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Do muay thai fighters get "chinny"?


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First of all, apologies if this subject has been raised before, couldn't find it. 

I recently had a discussion with a Western coach teaching at a gym in Cambodia. His background as a fighter is Western Boxing but he has practiced muay thai and Khun Khmer and had a good approach on how to combine the sports. He himself had to stop fighting due to a head trauma that happened outside of fighting. 

We ended up talking about how boxers getting "chinny" ie not being able to take strikes to the head anymore and we were puzzled about muay thai fighters having so many fights but yet, seemed to avoid the notion of getting chinny. My take on it would be the focus on play sparring, smart fighting without the focus on strikes to the head. Yet, CTE and depression etc seems to be something plenty thai muay thai fighters face. 

But I would be interested to know if there's another explanation for this. Especially in the context of a more Western-focused style dominating some promotions in Thailand right now. Whether that might increase the risk of getting 'chinny'?

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On 1/9/2023 at 9:11 PM, LengLeng said:

Whether that might increase the risk of getting 'chinny'?

I think CTE is going to go way up, due to the influence of these promotions. Way up.

A few reasons why:

1. Defensive excellence is being downgraded in terms of score, so fighters literally will not learn it.

2. There is going to be a lot more head hunting, which isn't the traditional form of fighting.

3. Thais learn to fight at a younger age. To some degree this is mitigated by the strong emphasis on control and defense oriented scoring, the lack of head hunting. But put 1 and 2 together, and bring it to younger fighters, its going to be epidemic.

 

It's really hard to speak now about "Muay Thai" because even within 5 years the sport has significantly changed, and maybe more than once. Fighter skills have devolved, generally, over the past 15-20 years, but now with Entertainment Muay Thai driving the sport you are seeing very different fighting skill sets (less fluent). And, one imagines its just going to get worse, unless there is a backlash in Thailand.

Traditionally though, the knockout wasn't chased in the sport, and the defensive awareness and boxing acumen of most fighters kept everyone pretty safe. We've met and known many, many high fight veterans and legends of the sport and almost none of them exhibit obvious signs of CTE. And most of those that do, that I've thought to take note of, have also fought in other combat sports after their career.

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20 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I think CTE is going to go way up, due to the influence of these promotions. Way up.

A few reasons why:

1. Defensive excellence is being downgraded in terms of score, so fighters literally will not learn it.

2. There is going to be a lot more head hunting, which isn't the traditional form of fighting.

3. Thais learn to fight at a younger age. To some degree this is mitigated by the strong emphasis on control and defense oriented scoring, the lack of head hunting. But put 1 and 2 together, and bring it to younger fighters, its going to be epidemic.

 

It's really hard to speak now about "Muay Thai" because even within 5 years the sport has significantly changed, and maybe more than once. Fighter skills have devolved, generally, over the past 15-20 years, but now with Entertainment Muay Thai driving the sport you are seeing very different fighting skill sets (less fluent). And, one imagines its just going to get worse, unless there is a backlash in Thailand.

Traditionally though, the knockout wasn't chased in the sport, and the defensive awareness and boxing acumen of most fighters kept everyone pretty safe. We've met and known many, many high fight veterans and legends of the sport and almost none of them exhibit obvious signs of CTE. And most of those that do, that I've thought to take note of, have also fought in other combat sports after their career.

Thank you very much for this reply, Kevin. I had a sense this would be a logical explanation, but I could not put it into words. What you say about the GOATS is very interesting and comforting. 

Westerners have always had opinions about Thai children fighting as they have seen it through their own cultural lens. I guess now, everyone will view it that way if children will be encouraged to fight differently. And then...there will be need for protective gear etc that will increase costs/change who can train or increase the age of fighters (?). 

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On 1/17/2023 at 5:56 AM, LengLeng said:

Westerners have always had opinions about Thai children fighting as they have seen it through their own cultural lens. I guess now, everyone will view it that way if children will be encouraged to fight differently.

This is a really interesting point. As Westerners (and other non-Thai cultures) import their values into fighting promotions, the kinds of things they want to see expressed and embodied by fighters, then I think it does also stand to reason that meaning of the training and fighting of children and young fighters also changes. The point of Muay Thai, traditionally, is not violence. It's not even aggression. It could be said to be about self-control, and the control over your opponent. If you change the point of fighting, then you have to ask whether this legit is something you would even want children to learn. You don't want to train children or even young fighters to be violent. Right? This is really the source of a lot of the Western misunderstanding of young fighting in Thailand. They've assumed that the purpose of fighting is what fighting is like in their culture. They miss the value-system of Thai fighting. In many ways its the opposite of what they assume. But, once they succeed in changing the Thai value system, so that fighters express different values...then their criticisms start to have more traction. They've turned fighting into what they believe fighting should be.

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21 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

This is a really interesting point. As Westerners (and other non-Thai cultures) import their values into fighting promotions, the kinds of things they want to see expressed and embodied by fighters, then I think it does also stand to reason that meaning of the training and fighting of children and young fighters also changes. The point of Muay Thai, traditionally, is not violence. It's not even aggression. It could be said to be about self-control, and the control over your opponent. If you change the point of fighting, then you have to ask whether this legit is something you would even want children to learn. You don't want to train children or even young fighters to be violent. Right? This is really the source of a lot of the Western misunderstanding of young fighting in Thailand. They've assumed that the purpose of fighting is what fighting is like in their culture. They miss the value-system of Thai fighting. In many ways its the opposite of what they assume. But, once they succeed in changing the Thai value system, so that fighters express different values...then their criticisms start to have more traction. They've turned fighting into what they believe fighting should be.

This is exactly how I see it (mainly based on yours and Sylvies explanations and take on what is happening right now). And it's sad and so hard to explain to people.

"They've turned fighting into what they believe fighting should be." 

Tbh...breaks my heart. I hope it will evolve differently and Sia Boats perspective will gain traction. 

It's like travelling nowadays....you barely see a difference between countries, same franchised shops and restaurants everywhere. Making it easier for the visitor...sacrificing local culture and traditions that can be hard to understand. 

 

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2 hours ago, LengLeng said:

It's like travelling nowadays....you barely see a difference between countries, same franchised shops and restaurants everywhere. Making it easier for the visitor...sacrificing local culture and traditions that can be hard to understand. 

Sylvie's made a very good comparison to food, to a nation's cuisine. You come to other cultures to eat their food. You don't come to eat your food. Yes, big business tourism will rely on giving visitors the food they are accustomed to, in hotels, in busy streets even. Hell, I am happy to find a good Hamburger after 10 years here, to be sure. But to have the cuisine literally be replaced, so that it no longer exists, so that it fits the tastes of foreigners feels like quite a loss, and actually undermines the long term potential of the culture, as an invested tourism destination. You can get that food in any country.

The comparison to fighting styles is not out of place. I remember some fighters who have come to Thailand to learn "real", "authentic" Muay Thai, so to speak. They wanted to get away from the Muay Thai of their countries, where promotions are just "brawling". There was a kind of snobbery (in a good way) about coming to Thailand to fight...and then a few years on I see those very same fighters fighting almost exclusively on shows like Super Champ which are basically Western style shows. They came all the way to Thailand to escape brawl, only to find brawl. It's the same sort of thing. We bring with us our culture, often unconsciously. And we are comfortable with it, just as we are with the foods we like.

I've seen this importation of Western training mindset not only in promotional rings, but in gyms too. Gyms as they hybrid between being commercial tourism houses, and as places that train Thai fighters end up absorbing some of the Western oriented training patterns and values. Thai fighters literally end up being trained more like Westerners. The entire fabric of Muay Thai becoming strained.

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  • 3 months later...

Hey just wanted to say some stuff about the thread.  
 

First of all, it took me about a year and a half to two years plus several discussions with you Kevin before I even began to understand what Muay Thai (was) about.  But I had a desire to actually understand it.  I wanted to know how the fighters were moving and why the fighters were doing exactly what they were doing.  The average Western fight fan watches fighting to see someone get hurt or knocked out.  They have zero desire to even attempt to understand how Muay Thai was done and scored.  
 

Second of all, I see the general trend of what’s happening with Muay Thai now as a direct response to Muay Thai techniques being adapted to MMA and specifically in the UFC.  You had guys like Joe Rogan talking about how brutal the sport is (which it can be) but I think Rogan+the UFC are more or less directly responsible for Entertainment Muay Thai.  
 

It’s sad to see it go, I have zero hope that it will survive.  The value system of Western Countries just directly contrasts with how the Thais viewed fighting in Muay Thai.  In the end, I think skills of all combat sports is on a downward trajectory.  More and more, I think coaches look for superior athletes and don’t want to invest the time in t takes to grow a truly high skilled individual.  Thus all the old knowledge and wisdom gets lost as coaches attempt to simply make bulls that can succeed on pure aggression and physicality.  To be fair there will be some exceptions but by and large I see us worldwide going into a sort of “dark age” of combat sports across the board.  The only exception to this seems to be sport BJJ but that will always be hindered by the fact that it’s objectively boring as a spectator sport.  And even that is straying far and away from its roots of actual combat effectiveness as you’ll notice in MMA high level BJJ is becoming more and more rare because the sport version isn’t applicable anymore to MMA.  

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