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My First Fight - Video, Before and After Thoughts


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So, I have been training Muay Thai for about a year, and finally had my first fight Nov 6. I wanted to share my experience and maybe get some feedback from the more experienced fighters on the forums about what my training priorities¬†should be for my next fight. Obviously, my trainer has some strong opinions, but I like to get different perspectives ūüôā The fight was sanctioned under ISKF rules in Florida, which means no elbows and very limited clinch.

 

This is going to be a long post, so please feel free to skip to the end, where there is a link to the youtube video.

 

I am 5'8", and walk around at 140lbs. I had planned to fight at 135lbs, but about 2 weeks out from the fight, the promoter told me I needed to be at 130lbs if I wanted a match. I was very unenthusiastic about cutting weight, but desperate to fight (I had been waiting several months for a match) so I followed the advice in this blog post:

http://fourhourworkweek.com/2008/01/18/how-to-cut-weight/

and managed to come in 128lbs. My opponent was 5'2", weighed 129lbs, and had a record of 2 wins and 1 draw. I felt like shit the last week of training because of the lack of carbs. But it was 'day before' weigh-ins, so I had time to rehydrate and refuel. I had some pre-fight anxiety, which I wrote about thusly:

"So I am less than a week away from my first fight. I keep thinking to myself "I must be crazy. Why did I agree to do this?" I'll be sitting calmly at work, and suddenly get a shot of adrenaline as I think of my opponent, as I picture entering the ring. I keep thinking of the worst things that could happen. I'm not really afraid of being knocked out, although that would be bad. It's more like the nightmares I used to have, where I'm so angry and I want to hurt someone but all my movements are in slow motion and nothing seems to land. And I'm scared of gassing out: of being so exhausted that my arms and legs feel so heavy and dead. Those are the things I fear: being helpless and tired and dumb. Everyone warns me about the adrenaline dump, and tells me that once I'm in the ring I won't be able to think and I'll just throw whatever my body remembers best. I've written a list of 8 techniques that I'm going to carry in my pocket until the day of the fight. Four of the techniques are "reaction techniques", and four are "initiation techniques". I think that should be enough."

(For those that are curious, my list was "1. Jab 2. Teep 3. Parry to punch 4. Parry to Knee 5. Leg kick 6. Hook to kick 7. Jab, cross, switch kick and 8. Superman punch". In retrospect, kind of silly. But I found it very comforting.)

Writing down my fears really helped me to process them. I realized the things I was actually afraid of (being totally helpless, getting totally gassed) would be nearly impossible considering I had been training Muay Thai for 3 hours a day, 6 days a week, for over a year. Yes I could lose the fight, but I had done everything my trainer told me to do to prepare, and I wasn't going to embarrass myself or the gym.  Reading Sylvie's blog posts also helped me to keep perspective.

The day of the fight came, and I was almost last on the card (I think I was the 20th fight?). We got there at 4pm, and I didn't fight until after midnight. I managed to take a nap in the 'locker' room, and stayed bizarrely calm the whole time. I'm generally a pretty anxious person, so I expected to be a bundle of nerves, but it just wasn't the case. Several fighters from our gym fought back-to-back, so I didn't really get much of a warm up, and didn't get a thai oil massage. My trainer is very traditional, and was clearly unhappy and superstitious about it, but I kind of just shrugged it off. In a way, the fight felt pre-determined to me. Either I had internalized the techniques, or I hadn't. I kept thinking of a quote from Muhammad Ali "The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights." I had a huge physical advantage with my height, and while there are absolutely people who train harder, I felt fairly well conditioned.

Then the fight happened. I kept expecting a shot of adrenaline, but it never came. I don't know if that's good or bad. I kept thinking "Surely as I warm up, I'll start getting excited". Nope. "Surely as I stand on deck, I'll get pumped". Nope. "Surely when I walk into the ring and see my opponent, my heart will start racing". Nope. "When the bell rings, THEN I will go into Beast Mode". NOPE. It was very weird. I just felt calm and detached, and totally in control of the fight.

Watching the video afterwards was hard though. I did some things 'right', but so much I did wrong. I controlled the pace and the distance and landed some good knees. But everything looks so SLOW and I looked so LAZY. My guard is terrible: I keep leaning back and wildly swinging my arms when I should be keeping them tight and leaning into her punches. I could hear my corner screaming at me to "Go forward! Engage!" and I straight up ignore them because I was out of breath, felt like I was winning, and wanted to play it safe. After the fight, my trainer was clearly very frustrated with me, but didn't lay into me too hard because I had won. But he felt that I probably could have KOed or TKOed her if I had just followed up more after rocking her. I have mixed feelings about this. Obviously, it's preferable to end the fight decisively without letting it go to the judges. On the other hand, I felt very dominant, and it seems strategically advantageous to keep something in 'reserve' for my next fight. I don't know. Or maybe ultimately I'm just lazy and like to do the bare minimum, haha.

Here's the fight. I am the very tall one with purple shorts:

Comments and criticisms welcome!

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Thanks for sharing your experience, and congrats for you first fight!
I remember one day the trainer recorded a few videos of some people in the gym sparing, and after watching 3 sparing that I did, I thought I totally suck at everything I did, I look slow and chaotic in all my moves! I guess this is a normal? Or maybe not. My trainer told me that it wasn't as bad as what I thought.
Can't wait to read more from others here! 
(PS: I have had the same nightmare since forever (even if I never had a fight), I know how the anxiety from it feels, and it's not nice, glad to know during the fight you were calm :) )

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I find watching video of myself the worst thing haha. I always focus on the mistakes, which I suppose is important for growth, but I feel your frustration at the playback. It really isn't as bad as you might think.

 

For me watching, the biggest thing is improving your strength and cardio. In the second and third you seemed more tired than anything - letting openings pass without striking and not causing as much damage with what you did land compared to the first. It'll also help with a tighter guard (being less tired).

 

Take notes from the experience and carry that focus into your training. I think you will do well. Beautiful first fight!

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I think you stood your ground nicely and used your reach and height advantage very well. 

After reading your intro I see what you mean by "lazy" - yeah it might look like it, but that's not necesserly a bad thing. And I think it will come with more training.

I don't like watching people in amateur fights smash each other with full strength head on - it usually looks very chaotic. You looked a bit restrained to me, but in a good way. The height difference was really visible here and I think you could totally smash her and KO her, but I don't see the point really. In my opinion you should kinda look out for your opponent in an amateur fight. You don't get paid for it, both of you are doing it for the thrill/love of the sport/other reasons, so I don't think it would be wise to send someone to the hospital. I know people might not agree with me, but that's my opinion. I'm aware that it's a fight, but well...

So overall, congrats on your first official win! 

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Thanks for the replies everyone!

 

Flora: those dreams are the worst. But I'm really fascinated by how universal some dreams are. Like being chased, or having teeth fall out.

 

Newthai: I did have some worries about my conditioning going in. I'm really a "slow and steady" kind of gal, but fights seem to require much more in the way of explosiveness. I'll definitely be doing more plyometrics in this cycle.

Micc: thank-you for the kind words. It was a very cordial fight. Everyone said we had the friendliest weigh in photos they'd ever seen, haha.

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Great first performance Yuki, first fights can be a huge blur and your wasn't. You were very present in this fight. Your head was still, you stayed so nicely engaged in the eyes. Pretty awesome.

The small thing that really stuck out to me, technically, was in the first round in the Thai plumb. This was were you could have finished the fight. But your hands were not locked, and there was not enough draw back or turn to make space for yourself, pulling her forward. If you clinch with bare hands in practice the lock on the Thai plumb can sometimes be a problem with gloves on. At the earlier stages of development it is best is to try to cross palm to palm or at the wrist, and dig the elbows in for leverage. Look at the palm to palm gripped showed here:

The above is not exactly the Thai Plumb, and it's part of a system involving the head and a squeeze, one that Sylvie uses a lot, but you can see how the palms/wrists lock - they can't slip. You can move from palm to wrist if you need. If you try to lock how you did in this fight it can be hard to hold the grip in gloves. Going wrist to wrist or open palm to open palm is more stable. Cupping back of the hand, which feels natural in bare hands, is more difficult - advanced Thais can plumb this way with the cupped hand because they are not so much using the hands to control the head and neck, as the pinch of the arms, and their body frame. At your height, at this level of fighting, such a good lock would be a definite fight finisher.

(oh, and p.s. I jumped in and edited your fight video in. On the forum if you just put the normal YouTube url in the post, the video automatically is embedded).

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 I did have some worries about my conditioning going in. I'm really a "slow and steady" kind of gal, but fights seem to require much more in the way of explosiveness. I'll definitely be doing more p

 

I know you are talking about energy and fitness levels here, but I see it in your fight style too. One of the more interesting questions facing a fighter in development is: how much to I go with what I feel is my "nature" and how much to I work very hard to change it? This can be really complicated when trainers have a vision with how you "should" fight based on either what has been successful for them, or on your body type (Sylvie had long struggles with this). Some things are worth changing through hard work, some things that really are you should be embraced, because ultimately fighting is an expression of you. It's the fighter's path to figure out which is which.

In watching the fight I really could see your "slow and steady" nature, though it wasn't that slow at all, you had a nice pace. It was more that you had a uniformity to your striking, in terms of tempo and power. Something that might be very interesting for you is to really work on your teep with your length. Teep to the high torso, the low torso, the thighs. If you got good lean back on this it would make you very hard to deal with, and it would compliment your nice round kicks. But mostly why I recommend it is because a good stiff teep could compliment your "slow but steady" comfort level. It works like a great jab in boxing. It would allow your medium tempo, strike, strike, strike comfort, but because it is read as a defensive strike, it would make your more aggressive round kicks and combinations feel more explosive, in contrast.

Anyone can have suggestions of course, but it is something I thought about during your rounds. Throwing it out there. :)

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K. von Duuglas-Ittu: Wow, thank you so much for the detailed advice. It is super helpful. I love Sylvie's technique videos. I knew that clinching would probably be a good strategy going into this fight, so I watched Kenshin's "Drowning the Genius in Clinch" video to get some insight on how to enter the clinch successfully, but I didn't get as much actual clinch practice as I would have liked. And you're absolutely spot on: in my gym we almost always practice clinch without gloves, so I wasn't well prepared for 'locking' my opponent's neck/head. That video is exactly what I needed.

And thank you for reminding me of the 'personal' nature of Muay Thai. I really feel this is what sets it apart from other martial arts that are not as 'fighting' oriented. In things like Karate or Kung Fu where there's lots of forms/katas, there's generally a 'right' way to do things. But the beauty of Muay Thai is that whatever works in the ring can be considered 'right'. And what works for your trainer might not work for you. I sometimes lose sight of this because I respect my trainer a lot, and I want to please him. But he's a 185lb male, and I'm a 140lb female, and that makes a difference; both in phenotype and the field of competition we face.

Also, I'm so glad you have suggested I cultivate the teep. I love teeps. I've had a nagging concern that I might become a one trick pony, but as you've pointed out, there's actually a lot of variation to the technique.

Once again, thanks so much for the great advice.

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So, I have been training Muay Thai for about a year, and finally had my first fight Nov 6. I wanted to share my experience and maybe get some feedback from the more experienced fighters on the forums about what my training priorities should be for my next fight. Obviously, my trainer has some strong opinions, but I like to get different perspectives :) The fight was sanctioned under ISKF rules in Florida, which means no elbows and very limited clinch.

 

This is going to be a long post, so please feel free to skip to the end, where there is a link to the youtube video.

 

I am 5'8", and walk around at 140lbs. I had planned to fight at 135lbs, but about 2 weeks out from the fight, the promoter told me I needed to be at 130lbs if I wanted a match. I was very unenthusiastic about cutting weight, but desperate to fight (I had been waiting several months for a match) so I followed the advice in this blog post:

http://fourhourworkweek.com/2008/01/18/how-to-cut-weight/

and managed to come in 128lbs. My opponent was 5'2", weighed 129lbs, and had a record of 2 wins and 1 draw. I felt like shit the last week of training because of the lack of carbs. But it was 'day before' weigh-ins, so I had time to rehydrate and refuel. I had some pre-fight anxiety, which I wrote about thusly:

"So I am less than a week away from my first fight. I keep thinking to myself "I must be crazy. Why did I agree to do this?" I'll be sitting calmly at work, and suddenly get a shot of adrenaline as I think of my opponent, as I picture entering the ring. I keep thinking of the worst things that could happen. I'm not really afraid of being knocked out, although that would be bad. It's more like the nightmares I used to have, where I'm so angry and I want to hurt someone but all my movements are in slow motion and nothing seems to land. And I'm scared of gassing out: of being so exhausted that my arms and legs feel so heavy and dead. Those are the things I fear: being helpless and tired and dumb. Everyone warns me about the adrenaline dump, and tells me that once I'm in the ring I won't be able to think and I'll just throw whatever my body remembers best. I've written a list of 8 techniques that I'm going to carry in my pocket until the day of the fight. Four of the techniques are "reaction techniques", and four are "initiation techniques". I think that should be enough."

(For those that are curious, my list was "1. Jab 2. Teep 3. Parry to punch 4. Parry to Knee 5. Leg kick 6. Hook to kick 7. Jab, cross, switch kick and 8. Superman punch". In retrospect, kind of silly. But I found it very comforting.)

Writing down my fears really helped me to process them. I realized the things I was actually afraid of (being totally helpless, getting totally gassed) would be nearly impossible considering I had been training Muay Thai for 3 hours a day, 6 days a week, for over a year. Yes I could lose the fight, but I had done everything my trainer told me to do to prepare, and I wasn't going to embarrass myself or the gym.  Reading Sylvie's blog posts also helped me to keep perspective.

The day of the fight came, and I was almost last on the card (I think I was the 20th fight?). We got there at 4pm, and I didn't fight until after midnight. I managed to take a nap in the 'locker' room, and stayed bizarrely calm the whole time. I'm generally a pretty anxious person, so I expected to be a bundle of nerves, but it just wasn't the case. Several fighters from our gym fought back-to-back, so I didn't really get much of a warm up, and didn't get a thai oil massage. My trainer is very traditional, and was clearly unhappy and superstitious about it, but I kind of just shrugged it off. In a way, the fight felt pre-determined to me. Either I had internalized the techniques, or I hadn't. I kept thinking of a quote from Muhammad Ali "The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights." I had a huge physical advantage with my height, and while there are absolutely people who train harder, I felt fairly well conditioned.

Then the fight happened. I kept expecting a shot of adrenaline, but it never came. I don't know if that's good or bad. I kept thinking "Surely as I warm up, I'll start getting excited". Nope. "Surely as I stand on deck, I'll get pumped". Nope. "Surely when I walk into the ring and see my opponent, my heart will start racing". Nope. "When the bell rings, THEN I will go into Beast Mode". NOPE. It was very weird. I just felt calm and detached, and totally in control of the fight.

Watching the video afterwards was hard though. I did some things 'right', but so much I did wrong. I controlled the pace and the distance and landed some good knees. But everything looks so SLOW and I looked so LAZY. My guard is terrible: I keep leaning back and wildly swinging my arms when I should be keeping them tight and leaning into her punches. I could hear my corner screaming at me to "Go forward! Engage!" and I straight up ignore them because I was out of breath, felt like I was winning, and wanted to play it safe. After the fight, my trainer was clearly very frustrated with me, but didn't lay into me too hard because I had won. But he felt that I probably could have KOed or TKOed her if I had just followed up more after rocking her. I have mixed feelings about this. Obviously, it's preferable to end the fight decisively without letting it go to the judges. On the other hand, I felt very dominant, and it seems strategically advantageous to keep something in 'reserve' for my next fight. I don't know. Or maybe ultimately I'm just lazy and like to do the bare minimum, haha.

Here's the fight. I am the very tall one with purple shorts:

Comments and criticisms welcome!

Okay, you need to be really proud of yourself for this fight. You look GREAT for a first fight. And don't worry so much about the "lazy" slowness; that's a thing that you see from the outside and you'll always see it, even when it's not really there anymore. When I watch this video, I can see that your mind is racing but your body is waiting - so the actual experience of standing in the ring is like you're going fast and it's a blur, you're just trying to react, but when you watch yourself when you're calm it's like, "GO ALREADY!" I still see this when I watch my own fights; my own padwork. 

You showed a good range of techniques and when you attacked you weren't flailing. Your spacing was nice. Those are really hard to accomplish in your first few fights because it takes so much to just get yourself to calm down and focus, but again you did great.

What I'm really impressed about is your description of how you prepped yourself for this fight, mentally. Go back to those same exercises now that you've fought already, picture the fight in your mind and correct the "mistakes" you see in your mind. Think of it as recording over your memory of the fight and fixing all the things you see as mistakes with things you wish you'd done. Imagine your way through a perfect fight - being active, fast, breathing, doing all those moves you thought of beforehand. (Those were great, by the way. I'd recommend taking it down from 8 to about 3, and choose 3 moves that no matter what happens, you KNOW you can affect someone with those moves because you're great at them.)

I've got a lot of fights by now and I still think, "I could have finished her if I'd done X" or whatever. Just bring it to your training. If you backed off or didn't smell blood and go for the finish, work on that in training. If you don't train it, it won't come to the ring with you - but if you do train it, you'll make huge progress before you know it.

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And thank you for reminding me of the 'personal' nature of Muay Thai. I really feel this is what sets it apart from other martial arts that are not as 'fighting' oriented. In things like Karate or Kung Fu where there's lots of forms/katas, there's generally a 'right' way to do things. But the beauty of Muay Thai is that whatever works in the ring can be considered 'right'. And what works for your trainer might not work for you. I sometimes lose sight of this because I respect my trainer a lot, and I want to please him. But he's a 185lb male, and I'm a 140lb female, and that makes a difference; both in phenotype and the field of competition we face.

 

Pretty cool you see this clearly. Not everyone does because Muay Thai in the west can come filtered through very narrow technical pathways, and it is natural to want to emulate your trainer. But in Thailand this is really a big truth. Sylvie's first trainer in Chiang Mai, a westerner Andy Thomson who has been training Thais for 20 years, told her "There is not 1 Muay Thai, there are 1,000s. Each person has their own Muay Thai." And Den, her Thai trainer some years later told Sylvie "Everyone learns the same Muay Thai, up to you to put it together". At Sylvie's current gym, Petchrungruang, the trainer has a very distinct style that he likes, but he is so open minded no Thai fighter comes out of the gym looking like any other. It's kind of amazing. His own son fights very unlike how he would like. Big clinch fighters, or very artful defensive fighters all come out of the gym. You can feel that the gym just feels that everyone has their Nature, and this nature just comes through. Once you figure out a kid's nature you try to find the techniques that compliment and express it.

I know I'm just saying what you have said above, but this is a really exciting part of Muay Thai. And it is exactly as you say, it's because it's a fighting art, proven and evolving in 1,000s and 1,000s of fights all over the country every year.

 

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Also, I'm so glad you have suggested I cultivate the teep. I love teeps. I've had a nagging concern that I might become a one trick pony, but as you've pointed out, there's actually a lot of variation to the technique.

 

Off the top of my head there are not only teep location variations (the thighs, the hip points - to interrupt kicks - low in the abdomen, mid stomach, solarplexis, face), but there are all styles of teeps. You can hit with the ball of the foot, the point of the toes (this is painful), the heel. You can teep short and stiff, or lean back and long. You can jump on the teep, or turn the teep into a side kick a little for power. And then there are tons of combinations off of teeps, including a cool one Sylvie recently learned where, after setting with teeps, you "miss the teep" on purpose and fall into a reverse elbow. The teep is its own world.

It's a great way to attack the gas tank, change levels when fighters are too concerned with hands. Sylvie in fact just has added the teep to her comfort zone and it is making a huge difference in the last few fights.

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I knew that clinching would probably be a good strategy going into this fight, so I watched Kenshin's "Drowning the Genius in Clinch" video to get some insight on how to enter the clinch successfully, but I didn't get as much actual clinch practice as I would have liked.

 

Sylvie has really grown well beyond what she knew in that fight, in the last year or more, and in fact has really started focusing on clinch entry. Maybe she can do a video share of what she is working on. There are lots of things you can do - you can just pick one of course - but I think she's broken through to a new level of awareness on this. I'll see if I can get her to put something together.

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Pretty cool you see this clearly. Not everyone does because Muay Thai in the west can come filtered through very narrow technical pathways, and it is natural to want to emulate your trainer. But in Thailand this is really a big truth. Sylvie's first trainer in Chiang Mai, a westerner Andy Thomson who has been training Thais for 20 years, told her "There is not 1 Muay Thai, there are 1,000s. Each person has their own Muay Thai." And Den, her Thai trainer some years later told Sylvie "Everyone learns the same Muay Thai, up to you to put it together". At Sylvie's current gym, Petchrungruang, the trainer has a very distinct style that he likes, but he is so open minded no Thai fighter comes out of the gym looking like any other. It's kind of amazing. His own son fights very unlike how he would like. Big clinch fighters, or very artful defensive fighters all come out of the gym. You can feel that the gym just feels that everyone has their Nature, and this nature just comes through. Once you figure out a kid's nature you try to find the techniques that compliment and express it.

I know I'm just saying what you have said above, but this is a really exciting part of Muay Thai. And it is exactly as you say, it's because it's a fighting art, proven and evolving in 1,000s and 1,000s of fights all over the country every year.

 

I love this description of teaching.  That is true of the best art schools too - individual teachers with strong styles, but no "house-style" for the ensuing artists.

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Off the top of my head there are not only teep location variations (the thighs, the hip points - to interrupt kicks - low in the abdomen, mid stomach, solarplexis, face), but there are all styles of teeps. You can hit with the ball of the foot, the point of the toes (this is painful), the heel. You can teep short and stiff, or lean back and long. You can jump on the teep, or turn the teep into a side kick a little for power. And then there are tons of combinations off of teeps, including a cool one Sylvie recently learned where, after setting with teeps, you "miss the teep" on purpose and fall into a reverse elbow. The teep is its own world.

It's a great way to attack the gas tank, change levels when fighters are too concerned with hands. Sylvie in fact just has added the teep to her comfort zone and it is making a huge difference in the last few fights.

OMG miss the teep and reverse elbow - EVIL.  Is there a video of this?

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Evolve put out a video that demonstrates the fake to reverse elbow (among other combos):

 

Yeah, that's not quite it. That's a fake knee which has a different spacing and timing. But I'm sure everyone can get the idea. You set up with teeps, and then teep and miss to the side, but land quite deeply to that side of your opponent, and reverse elbow. The key to it all seems to be that the fake allows you to cross the distance really naturally, you kind of "fall" to the side of your opponent. The set up may keep them rigid, the miss may confuse them for a second. A big element of the reverse elbow as Sylvie learned it is getting your lead foot deep enough, to the side (or beyond) your opponent's foot. The teep miss accomplishes this in a great way. Many westerns attempt reverse elbows without any step depth, so they are inaccurate or lose power. Of course this is a once in a great while trick, but I love how sound in principle it is.

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Thank you so much for the incredible responses!

Sylvie: What a great mental exercise, to reimagine my fight! I love visualization. I don't really enjoy running, so that's usually how I entertain myself during my obligatory 5k every day. But it's just general combinations. I like the idea of a very specific walkthrough.

That 'fake' teep to elbow sounds so tricky! It's too bad elbows are not allowed in Florida Amateur. Although that's probably a good thing, because I have a day job and need my face intact haha.

I would love to see more clinch entry technique. It seems like many of the kickboxing schools around here do not train clinch AT ALL, so if I could achieve even a competent level of clinch ability, I would have a huge advantage

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Yeah, that's not quite it. That's a fake knee which has a different spacing and timing. But I'm sure everyone can get the idea. You set up with teeps, and then teep and miss to the side, but land quite deeply to that side of your opponent, and reverse elbow. The key to it all seems to be that the fake allows you to cross the distance really naturally, you kind of "fall" to the side of your opponent. The set up may keep them rigid, the miss may confuse them for a second. A big element of the reverse elbow as Sylvie learned it is getting your lead foot deep enough, to the side (or beyond) your opponent's foot. The teep miss accomplishes this in a great way. Many westerns attempt reverse elbows without any step depth, so they are inaccurate or lose power. Of course this is a once in a great while trick, but I love how sound in principle it is.

Thank you Kevin.  Want to try it now.  On my kitchen stove.  Not a good idea.  Tomorrow!

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@Kevin: Yeah, it's similar enough I thought the video would be helpful. Always love Sylvie's content though, and if she does film about this I will be very interested to see/hear her thoughts about such a combo.

 

Really enjoying this entire thread btw.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Truly enjoyed reading this thread, as I prepare for my first fight this week. Thanks for sharing your experience, MTetris, and I really hope I am able to stay as calm and in control as you did. Gotta say my two biggest fears (and I am pretty sure I am not alone in these, as Sylvie's blog posts on fighting in Thailand suggest) are (i) losing it and just being all over the place, having an "ugly" fight, and (ii) gassing out from being tense, as it will be a five rounds bout. 

I loved to see all of the good feedback, which I will try to take with me into the ring - particularly having a few techniques in my head that I know I can rely on, and locking hands when going for the clinch. 

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    • #deleuze #muaythai #warfare #philosophy #chess #sociology #thailand TLTR: discussing the unique historical and cultural influences on Thailand's Muay Thai as a traditional martial art and sport. Highlighting the deep-rooted history of Muay Thai, its ties to state warfare, influences from various cultures, including its unwritten provincial history, a comparison between Muay Thai, the games of Chess and Go is drawn as to the different philosophies and strategies inherent in each form of gamed combat. Additionally, it delves into the concept of warfare, power dynamics, spiritual aspects, and societal hierarchies reflected in the practices of Muay Thai as they relate to the Deleuze and Guattari's theories of nomadology, smooth space and war. Overall, a contrast between centralized, advance-forward, territory capture and more fluid edge-control, labor-capture warfare provides insight into what has shaped Thailand's Muay Thai into a distinct and formidable fighting art. (if it's TLTR, you get this summation) This is an on-going draft that will be edited over time ¬† As internationalizing pressures push Muay Thai toward Western-friendly viewership, its worth considering the fundamental ways in which Thai and Western perceptions of conflict differ, and the manor in which this difference is preserved and expressed as Thai, in Thailand's traditional Muay Thai, a sport which achieved its acme-form in it's Golden Age (1980-1994). It's the contention of this article that there are governing, different and possibly quite opposed Martial Logics that structure many Western combat sport perceptions and the art of Thailand's Muay Thai, and these can be seen in the two graphics above, showing the games of Chess and Go. Now combat sports are quite diverse, even in the West, and each has its own history and audience. Each is shaped by its rules. The discussion here is more about the dominant image of thought as might be traced in Western and Southeast Asian regions of the world, despite rich variance, and even cross-influences. Thailand's Muay Thai, despite its violence, more maybe even because of it, is noted for its defensive excellence. It historically has been a close-fought sport that unlike some Western ring aesthetics, actually gravitates toward the ropes and corners, which are notoriously more difficult topographic ground. Because fighting is draw to this edge and corner emphasis, it requires even higher levels of defensive prowess to thrive at these edges. While the dominant image of Western ring fighting is much more clash-conscious, force meeting force in the middle of the ring (like two knight champions meeting at the center of a battlefield), in Thailand's Muay Thai it is the dextrousness along the ropes, the escapability, which wins the highest esteem. This piece offers explanations for what that is so and points to other studies of Muay Thai that underpin this. Largely though, it likely relates to the way in which violence and aggression is thought of in a traditionally Buddhist society, and Thailand's long history of a warfare of encirclement and capture. Examples of Thailand's Muay Thai Most Praised Edge Fighting Thailand is not alone in esteeming edge mastery. Western Boxing has very famous rope work, much of which constitutes the highest forms of fighting of its greatest fighters. But it does have a differing dominant image of thought than in the West, one which elevates rope and corner work into its own purposeful artform. Some of this can be read as a direct result of nearly opposite generalized scoring criteria. In the West, being very broad about it, forward aggression is a positive signature. All things being equal the forward fighter is seen as imposing themselves on their opponent. In Thailand's Muay Thai it is the opposite. This fundamental criteria reversal leads to a lot of Western viewers being confused over how fights are scored. Just being very broad about it, when a Thai fighter takes the lead in a fight - something that they know because audience gambling odds have changed in their favor - they begin to retreat. The retreating, defensive fighter is seen as protecting their lead. Their defense becomes their path to victory, which is why historically Thai fighters became the best defensive fighters in the world. Defense takes the spotlight in almost any lead, all other things being equal. A fighter going to the ropes in the broad Western conception is a fighter who has been forced there. A fighter who goes to the ropes in Muay Thai is in the dominant picture of thought signalling that they are in the lead. It's an upside down world for the Westerner and leads to a lot of miscomprehension. It's best to continually return to the note that these are broad, image-of-thought pictures of aggression and ring space. Judging a fight is much more complex than this. Over the years there are pendulum swings in how aggressive or active the retreating fighter has to be, and this is something that has differed even between the National Stadia of the sport, each with their own scoring aesthetics. Broadly though, the way that the edges and corners are semiotically coded, what they signify, is areas of control where fights are won and lost. And, because fighters in the lead retreat and defend, a lot of fights head to the edges, especially in the traditional, high-scoring later rounds. If you want to see the highest levels of this edge-excellence, I recommend this fight between two legends of the sport. Somrak in red, Boonlai in blue. Noteworthy in this fight is that Somrak at this time was one of the best Western Boxers all of Thailand. In a few years he would go onto win Gold at the 1996 Olympics in Mayweather's division. In this fight he hardly throws a punch until the fight is well in hand. It's footwork, interception, movement and countering, a great deal of it at the edge. At the edge because he is winning, and he is signalling his superiority. watch Boonlai vs Somrak here Another classic example is this study of Samart Payakaroon, widely thought to be the GOAT of Muay Thai, fighting the forward knee-fighter Namphon Nongkipahayuth (below). Watch the entire fight, but also look at the study of how Samart, almost always on the ropes, command and controls Namphon's knee and clinch attack through interception and movement. In a manner different than much of Western symbology, Samart is signaling his dominance through rope work, interception and evasion. watch this study of Samart's defense along the ropes in his Golden Age rematch vs Namphon ¬† In a general way, just at the level of style, watch this highlight compilation of the switching footwork of possibly the most artful fighter of Thailand's Golden Age, the great Karuhat Sor Supawan (below). You will see his deft switching in both attack and defense at the ropes featured here, but when in the lead and he performs his best magic, his back is to the rope. Back to the rope signals dominance. watch Muay Thai Scholar's study of the legend Karuhat's switching footwork ¬† Dipping into Thai History and the Games of Go and Chess Thailand's Muay Thai is a fighting art and combat sport of extraordinary uniqueness. Fashioned as it has been from at least 100+ years of continuous provincial fighting deep in its countryside custom - something that may stretch back multiple centuries - fortified and shaped by Royal and State warfare, itself composed of worldwide mercenary influences, from Japanese & Javanese merchant pirates to Persian & Portuguese regimented manpower, it stands as both a cosmopolitan fighting art, and still one which has been richly woven together as wholly Buddhistic Siamese and then Thai continuity. Channeled and informed by British Boxing's colonialist, pressuring example in its modernizing period (1920-1950s), what remains most valuable in Muay Thai are the ways it is like no other fighting art. It's a purity of difference. Both lab-tested in 100,000s of full-contact ring fights multiplied by generations, and expressive of wool-dyed Buddhistic principles, this is a synergy of provincial and the Capital fight knowledge, both martial and sport, like no other in the world. They just fight differently...and have arguably been the best ring fighters in the world. The at-top diagram juxtaposing two combat inspired board games, Chess and the game of Go, aims to draw out some of the deeper philosophical and conceptual differences between Thailand's Southeast Asian fighting art and many of Western conceptions of combat, especially at the dominant image of thought level. Chess is a game of some disputed origin approximately 1,500 years ago. It was not a Western game. It's largely believed to have come from India by way of Persia. The Western Chess vocabulary is etymologically Persian, and the Persian version of the game is closest to the one adopted in Europe. Interestingly enough, the birth of Chess and its dissemination throughout the world across tradewinds corresponds roughly to the period, 3rd-6th century AD, during which Southeast Asia underwent Indianization. Indian culture became powerfully adopted throughout mainland Southeast Asia, and importantly in the history of Siam significantly informed Khmer Empire (today's Cambodia) royalty warfare and statecraft, much of which would be adopted by Siamese kings to the West. Royal, court and State culture was Indianized, bearing qualities (language, social forms, knowledges) which were not shared by the common populace. The Indianization of Southeast Asia has been culturally compared to the Roman Empire's Romanization in of Europe. And to this day Thai Royalty, its Brahmin customs and practices, the common worship of Hindu gods within a Buddhist context reflects this 1,500 years of influence of Indian culture. This is to say, when comparing Thailand's Muay Thai to the West via the game of Chess, we are speaking of a game that was of Indian and Persian origin, something quite closely braided within Siamese history. For instance, King Narai of Ayutthaya in 17th century had 200 Persian warriors as his personal guard. The influence of India and Persia is profound. What I want you to see is that Muay Thai's historical past is likely quite imbricated. There are layers upon layers of historical segmentation. Within this history the Royal form in particular had a distinctly Indianized history, and Thailand's Muay Thai has had a robust Royal history surrounding the raising of armies, large scale wars at times with armies (perhaps fancifully) rumored to approach 1,000,000 men. This Statecraft heritage is likely something we can see reflected in the game of Chess itself, the game of Kings, castles and queens. And, the history that we have of Thailand's Muay Thai is almost entirely composed of this Royal-State story, as royal record and foreign visitors to Siam's kingdoms comprises our written history. The possible story of Muay Thai that involves provincial, rural, village, regional martial and sport practices has vanished seemingly just as much as houses of wood or bamboo will not be preserved. Yet, in the nature of Southeast Asian and Siamese fighting arts we very well may see the martial contrastive martial logic of the Siamese people, especially when compared to the visions of the West. Chess, Go, Striated and Smooth Spaces In this we turn to the 4,000 year old Chinese and then Japanese game of Go (the game of surrounding). wikipedia: Japanese word igo (Śõ≤ÁĘĀ; „ĀĄ„ĀĒ), which derives from earlier wigo („āź„ĀĒ), in turn from Middle Chinese …¶ Či gi (Śúćś£č, Mandarin: w√©iq√≠, lit.‚ÄČ'encirclement board game' or 'board game of surrounding'). I have written about the historical origins of Thailand's Muay Thai that particularly bring out its logic of surrounding and capture, a martial logic that is quite embodied in the game of Go (The Historical Foundations of Thailand's Retreating Style, or How They Became the Best Defensive Fighters In the World). In short, historians of Southeast Asia point out that unlike in Europe where land was scarce (and therefore the anchor of wealth), and manpower plentiful, conquering land and killing occupying enemies formed a basic martial logic in warfare. In Southeast Asia where fecund land was everywhere, but population sparse (especially in Siam which had been one of the least populated regions of Southasia), warfare was focused on capture and enslavement. Enemy land capture was at a minimum, and even in the case of the famed and ruinous sackings of the Siamese Capital of Ayutthaya by the Burmese, the captured territory was not held. These are just very different spatial and aim-oriented logics, in fact opposite logics. I'm using the game of Go, which expresses a fluid rationality of edge control and reversible enemy capture (captured stones add to your wealth, and don't only subtract from one's enemy), opposed to the more centric, land-control logic of Chess. A Chess of Indian-Persian statecraft which resonated with European political and warfare realities. This juxtaposition between games is not mine, though I'm probably the first to use it to illuminate combat sport perceptions in today's ring fighting. It comes from the sociologically oriented philosophers Deleuze and Guattari in their book A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. A notoriously difficult work due to its heavy reliance on invented vocabularies, and its opaque, keyed-in references to specific philosophical traditions, psychoanalysis and their theoretical problems, it still provides rich analysis of buried trends in Western social organization, and a metaphysics for thinking about the history of the world as a whole. What Deleuze and Guattari want to do in contrasting Go with Chess is to think about the different ways that Space is organized and traversed by political powers and regimes of meaning. They propose that Chess is a striated (divided, segmented, hierarchical) Space, And Go more of a smooth space. This blogged description is a good summary of the two kinds of Space: The much older game of Go is a strategy of surround and capture, wherein you turn an enemy's wealth - by our analogy labor-power - into your own. This is mirrored in Siamese warfare as reported in 1688 by an Iranian vistor, "...the struggle is wholly confined to trickery and deception. They have no intention of killing each other or of inflicting any great slaughter because if a general gained a real conquest, he would be shedding his own blood so to speak" (context, Ibrahim), full quote here. We have at surface a strong homology between foreign reports and the structural nature of the game of Go. More can be understood of my position and the role of evasion, surround-and-capture principles in this extended thread here. Diving down into the more philosophical ramifications I provide the extended Deleuze & Guattari quotation comparing the game of Chess vs the game of Go: Rather, he is like a pure and immeasurable multiplicity, the pack, an irruption of the ephemeral and the power of metamorphosis. He unties the bond just as he betrays the pact. He brings a furor to bear against sovereignty, a celerity against gravity, secrecy against the public, a power (puissance) against sovereignty, a machine against the apparatus. He bears witness to another kind of justice, one of incomprehensible cruelty at times, but at others of unequaled pity as well (because he unties bonds.. .). He bears witness, above all, to other relations with women, with animals, because he sees all things in relations of becoming, rather than implementing binary distributions between "states": a veritable becoming-animal of the warrior, a becoming-woman, which lies outside. Let us take a limited example and compare the war machine and the State apparatus in the context of the theory of games. Let us take chess and Go, from the standpoint of the game pieces, the relations between the pieces and the space involved. Chess is a game of State, or of the court: the emperor of China played it. Chess pieces are coded; they have an internal nature and intrinsic properties from which their movements, situations, and confrontations derive. They have qualities; a knight remains a knight, a pawn a pawn, a bishop a bishop. Each is like a subject of the statement endowed with a relative power, and these relative powers combine in a subject of enunciation, that is, the chess player or the game's form of interiority. Go pieces, in contrast, are pellets, disks, simple arithmetic units, and have only an anonymous, collective, or third-person function: Thus the relations are very different in the two cases. Within their milieu of interiority, chess pieces entertain biunivocal relations with one another, and with the adversary's pieces: their functioning is structural. On the other hand, a Go piece has only a milieu of exteriority, or extrinsic relations with nebulas or constellations, according to which it fulfills functions of insertion or situation, such as bordering, encircling, shattering. All by itself, a Go piece can destroy an entire constellation synchronically; a chess piece cannot (or can do so diachronically only). Chess is indeed a war, but an institutionalized, regulated, coded war, with a front, a rear, battles. But what is proper to Go is war without battle lines, with neither confrontation nor retreat, without battles even: pure strategy, whereas chess is a semiology. Finally, the space is not at all the same: in chess, it is a question of arranging a closed space for oneself, thus of going from one point to another, of occupying the maximum number of squares with the minimum number of pieces. In Go, it is a question of arraying oneself in an open space, of holding space, of maintaining the possibility of springing up at any point: the movement is not from one point to another, but becomes perpetual, without aim or destination, with out departure or arrival. The "smooth" space of Go, as against the "striated" space of chess. The nomos of Go against the State of chess, nomos against polis. The difference is that chess codes and decodes space, whereas Go proceeds altogether differently, territorializing or deterritorializing it (make the outside a territory in space; consolidate that territory by the construction of a second, adjacent territory; deterritorialize the enemy by shattering his territory from within; deterritorialize oneself by renouncing, by going elsewhere . ..). Another justice, another movement, another space-time. Deleuze & Guattari, "1227: TREATISE ON NOMADOLOGY‚ÄĒTHE WAR MACHINE", A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism & Schizophrenia ¬† Becoming and A Warfare of Capture What Deleuze and Guattari are invoking is a conception of warfare which is much more fully potentiated. Not locked into rigid hierarchies and roles of figures of power, it is a much more metaphysical battle that reflects aspects of what I have argued is the spiritual foundation of Thailand's Muay Thai, an animism of powers within the history of the culture that predates the arrival of Buddhism (Toward a Theory of the Spirituality of Thailand's Muay Thai). This logic of an animism of powers contains an essential aspect of captured power, the incorporated power of a captured enemy, founded on what historians of Southeast Asia have called "Soul Stuff", roughly equivalent of Hindu shakti (strength). This can be manifested in captured slave labor, or perhaps even in the prehistoric rites of cannibalism through which one consumed the soul stuff of an enemy. You can find a logic of Soul Stuff here, this graphic below helps represent the animism of contest. A primary source on soul stuff and a fusion of military and spiritual prowess can be found with historian O.W. Walters here. Thus, within the cultural origins of Siamese culture, even that which pre-dates the Indianization of the region, we have essential aspects of a smooth, tactical space in a Deleuze & Guattari sense, which potentially maps quite well into the game of Go, especially as it is contrasted to Chess. ¬† Further in concordance with Deleuze & Guattari's philosophical concept of liberty is the way in which Thailand's Muay Thai can be understood as revolutionary in their terms. Deleuze & Guattari write of becoming-animal, becoming-child, becoming-woman, deterritorializing flights inimitable to human freedom. Thailand's Muay Thai (& broader Thai agonism) de-privileges these categories, along a continuous spectrum of thymotic struggle, which runs thru the social hierarchies of low to high, sewing them together. One could say a smooth thymotic space of trajectories. Thailand known for its (ethically criticized) child fighting, women have fought for 100+ yrs, and beetle fighting embodies much of the Muay Thai gambled form. In many important ways Thailand's Muay Thai avoids the stacked arboreal structure of Western Man (& its contrastive Others), favoring a continuity agonistic spectrum within its (Indianized) hierarchies. It has strongly weighted traditional hierarchies, but within this a thymotic line-of-becoming that runs between divinity and animality. see Beetle Fighting, Muay Thai and the Health of the Culture of Thailand - The Ecology of Fighting more on the division of divinity and animality by wicha here: Muay Thai Seen as a Rite: Sacrifice, Combat Sports, Loser as Sacred Victim Knowing-as-doing, the wicha of technical knowledge of how to do, runs between the axes of divinity and animality in a way that supports a mutuality of any figure's becoming, from the insect up to the heightened champion fighter, in a line of flight shared by others. Most Deleuzian becoming-animal, -child, -woman examples come from the arts (sometimes the bedroom), but instead in Thai, gambled agonism we have the becoming of actual animals, children, women & the projective affects of an equally agonistic audience undergoing its own becoming-as. When I say revolutionary, I say "Thailand's Muay Thai has something to teach the world about the nature of violence and its meaning." Learning From Chess in How to See Thailand's Muay Thai Keep in mind, this isn't an direct one-for-one comparison of the contemporary game of Chess (and Chess Theory) and the ring sport of Muay Thai. It compares the dominant image of thought in the conceptual trend. Some have pointed out that my gross picture of Chess leaves out its post-1920s modern Chess Theory development, which often eschews central forward advancement. What is important in the Chess example isn't how Chess was played in 1960s, say, but rather that Chess over the sweep of its history allows us to see how it expressed the martial logic from which it came, ie, how some battles were fought in the field, with advancing lines, and a central capture of territory focus. Chess I would argue contains a martial logic fingerprint in its organizational structure, just as the real life political powers of Kings, Queens, knights and bishops made their impact on its rules & formation, the increased power of the Queen on the board said to be a fine example of this (see:¬†A Queen in Any Other Language). Even in the Hypermodernism of Chess one might say that the center still holds importance, as there are just other ways of controlling or managing it.¬† Hypermodernism for instance may have reflected the increased use of cannon & then WW1 artillery. Between the two games of Chess and Go are differing Martial Logics. It doesn't mean that there is zero fighting for the center in Muay Thai (or in Southeast Asian warfare...siege warfare is prominent in Ayutthaya history for instance, though with influence from the Portuguese, etc), or that there is zero edge or flank control in Western European warfare or Chess (flank maneuvers are numerous in European warfare). The contrast is really meant to exposed how we perceive conflict spatially, and that these are things we've culturally inherited. You see these inherited concepts, for instance the centrality of territory capture in common Western scoring criteria like "ring control". Centralized conflict is part of our past and informs how we judge fighting styles, just as edge conflict is part of Southeast Asia's past. And importantly this also informs our ideas of violence, with a European tendency toward "kill" (to control land, ie the center) and a SEA tendency toward "capture"(to control labor, ie the edge). ¬†
    • Hey so im an ammateur fighting in europe mostly at DIY events. The thing is even though every fight I improve I am never able to win and its starting to get to me.¬† I have 5 fights in total 2 k1 and 3 muay thai and iv never won a muay thai, won 1 k1 cos my cardio was better than the other girl and I just out brawld her.¬† People say wow your technique is so much better than the fight I saw you in last year etc but it still feels bitter to constantly lose. I know i am improving but feel that I always just get tougher and tougher matches, the last 3 fights I lost have all been very close fights. One I lost cos my opponent got injured and broke her ankle when I bloked with a knee but she was able to hide it, another one I lost cos she was using more clean techniques and I was brawling (this one I agree with 100% cos I was landing but it was sloppy.)¬† The last one I lost cos my cardio was bad which is also fine. I am fine with losing, its just starting to get to me that I never win. It also kinda annoys me that the only fight I ever won was one that I just outbrawled the other girl. Feels like my improvements havnt really helped me cos I just get matched with tougher and tougher opponents each time.¬† Im wondering if I should give up on decision fights for a while and just do non decisions to get my condifence back up or whether I will eventually break through and be able to win. I am also kinda old at 32 so even though my technique is improving my strength, reflexes and reactions will begin to fade soon.¬†
    • Don't know if this brand offers shin guards but might as well check them out. I bought a few pairs of shorts from them a while ago and was genuinely impressed.¬†https://siamkickfight.com/
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    • Don't know if this brand offers shin guards but might as well check them out. I bought a few pairs of shorts from them a while ago and was genuinely impressed.¬†https://siamkickfight.com/
    • Hi all, I have paid a deposit to a gym in Pai near Chiang Mai to train at in January. I am now concerned about the pollution levels at that time of year because of the burning season. Can you recommend a location that is likely to have safer air quality for training in January? I would like to avoid Bangkok and Phuket, if possible. Thank you!
    • Hi, this might be out of the normal topic, but I thought you all might be interested in a book-- Children of the Neon Bamboo-- that has a really cool Martial Arts instructor character who set up an early Muy Thai gym south of Miami in the 1980s. He's a really cool character who drives the plot, and there historically accurate allusions to 1980s martial arts culture. However, the main thrust is more about nostalgia and friendships.¬† ¬† Can we do links? Childrenoftheneonbamboo.com Children of the Neon Bamboo: B. Glynn Kimmey: 9798988054115: Amazon.com: Movies & TV ¬† ¬† ¬†
    • Davince Resolve is a great place to start.¬†
    • I see that this thread is from three years ago, and I hope your journey with Muay Thai and mental health has evolved positively during this time. It's fascinating to revisit these discussions and reflect on how our understanding of such topics can grow. The connection between training and mental health is intricate, as you've pointed out. Finding the right balance between pushing yourself and self-care is a continuous learning process. If you've been exploring various avenues for managing mood-related issues over these years, you might want to revisit the topic of mental health resources. One such resource is The UK Medical Cannabis Card, which can provide insights into alternative treatments.
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