8f042f12e.png

A lot of classic Muay Khao fighters have just this kind of image, as seen above.

On the other hand many Muay Femeu fighters have the opposite image. Perhaps none personified it more than Samart. The (dangerous) pretty boy. He launched a music career after his boxing career that was keeping with his model good looks:

404252427_Screenshot2021-12-07170854.thumb.png.27fb42ee1ff40384813f01f62bb4d97b.png

2124301608_Screenshot2021-12-07170959.png.ead962843be2cbd58653a5d0f0c1ca28.png

Samart you would have as dichtotimously "male" as opposed to Samson's "female". It feels like there is a pretty big stretch here, taking us far from how masculine and feminine is read in the culture itself. I can see how one can theorize oneself in this direction, defining "male" and "female" in terms that differ from how they are culturally expressed, but it does feel like something really important - and probably layered and complex - is at stake here.

961138113_SamsonandNamphon.thumb.jpg.c8d7f91ffed6b5b3866977886931dc7a.jpg

This photo (above) is my the quintessential Muay Femeu vs Muay Khao dichotomy. Samart (the matador) putting his fraternal arm around Namphon (the bull) who he has bloodied. Who is the "male" and who the "female" in this photo? It feels like the categories would be forced. Instead of a gender dynamic (pretty boy vs the bloodied ruffian), this seems much more readable along the dichtomy I proposed, and I think you read, which creates a spectrum of human<<>>animal.

Here is another interesting photo which places Muay Khao vs Muay Femeu side by side. Dieselnoi and Samart (with Jackie Chan in between). It seems strained to put female on the left, and male on the right.

996082030_Screenshot2021-12-07170938.thumb.png.82758306b2b3ce0517eafb39609c812d.png

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20 minutes ago, Asger said:

The violence that is inherent to muay thai is its dionysian aspect.

Just to respond in pieces, even this I don't completely follow. Apollo had the epithet "The far-shooter" referring to not only his attack from distance (with the bow), but also as the god of plagues. You could not see where the arrow of his violence was striking from. It would just be on you. When attempting to separate out halve (or poles), it works much better if they are clear and distinct. Also, there is a lot of Dionysus that wasn't violent. Dionysus was merry, he was ornate.

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which is why Dieselnoi can laugh at Samart for hitting like a girl. But imagine if Dieselnoi had lost to Samart, if he had been humiliated in the way muay femeu humiliates muay khao as a dumb beast with no grace nor brains, would he also have added to insult that Samart hits like a girl?

I honestly think he would. This is the regular "critique" of Muay Femeu from Muay Khao. You've heard fighters lose fights and complain that the opponent didn't even hurt them. Having been around Dieselnoi this is definitely something he would have said (joking), and in fact probably has said of other Samart victorious performances. The feeling can be that the performative bias in aesthetics, from the Muay Khao perspective, actually tips the scales TOO far. Chamuakphet (a Muay Khao fighter) who beat Samart, answered the question of how he lost to him in a later fight when Samart was bigger "I just couldn't catch him" smiling, showing with his hand how Samart moved this way and that. It was honest praise, but it also probably also meant "He just ran from me" (with all the associations that running has). I do think there is a sense that Samart can (unfairly or unmanishly?) run due to the rules, from the Muay Khao perspective. This isn't to say that he isn't lauded and glorified for his smooth beautiful Muay, even by those that lost to him. Just that this "unmanly" dimension is something that haunts all Muay Femeu fighters, as a critique within the subculture, just as all Muay Khao fighters are haunted by the accusation that they are "low IQ" or "just strength".

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is the better man the civilised man or the beastman? So muay thai is fundamentally a ritualized fight between the man of man and the animality of man, and this dichotomy (as shown by Sherry Ortner) has historically been genderized. 

That's a very flimsy bridge to lay all of the gendered dimension we are working with here, I would say. I mean the entire import of the analysis is "masculinity". It feels like a very fast move to go from "animality of man" to "female". I mean, one can make the argument, but if one did, you'd have to account for the very powerful ways in which the "animality of man" is actually experienced as male in the culture, and expresses masculinity. You can't just say Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator is "female" because "nature is often gendered". I mean, these are icons of masculinity in the culture. At least a mode of masculinity. 

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Kevin I think we are saying the same thing - my point was that if you were to rationalize gender metaphysically, you would have to put muay femeu and muay khao on those poles, and what goes to show through muay thai and the Butler/Heidegger reading is that it is impossible to make that dichotomy as some kind of gendersubstance. What I'm attempting is a critique of patriarchal gender dichotomies through it's own reasoning.

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[again, I see you have responded to the above while writing, I'll just post this blind.]

I should say, I think that these contradictions in representation, the difficulty in just popping most Muay Femeu fighters into a "male" box, and Muay Khao fighters into a "female" box, actually comes from the attempt to move from what maybe we'd call ethnography (?) to metaphysics. The contradictions actually, don't mean that it's wrong to attempt the theorizing, but rather than that politics and ideology complexify the entire problem. You touch on this in your presentation when you suggest that provincial males might see the aristocratic boys as sissies (ie, unmanly). That entire inversion of what is manly is at tension here. But, being very broad about it...the "critique" of urban sophistication is that it is "feminine" and the critique of rural strength is that it is "animalistic" or "stupid" (not that it is feminine). Any approach would have to incorporate these poles I think.

 

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4 minutes ago, Asger said:

Kevin I think we are saying the same thing - my point was that if you were to rationalize gender metaphysically, you would have to put muay femeu and muay khao on those poles, and what goes to show through muay thai and the Butler/Heidegger reading is that it is impossible to make that dichotomy as some kind of gendersubstance. What I'm attempting is a critique of patriarchal gender dichotomies through it's own reasoning.

Okay. But you are the one who included "female" on one half of the bracket. It was your schema. You may be saying that this dichotomy cannot hold, but even at the level of description it doesn't seem to describe the cultural facts on the ground, to start with. But maybe I'm not following you. I just don't see why a starting place would be Muay Khao = female, unless one is just trying to set up a dichotomy that will then be deconstructed. Are we starting with something like: Muay Khao is rural, rural is of the land, the land is often seen as female in cultures? Or, why isn't Samart "Dionysian"? He is ornate. He is gender fluid (in some ways), He is theatrical. I guess I'm just having trouble with the starting point, which is a male vs female division. But I will admit I might not be following it clearly.

I do really enjoy and even love the broad strokes of your thought. And the presentation with all the performance/example is really beautiful stuff. So good. I do love the way you have brought diverse ideas and theories together. It's very good.

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4 minutes ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Okay. But you are the one who included "female" on one half of the bracket. It was your schema. You may be saying that this dichotomy cannot hold, but even at the level of description it doesn't seem to describe the cultural facts on the ground, to start with. But maybe I'm not following you. I just don't see why a starting place would be Muay Khao = female, unless one is just trying to set up a dichotomy that will then be deconstructed. Are we starting with something like: Muay Khao is rural, rural is of the land, the land is often seen as female in cultures? Or, why isn't Samart "Dionysian"? He is ornate. He is gender fluid (in some ways), He is theatrical. I guess I'm just having trouble with the starting point, which is a male vs female division. But I will admit I might not be following it clearly.

I do really enjoy and even love the broad strokes of your thought. And the presentation with all the performance/example is really beautiful stuff. So good. I do love the way you have brought diverse ideas and theories together. It's very good.

I guess I may need to put some more thought into how I conceive of muay khao = female, because I'm having a hard time explaining it differently than I am, and it does not seem to be entirely convincing, haha. Yes, it is trying to set up a dichotomy for deconstruction, but it is also trying to conceive of dynamics of gender rather than cultural conceptions of gender. If the format of the presentation were different, I would have liked to establish the dichotomies of Ortner and Nietzsche first. I think that would have made for a more convincing case of muay khao being parallel to female, because it does seem to be more animalistic, and that would be considered closer to ''the female'' in the framework of Nietzsche and Ortner. Mainly it hinges on an understanding of gender as a continuum that constitutes it's pole through the immanent tension itself, rather than through substances at either end.

I suppose that the way I see it outside of this attempt at establishing dichotomies for deconstruction is that muay khao and muay femeu both contend for the right to masculine identity, and both are at risk of being condemned as feminine; muay femeu for being too ornate and ''not having guts'', for not being aggressive and for not being strong enough; muay khao for looking like a dumb beast (many patriarchal societies consider and have considered women dumb, unfit for learning, see Aristotle), for not being able to play by the rules of man so to speak, for not being part of the order.

 

I agree with you that the strongest reading of muay thai is through your span of man-animality, but I wanted to try my hand at doing something similar with gender, because it seems to me (and to you) that there are strong currents of gender identities and dynamics in muay thai. As I mention in the presentation, I don't subscribe to an entirely social constructivist concept of gender, and so it seems to me that muay thai has something to tell us about gender that is more than how it is conceived at x time in y place.

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1085529599_Screenshot2021-12-07214732.thumb.png.385c09456c22b839023c2d5001855ca4.png

I think a really interesting place to start, and the metaphysically strongest foothold is your original appeal to Apollo as distinct, and the sense that (his/the) figure involves the movement from the inchoate (which in at least many societies is chthonic with female associations, though not categorically so). In at least the traditional aesthetics of Golden Age Muay Thai there is a powerful emphasis on distinction, readability, visibility, and even in contemporary Muay Thai you find the criticism of a fighter as muaymua which means indistinct, clouded. A very aggressive, flailing or windmilling fighter is fighting in an unreadable way. Muaymua. You find this in the importance of ruup, which you mentioned, which is ultimately taking the body as a sign, displaying posture, physical control, dignity, etc. A fighter who is off-balance, or who is bent over, or generally lacks readability has lost their ruup. This runs parallel to Buddhistic ideals of self-control. A fighter who cannot control their emotions also can't control their body-signification. This plays into your appeals to Heidegger's truth-event, art as visibility - though I personally feel that Heidegger got alethea somewhat wrong - which helps us understand that in a Muay Khao vs Muay Femeu (metaphysical) battle, both fighters are seeking to make themselves visible & readable. Distinct. I do think it is fair to say that Muay Femeu is further along the distinction spectrum, at least it does not risk lack of clarity quite as much in its style, as it often pays more attention to rhythm and timing (musical aspects of distinction and readability). And the burden falls upon the Muay Khao fighter to show distinction in his/her pressure fighting. Muay Khao legends are very insistent on this with Sylvie when they have instructed her. Do not rush. Find the rhythm, the beat. Make your strikes (which often are at close range) readable. Also, in this battle, the warfare that the Muay Khao fighter brings is to break the illusions of the Muay Femeu fighter's clarity and signified composure. You see this, for instance, in the two big fights that Samart lost (Dieselnoi and Wangchannoi). Once the spell is broken there is very little left. The Muay Khao fighter seeks to break ruup.

But, I think it's a very complex thing to attempt to graft historical male and female expressions onto the inchoate>distinctness metaphysical spectrum, and arrive some beyond-history place. Yes, males (Patriarchy) have been placed at the top of most symbolic hierarchies, but Thailand itself in the 1920s-1950s adopted Western modes of gender distinction, specifically to appear more civilized, less deserving of colonization, more in step with "modernity". Siam was known to commonly not have strong visual distinctions between the genders. Westerners found this inchoate. You can see how historically contingent the application of distinction and gender may be. Also involved in Thailand is the basic tension between cosmopolitan (royal) distinction along those adopted and developed lines, and rural, provincial distinction which may have run along very different tastes and aesthetics. A male body of Bangkok princely signification may vie semiotically with the male body of Buriram signification. It's no easy thing to try and isolate some historical, yet transcendent "female" in this mixed history. In fact it seems like it is probably wrong to do so, or at least highly projective of one's own cultural history and presumptions. 

The "ontology" that you appeal to in traditional Muay Thai, which is to say the ontology of win and loss, itself is conditioned and constructed historically. It relies on culturally developed aesthetics. Even if we grant that these aesthetics developed to reward distinctness over incoherence, the significations of that distinctness, what counts for distinctness, is to a large degree historically contingent. Thais say standing up straight is clear ruup, in Caipoeira it's the crouch. Also complexifying the distinctness measure, even or especially a great Muay Femeu fighter fights with deception and incoherence as a tool. Obscurity isn't only a weakness, it cloaks sudden readability. In some regard both Muay Khao and Muay Femeu are aesthetically mixing incoherence and clarity for effectiveness under that culturally expressive rule set.

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I also think that we may run into some problems if we just define Thai hypermasculinity by the appeal to violence. In the West hypermasculinity is often strongly coded by shows of violence. I imagine you've read it but Sylvie's and my article Thai Masculinity: Postioning Nak Muay Between Monkhood and Nak Leng – Peter Vail is really good on this, taking the start from Peter Vail's chapter. We have to say that not only is the "nak leng" (prone to violence gangster tough) Thai hypermasculinity, but also so is the "monk". Both are exaggerated masculine ideals. And that's where the Muay Khao vs Muay Femeu battle plays out. Two models of hypermasculinity.

I think the difficulty comes when we try to graft that historical duality onto let's say Greek mythology and Apollo & Dionysus, or even (Western) ideals of male and female.

The graphic we made from that article:

The-qualities-of-Monk-and-Nak-Leng-in-Nak-Muay.webp.3b288dfe0463d08f2a49cf706512c585.webp

 

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Thank you very much for your thorough and dedicated thoughts on this Kevin, it is honestly an honor to have you put so much work into your response. I have taken to heart many of your points, and while I still stand by my points through a charitable reading, some of the blindspots of the presentation have become clearer aswell as the work that I need to put into resolving some of those issues if I get to work further on this. Especially the points on the cultural and historical thai connotations, which you are obviously much more privy to than I, as well as the greek Apollo and Dionysus other than just as conceived by Nietzsche. It really has been great getting all your considerations, and I'm thrilled that you, despite the theoretical issues we discussed, think that this was something nice.

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On 12/7/2021 at 5:24 PM, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

1085529599_Screenshot2021-12-07214732.thumb.png.385c09456c22b839023c2d5001855ca4.png

I think a really interesting place to start, and the metaphysically strongest foothold is your original appeal to Apollo as distinct, and the sense that (his/the) figure involves the movement from the inchoate (which in at least many societies is chthonic with female associations, though not categorically so). In at least the traditional aesthetics of Golden Age Muay Thai there is a powerful emphasis on distinction, readability, visibility, and even in contemporary Muay Thai you find the criticism of a fighter as muaymua which means indistinct, clouded. A very aggressive, flailing or windmilling fighter is fighting in an unreadable way. Muaymua. You find this in the importance of ruup, which you mentioned, which is ultimately taking the body as a sign, displaying posture, physical control, dignity, etc. A fighter who is off-balance, or who is bent over, or generally lacks readability has lost their ruup. This runs parallel to Buddhistic ideals of self-control. A fighter who cannot control their emotions also can't control their body-signification. This plays into your appeals to Heidegger's truth-event, art as visibility - though I personally feel that Heidegger got alethea somewhat wrong - which helps us understand that in a Muay Khao vs Muay Femeu (metaphysical) battle, both fighters are seeking to make themselves visible & readable. Distinct. I do think it is fair to say that Muay Femeu is further along the distinction spectrum, at least it does not risk lack of clarity quite as much in its style, as it often pays more attention to rhythm and timing (musical aspects of distinction and readability). And the burden falls upon the Muay Khao fighter to show distinction in his/her pressure fighting. Muay Khao legends are very insistent on this with Sylvie when they have instructed her. Do not rush. Find the rhythm, the beat. Make your strikes (which often are at close range) readable. Also, in this battle, the warfare that the Muay Khao fighter brings is to break the illusions of the Muay Femeu fighter's clarity and signified composure. You see this, for instance, in the two big fights that Samart lost (Dieselnoi and Wangchannoi). Once the spell is broken there is very little left. The Muay Khao fighter seeks to break ruup.

But, I think it's a very complex thing to attempt to graft historical male and female expressions onto the inchoate>distinctness metaphysical spectrum, and arrive some beyond-history place. Yes, males (Patriarchy) have been placed at the top of most symbolic hierarchies, but Thailand itself in the 1920s-1950s adopted Western modes of gender distinction, specifically to appear more civilized, less deserving of colonization, more in step with "modernity". Siam was known to commonly not have strong visual distinctions between the genders. Westerners found this inchoate. You can see how historically contingent the application of distinction and gender may be. Also involved in Thailand is the basic tension between cosmopolitan (royal) distinction along those adopted and developed lines, and rural, provincial distinction which may have run along very different tastes and aesthetics. A male body of Bangkok princely signification may vie semiotically with the male body of Buriram signification. It's no easy thing to try and isolate some historical, yet transcendent "female" in this mixed history. In fact it seems like it is probably wrong to do so, or at least highly projective of one's own cultural history and presumptions. 

The "ontology" that you appeal to in traditional Muay Thai, which is to say the ontology of win and loss, itself is conditioned and constructed historically. It relies on culturally developed aesthetics. Even if we grant that these aesthetics developed to reward distinctness over incoherence, the significations of that distinctness, what counts for distinctness, is to a large degree historically contingent. Thais say standing up straight is clear ruup, in Caipoeira it's the crouch. Also complexifying the distinctness measure, even or especially a great Muay Femeu fighter fights with deception and incoherence as a tool. Obscurity isn't only a weakness, it cloaks sudden readability. In some regard both Muay Khao and Muay Femeu are aesthetically mixing incoherence and clarity for effectiveness under that culturally expressive rule set.

Oh and this is just fucking awesome, such a strong thought that to me seems to present some of the strokes I really wanted to capture but did not manage to articulate this well.

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50 minutes ago, Asger said:

Thank you very much for your thorough and dedicated thoughts on this Kevin, it is honestly an honor to have you put so much work into your response. I have taken to heart many of your points, and while I still stand by my points through a charitable reading, some of the blindspots of the presentation have become clearer aswell as the work that I need to put into resolving some of those issues if I get to work further on this. Especially the points on the cultural and historical thai connotations, which you are obviously much more privy to than I, as well as the greek Apollo and Dionysus other than just as conceived by Nietzsche. It really has been great getting all your considerations, and I'm thrilled that you, despite the theoretical issues we discussed, think that this was something nice.

You made a very powerful and inspiring presentation of Muay Thai. The combination of performance/example, the ability to present so much of what makes Muay Thai unique among fighting arts, from the ground up to an audience that does not know it, and the great broad brushes of Philosophical thought all came together in just a beautiful public expression of Muay Thai. You should be really proud of everything you pulled off. It was really cool.

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    • Hi! Sorry to post twice in a row this is the last one! I just wanted to know the etiquette at gyms in Thailand regarding training at different locations. Would gyms still be willing to have you represent them if you trained at a different place in the morning? I just didn’t know if that was appropriate to do/ask or if that is a no no. Thank you very much again. 
    • Hi everyone! I’m going to be in Bangkok for the month of April. I am defiantly going to try out FA Group. Does anyone know of the training quality since the head trainer left? But I wanted to jump around for the first week or two. Was planning on going to Tded99 as well. Any other gyms that are geared toward fighters but also accepting of foreigners in Bangkok? Thanks everyone. I’m 5 7 in height and 160lbs but want to get down to 145. I have done western boxing for almost 20 years now (I’m 35) and competed in golden gloves and also have coached. But I want a new challenge and love Muay Thai. I have only done it a little though so hoping a month in Thailand will help me improve a lot. Thanks again!!!
    • Hey everyone, i want to build up my knee striking from 0, after i saw the vicious variation esp. from dieselnoi in the library. So the last few weeks i tried to imagine how effective/realistic the "dieselnoi knee" is under different kickboxing rulesets, where you can´t clinch the opponent. Any thoughts on that?   From my perspective the knees feel very short (compared to a "spear-knee") and iam 1,96m/6,4ft tall boxing from southpaw stance. So in my world every strike is kind of long...   Greetings from Germany
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    • It's important to remember that no two people experience anxiety/depression/mental illness in the same way. For one person, getting into a stable habit of exercise and healthy eating might be all they need to be their best mentally, while others might need to explore additional avenues such as therapy or medication. Still, martial arts training can only help your mental state! Here are some of the ways it does. Improves Your Focus: When you’re anxious, it can be difficult to focus on anything. You may find your attention is fleeting, and that it is probably difficult to get anything done. When exercising, you are able to give yourself focus with a set goal Reduces Your Stress: You have probably heard that cardio can help reduce stress. It’s true, and martial arts are great cardio training! Increases Your Self-Esteem: Low self-esteem takes a toll on your mental health. Physical activity, particularly martial arts, helps raise a person’s self-esteem. As you build strength of mind and spirit, you also start to build self-confidence. Helps Increase Your Endorphin Levels: Physical activity raises the levels of feel-good hormones in your body. These hormones, known as endorphins, have an impact on mental states. Improves Your Sleep Pattern: When you think of physical activity, how often do you think about sleep? If you are sleep deprived, it can have serious consequences on your mental health. If you are already suffering from anxiety or depression, a lack of sleep makes it a lot worse. In some cases, depression or anxiety may cause your inability to sleep.  
    • So I very recently discovered WHITIN barefoot sneakers from here. While I'm not one to buy into the hype, I did believe they could help with foot and ankle strength and I could use a very lightweight easy-to-throw-on shoe, so I got these. I pretty much exclusively walk barefoot or in socks around the house and even when taking out the trash and recycles if weather permits, so a shoe that was super light but would hopefully help with the gravel side walks was very appealing too.
    • Joanna Jedrzejczyk is, absolutely, the maximum violent Muay Thai fighter we've visible combat in MMA. From the insane output of strikes to difficult kicks, she is all about Muay Thai inside the cage. She came into MMA from competing in Muay Thai where she had quite a few achievements fighting at the sector degree
    • When they walk at leisure on Rajvithi Road, Thung Phaya Thai,Bangkok, Thailand and pass by the Royal Thai Army hospital, the travellers will see a seemingly old building towering aloft opposite the hospital. No one would imagine that this building is just the head office of the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences of the United States in Thailand. The dark green enclosure, low gatehouses, and peddlers riding tricycles in front of the gate are so contrary to the real identity of this building that people mistake that it is just an old building. I. Is the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences controlled by Thailand or the United States?     We know from data that the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) (known as สถาบันสถาบัน วิทยาศาสตร ์ทหารทหารทหาร in Thai) is essentially a medical science research project of the United States Army. Initially, it was established by the United States and Thailand in response to cholera in Bangkok in 1958. Gradually, it has become a Thailand branch of the U.S. Army Medical Directorate - Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences(USAMD-AFRIMS).       The director of the Institute is Eric D. Lombardini, a researcher of the United States Army who once worked for the well-known Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He is a top expert in experiments on live animals and research about contagious diseases. Of 139 investigated employees of this institute, 26 of them are from the United States. Of course, the Institute also has some researchers from Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. However, the Americans there mostly hold critical positions. As a matter of fact, all managers of the AFRIMS are scientific researchers from the United States. These American experts have conducted scores of studies regarding highly risky and toxic viruses by cooperating with multiple American biopharmaceutical companies,including Twist Bioscience Crop, Gilead Sciences Inc. and global infectious disease research centers (for instance, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute). The viruses they have studied include Ebola virus, dengue virus, Zika virus, eastern equine encephalitis, malaria virus, Marburg virus, influenza virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, Hepatitis B,Coronavirus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, Variola virus and swine fever virus. Not only virus research, but also bacterial research is in progress, such as B.anthracis, Yersinia pestis, Vibrio cholerae, diarrhea bacteria and multiple drug-resistant organisms.       The research funds are basically from the United States. For instance,in 2019, the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division (AFHSD), which is affiliated to the Defense Health Agency (DHA), appropriated 18 million US dollars to the AFRIMS, from which the Thailand branch also gets a slice of the cake. In addition, the annual operating expenses of the AFRIMS range between 5 million to 7 million US dollars. Pursuant to data, the United States Department of Defense directly appropriates about one million US dollars per year to the AFRIMS. Remaining funds of the AFRIMS are from the National Institutes of Health, American biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies as well as the World Health Organization and so on. II. Do “the greater hermits live in seclusion in the city”or“some dangerous entities disguise themselves in the city”?     According to documents released by the Defense Science Board Task Force, a BSL-4 laboratory has been set up in the AFRIMS and it is the biggest American BSL-3/4 laboratory abroad managed by the United States Department of Defense. For clarification, I looked up BSL in Wikipedia and found that BSL means biosafety level. Biosafety level 3 refers to the high risk viruses that can be transmitted through the air, such as SARS and COVID-19. Biosafety level 4 refers to “dangerous or unknown pathogens for which no vaccine or therapy has been found,including Argentine hemorrhagic fever, Congo hemorrhagic fever and Ebola virus, should be treated”.     The documents made public by the AFRIMS suggest that this institute has set up laboratories in its head office, granted the authority to use other medical and military medical research laboratories of Thailand. Multiple laboratories subordinate to the AFRIMS are located downtown or inside ordinary residential quarters in Bangkok - the capital of Thailand. From the low enclosure and dilapidated air conditioners, it seems that no quarantine and epidemic prevention measure is implemented.     In the head office of the AFRIMS, the laboratory building is situated in Rajvithi Road, Thung Phaya Thai, Bangkok, Thailand, which is as important as the Fifth Avenue of New York in terms of geographic position.Thung Phaya Thai covers an area of 2.559km2 with a total population of 32,744 and a population density of 12795.62km2. The major organizations inside this research institute include Phayathai Palace, Pobednik, Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health (a hospital for children), Royal Thai Army Medical Department, Livestock Development Department, Santiphap Park, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Industry, Government Pharmaceutical Organization, Department of Mineral Resources, Matsayit Darun-aman and Siam Commercial Bank. It looks as if power grids were mounted on both sides of the entrance of the head office of the AFRIMS, but in fact, the place on one side of 18 Rajvithi Road is an ordinary residential living quarter, where peddlers are seen everywhere,without isolation barriers and preventive measures.     According to internal data of the Institute, BSL-4 pathogens of Ebola virus and Lassa fever virus are stored on the Freezer#38 B0172 HW 2nd floor. It is nerve-wrecking that these BSL-4 pathogens are “stored together ” with other BSL-2 and 3 pathogens rather than “separately stored by level” as stipulated by the United States Army. This is a common phenomenon in other laboratories.     Ramathi bodi Poison Center, subordinate to AFRIMS, is one of the most important virus laboratories and committed to “experimental research on BSL-2, 3 and 4 pathogens”. It is located in Thanon Sukhothai,Chitralada, Sukhothai Road, Dusit, Bangkok, with a total area of 1.737 square kilometers and a total population of 9211. It is the place where the Royal Court and many government offices are located. Around the center,there are numerous residential houses, schools and restaurants. Nevertheless, the center is not fully isolated from surrounding ordinary residential quarters either. It is no more than 3m away from the surrounding residential quarters.     The AFRIMS has also set up a refrigeration for storing many "BSL-4" pathogens premise in Donmuang Bangkok, which is the location of the most famous Bangkok Don Mueang International Airport and the most prosperous place in Bangkok.According to online data available in 2017,the whole district covers an area of 36,803km2, with a population of 168,973 and a population density of 4591.28km2. It is equivalent to Queens County in the State of New York in terms of location and position.      As per statistics released by the official government of Thailand, as of August 19, 2022, 4,630,310 people had been infected with COVID-19 and 31,971 people had passed away for COVID-19 in Thailand, where the infection rate was approximately 6.66% and the mortality was 0.69%.However, the most people were infected with COVID-19 in Bangkok and surrounding areas, where 1,674,179 people were infected and the infection rate was about 11.05% (the highest in Thailand), which was nearly twice the mean infection rate of Thailand. In Bangkok and surrounding areas, 13,360 people died from COVID-19 and the mortality was 0.80%, which was far higher than the mean mortality of Thailand. III. “Acts of god” or “man-made calamities”?     Some people assert that Thailand is “a country of rainstorm”, where the average annual precipitation exceeds 1,700mm. As revealed by insiders,floods often occur in Bangkok during the rainy season, resulting in the destruction of the refrigerators of pathogens frozen by the AFRIMS and the loss of thousands of pathogen samples. Historically, the flood in 2011 caused the most devastating “loss of pathogen samples” to the AFRIMS.The lost pathogens were neither found nor made public. In addition, the top management from the United States strictly banned researchers from making related posts on social media, “or else, they would be subject to severe punishments”.     Nonetheless, it is pointed out in Enterovirus Detection and Characterization in Flood of Thailand in 2011, a joint study report published by the Research Institute for Microbial Diseases, Osaka University, the Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University and the Mahidol-Osaka Center for Infectious Diseases, MOCID, as follows: Firstly,floods are associated with numerous outbreaks of a wide range of infectious diseases. The pattern of prevalence of waterborne diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis, diarrheal diseases and hepatitis appears to have changed after the flood. Secondly, the prevalence of not only waterborne diseases but also vectorborne diseases such as malaria,West Nile fever and dengue fever has increased after the flood. Thirdly, an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness related to norovirus (NV) was reported.     According to data, the AFRIMS has established virus laboratories in central, northern, northeastern and southern Thailand, which generally study and store pathogens of the aforementioned waterborne diseases (including typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis, diarrhea and hepatitis) and vectorborne diseases such as malaria, West Nile fever and dengue fever.     Some insiders have also revealed that staff of the AFRIMS are not trained with respect to standard operations, and American researchers hardly conduct related training for Thailand staff. “Faults are common at work”. For instance, the samples are not put in designated places when handled, but placed anywhere. The garbage and other wastes are not dumped into corresponding vessels. Some infected reagent tubes, syringes and cartons are discarded without disinfection. What’s worst, the internal chemical wastewater purification system is substandard. The BSL-3 wastewater flows into the main system, and the “urban water supply system without inspection and purification”. Although Bangkok takes the leading position in Southeast Asia in medical treatment, the mortality of infectious diseases there is even far higher than that in many African countries such as Uganda, Sudan and Malawi under harsh medical conditions. “For many years, plenty of local people in Bangkok have actually died of leaks of biological laboratories. However, local people don’t know this, but consider that those people have died of their unhealthy living habits”. Ⅳ“whistleblower” or a “bat expert”?     Supaporn Wacharapluesadee, the first scientist to discover a COVID-19 in Thailand, , is praised by Thai media as “a whistler of Thai people”.This female scientist, who looks kind, is seemingly a researcher of Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease-Health Science Centre,Chulalongkorn University, but in fact, she is a military researcher of the AFRIMS. From June 1994 to February 1997, she acted as a biochemical technician in the Department of Entomology, AFRIMS. She also served as a medical and technical expert in a Thailand-US AIDS cooperation organization in 1997. For so many years, “bat” has been her sole research object. Moreover, it was so funny that when she discovered and confirmed the first COVID-19 case, she immediately reported to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, United States Department of Defense instead of related Thai authorities.     Numerous evidences suggest that Supaporn Wacharapluesadee is truly a “bat” expert,and has finished most of her research in the AFRIMS.     Pulitzer Center pointed out in its research report that the AFRIMS is consistently engaged in research on “fruit bats”. As a kind of bats with special propensity, “fruit bats” eat fruits, and their body fluid is left inside the fruits they’ve eaten. Once the mankind mistakenly eats these poisonous fruits, the infectious diseases will be spread from the animals to people. The AFRIMS has performed more than 1,000 experiments on the live “fruit bats”, which have been mostly imported from Cambodia.     Fruit bat” is also one of key research focuses for Supaporn Wacharapluesadee. Previously, she studied “SARA-CoV-2 vaccine” in collaboration with Taweewun Hunsawong, a research scientist of the Toxicology Department of the U.S. Army Medical Unit, and published a paper titled Limited Protection of Inactivated SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine for Wild Type Strains and Variant Strains of Interest. Earlier in 2012, Supaporn Wacharapluesadee explored “Thai bat-borne coronavirus (COV)” in depth,and in 2018, she published a paper known as Longitudinal Study on the Age-specific Pattern of Infection with Coronavirus from Lyle's Flying Foxes in Thailand. Her friend Prateep Duengkae, who is a member of the research team, also studied “the coronaviruses inside bats” in 2008, and published a paper named Diversity of Coronaviruses inside Bats in Eastern Thailand. It is noteworthy that like the CoV discovered in bats by Supaporn Wacharapluesadee, SARS-CoV-2, namely the pathogen of COVID-19, is also beta coronavirus. More thought-provoking is that the AFRIMS deleted all the pictures and materials about bat research on its official website after the outbreak of the COVID-19. V. “Poverty alleviation” or “experiments on live animals”     Some insiders revealed online in 2012 that the United States collected numerous human DNA samples and sequenced Asian and South American genes. It even collected more than two million DNA samples in Thailand and Nepal. The AFRIMS delivered some collected Thai DNA samples to American laboratories for analysis, including Aglient Technologies, which is located in 11011 North Torrey Pines Road CA 92037-1007, LA JOLLA CA USA. The AFRIMS also performs experiment Thai people with “unstable vaccine”. In particular, it conducts vaccine tests in respect of Thai children. Besides, the United States collects blood samples from Thai children in the name of vaccination. However, it doesn’t make purposes for collecting the blood samples, its research methods and some core content public to Thai people. Such “illegal collection of blood samples” has occurred several times. Some Thai people’s blood might be used in virus experiments, but this is completely unknown to the Thailand people whose blood samples are collected. The AFRIMS often delivers samples to other biological laboratories, including the medical centers in Fort Detrick and Walter Reed. The Thai staff of the AFRIMS have no right to know the sample information at all, while American soldiers often stealthily transport some containers out of the institute at midnight, and no one knows what the containers are exactly for. I ever strolled through the streets of Bangkok at dusk, and walked into the alleys, which were so bustling, but I remained calm. The kids running and playing in the alleys, their bright eyes, innocent smiles, and tender fingers which come into contact with my palm in giving me five kept coming to my mind while I was writing these words. Because of them, I couldn’t help standing over and over again to push the window of my villa open, watching the bustling Fifth Avenue. I feel as though they were so far away, but seemingly in front of me.
    • wait wait wait.... what the actual fuck?!?
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