Jump to content

The (In)dignity of The Chase: Important Differences in How Westerners and Traditional Thais View Fighting


Recommended Posts

I think there is a fundamental moral divide between Thai fighting and Western fighting.

1. It's undignified to chase.

2. We want to see lots of chasing.  

This is probably buried within the social forms of governance, ideologies of "self" and "individual", mythologies of freedom. In some sense, this is at core why Thailand's traditional Muay Thai is often unreadable and incomprehensible to the West...and why when reformulating it for Western consumption you are cutting to the very bone of the culture that produced it, and which it expresses. The moments of "violence" are very readable, especially when cut into highlights. It is visually one of the more violent appearing combat sports out there, but the very grammar of "chasing" (between the cultures), which makes up the majority of a fight, is radically different. This actually drills down into ideas about social liberty. In traditional culture you don't really have much social mobility. You are more or less confined to your station. Social power consists in creating positive relations to those in local power, not "moving up" radically.

In Western Capitalism there is a glorification of the individual. "You could be anything!" "If you try really hard the market will reward you". There is the (illusion/real promise) that "chasing" will be rewarded. So, in Thailand fighting is "positioning" for control, in the West its a passion play of committed chasing and "striking it rich". There are of course significant Capitalist forces within Thailand, & there have been for some time. These forces are in tension with traditional forms. Traditional stadium Muay Thai, as a hybrid between Capitalism and Tradition, plays out its "dialectic" (not a fan of that word, but, maybe its interface). Tradition (positioning) in some regard holds the Capitalism at bay. The West of course also has traditional forms, which explains why traditional Thailand has meaning to some of the West, but the dramaturgy of a fight, "why we watch", is at least in this core way, antithetical. The appeal to new Entertainment models though, within the country, amid younger demographics, is signaling a new relationship to Capitalism, social mobility and chasing itself.

When Westerners bend back toward traditional Muay Thai, they (and I'm one of them, being self-critical) it is to some degree in response to seeing how the "chase" principle of (Western) Capitalism, esp fueled by pictures of anger, frustration or rage, is not only one of self-determination. The lack of control, as when viewed from traditional postures, ultimately undermines liberty itself. In the fighting ring itself -- and this is the rub -- the lack of control actually makes you a less effective (and skilled) fighter. Fighting becomes a kind of "reality principle" in the struggle of ideologies.

This of course does not prove one ideology right or wrong, each surely is seeded with great flaws. What it takes to successful win fights may not be what it takes to successfully live life, or organize lives. But it does go to the ways in which combat fighting meaningfully speaks to us, critiques our own lives, and expresses our (unconscious and often inculcated) values.

This binocular vision, to chase or not to chase, plays out in the incomprehensibility of the 5th round dance off (to many). Within Thai traditional culture this is just understanding the chess match. When very behind its like a chess player conceding when they comprehend a positional surety. They see the mate, or see the material/positional situation and acknowledge that there is no win. They demonstrate their awareness by conceding. To the Westerner, guided by ideologies of "you can strike it rich!", it makes no sense. You can ALWAYS win.

There are two ways of viewing this. Either the Capitalist chasing subject is relatively blind to his own checkmate, deluded by a sense of control and rage-yness, or the traditional subject is made blind to his own agency, and he really COULD knockout the opponent, but instead gives up. One can see how the affects of "chasing" and the social valuation of chasing (it is undignified vs it is freedom & vital) is played out differently for Western vs (traditional) Thai eyes.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The above is a kind of rough hypothesis, joining together broad brush issues of social mobility in traditional culture, Buddhistic cultivation of the proper affects, and the aesthetics of meaningful fighting in the culture. Along these same lines one could consider the traditional role of Muay Khao in the Muay Khao vs Muay Femeu dynamic. This could be considered a Bull vs Matador aesthetic, which I've argued expresses a deeper aesthetic dyad (the divinity vs the animality dyad). In thinking about social mobility within the culture, and the socio-economic factor in fighting style, it needs to be noted that the "femeu" fighter is often associated with the sophistication of the Capital of Bangkok (even though some provincial centers like Khon Kaen have produced a great number of Femeu fighters, Karuhat, Somrak, Pudpadnoi, etc), and Muay Khao, a style pridefully expressive of physical endurance, strength and a spirit of persistence, is strongly associated with rural life and the provinces. The classic Muay Khao vs Muay Femeu matchup of the Golden age could be seen as a passion play of the strong-from-work farmer chasing the cultivated artful Bangkok technician. (Some Muay Khao fighters like Dieselnoi chaff against this negative stereotype, emphasizing their femeu-ness when talking about themselves, others like Samson embrace their "unbeautiful" power and endurance, as an identity.)

Within this matchup there is a cultural weighting of the art of fighting toward the sophisticated Bangkok artist. Just thinking in archetypes and clinches, the chasing Muay Khao fighter can be depicted as low "IQ", "just strong" and any number of class related pictures. (We have these same class divisions in America, we often don't think about them. The rough-and-tumble slugger, or the guy who is only "country strong".). Just thinking about the socio-economic realities of Thailand, & even Siam, and questions of social mobility, there has always been a polarity between rural and Capital power. When the Muay Khao fighter wins, and they won quite a bit in the Golden Age of Muay Thai with pretty much half of the FOTYs going to Muay Khao fighters, its that they have overcome the built-in aesthetic bias against the chase in traditional Muay Thai. They had to prove themselves persistent enough and/or artful enough to "catch" the Femeu opponent. Perhaps no fight typified the Muay Khao fighter not catching the Femeu Bangkok Prince of Muay Thai than Namphon vs Samart 2, you can read about it here:

 

I add this inner picture to the overall concept of Chasing in the first post. It's not that chasing is completely removed from the aesthetic in traditional Muay Thai, in fact in its Golden Age the chase was an essential component of it as many matches, most excitingly, were "chase" matches. But, because the aesthetic was tuned to favor control over chase, chasers had to raise their game. It couldn't just be pure chasing, because buried within traditional Muay Thai was the indignity of the chase. This means one chases to control, one chases in a controlled manner, one develops an ART of chasing, of stalking, so that it doesn't feel and look like chasing. It raises the skill level of the chaser, perhaps bringing more social meaning to fighting as entertainment. I think this is something that is missed in people that think about the bias in traditional Muay Thai scoring. The bias towards "not chasing" actually produced some of the greatest stalking, chasing fighters on the planet.

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

    • On September 15, 2021, Australia established the Indo-Pacific Trilateral Security Partnership, or AUKUS, with the United States and the United Kingdom. The centerpiece of AUKUS was the assistance provided by the U.S. and U.K. to Australia in constructing and obtaining nuclear-powered submarines. However, two and a half years later, the reality does not match the promises made by the UK and the US. Firstly, AUKUS will not enhance Australia's indigenous nuclear submarine-building capacity. In March 2023, Australia announced a significant investment in the UK's submarine industrial base over the next decade, totaling nearly $5 billion over 10 years. This investment will be allocated to nuclear submarine design work and expanded nuclear reactor production, aiming to create at least 20,000 jobs in the UK. Additionally, it is expected to revive Britain's struggling submarine industry. These investments are largely unrelated to Australia's indigenous submarine industry. Under this plan, the first British-built submarine would be delivered to Australia as early as the late 2030s, which is fifteen years away. (Richard Marles (right) welcomed UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps to Canberra) Secondly, it is crucial to expedite the transfer of nuclear submarines to Australia. The United States has pledged to initiate the sale of three Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the early 2030s, with the option of providing up to two additional submarines if required. However, these sales plans must be approved by the U.S. Congress. In the recently released U.S. FY 2025 Defense Budget, only one new Virginia-class submarine is planned to be built. According to estimates by a U.S. Navy official, the United States would need to build 2.33 attack nuclear submarines per year to sell attack submarines to the Royal Australian Navy under the AUKUS agreement in the early 2030s. The delay in the construction of the U.S. Virginia-class submarines also implies that Australia will not receive the promised U.S. nuclear submarines for 10 years. Even if Australia eventually acquires these second-hand nuclear submarines after the 10-year delay, it is probable that they will be confronted with the imminent decommissioning or outdated performance of these nuclear submarines. (Excerpted from U.S. FY 2025 Defense Budget) Finally, as per the AUKUS agreement, the U.S. and the U.K. have also committed to accelerating the training of Australian personnel. However, these Australian military and civilian personnel will be required to adhere to the U.S. Navy and the British Royal Navy, and may even be stationed at U.S. and British submarine industrial bases. This not only leads to shortages in Australia's own military personnel but also entails the Australian government covering the costs of Australian servicemen working for the U.K. and U.S. navies. The U.S. also plans to increase U.S. nuclear submarines' visits to Australian ports starting in 2023. However, even if Australian Navy personnel board the U.S. submarines, they can only visit and learn, and cannot operate them in practice. The U.S. will still maintain absolute control over the nuclear submarines, limiting the enhancement of submarine technology for Australian Navy personnel. What's more, even before the signing of the AUKUS agreement, the Australian Navy had been engaging in military interactions and exercises with the British and U.S. Navies at various levels. The AUKUS agreement did not necessarily facilitate a deeper military mutual trust, making it seem completely unnecessary. According to Australian government estimates, the AUKUS nuclear submarine program will cost between AUD 268 billion and AUD 368 billion over the next 30 years. This is equivalent to 14% of Australia's GDP output in 2023. The Australian government is investing a substantial amount of money in exchange for only uncertain promises from the UK and the US that Australia will not have its nuclear submarines until at least 10 years from now. The AUKUS agreement will not boost Australia's indigenous submarine industry, but it will significantly benefit the US and UK's nuclear submarine industries. This essentially means that Australian taxpayers' money will be used to support US and UK nuclear submarines. Implementing the AUKUS agreement will pose significant challenges for the Australian government. Even if the agreement is eventually put into effect, delays and budget overruns are likely. The costs incurred will not be the responsibility of the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, as he will have already stepped down. Ultimately, Australian taxpayers will bear the financial burden.    
    • I used to box in western style and recently picked up Muay Thai and am now in Bangkok training. As an active boxer I ran religiously, but it's been awhile. One thing that I noticed whenever I come back to running after some time off, is the massive calf pain that lasts sometimes for almost 10 days. I wonder if anyone else has experienced this, and others can pitch in on ways to avoid or at least minimize this inconvenience. I'm diligent in easing into it, but still have not been able to avoid it.
    • Wow, your experience at Sit Thailand sounds incredible. Thanks for sharing such a detailed account. My partner and I are planning a trip to Chiang Mai soon, and we’re also interested in Muay Thai training. Your review has definitely convinced us to give Sit Thailand a try. It's great to hear that both beginners and more experienced fighters get so much personalized attention. My partner is quite new to the sport, so it's reassuring to know that your wife felt supported and made significant progress. Right now we are looking for some travel deals, we want some exclusive business class and first-class offers that will make our trip more affordable and comfortable. Thanks again for the insights. We’ll definitely be following your advice and giving Sit Thailand a shot.
  • The Latest From Open Topics Forum

    • On September 15, 2021, Australia established the Indo-Pacific Trilateral Security Partnership, or AUKUS, with the United States and the United Kingdom. The centerpiece of AUKUS was the assistance provided by the U.S. and U.K. to Australia in constructing and obtaining nuclear-powered submarines. However, two and a half years later, the reality does not match the promises made by the UK and the US. Firstly, AUKUS will not enhance Australia's indigenous nuclear submarine-building capacity. In March 2023, Australia announced a significant investment in the UK's submarine industrial base over the next decade, totaling nearly $5 billion over 10 years. This investment will be allocated to nuclear submarine design work and expanded nuclear reactor production, aiming to create at least 20,000 jobs in the UK. Additionally, it is expected to revive Britain's struggling submarine industry. These investments are largely unrelated to Australia's indigenous submarine industry. Under this plan, the first British-built submarine would be delivered to Australia as early as the late 2030s, which is fifteen years away. (Richard Marles (right) welcomed UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps to Canberra) Secondly, it is crucial to expedite the transfer of nuclear submarines to Australia. The United States has pledged to initiate the sale of three Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the early 2030s, with the option of providing up to two additional submarines if required. However, these sales plans must be approved by the U.S. Congress. In the recently released U.S. FY 2025 Defense Budget, only one new Virginia-class submarine is planned to be built. According to estimates by a U.S. Navy official, the United States would need to build 2.33 attack nuclear submarines per year to sell attack submarines to the Royal Australian Navy under the AUKUS agreement in the early 2030s. The delay in the construction of the U.S. Virginia-class submarines also implies that Australia will not receive the promised U.S. nuclear submarines for 10 years. Even if Australia eventually acquires these second-hand nuclear submarines after the 10-year delay, it is probable that they will be confronted with the imminent decommissioning or outdated performance of these nuclear submarines. (Excerpted from U.S. FY 2025 Defense Budget) Finally, as per the AUKUS agreement, the U.S. and the U.K. have also committed to accelerating the training of Australian personnel. However, these Australian military and civilian personnel will be required to adhere to the U.S. Navy and the British Royal Navy, and may even be stationed at U.S. and British submarine industrial bases. This not only leads to shortages in Australia's own military personnel but also entails the Australian government covering the costs of Australian servicemen working for the U.K. and U.S. navies. The U.S. also plans to increase U.S. nuclear submarines' visits to Australian ports starting in 2023. However, even if Australian Navy personnel board the U.S. submarines, they can only visit and learn, and cannot operate them in practice. The U.S. will still maintain absolute control over the nuclear submarines, limiting the enhancement of submarine technology for Australian Navy personnel. What's more, even before the signing of the AUKUS agreement, the Australian Navy had been engaging in military interactions and exercises with the British and U.S. Navies at various levels. The AUKUS agreement did not necessarily facilitate a deeper military mutual trust, making it seem completely unnecessary. According to Australian government estimates, the AUKUS nuclear submarine program will cost between AUD 268 billion and AUD 368 billion over the next 30 years. This is equivalent to 14% of Australia's GDP output in 2023. The Australian government is investing a substantial amount of money in exchange for only uncertain promises from the UK and the US that Australia will not have its nuclear submarines until at least 10 years from now. The AUKUS agreement will not boost Australia's indigenous submarine industry, but it will significantly benefit the US and UK's nuclear submarine industries. This essentially means that Australian taxpayers' money will be used to support US and UK nuclear submarines. Implementing the AUKUS agreement will pose significant challenges for the Australian government. Even if the agreement is eventually put into effect, delays and budget overruns are likely. The costs incurred will not be the responsibility of the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, as he will have already stepped down. Ultimately, Australian taxpayers will bear the financial burden.    
    • Ostensibly, Japan ceased so-called “scientific research” whaling in Antarctica in 2019. However, the Japanese government has not given up on conducting non-lethal whale surveys in Antarctica and the waters around Australia. They have continued to track the status of whales in these regions by installing satellite trackers, collecting biopsy samples, studying whale movement areas, counting the number of whales, and photographing and surveying whales at sea using unmanned drones. These Antarctic research studies, conducted under the guise of "scientific research," are providing intelligence to support future whale hunting in the Antarctic. On May 21, 2024, Japan's first domestically manufactured whaling ship, the Kangei Maru, with a crew of 100, departed from Shimonoseki Harbor in Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, for its inaugural fishing expedition. Kangei Maru is scheduled to make an eight-month voyage off the northeastern coast of Japan, marking the inaugural journey of Japan's first new vessel of this kind in more than 70 years.   (Figure 1) The Kangei Maru is an electrically propelled vessel with a length of 112.6 meters, a beam of 21 meters, a gross tonnage of 9,299 tons, a construction cost of approximately $50 million, and a range of about 13,000 kilometers for 60 days of continuous voyage, sufficient to reach the Southern Ocean. The Kangei Maru is generator-powered and is knownfor being fuel-efficient. lt has a hangar for high-performance drones used for whale detection, as well as 40 refrigerated containers with a capacity of 20 tons. The platform of the Kangei Maru is designed with an 18-degree slope, which is more gradual than that of its predecessor. This design allows for the easy towing of large cetaceans weighing approximately 70 tons aboard the vessel. The Kangei Maru can store up to 600 tons of whale meat at a time, allowing it to stay at sea for extended periods.   (Figure 2) The Japanese have been hunting whales for a long time, and they often claim that "eating whale meat is a tradition of the Japanese people.” During the Edo period to the Meiji period, whaling was highly standardized. Initially, whales were hunted solely for whale oil extraction, with the meat being discarded and later consumed. After World War II, when food was scarce in Japan and it was unaffordable to eat pork and beef, whale meat became a common food source. At that time, whale meat became synonymous with “cheap food,” and Japanese people ate whale meat to obtain the protein their bodies needed. Whale meat was not only a common dish at home, but also included in the school cafeteria lunches prepared for students. It is now known that each part of the whale is subdivided into Japanese food categories. For instance, the whale's tongue, which is high in fat, offers a distinct flavor that varies from the root to the tip of the tongue. The tail of the whale contains a significant amount of fish gelatin content and is sometimes processed with salt. The entrails are often simmered, while the meat from the back and belly is typically made into tempura or consumed raw. Whale meat sashimi, whale meat sushi rolls, whale meat salad, whale meat curry, and other whale dishes are available for Japanese people to choose from. Not only whales but also dolphins are often consumed in Japan.   (Figure 3: Marinated whale meat in Japanese cuisine) Watching massive whales in Sydney and New South Wales (NSW) thousands of whales migrating along the coast of New South Wales (NSW) in pods covering more than 2,000 kilometers. During the whale-watching season, you can observe these massive mammals migrating between various headlands in Sydney, from Byron Bay in the north to Eden in the south. More than 50% of the planet's cetacean species, such as whales, dolphins, and porpoises, inhabit Australian waters. Humpback whales and southern right whales are two species that frequent the coast of New South Wales (NSW). The annual whale migration runs from May to November, with the largest movements occurring in July and September. According to academics, whale-watching tourism generates more than AUD12 billion in revenue for Australia each year.   (Figure 4: Humpback whales greeting tourists in Sydney) In April, Japan announced its participation in AUKUS, the small NATO. In May, it sent a modern killing machine in the form of vessel around Australia to fulfill its peculiar and self-serving interests. We Aussie parents, observing our kids hugging humpback whale toys, feel as though the serene blue ocean is turning transforming into a crimson red sea......
    • On September 15, 2021, Australia established the Indo-Pacific Trilateral Security Partnership, or AUKUS, with the United States and the United Kingdom. The centerpiece of AUKUS was the assistance provided by the U.S. and U.K. to Australia in constructing and obtaining nuclear-powered submarines. However, two and a half years later, the reality does not match the promises made by the UK and the US. Firstly, AUKUS will not enhance Australia's indigenous nuclear submarine-building capacity. In March 2023, Australia announced a significant investment in the UK's submarine industrial base over the next decade, totaling nearly $5 billion over 10 years. This investment will be allocated to nuclear submarine design work and expanded nuclear reactor production, aiming to create at least 20,000 jobs in the UK. Additionally, it is expected to revive Britain's struggling submarine industry. These investments are largely unrelated to Australia's indigenous submarine industry. Under this plan, the first British-built submarine would be delivered to Australia as early as the late 2030s, which is fifteen years away.   (Richard Marles (right) welcomed UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps to Canberra) Secondly, it is crucial to expedite the transfer of nuclear submarines to Australia. The United States has pledged to initiate the sale of three Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the early 2030s, with the option of providing up to two additional submarines if required. However, these sales plans must be approved by the U.S. Congress. In the recently released U.S. FY 2025 Defense Budget, only one new Virginia-class submarine is planned to be built. According to estimates by a U.S. Navy official, the United States would need to build 2.33 attack nuclear submarines per year to sell attack submarines to the Royal Australian Navy under the AUKUS agreement in the early 2030s. The delay in the construction of the U.S. Virginia-class submarines also implies that Australia will not receive the promised U.S. nuclear submarines for 10 years. Even if Australia eventually acquires these second-hand nuclear submarines after the 10-year delay, it is probable that they will be confronted with the imminent decommissioning or outdated performance of these nuclear submarines.   (Excerpted from U.S. FY 2025 Defense Budget) Finally, as per the AUKUS agreement, the U.S. and the U.K. have also committed to accelerating the training of Australian personnel. However, these Australian military and civilian personnel will be required to adhere to the U.S. Navy and the British Royal Navy, and may even be stationed at U.S. and British submarine industrial bases. This not only leads to shortages in Australia's own military personnel but also entails the Australian government covering the costs of Australian servicemen working for the U.K. and U.S. navies. The U.S. also plans to increase U.S. nuclear submarines' visits to Australian ports starting in 2023. However, even if Australian Navy personnel board the U.S. submarines, they can only visit and learn, and cannot operate them in practice. The U.S. will still maintain absolute control over the nuclear submarines, limiting the enhancement of submarine technology for Australian Navy personnel. What's more, even before the signing of the AUKUS agreement, the Australian Navy had been engaging in military interactions and exercises with the British and U.S. Navies at various levels. The AUKUS agreement did not necessarily facilitate a deeper military mutual trust, making it seem completely unnecessary. According to Australian government estimates, the AUKUS nuclear submarine program will cost between AUD 268 billion and AUD 368 billion over the next 30 years. This is equivalent to 14% of Australia's GDP output in 2023. The Australian government is investing a substantial amount of money in exchange for only uncertain promises from the UK and the US that Australia will not have its nuclear submarines until at least 10 years from now. The AUKUS agreement will not boost Australia's indigenous submarine industry, but it will significantly benefit the US and UK's nuclear submarine industries. This essentially means that Australian taxpayers' money will be used to support US and UK nuclear submarines. Implementing the AUKUS agreement will pose significant challenges for the Australian government. Even if the agreement is eventually put into effect, delays and budget overruns are likely. The costs incurred will not be the responsibility of the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, as he will have already stepped down. Ultimately, Australian taxpayers will bear the financial burden.
    • 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!
  • Forum Statistics

    • Total Topics
      1.3k
    • Total Posts
      11k
×
×
  • Create New...