Jump to content
Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

Ruup - Why Should a Fighter's Posture Matter? The Art in the Art of Muay Thai

Recommended Posts

711551798_WalkingBuddhaSukhothai.thumb.png.4402e4640ba155531361223c5a5b6bdf.png

 

I'm writing more often by hand lately. Perhaps you'll get a different feeling about my words if you watch them in time.

I came across this statue of the Buddha from the Sukhothai Kingdom and like electric lines of force it came to me just how important ruup is in Thailand's traditional Muay Thai. Ruup is the quality of one's posture, the very visible form that one presents to the world, attached to idea of public expression. One's ruup is a veritable visual signal to your inner states, and in a wider sense, one's character - what one is. For many who come to Muay Thai, or perhaps consume it, this is incomprehensible. How one stands, or moves, or expresses oneself physically, aesthetically, must be secondary to things like "effectiveness", or worse "damage done". It is not understood why things like balance - perhaps falling off a strike - or, more subtly physical stiffness would much matter. But it does. There are pragmatic reasons why a fighter would need balance, would need a certain physical limpidity without which her or his capabilities would be diminished. But why, if in the happenstance of the fight there is no deficit exposed by actual damage, by the failures of the opponent or the randomness of the clash, should it matter? 

To me this walking Buddha, returning to Earth from a Heaven, seemed to fill in the gap in explanation. Perhaps you too will see what came to me in electric lines of visual jolt when I saw this Buddha, full of upright grace, nothing and everything in surplus. Perhaps it is that the Buddha is in motion, whereas he is usually still. Somehow this communicates itself to the image of a fighter. But it is the sense that the human being, the fighter under duress can be a visual poem. It is the dimension of fighting that supersedes the Entertainment Value of a fight. It is the dimension of meaning. Why does a fighter's posture, a fighter's tempo matter?  Like Rilke's Apollo's Torso, there is in a fighter a composition, that goes well beyond intent, and thus is displayed in ruup. It is the sum total of their endless hours of training, their conflicts in the training ring, their meditations on their selves, and all of their fights. It goes to the root of them, deeply burrowed into the Past, but it is not anchored there. It is also the line of the arrow that is shot from from that flesh, and that stack of thoughts that make up their lives, into a continuity of what they will be, and in that sense what will be. The clash of the fight, the terrible flame of suffering that sparks again and again as fear mounts and turns training dumb, the clash is only there to expose the ruup of what is. The performance of duress is for that purpose, and x-ray into the unseen. This is why the fighter's ruup, the poem of the human being, is so beautiful. This is why we visit the epic men men of the past and ache toward their impossible physical poetry. Because the flint of fighting exposes the shape of a Soul, and much like the form of the Buddha, says something that cannot be said. Something unspeakable.

In the line of the shoulders, in the sway of arms, in the dignity of standing, the fighter's ruup speaks. It invokes a future.

 

 

In a more Western conception:

1196965889_TorsoofApollo2.jpg.1bcffe468cd8e23bd23e40df1a545f83.jpg

Archaic Torso of Apollo

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Wir kannten nicht sein unerhörtes Haupt,
darin die Augenäpfel reiften. Aber
sein Torso glüht noch wie ein Kandelaber,
in dem sein Schauen, nur zurückgeschraubt,

sich hält und glänzt. Sonst könnte nicht der Bug
der Brust dich blenden, und im leisen Drehen
der Lenden könnte nicht ein Lächeln gehen
zu jener Mitte, die die Zeugung trug.

Sonst stünde dieser Stein entstellt und kurz
unter der Schultern durchsichtigem Sturz
und flimmerte nicht so wie Raubtierfelle;

und brächte nicht aus allen seinen Rändern
aus wie ein Stern: denn da ist keine Stelle,
die dich nicht sieht. Du mußt dein Leben ändern.

 

1576133683_TheTermeBoxer.thumb.jpg.7be1185fa88f9f1a7e861554d5dff0fe.jpg

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder why this statue spoke to me so strongly at this moment in time. There is something generous in its formalism, open and free even though stylized. There is something unexpected. The fighter trains, ultimately or at least principally, to hold themselves together under great duress, under all the signs of violence. And in the public arena of shame. We tell the fighter that there is no shame in losing, but in a very real sense that is a lie. The shame of a loss is what puts value and risk into a fight. It's not a question of damage. In a loss one leaves the ring feeling lessor, no matter how valiantly, or expertly one has fought. It is the shame of the social dimension of a fight, and it likely goes back to some very old human experience of rite and ritual. It is because fighting is the theater of this shame - as much as we throw light beams upon the winner - that fighting acquires a near-metaphysical meaning. Or perhaps I could say theological. This is the nature of ruup in a fight. It is the hand-craved expression of Self, cut right out of the heart of a person as if they were both the sculptor and the stone, put on display under the threat of its disintegration. It is the self-assembly of dignity, substance really, not only under physical assault, but under mental, emotional and even spiritual erosion. There is a firm line that runs down from a fighter's present moment of ruup - exactly as it is presenting itself, in this fight - to the histories of shame and loss of dignity they have endured as a human being. It is a living nerve-line. This is why how all the parts communicate amongst themselves, the continuity of their being and expression, matters. There are indeed culturally shaped armatures for this sculptural expression of the Self, a grammar of cohesion and dignity as it is read to be free, and there are real-world physical boundaries, a physics of how the body moves, and compositions under which it can defend itself and attack. These make up the art of the sport (art). One builds oneself according to these grammars, and this physics, to be assembled when under the duress of what ultimately is the ring's shame. There is something about this challenge, and the juxtaposition of this particular Walking Buddha that unlocks, for me, a kind of acme of what a fighter is doing, at the deepest level. This is why matrix-like analogies of certain fighters like Karuhat, Saenchai or Samart feel so apt, or Roy Jone Jr., Leonard, Ali. And this is also why the tough, enduring men of the ring, who seem to undergo the worse of it, survive and then thrive, also communicate a liberating ruup. And everything in between. The fighter makes a physical poem of themselves under the most tested of media, the heart sinews under the shadow of shame and fear. And its true, even (or especially) the losers have nothing to be ashamed of, noble is their submission to the contest, they carry the shame of loss and dissolution, as an extra burden. This is the blessing of the ring. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Western preoccupation with "techniques" of Thailand, the unique geometries and bio-mechanics of a wide variety of elbows, knees, kicks, clinch locks & trips, etc, through which it largely appropriates the art, exporting it piece by mechanical piece does contain some elements of ruup. Which is to say that the mechanical mindset of "parts" does have a very strong attachment to "form"...and ruup is form. (I wrote about this some in 2016, in Precision – A Basic Motivation Mistake in Some Western Training.) As elbows are learned, weight transfers approximated with careful attention, limb and joint arcs traced in the air, kicks analyzed, trips executed, sometimes reconstructed from video examples, there is great focus on something like ruup (form). But, as the West sees something technical in form - and that is the word they use, really aesthetically - in Thailand its seen as a living thing, and importantly, as part of an overall composite expression of Self. The forms of techniques only make expressive sense in the context of a much more holistic, full-body form. And here form includes rhythmic as well as postural aspects in space. And these too in the West there are some aspects of attention: for instance the Muay Thai "rock"; or, the Muay Thai "stance". But, what appears to be missing, or lost in translation, is that the ruup of Thailand's Muay Thai comes from a feeling. It is not a tracing. This is why training in Thailand has a very particular advantage. While this feeling-born ruup of Muay Thai is seldom seen outside of the country, it can be found in practically any gym, and being in the presence of such ruup, as a matter of mirror neurons and the efference copy of our body in building motor skills, one gains a subterranean access to the development of Thai ruup, at the level of feeling...if one can put it that way. This is also one of the reasons why we elected to film informally, but at length, for the Muay Thai Library documentary project. We wanted to document, as much as possible, the full range of the ruup of great ex-fighters, living krus, and legends of the sport. It's because the art and understanding of any techniques that are captured only really gain their meaning in the overall dispositional nature of their ruup, as men. Among these are some of the greatest poets of Muay Thai Golden Age, people's whose ruup approached something special, unique, and meaningful. The secrets of techniques are found in the broader contexts of disposition and physical comportment, and it is this which really shouldn't be lost. This is also the invitation to look to the ruup of fighters and teachers, and not only to their techniques. Invitations to feel what it is like to be them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

More Resources and Video Discussion on Ruup

 

Here is Sylvie's video discussion of what Ruup is, and how to train it in a Technique Vlog (you can get the full length technique vlog as a patron: Training Ruup :

 

 

Here is a video compilation of the discussion of the Thai principle of Ruup:

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Most Recent Topics

  • Latest Comments

    • There are many gyms in Hong Kong that can provide you private sessions. You can check out: https://www.onepersonaltraininghk.com/ http://www.sitpinyo.com/ Also at the mean time, you can also find some Muay Thai Blogs, that would also help you in your training, like: https://www.muay-thai-guy.com/blog/ https://www.muaythaicitizen.com/best-muay-thai-blogs/ https://evolve-mma.com/blog/category/muay-thai/ https://www.elitesports.com/blogs/news/tagged/muay-thai
    • February 06-2023 - Monday Afternoon 15:00 - 18:00 I'm realizing now that it won't be practical or necessary to post 2x or even 1x daily, so my updates won't be as frequent as originally planned.  Before the afternoon session I was able to eat lunch, prepare dinner, do laundry, and found an hour to lay down/relax. My favorite snack right now is banana-egg-roti. I ordered two today, one to have with lunch, and another to be saved for after dinner. The roti shop shares a wall with one of the vegan buffets I like, so I can eat at both places at the same time and get takeaway for later.  The weather in Udon has been very mild and pleasant up until yesterday when the humidity and temperature got turned up. Today was a bit tough for me because of that. Me and five others went out for a 2km walk and 2km run around the lake. There are several well maintained lakes/parks to run around in this town, and the air quality is quite good by Thai standards. The gym was a bit busier this afternoon, with 8 training, and 4 holding pads. A good 2:1 ratio. After the run, I stretched, skipped rope for 10-minutes, 5 x 3-minute rounds on pads, 5 x 3-minute rounds on heavy bag (kicks and teeps), 15-minutes clinching, air squats, pullups, pushups, situps, neck curls, stretching. Today is the first day I didn't spar. Kik had me doing jump knees again and I about had to tap out from those as my right knee developed a tender lump, and my left quad has deep bruising. I'm learning to push through the pain. He's still not happy with my punch/jab motion, so fine-tuning that continues to be a top priority. Since verbal communication is limited in the gym, I've started supplementing my learning by reading muay thai text books in the effort to pickup ideas to bring into the gym. Currently reading 'Muay Thai Unleashed' by Erich Krauss. and have found it helpful. Anyone have other book suggestions? 
    • February 06-2023 - Monday Morning 07:00 - 09:00 Good start to the week. Awake and out of the door at 06:50a, and at the gym by 07:00a. I really should be arriving to the gym by 06:30 to start the day with 30-minute run, but I'll admit, recently have been neglecting this. Instead, I began with my usual warmup of 15-minutes skipping + 10-minute full body stretch.  There were 4 of us training this morning with the 1 instructor. After warmup, I sparred for 3-rounds with same person who I had only met briefly sometime last week. Not knowing much about him or his skill level, we felt each other out with light kicks and punch combinations. His idea of light sparring was a bid harder than what I had in mind, which became clear when he landed a roundhouse kick to my temple with a bit of force. I reeled back smiling with a hand gesture pushing to the floor while saying 'Sabai', reminding him to go easy, to which he responded by rolling his eyes. In general, he wasn't very warm to me throughout class. We went 2-rounds with gloves and shin guards, followed by 1-round boxing with gloves only, no kicking. He landed some good combinations on me with a bit more power than I'm used to receiving, which is helping increase my confidence and comfort with standing in a guarded position taking shots. I'm becoming less timid/afraid of being hit and hitting back. Landing a clean jab to his chin felt good in response to a hook he got me with. After sparring, I went 5, 3-minutes rounds on the pads throwing simple combinations. Kik seems to enjoy having me do jump knees. With my hands locked at his neck/traps, he counts to 50, switching pads every 10, shouting suun, nueng, saawng, saam, sii, haa, hok, jet, bpaaet, gao, sib... 1-10 in thai. He has a pleasant high-pitched voice and the melodic rhythm of the counting helps distract from fatigue and soreness as knee/quad become increasingly battered from repetitive smacking against the pad. My leg muscles have become noticeably harder, stronger and thicker from all the kicking/kneeing. Immediately after the jump knees, he'll point at one of the boys standing against the ropes to have him come in and clinch. This is tough for me right now because I'll be gassed from hitting pads and a stronger, more rested person will come manhandle me in the clinch for a minute followed by more kicks and punches on the pads and ending with 10 punching sit-ups with trainer stepping on tops of feet. I'm being pushed pretty close to my limit with each training session and have found the bar moves higher with each session. The rapid improvement from near daily training has been fun to experience, but it's clear I have a long road ahead to reach the skill and conditioning level of my peers. After padwork, I moved to the heavy bag for 3-rounds; push kicks, low/high kicks, hand combinations. Finished session with neck conditioning, pullups, bodyweight squats, cooldown, stretch. Paid 3,000baht for another week unlimited training. My goal for this week is to not miss a session, train 2x/day Monday-Saturday, 12 sessions total. For those wondering about cost of living here, training works out to 250baht/session or 500baht/day, motorbike rental is 250baht/day, and apartment is 432baht/day. I'm eating a lot right now trying to gain a bit of weight, so my food cost is approx. 500baht/day. I don't drink alcohol, but do smoke weed. Main expenses total ~1700-2000baht/day or ~$50-65/day. Therefore, a realistic budget for me is $1,500-2,000 USD/month to live the comfortable, but not excessive lifestyle I have here. If someone was willing to eat less, live at the gym, borrow a bike from the gym, not smoke weed or alcohol, you could train here for much much cheaper. I'm just not willing to make those sacrifices. I'm vegetarian and struggle at times to find good food options in Thailand. They like to eat their meat with a side of seafood here, so it can be challenging at times to add diversity to my diet despite being able to explain myself in thai. Fortunately, there are three buffet style thai-chinese vegan restaurants near each other here in Udon Thani. After every training session I go to one of the three for a meal. I've become a regular at all of them. The food is delicious and people all very friendly. There's also a few western chains like Burger King who has a plant-based burger that I've been a long time fan of as someone who has driven across the USA many times. My daily food budget is quite a bit higher on the days where I have western food.  Afternoon training begins at 15:00 and I plan to start with a run with the rest of the crew. In the meantime, I'll do laundry, have lunch, and rest.    
  • The Latest From Open Topics Forum

    • Hi, I am organizing Muay Thai fights in Kenya to build the sport here and give fighters more opportunities. Would I need to be affiliated with an international Muay Thai body to sanction all the fights? Which would be the best Muay Thai organisation to register with? I would appreciate any advice on this. Thank you  
    • It is recommended that you should rest 1 month approximately, after having an eye surgery. I know that you are very very keen about your training. That's the best spirit in you. But at this time I recommend you to rest at least 1 month and if you fear that you may not forget Boxing, I recommend you 2 read books and blogs about Boxing. That'll help you keep in touch with Boxing.
    • Sparring was each day, it's part of the training, also each day you go the bagwork and the pads, so i don't know where you got that idea from.  You never go  without hiting the pads or having spar in the Thailand, unless you're in a really bad comercial gym, but the spar there is way different than in other countries, you develop technique there and go sparr without power, by either legs, hands or clinch, depending on the day . As for technique, they always correct you and try to teach it the correct way, they made a good amount of adjustments in my kicking techniques, sweeps and clinch while i was there, i didn't go into such small details because it would take a whole book to write about how much small things they see and try to work on that. Also i don't think you fully read what i wrote in the blogs, because i don't really remember now all the things i wrote, it was a long time ago, but i went on and re-read the first day i wrote, and it already said i did a lot of pads and clinch , knees and elbows , so i don't know where you got the idea that i didn't do pad work. 
    • Hey mate sorry for bumping old thread, im thinking bout going to Manop for 3 months in nov-dec-jan. Everything you described in your posts are what i'm looking for, but there was some things bothering me.   1) From what I read you barely got to spar? Sparring is a huge deal and important for me.. Why didn't you get to spar in the beginning? 2) You seem to spent ALOT of time hitting the bag, why didnt you get more pad-time in the beginning of your training? I really don't know your level and it was hard to tell from the fight 3) (Probably most important) How are they on instructions? Do they correct your technique? how much do they emphesise on that? Do they teach you proper form, sweeps, techniques, tricks, etc? cause from your posts it seemed like you were on your own pretty much the entire stay     Cheers!
    • I'll recommend Elite Sports, Yokkao and Fairtex.
  • Forum Statistics

    • Total Topics
      1.2k
    • Total Posts
      10.9k
×
×
  • Create New...