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My Thoughts on Sylvie's WBC World Title Fight - Fight 275

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The above is the fight from ringside, without commentary, just a great clear feed of the action.

This is just a special fight. A lot was going into this, not the least of which that Sylvie would be facing a Western fighter, something she'd had the occasion to do very infrequently in her voluminous fighting career which has been focused on Thailand, and a very skilled Westerner at that. And, adding to the challenge is the fact that the WBC World Title is probably the most present day prestigious belt, given how rigorously they attempt to adhere to Thailand's scoring principles, and the effort and care that they take to keep their female Muay Thai rankings up to date (something that is incredibly difficult to do); this put added pressure on the fight. Sylvie had come off a very significant back injury in August, something at the time really put a scare into us, immobilizing her for weeks - horse, fence - and though had fought well in her return, once, had not been training rigorously in clinch - her meat, bread and butter - for honestly, a couple of years. Much of the conditions of training that had made her so unbeatable had been wrecked by COVID in the Pattaya local Muay Thai scene, and we just didn't know how that would show in a fight this demanding. In video we had seen that Elisabetta Solinas had some clinch strengths, some of which would show in this fight. The real challenge, I imagined, would be that of rhythm and pattern. Many fights are decided at the level of rhythm and pattern, and much less so at the level of tactics and techniques (where many place their analysis). This is just my personal belief, I'm sure others would disagree. If you imagine a fighter's strengths as a wave pattern, with troughs and valleys, how that wave pattern intersects with their opponents wave pattern really can be unpredictable, when fighters are unfamiliar with each other, especially when fighting out of genre.


above, wave interference (but in this imperfect analogy fighting opponent peaks would be expressed as toughs, etc). The idea is that strength points, whether they be offensive or defensive, have their rhythm and patterns, and strength points interfere with strength points, weaknesss moments can amplify opponent strength moments. This creates fight rhythm. The pattern is the tempo & amplitude of a fighter's style. And in this poor analogy, a fighter's wave is not a symmetrical series of peaks & toughs. It is shaped with varying oscillations like the EEG of a heart beat, or brain waves.

Sylvie's Muay Khao fighting style, its wave pattern, had been developed fighting against the (mostly) Muay Femeu Thai female fighting style, mostly against physically much larger opponents, within the traditional, narrative scoring aesthetic. WBC rules would weight all rounds evenly - though the traditional, Thai stadium judges may score early rounds with a tendency toward the draw, one doesn't know - so there was an imperative in this fight that the shape of the fight, and interactions with Solina's wave pattern was largely unknown. How were these waves going to interact? Would peaks cancel each other out? What valleys would amplify the other's peaks? Until you get in the ring you just won't know. And the fight was a beautiful fight.

What the fight became was actually a classic Muay Femeu vs Muay Khao battle. And it's a beautiful thing that the WBC rule set, and the promotion itself which involved high-level Thai judges, and not the least of which, Elisabetta's very skilled femeu style, all made happen (read the WBC Muay Thai rule set; its the best English language rule set I've ever come across). You can feel the work that was put into it). Solinas fought with a great, super balanced (important), retreating, countering, teeping, scoring, pivoting, and also very high-tempo style, which set the stage perfectly for the Muay Khao question mark. Can the Muay Khao fighter catch her? This is the traditional, persistence hunting fight arc was in play. The equation was even further complicated by Solinas's very strong trip game in the clinch. Sylvie has a sailor's balance, developed through the years, which saved her several times, and even allowed her to reverse important positions, but that high level tripping was going to complicate the Muay Khao story. It wasn't necessarily so that when Sylvie caught her that she'd be able to become dominant. Several times in the fight she had clinch positions which stalled, or were slow to develop for the simple fact that she had to stabilize and read possible trips. And, this was even further complicated by the clinch breaks by the ref. Early clinch breaks are sometimes to be expected, as it can be part of trying to create the narrative challenge for later rounds...but there were also clinch breaks when Sylvie achieved very dominant positions, with the head quite down. Perhaps these were for the protection of the opponent, as a female fighter. It happens. But it was not possible to know how these breaks were being scored by judges. These were moments when fight ending, or fight changing strikes could land. This had the remarkable effect of making the fight incredibly exciting at ringside, because Sylvie just could not pull away, and in a way showed that the ref had expertly sculpted a perfect fight. He kept asking Sylvie to do more...and she did more.

The result was a near perfect fight of slowly increasing escalation. I think it's pretty clear that the first two rounds went to Solinas (although you might imagine a 10-10 round from a Thai judge?). Going into the third the assumption had to be "You can't lose another round". Solinas had brought out her trips and her gorgeous retreating counter fighting, had cut Sylvie behind the ear, and seemed to be hitting on all cylinders. And that is what you want, in a way. You want fighters being able to express who they are. As the wave patterns had come to meet it didn't seem that Sylvie's wave was interfering much with Solinas's. Yes, in clinch Sylvie showed promise. And Sylvie secret (because people don't pay much attention to it) teep game may have put some snags into the overall freedom of Solinas, but she had plenty to overcome it, it appeared.

But this is where the fight gets interesting. In wave patterns there is not only the shape of the wave (where the peaks and valleys fall, like notes in music), there is also amplitude and tempo (frequency). And the Muay Khao fighting style relies on amplitude (& tempo)...a gentle and yet relentless increase in amplitude & tempo started in rounds 3, and the 4. Its the same wave, but with rising amplitude & tempo. Now, this is dangerous under international WBC rules, because Thai style narrative scoring puts scoring emphasis on rounds 3 and 4, and emphasis on who is increasing in effectiveness as the fight goes on. In a more natural Thai setting the fight would have been more or less tied, or slightly in Solina's favor going into round 3. Yes there was a cut, but it was behind the ear and early in the fight. It would be a score that would fade. Under international WBC rules Sylvie could very well be one round away from losing, a kind of sudden death. These are very different states in a fight. What is interesting is that the traditional Muay Khao fighting style which focuses its increase on the scoring rounds 3, 4 and then 5 is best prepared for this position in a fight. That's what its for. Everything you've done up to this point is to prepare the ground for the upped intensity, the rising amplitude of your wave pattern. And its just remarkable to see it unfold in this fight, against a high quality fighter fighting under a different aesthetic. You see the purpose of Muay Khao, what its meant to do and how it does it. And it is really something that this kind of fight can happen in International Muay Thai contexts. We are getting narrative Muay Thai.

In terms of the fight itself, at that point, you just see Sylvie become more and more effective, especially in the clinch...(but also in stalking). She's absorbed much of the danger of the trips, having learned the first two rounds, and as fatigue and instincts take over she's more and more able to scramble to dominant positions. And though Solinas admirably commits to the teep as almost a pure signature of femeu muay, with incredible and skilled insistence, the teep itself became less and less effective, as Sylvie teeped through it, interfered, disrupted and muddied it (clashing wave patterns again). The teep is an interesting classic weapon. In some regard it doesn't even actually score, or score much, but the patterns you make with it, and the increasing ways it can disrupt, can make it one of the great weapons of Muay Thai (maybe how the jab in boxing should be regarded). The story of the teep in this fight, both Solinas's and Sylvie's is a very interesting one, and helps explain the dynamics of Sylvie's stalking in the latter rounds. Basically the defensive teep is the perfect counter weapon to the dern fighter, and Solinas pulled out the best weapon...but the teep has to show an increase of effectiveness. And the stalking teep is a, less flashy, secret disruptor. The battle of the teep is actually a hidden inner battle within this fight, aside from the more obvious clinch dominance Sylvie was able to attain.

When I came home I honestly watched the last 3 rounds over and over...perhaps 25 times. I wasn't looking for good or bad techniques, mistakes or advantages. The more I watched them they just read like music to me. They were these beautiful, rising tempos and amplitudes created by BOTH fighters. Both fighters made this fight. And the way the WBC promotion presented the fight also made this fight. There is music in those 3 rounds, Muay Khao music, but really the music of Golden Age Muay Thai, the Muay Thai of clashing styles and skill sets, the music of narrative scoring arcs, orchestra of two fighters climbing up over peaks and valleys of increasing amplitude. Yes, Sylvie came out on top. Yes the fight was precipitous to start the 3rd. But Muay Thai is about these kinds of soul to soul evolutions within the fight, where the art of each fighter gets to show itself. That's what fighting is about. That's what makes it more than just entertainment.



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Thank you for this beautifully written, thoughtful review of this fight, Kevin. I look forward to going back and watching it again with your view in mind. I felt the music in your words as I would of someone recounting a symphony they had heard; now I am eager to hear it for myself.


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Kevin- Do you ever watch fights in slow-motion (half-speed) to analyze the rhythm at a different tempo? I've found this helpful in my own training... in watching videos of myself and others. Your video "The Art of Shadow Boxing" is a good example where Kru is slowly dancing around the ring for many minutes. It's easier for the beginner mind to follow along. The smoother your body/motions look in slow-motion, the more effective you will be at full speed, I believe. 

I watched the fight, at normal speed, before reading your commentary above. My notes were as follows: 

1. Wow Solinas has only 15 fights compared to Sylvies 274... I wonder what is going through the mind of Solinas having to go to battle against such an experienced fighter in a high-stakes match. Surely Sylvie has been in her shoes before and can visualize the emotions opponent may be feeling. To what degree does Sylvies prolific fight experience get inside an opponents head. 

2. "let's go team USA" before Wai Kru brought smile to Sylvie's face and added jolt of energy to the corner. That was nice. 

3. A lot of take downs by Sylvie...  a few timestamps to note10:45, 11:55, 13:40

4. Sylvie is putting on strong pressure, continually pesssing forward. Solinas countering and trying to make space / room to breathe with teeps.

5. Timestamp 16:00 Sylive delivers strong body kick then instantly engages clinch where she holds opponent for ~30 seconds while delivering a series of knee blows. Her Muay Khao style on full display for the crows enjoyment. She exits the clinch with an elegant spinning elbow at 16:16 that appears to land on the right ear of Solinas. I watched this at 0.25 speed and it's still hard to tell how hard it landed.  

6. Who is Sylvies corner man? Sorry if this is detailed in other writings/posts. 


"And the fight was a beautiful fight."

Yes it was! I can see why you rewatched rounds 3,4,5 continuously. 


Many fights are decided at the level of rhythm and pattern, and much less so at the level of tactics and techniques (where many place their analysis). This is just my personal belief, I'm sure others would disagree. If you imagine a fighter's strengths as a wave pattern, with troughs and valleys, how that wave pattern intersects with their opponents wave pattern really can be unpredictable, when fighters are unfamiliar with each other, especially when fighting out of genre.

Well said. 


But this is where the fight gets interesting. In wave patterns there is not only the shape of the wave (where the peaks and valleys fall, like notes in music), there is also amplitude and tempo (frequency). And the Muay Khao fighting style relies on amplitude (& tempo)...a gentle and yet relentless increase in amplitude & tempo started in rounds 3, and the 4. Its the same wave, but with rising amplitude & tempo. Now, this is dangerous under international WBC rules, because Thai style narrative scoring puts scoring emphasis on rounds 3 and 4, and emphasis on who is increasing in effectiveness as the fight goes on.

Liam Harrison referred to rounds 4+5 as the 'Money Rounds". I also heard this in that video I can't find right now that explains the difference between 'entertainment' and 'gambling' fighting. EDIT: Adding the video I referenced above. The gambling often dictates the tempo/rhythm of the fight. To what degree is that the case in WBC matches? Less so given it's more prestigious title? 

Congratulations Sylvie!!

Edited by Amateur_Hour
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Kevin- Do you ever watch fights in slow-motion (half-speed) to analyze the rhythm at a different tempo?

Sometimes. When I really want to look at video I scrub through it back and forth, using a playback cursor, feeling the rhythm that way.


6. Who is Sylvies corner man?

Karuhat Sor. Supawan. In my mind the GOAT, an absolute legend of the sport. Watch his fights, they are amazing.


referred to rounds 4+5 as the 'Money Rounds".

It's an overstatement to put this on gambling. It goes much, much deeper. It's a narrative concept of performance. I go into the nature of this in my piece on the 6 core aspects of Muay Thai:


Gambling practices reflect and grow on this narrative picture.


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(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. 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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—THE 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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