Jump to content
Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

A writer's journal - Muay Thai, My Wife and Thailand

Recommended Posts

8-13

Last night Sylvie faced her nemesis. Her Kryptonite. There she was standing in the slate gray, blank corridors that surround the auditorium, with legend Dieselnoi explaining to her what she must do, while another incomparable of Thailand's past, Karuhat, quietly removed the resistant wrap of gauze and tape that he had painstakingly wound around her fists a few hours before. Sylvie was looking at all of us with something of a blank look on her face, and repeatedly asking the questions she would return to over and over again. Was I knocked out? Was I cut? No matter how many times we answered her she would ask them again, as if for the very first time. No, you were not knocked out. Yes, you were cut. A few of our circle attempted to provide more complete answers, but nothing would stick. We were all trying to figure out, when did she get concussed? I thought it might have been some of the glancing head kicks that didn't look like much during the fight, but you never know just what impact there is. Or maybe the headbutt when Sylvie split her forehead rushing in straight against Loma. It was Emma who figured it out, after taking Sylvie to the bathroom and answering a similar round of questions repeatedly. She was doing okay, but short term memory was gone for while. Sylvie remembers practically nothing from the fight even now, but she remembers falling on her head and neck during a throw, with Loma landing on her. It turns out, looking at the film, it happened with 1:17 left in the 2nd round. Sylvie was pretty dinged, still, 30 minutes later.

She had thought she was going to be fighting a 5 round fight. In fact big head honchos had assured her that it was a full rules 5 round fight. But it wasn't until she was sitting on the stool between the 1st and 2nd rounds that she overheard the broadcasters from the live feed mention that it was 3 rounds. Oi. So Thailand. But also a little uncool. The first round had already been spent tracing Loma across the ring without much urgency, and as it turns out Loma would break out some pretty spectacular and concussive throws in the 2nd round. Sylvie's primary clinch entry position under duress unfortunately plays right into Loma's main clinch leverage move. It's a pretty bad combination.She had tried to fix this in training, and may have figured out a way to solve it, but there really was no time. And now she was concussed.

In over 150 fights Sylvie's been dinged only twice. Once, about 3 years ago, she was head-kicked to near unconsciousness, flat out on the canvas, early in the first by "Farang Smasher" Nong Ying; and recovered to win the fight by knees. There were no lingering, notable side effects. This was the first time after a fight that she had become impaired. And very noticeably so. Even hours later, after she had gotten her handful of stitches at a nearby hospital, and we were back in the hotel room, she was still fogged. It was painful for me to see this absolutely brilliant, articulate mind struggle with basics of orientation, and also fall into lulls of sadness and embarrassment for her performance. This was her Kryptonite. This was her Nemesis. This was maybe the best female Muay Thai fighter in the world (vastly underrated), and she had friends from all over Bangkok coming, and two incredible legends had decided they wanted to corner for her...and it all came crashing down in not disaster, in not dismay, but in low-lying fog.

She had actually fought better after the concussion, more free, more aggressive, more what-the-hell, but who knows what state her mind was in. None of us noticed anything was even wrong for more than 20 minutes. This is what very few people appreciate. Yes, pro Muay Thai is far safer and far less "accidental" than how people who who are completely unfamiliar with fighting think. But each and every time you step into the ring you are risking altering your life for ever, by damage, and even really death. It IS dangerous, even though fight fans don't really experience it that way. And it makes Sylvie's 150+ fights even more amazing. She is climbing on crags, and people don't even notice. We, between ourselves, often talk about the 200 fight goal, or becoming the fighter she really wants to be, in terms of mountain climbing. If you want to know what we are talking about watch the film Meru. People die on mountains. Not metaphorically. To properly climb them you have to understand and embrace that.

Now, with hopefully only two or so years facing us before Sylvie will be nearing completion, we are in precarious positions. Financially we are in a very challenged place, it feels almost impossible. Logistically it is becoming harder and harder to find opponents that will fight Sylvie, as her reputation as an endless knee fighter spreads across the pockets of communities that make up female fighting in Muay Thai in Thailand. And now, realistically, the limits of her body are part of the equation. Though extremely resilient in heart and body, once concussed it is more likely to be concussed again. Though Sylvie takes very few if any direct shots, because of her fight style, last night showed that when violence is the game, violence can occur. Everything becomes a calculation to the summit, never even sure if it is possible.

And, all the while it was just incredible to see Dieselnoi and Karuhat with Sylvie, as if the hands of Muay Thai tradition had reached out to embrace her. This was not some master plan to try to see if we could somehow have "big" names help. We had lost our corner option so at the last minute yesterday we asked Karuhat if he had any friends who wanted to corner, we could pay them something for their trouble. We never dreamed that he would come himself. I watched him in such a protective way watch over Sylvie, for hours last night, often standing away from the circle of people around her backstage. And then Dieselnoi arrived...why? Because he knew Sylvie was fighting, and he just wanted to be there in support, and offer his sage advice. Incredible. Karuhat and Dieselnoi were texting each other before long, coming to help this 100 or so lb western girl covered with tattoos, a nobody in the scheme of Muay Thai Thailand history. It's such a shame that part of Sylvie's memory of this event was erased, because this was special. IS special. For me, as her husband, I cannot help but feel that it comes out of Sylvie herself. There are detractors murmuring online, people who don't know her much. But in the gym, between the ropes, she is something incredibly special. In her privates with Karuhat and Dieselnoi I think these amazing fighters of real wars see something in her. It's not the greatness of "talent". Talent is more often than not a liar. It's what she's about. Each of these men, and god they are completely different men - Dielselnoi is a furnace of intensity and passion for the sport. Karuhat is a trickster, a magician, a winking genius - each of these men have some how just quietly gravitated to her, opened up themselves a little in a way that is mindblowing to me.

When I was in the car driving to the arena before the fight I looked over to my left and saw her sitting there so peaceably. We were gnarled in traffic. It was okay, we'd get there. She was getting set to fight Loma in a few hours, the best 46 kg fighter in the world, and 4 days later she was scheduled to fight world champion Thanonchanok in Chiang Mai, possibly the best 50 kg fighter in the world, a few weight classes up. I instinctively said to myself my own private fight nickname that I now use for Sylvie, silently in my own mind. At the sound of it I just spontaneously started to cry, and turned my face away from her. She laughed..."Are you crying?!" I choked up the tears a little, wiping my face, a little embarassed. I took several beats as the tail lights brightened in the long line of cars in front of us. "I couldn't help myself", I said. I said to myself my fight name for you: Sylvie Legend.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 Also, Thanonchanok in 3 days?! Yes! Right back on the Sylvie War Wagon of von Doom!

 

Unfortunately we had to cancel that fight, and another scheduled after that. Not only was there a cut, a concussion requires rest. This is the first time Sylvie will have to shut down training for a stretch. Looks like by the symptoms this is a only a mild concussion, but everything on the safe side. Crossing fingers we can rebook Thanonchanok. She's very hard to book a fight with.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah I see. Better to be safe for sure. How long is Sylvie planning to take off?

 

We've read that most concussions resolve in 7-10 days, and this one appears symptomatically mild. So 5 days totally shut down. Then very slow reintroduction, looking for symptoms to return. We are being cautious.

Link to post
Share on other sites

8-14

There is a strong breeze blowing hard across the urban sector we live in, the kind of constant wind that only comes from the beach. It isn't far from us, but we seldom see it. There is a rooster crowing at 4:30 in the afternoon, and another one after him. And then another, staggered in sound and distance. Remote sounds that I love having never been a country boy, and loving the unconscious meaning of what it means to live by their clock, or even near their clock. The streets themselves are narrow, cement alleyways. Everything is cement, as if modern Pattaya looked to seal out its forgotten jungle and bush past that was not long ago, concrete poured like glue over everything. High walls stacked with cinderblock, and the sea breeze blows over all of it, rushing like a weightless river, crashing through our open window on the 4th floor. Sylvie is gluing news clippings into her scrapbook which she hasn't worked on for a very long time. I'm a little astounded at how much she's collected, and this enforced 5 days into inactivity for concussion is probably the longest she will be still in the more than 4 years that we have been here, and that she's be grinding it out in the gym, day after day. Even after broken bones she's in the gym after 2 days. Even when stitches require no sweating, 3 days max. This time it will be five. A time to reflect. To gather our mental forces for what the next 6 months will bring. 

I hear the old newspaper creaking and crisping as she turns dried pages, now able to read the Thai that she once had to really strain to get through. I've always felt that Sylvie's Muay Thai has (and will) progressed at the same rate as her Thai. Each of these are mysteriously parallel. For the longest time she was too shy to speak to Thais in Thai, retreated into her shell, just as she was too afraid to spar and clash. But then one day she found herself on the other side of that, in confidence. Now she glues the newspaper into books, looking at words, sentences and paragraphs she feels more comfortable with. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

8-14

There is a strong breeze blowing hard across the urban sector we live in, the kind of constant wind that only comes from the beach. It isn't far from us, but we seldom see it. There is a rooster crowing at 4:30 in the afternoon, and another one after him. And then another, staggered in sound and distance. Remote sounds that I love having never been a country boy, and loving the unconscious meaning of what it means to live by their clock, or even near their clock. The streets themselves are narrow, cement alleyways. Everything is cement, as if modern Pattaya looked to seal out its forgotten jungle and bush past that was not long ago, concrete poured like glue over everything. High walls stacked with cinderblock, and the sea breeze blows over all of it, rushing like a weightless river, crashing through our open window on the 4th floor. Sylvie is gluing news clippings into her scrapbook which she hasn't worked on for a very long time. I'm a little astounded at how much she's collected, and this enforced 5 days into inactivity for concussion is probably the longest she will be still in the more than 4 years that we have been here, and that she's be grinding it out in the gym, day after day. Even after broken bones she's in the gym after 2 days. Even when stitches require no sweating, 3 days max. This time it will be five. A time to reflect. To gather our mental forces for what the next 6 months will bring. 

I hear the old newspaper creaking and crisping as she turns dried pages, now able to read the Thai that she once had to really strain to get through. I've always felt that Sylvie's Muay Thai has (and will) progressed at the same rate as her Thai. Each of these are mysteriously parallel. For the longest time she was too shy to speak to Thais in Thai, retreated into her shell, just as she was too afraid to spar and clash. But then one day she found herself on the other side of that, in confidence. Now she glues the newspaper into books, looking at words, sentences and paragraphs she feels more comfortable with. 

Well shit.  Sorry about the concussion, but not sorry about the fight and your writing Kevin.  Its beautiful she fought freer after the head-banging dump, and awful but beautiful that she forgets.  Crazy to have the two legendary fighters witness it all.  Hope your five days passes peaceably and is restorative.  Cracks me up that there is scrapbooking going on.  I made a great show (in my opinion one of my best) when I was stuck at home with two small children and a dying father; I basically scrapbooked instead of shooting out in the world (collaged).  It was not actually appreciated at the time, but has had a long and great afterlife.  Good luck.

Link to post
Share on other sites

8-15

I lost my biggest client the other day. The huge preponderance of my time in Pattaya, in Thailand, is spent in the apartment. I could be literally anywhere in the world and my life would be pretty much the same. Very little of the exotic seeps up to me here, while Sylvie is accomplishing herculean tasks, and beating a path through a male jungle of twisted vines that regrow surprisingly fast when you stop slashing away with the machete of your heart, I'm calculating social media effects, and numbingly running through platform protocols, for hours. It was a corporate structuring over seas that took my client away, pairing things down to bare minimum, and its the kind of thing that happens. Its part of the life of businesses. But it does leave our time here in jeopardy. Opening up is a chasm of some sort. A beautiful uncertainty. I love times like this, in the way that you might come to love a food that is an acquired taste. As I've aged, and I'm much older than Sylvie, I've become much more sensitive to a principal that I think I read and learned from mythograher Joseph Campbell. We think that time moves in a line, but in Life it really moves in circles - huge, symbolic circles that have stages that they go through, over and over again. What is key about this is that the times for "change", the times for increase, the times for doing the things you really, really want, or becoming who you really want to be, only happen in windows that open and close. Much of the time you really cannot create the changes that you want to. Yes, you can prepare for them, you can build the foundations, or grease the rails of whatever alteration you are looking for, but the change cannot be made...just yet. Much of the frustration of life comes from not recognizing this essential nature of Time. You push and push, directing mental energy - sometimes even enormous emotional energy - and the change never comes. And when the window happens, when the time of the cycle spins round to open up, you are often distracted, or more likely, lack the ability to see that it is a window, that what you really wanted to happen can happen now.

Part of the reason for missing the window, not seeing it for what it is, is that with it comes de-stabilization. And de-stabilization can be felt as very unsafe, or unnerving. You can feel how nothing is firm beneath your feet. This is unnerving. But this is the time when the world, your world, has become malleable. This is the chance. If you have created the foundation points for the place you want to get to, the future you, the values you want to adhere to, they can carry you through to the other side, and create the new world as a better place.

There is an amazing working analogy in the history of AI computation called Simulated Annealing. I wrote about it here, at a time when I was a personal blogger. The basic premise was that you could treat data in the same ways that molecules can be treated, through "heating" and "cooling" schedules just like those that work in annealing metal. Annealing is the process that makes the steel of swords harder and potentially sharper. I'll leave aside the computational theory and just look at what is being talked about in the annealing of steel. It explains what I'm talking about. The smith heats the metal which at room temperature had settled into a hardened into a rigid state. It is not as hard or as resilient as it might be, but the molecules are more or less "locked". When you heat the metal the molecules become unlocked, as the metal starts to redden and glow, its world is now less stable. In these states the molecules can fall into new arrangements. And the overall shape of the metal can be changed. As the metal cools it stabilizes. For metals like steel, the cooling schedule is very important, it is slower than other metals. If it cools incorrectly it can become brittle. If it cools artfully its re-crystalization will leave its molecules locked in a stronger, more organized structure. This is how the samurai swords become what they are. Through artful heating and cooling. This is a long way of saying that the window of de-stabilization in the cycle is often lost because the eye is on the emotion of de-stabilization itself. All the changes you hoped to make through the entire cycle, are actually available to you now, when the molecules of your life are suddenly unlocked. What is really remarkable about everything that has happened for Sylvie and me, in this time in Thailand, is that we've been very "lucky" in the windows like this. We've somehow, so far, been able to identify when the molecules start to jump, and we've been patient when they are firmly locked. This goes for growth in Sylvie herself, her fighting, her emotional steel as a fighter, a journalist, and also for circumstance - the real world boundaries that constrain what is possible (where you live, financial limits, community). Somehow we have been aware of these windows. The Japanese swordsmith knows many things we do not know. There is an art to these things.

There is a small holy statuette that sits on a mantel in our apartment. It is a bronze-looking figure of a man, a warrior, posed with a spear pointed upward at a diagonal across his body, and with the other hand near the spearpoint he holds a bouquet of green. His face is that of a demon. His body that of an athlete. He is a little known god, much debated in niche circles, Phra Pirap. He as I understand it is a kind of god of war and battle, but mostly is known as the god of dance, the one that leads the arts. At his left hand come together both the spear point and the bouquet. This the unfathomable combination of what makes up Muay Thai in Thailand. For us in the west there is a fundamental division in how we parse the world. There is the "real" and the "unreal". In Thailand these two things come together to braid into something else. People looking at fights want to say "that's a fake fight!" or "that's a 'real' fight!". What makes them real or unreal are supposedly the intention of the actors. But because Muay Thai is an art, and not only a sport, these things come together. It is ultimately both dance and violence. The reason for this is timing. Phra Pirap happens also to be the god of timing. Of finding the perfect moment. Nietzche made a big deal of this in Beyond Good and Evil. In Greek there are two important fundamental kinds of Time. Chronos is circular time, the time of the seasons. Kairos is the time of the moment, the perfect moment to act. Kairos makes an incision in Chronos. Phra Pirap is the god of Kairos. This is why he is god of the dance. This is why the Muay Thai of Thailand is both real and unreal. It carries the power of artifice into the world of the "real" of violence, to steer it. It recognizes the moment of change, and therefore may spend much of its time in the realm of the fake, the performed. It is steering the cooling schedule of the steel, when all the molecules are afloat and changing their positions. In the west we only think of linear time. For us the "real" of fighting is merely the degree of "heat" in a fight, and the application of force of one body against other bodies. In Muay Thai, for Phra Pirap, it is the point in the circle when real change can happen, it is the art of taking hold of that change and shaping it to a valued outcome. It is where the spearpoint and the bouquet come together.

We are at that point now, we are the molecules of the steel that we are are starting to unlock. Many things may result, not all of them good or preferred. This loss to Loma was an event marker, when the heat weakened the metal and it began to glow.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 I made a great show (in my opinion one of my best) when I was stuck at home with two small children and a dying father; I basically scrapbooked instead of shooting out in the world (collaged).  It was not actually appreciated at the time, but has had a long and great afterlife.  Good luck.

 

It is great to be in parallel with you in this Dana, and for you to be with us. But that sounds like such a difficult time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It is great to be in parallel with you in this Dana, and for you to be with us. But that sounds like such a difficult time.

It was terrible but also very much normal, cyclical life as you wrote above.  Something to lean into.  I like the beach pictures on Insta. Sorry about your client!

Link to post
Share on other sites

8-19

Preparing energy coming into a big fight is like driving in the snow. We used to have a way of talking about pre-fight energy calling it "coming in too high" or "coming in too low", as if one is trying to land a plane. Sylvie's gotten so far along that we don't really talk that way at all. The compass of fight energy really starts weeks out, and if you are fighting all the time like Sylvie it means it's always in play. Like driving in the snow you have to feel what the road is like, with your foot on the gas. And, you don't ever hit the brake. The road might look great, only a thin layer of flakes or powder. The road might look awful, the headlights bouncing off huge falling crystals, catching glare. But what tells you if you are going too fast (or too slow) is the feel of the road. And when you feel the car starting to lose itself you take the foot off the gas and let the weight of the car slow itself. To a crunchy halt if necessary, ever ready to start rolling again. The driving is the negotiation between the weight of the car (you) and its momentum, caught in the context of the road. When in a hurry to get where you want and need to be everything is determined by the play of your own weight, your own momentum, and the feel of the gas pedal. It's the physics of feeling. Nobody can read it but you. It's an art. I can remember those 4 am NY hurtlings up the Palisades, back to Fort Montgomery from nyc, with Star-Wars-like hyperdrive filling the windshield.

Within oneself, when you are desperate for progress and performance, look to see if your wheels are spinning. And do not touch that brake, certainly not if you are rolling along. Feel your own weight and how it creates ballast. This is the beautiful thing about fighting 150 plus times. You get to drive in the snow over and over and over again. You can feel the relationship between performance and inertia. You begin to sense the conditions before they even become "conditions", the drift before it becomes drift. This is the learning of fighting in volume. This is beauty.

A body in motion stays in motion, for all that it means.

Link to post
Share on other sites

8-20

Thailand is an incredible incubation. There is something about the way that it plays to western fantasies - most of them male, sexual or violent - that allows for a maturation of inner vision, not always for the good. Pattaya is filled, I mean filled to the brim, with hormone and steroid injecting coursing sexuality, the aging male ideations that never were what they thought they were, matched with slight-boned girlfriends purchased for the witness. But it isn't just the sex trade as men ascend to bar stools like soft thrones in familiar quarters. It's the full wrought of how the west applies its fantasy self to Thailand, across every single avenue and park, every rice field, business and mountain. The whole of Thailand receives what you think of yourself, what you dream of for yourself and it puts it unto the test...by making it possible. When you make fantasies possible, when you let flesh be grown on those phantom bones, the skeleton of what you believe about yourself, about desire, it creates a hard salt water shore. The otherwise pristine and unchallenged, floating, undirected desires of your life then become responsibilities, become constrained, bounded, real and living things, with the unnumbered aspects of their reality. It is the very same with fighting. Or, the mad desire to "fight a lot". You can hold this dream anywhere in the world and it really doesn't mean the same thing. Here, you can have that dream and it really, honest-to-god, can and will happen. You can walk into a gym, never having trained, and be fighting within a few weeks - and not just against a Phuket circus "tuk-tuk" performer. Fighting. Like knocked-out. You could want 30 fights, and actually have them. You want to explore and become more than proficient in Muay Thai? You can. You will have to build that mountain, rock by rock. You will have to scale that mountain, rock by rock. But it is right here. What it does it forces your desires and dreams to the surface. If you want to party, you'll end up partying. If you want girlfriends, you'll have those. If you want fights, you'll have fights. Thailand is filled with those who have become what they want. 

Beneath all of this, are the people of Thailand. It is not easy to find your way across the layers and veils that separate cultures. But beneath all of the fulfillment, and misunderstandings, the projections, are relations. These are luminous examples of what may be, beacons of a possible that is woven from something very different than all of the above.

I ever return in my mind to the way that the "fake" and the "real" is braided in Muay Thai. For the western fighter it is even more so the case, because the westerner is caught in the simulacrum of their own desire (and it's fulfillment). I suspect that one of the reasons why westerners who trained and fought in Thailand even a half-generation ago did not share their fights, or even their detailed stories, was not simply that there were so many fewer cameras, or mechanisms of sharing (like blogs, or Facebook)...for even now fights and details of experiences are not often shared. It's that the western fighter is swept up in the very production of Muay Thai here. I mean production in really almost a capitalist sense: the construction, presentation, consumption and perpetuation of Muay Thai, as ideological form. A way of seeing and expressing the world. The western fighter is somehow sandwiched between the production (and fulfillment) of their own desires, and the role that desire plays in the production of Muay Thai, for Thailand. I recall a western pioneer of female fighting in the country, more than a decade ago, describing how poorly trained many Thai female opponents were, as westerners "destroyed" them (a story without any specifics). But this same fighter was overwhelmed by the most dominant Thai female fighter of the decade, who outweighed her, and also surely fought some very strong opponents. How does a westerner authentically position themselves in such a context? How does one talk about and share the very tension of the real and the unreal? I recall the story of how two French fighters were brought to fight big named Thais on Khmer ruins a few decades ago, and how (surely), none of the French knew that they were very likely there to re-enact the thrashing two disrespectful French brothers took at the hands of the King's champion and guard in 1788 (the first ever farang vs Thai match) - yes, there was that meaning. Today, very fine western fighters are fighting real fights, hard fights, on MAX Muay Thai, which is essentially a Muay Thai "show", and it is impossible to really ascertain what is happening there. Some fights seem bizarrely matched. Some bizarrely judged. All of it is geared towards producing hyper-aggressive clashes that do not resemble the Muay Thai of stadium fighting. How is one to tell that story? Position oneself in that story? You are a fighter at a gym that has a reputation of producing world title belts, producing them, but you fight like hell and beat top talent. What does that mean? But again, "artifice" does not necessarily mean "unreal" in Thailand. This is the production of Muay Thai. And for westerners we have to grasp beneath the surface, at the fight itself, towards the bodies to understand. The fighter in a way loses his or her voice. The time here tends to become cocooned. Shared only with those in the gym, because there is no easy way to convey its reality beyond the boundary. Most of the time the unrecorded time here becomes a fish story to those back home. But this of course is what is unprecedented in what Sylvie has done and what she is doing. She has been making reports, sending message, essentially from the Moon. Over 200 vlogs. 800 articles, 150 fight videos. These are raw evidences, impressions, stakes in what there is here. It is remarkable and its meaning really will not be digested for years perhaps. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

8-22 - what is a fighter?

I was just talking to a fighter who was feeling low because he just lost on points to someone he felt he could have beat, and was flying back to Thailand to fight up in Isaan in a few days. Utterly impressive. Why? Not because he's fighting twice in so short a time. Not because he's fighting shortly after a disappointing loss. Not because he's flying across the world to fight one after another. It's because he is riding the line. This is what separates the fighter from the non-fighter. The line. When you ride the line you are riding along the possible and the impossible, where nothing is sure. You are pushing the limit of what is and what can be. This can be physical limit, a mental limit, a performance limit - but in truth these three always form a holy trinity, never one without the other two. Fighters ride this line, the point where things threaten to break apart, where it might not quite hold together, nothing is set for you. This can be facing one huge opponent you might not ever beat. Being a part of a high-pressure event where your opponent isn't even the biggest hurdle. This can be fighting 6 fights in a month, or fights in back to back days. Or facing opponents that expose your weaknesses rather than just those you match up with nicely. It's the line. Fighters seek out that line. They seek it out in the gym, they seek it out in the ring, they take it up into their hand as a thread that stitches the meaning of their lives together. And you might very well fall on the wrong side of that line again and again, into the shadows where there is no glory, where few see the merit of what you are. Or you might fall on the right side of the line and be covered in the perfume of glory. But in either case, for those that ride that line, truly ride that line, they know that both sides of that line are joined, that finding and riding that line again and again is what the whole thing is about. You lose. You collapse. You freeze. You doubt. You fail. Just find the line and ride it. It is the path to true, personal victory.

Link to post
Share on other sites

8-28

Sometimes there are just natural binaries in the world, things that express themselves artistically, poetically, symbolically. We like to think in dual parts, black or white, rich or poor, humble or proud, 1 or zero, but the world itself sometimes finds these pairings, and in Pattaya there is one that is almost unspeakable in how much it shows, without concluding a thing. The motorbike, some have argued, has produce more profound social change than perhaps any other piece of technology in Thailand. Like the American automobile which utterly altered not only self identity and the social field within which one got around, the motorbike changed landscapes. Not only has it zigzagged urban highways and streets with free wheeling, independent, cheap transportation, making a democracy of one, a singularity, it created body to body proximities in the conservative, traditional villages where male and female bodies never touch in any other public way. It brought about intimacies. Gangs on suped-up motorbikes scream through light-less highways or black-top ribbons stretched between night-lacquered rice fields, often with their headlamps off, coasting only in the cocoons of their high pitched sound. Motorbike brothers cruise side by side with a foot reached out, resting on their partner's bike, creating a tandem at high speed, while in cities older women and men pile inconceivable stacks of foods for market, hanging off of every lynchpin or edge like a weighted Christmas tree, sagging with commodity. And families of 4 or even 5 can cram onto a motorbike, a veritable mini-van of two thin wheels, happily pressed in a single, unison trajectory, hugging each other with the promise of what a family really is.

Amid all of this, a taxonomy of freedoms and transport, Pattaya has a startling pair. In contrast to it, in Chiang Mai you see a veritable liberty of young women, sisters, most of them affluent college and high-school aged women, coasting through the streets in uniform, sitting side-saddle in school skirts and button-ups. The magic carpet young revolution in short travel in Chiang Mai, humming around the colleges and schools, has a modernity to it, in a part of Thailand that is still conservative. It becomes a ubiquity of criss-crossing errands, of a rising middle and female class. In Pattaya the motorbike finds a different, single, expression, a seemingly bonded pair. The motorcycle taxi driver: a working-class hero of rough edges who spends most of the time on a corner with others in their signature company vests, waiting to be hailed, or to take up someone in turn. And his pairing: a working girl, the sex worker dressed to the nines, impeccable makeup, short skirted, defiantly-high, stumble-prone high heels. It's like seeing a cowboy with a starlet on his dust covered horse. There is something so sibling about this pair, as he carries her to her work, seemingly at any hour of the day or night. Both ill-regarded by their culture, both treading water in the currents of the economy of bodies. His of transport, hers consort. He carries her, she rests with her feet near weightless in space, before she has to stop. There is nothing happy or sad about this pair, as they commune in a necessity, making space contract, there is only a strange and comforting twoness, of each knowing each. It characterizes this town, not to romanticize it. It shows how it is stitched together, how things are made far from wherever each may be, thrown forward by a combustion engine.

Link to post
Share on other sites

9-15

I've stayed away from the journal because each and every time I attempted to get to it the things that were happening just seemed too big. It was like trying to stand in a fast running river. I lost my biggest client due to corporate restructuring, someone we really relied upon to remain here in Thailand, and we found ourselves really having to scramble as to what we were doing to do next. As many of you already know we've turned to creating Supporter Only content - which is a huge step. But it just seemed like it was the right time. I've always been instrumental in planning and structuring all of Sylvie's content, I'm a Social Media consultant so this stuff is natural to me and something I enjoy, something I find redeeming, but this would basically mean that I've got to go to work for Sylvie, taking all my hours I used to spend on my client and trying to make it work for Sylvie on Patreon. Hey, I"m all for the adventure, but it put a lot of due stress on us, at a time of difficult treading.

Much bigger than all of that was that Sylvie just hit a tremendous wall personally, something I can't wait to read her writing about it. I get excited about her articles just as much as you do. Even though I'm her husband and we talk about things in great detail, when she sits down to write different things come out, beautiful things. I'll be so interested in reading how she reflects on this last month. She found herself in a perfect storm of stress, fatigue and self-doubt I think. She was training for her nemesis Loma, taking on new, innovative but sometimes psychologically difficult training regimes, she was making big changes to her diet, a change in her spirituality, many of her routines were upended, and it was too much. She's written a few times about this, about how mental training does not stop. Just like sit-ups, or miles run, you can't just stop doing the training and expect to be alright. And under great duress she was paying the price for not doing the work. This whole time has been a torrent of stresses, and she's fought through it like the badass that she is, but it had a cost.

But not only did it have a cost, it also had a prize. She somehow came through all the difficulty with powerful realizations, keys to unearthing heavy iron deposits that were anchoring her in limitation. I'm fucking proud of her...and amazed. It was a very difficult time, but she figured it out. This is the thing. I honestly think that no fighter in the world has Sylvie's training regime. Not necessarily at any one time, but so relentlessly, without breaks, going on 4 years now. Her fights are her breaks...and fights are not really breaks at all. She busts it at 3 gyms, juggling the psychology and expectations of 3-5 different trainers, more or less everyday. Even her Sundays are half-days. Why does she do this? She believes it is physically and mentally necessary to train at such a high level to fight 200 fights over 6 years. You have to be made of steel. Inside and out. But what sometime is lost is that there are huge mental tasks being taken on, and if you aren't doing the mental training to make your mind as sharp, dexterous and free as possible, through actual mental training regimes, it's going to be too much. Just when you are feeling good, like you've got a handle on this, that is when your mental training focus needs to rise. The things that make people fight, as an art, as a sport, are very profound things. The fighting (and the training) unearths shit, very deep shit, the stuff that glued you all together when you were little, and then glued you all back together again each time you were broken - and we've all been broken. At this level, this is no joke. It's going to come up. It's going to come out of fucking nowhere. Out of the bluest sky with not even a breeze in the air, it's going to come. And it's going to smack you. Just as you need the cardio, the brute strength, the fast recovery times, the heart of a lion, the intensity, you are going to need mental skills for the thing that will stab where you are blind. It will hit there, it's okay, it will hit there, if you are pouring your all into it. But you need to have developed the mental skills to identify, accept and subvert those dangers. It's very hard to remember how much you need to prepare mentally for this.

I think there is something flawed with how we view mental health, probably starting with the phrase "mental heath". We expect that as long as we are in a range of normalcy, we are mentally healthy. Health is ultimately or usefully not a context independent thing. What we are really speaking of are capacities. What are your mental capacities? What dynamics can you endure? What dynamics can you thrive on? For a performance athlete it's like breathing in high altitude air. Sometimes really high altitude air. You might be great in the foothills, but you are climbing in the upper-reaches. You might have thought mechanisms and skills that will serve you very well at work, or in friendships, but these same mechanisms are poorly equipped for extreme duress. And, the mechanisms you developed for emergencies, very likely when you were very young (or which were born innately in you), are too immature or brute to deal with the demands at fighting states where an art is being called on. There is an entire threshold of talents that you must self-make, piece by piece, if you want to get there, striding in the high-altitude.

Over this last month, I saw all of this. The breaking, the pressures, the perfect storm of duress, and then the diamond of my wife rising up, levitant. It's incredible. I don't know how else to talk about this, other than to say being this close to this is an honor.   

Link to post
Share on other sites

9-21a

The camera was off. We had just filmed maybe a 20 minute round of technique with Golden Age legend Namkabuan, a fighter who held the 130 lb Lumpinee title for 6 years. He's this incredibly charismatic, handsome, funny, very athletic man in his forties. As with so many huge stars of the bygone era you would never imagine that he's a veteran of endless high stakes ring battles in the most brutal fighting sport on the planet. He had just been teaching an unbelievable knee to Sylvie, a thing of beauty that left me shaking my head. I've seen a lot of Muay Thai technique filming these legendary men as Sylvie tries to learn from them, and also plenty of ballet-like moves in the gym often from largely unknown trainers, but I had never seen anything like that knee. It just kind of exploded out of nowhere, submarining beneath the surface, launching in a horizontal trajectory with torpedo violence. Just beyond beautiful. I said something like: "The most beautiful knee in the world," and Namkabuan shook his head smiling. "No, Namphon".

That was Tuesday night.

What follows is a kind of detonation. A slow motion detonation of what that short, softly spoken sentence did to me. The truth of the matter is I didn't really know who Namphon was then, standing where I was. I knew he was one of the big names of Muay Thai, one that westerners in the last few decades, those that appreciated the sport before it became quite so well known, celebrated. I didn't know. I didn't know that he was Namkabuan's older brother. I didn't know that he would be pass away, would leave this earth, by Monday. When we got home Sylvie totally inspired by Namkabuan's energy and person watched all of Namkabuan's fights she could, well into the wee hours of the morning. It was then, I think the next day, that she found a Thai article letting people know that Namphon was seriously ill:

Namphon-seriously-ill.png

My heart broke when I saw this, and in a way it is still breaking. I didn't even know this man, but this is everything. That night I watched and read everything I could about Namphon Nongkeepahuyuth. We didn't know that he was in such a bad way that things were terminal. We contacted Namkabuan asking if there was some way we could help the family, maybe to raise funds for his care and recovery. We reached out to another Golden Age legend who knew him to see if there was something we could do, but things were beyond perilous and he was gone by the next morning. So terrible, saddening. It's like a fallen hero of the Bronze age had been swept into dust, and everyone, the whole of the earth morns. I had watched his fights, I had Sylvie watch them too. The man was incredible. Not only made of iron, of metal, but artful and dexterous, way beyond his rough-sketch forward-marching reputation. He was the man who Dekkers first fought in Bangkok. Dekkers had beat him in Amsterdam a few months before in a bizarre decision wherein aside from a few seconds when Dekkers' hands connected, the entire fight was basically bagwork for Namphon, dragging Dekkers around the ring like a knee dummy. Then in the Bangkok fight then Namphon fought him an entirely different way, masterfully controlling the space with such precision, making Dekkers swing at air the whole night. Both fights were "su mai dai"...cannot fight.

Later it was said to us, whether true or not I do not know, that the first decision came out of Onesongchai's genius. No matter what Namphon had to lose so the big fight in Bangkok had meaning to Thais. They wanted to see the fighter who had beaten Namphon. So Namphon just owned him in a different way. And you see in that Bangkok fight one of Namphon's running knees into the corner, like the one that Namkabuan was teaching Sylvie, visually symbolically demolishing his opponent, literally erasing him from view. The Nongki knee. Namphon really was the gateway to western fighting in Thailand, its ambassador to the ambassador. He took one for the team so to speak...perhaps. And he was there at the birth of Dekkers in Thailand, who only went 4-14 in the country but became synonymous with western fighting greatness, now called the greatest western Muay Thai fighter ever, by many.

Namphon also lives in the annals of Muay Thai history due to his fights with Samart, everyone's favorite these days. So sad that of the 1,000s of fights and heroes of those eras, we have only fragments, a handful of fights out of which we in the west make up vast stories around the names that happen to be in them, like archeologists examining broken pieces of pottery deducing a civilization. Watch Samart laze his way through the final rounds against the unrelenting pressure of Namphon

I just shake my head a little, as Samart plays to his reputation, slackening his limbs to steal the glory from this wonderful pressure fighter, Namphon. Ajax to wily Odysseus.

I'm not really writing about his fights though, I only include mention of them because they are what I watched as I educated myself on the name Namphon, feeling as I watched him smash through opponents, or artfully turn them of to the side, that I was coming in touch with his heart. I had only just discovered him, really that day and night, I had only just come to see him, finally looking closely, to hear that he had died at 5:20 am the next morning...I can't really say, it overwhelmed me. I don't know why it had such an impact. Maybe it was because I had just met his brother who in his cheer and generosity showed no sign that there was a dark shadow of sadness coming over his brother, perhaps nobody even knew what was coming. Maybe it was because we can make our heroes out of a few bare things, a few videos, the face in photos. Maybe because the fall of Namphon mirrors so much of the struggle that Thai fighters face, even very noble, incredible champions, as they turn from the ring to life, making it plain for all to see. I've just been very shaken by it.

Maybe it was just the way Namkabuan spoke that sentence: "No, Namphon"..."no, my brother"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cci0wspyilM&feature=youtu.be

Above is a short video shot by Namkabuan with his brother, posted after his brother passed. In it he says he has been exercising and protecting his health and now is recovered. Look at Namkabuan's smile. Look at Namphon. Muay Thai is the battle and test of dignity. That is what it is. Champions rise because they can dramatize and present dignity under adverse conditions that would make most of us wither. Beyond displaying a "fighting art" or even a test of wills, it is the elevation and preservation of dignity that marks Muay Thai. Namphon's passing more than anything else really makes me feel this, it drives it home like a spike. I've have the privilege of meeting some very, very special men here in Thailand as I tag along in Sylvie's journey up into the mountains of Muay Thai. When we met Namkabuan his effervescence and absolute uniqueness somehow convinced us all the more how special these fighters are, men who lived in the pressures of high stakes fighting, amid the mafia, the huge promotions, in a circle of absolutely elite fighters, all graced with skills perhaps as no other time in Thailand's history. With the loss of Namphon, at age 47, more than anything else I just can't help but feel that we all lost something, a piece of a time, a thread in the fabric of something that will never be again. Karuhat, Hippy, Dieselnoi, Burklerk, Sagat, Namkabuan, Kaensak, Orono, Samart, Yodkhunpon, Somrak, Lamnamoon, Namsaknoi, Pudpadnoi, Coban, Jongsanan, Sakmongkol (and so, so many more) ...men of a fraternity of proven dignity in the face of time.

Rest in Peace, Namphon. Let's remember Namphon.

Link to post
Share on other sites

12-10

Unfortunately this may not make as much ultimate sense if you have not seen Westworld the HBO series, but hopeful there is enough non-referential meat on the bone to make sense apart from that.

 

Dolores (dolor - sadness) from Westworld, a robotic humanoid, is said to have uncovered consciousness when she solved the maze, when she found the center of the maze. It was Sylvie who spelled it out for me, where that center was. The illusion she said, is that you are the little white ball, and turn after turn you are looking for the center. You are looking to arrive at the center. Consciousness, she reasoned, is the realization that you are not the little white ball. Instead you are the maze itself. That is the “center” of the maze. She’s been reading some beautiful stuff on Buddhism lately, and sharing it with me, but somehow this flattened me. Yes, at the surface it sounds a lot like “there is no spoon” spiritual sophism, but in that moment, in the context of a multipart series tracing the track of non-intelligence aspiring toward intelligence, in a sea of coded and looped pain, it was really startling. It was startling in part because Sylvie has been that little white ball so much these 4+ years, bouncing off of maze walls, banging into deadends she’s come to know not only intellectually, but viserally, and it all somehow sandwiched all together, two laminates, mapping cleanly. Sylvie was a robot.

Ha, what does that mean? There is an elegant analogy being carried out in Westwood. Very lifelike androids are programmed to loop in small emotional storylines over and over and over. Their emotional spectrums are sketched out – set to feature a modicum of improvisation – but still day after day these beings live out the same very worn grooves. And because they involve an amusement park designed for adults (humans) which gives very little consequence to action, these androids suffer brutal, violent lives. Only saved from that hellish horror, the painful and ingrained repetition, by the fact that their memories are wiped clean every day or so. They are in a hell they cannot remember, so freshly they engage in it, and repeat it ad nauseum. The analogy is that we as humans, though we have the experience of consciousness and choice, are also caught in very tight, emotional loops, and that there is a certain kind of forgetfulness that keeps us able to experience them anew, freshly, as if we are not madly repeating ourselves. We are all…robotic.

There is an additional theory floating through the Westworld world, that the personality of each android, in its simplification and approximation of consciousness, is grounded in some nearly un-utterable original memory of pain. This event (the loss of a child, a heinous murder), in a way casts the mold of who they are. It gives them ballast and bearing, though they only remember this event in a dim sort of unconscious or fleeting way. Sometimes this event is portrayed as actually having occurred in a previous personality manifestation (version) of the android, sometimes it may implied to be programmed. In any case, it is there, conditioning all that is built, or sedimented on top of it.

Now this is the interesting thing. Sylvie has fought over 150 times in Thailand in the last 4 years, more frequently and to greater volume than any other westerner, man or woman, ever has. In fact it is probably not even close. She has been android-like, mashing through what for a “normal” woman is a very violent event. But like the androids of the show, the violence has been a sort of testing ground for her consciousness, I believe. The violence – and the attendant straining for the art amid it – has an intensifying effect, as if purifying metal, floating the dross of it to the top. The pain in her body – and really it’s the pain in training more than fights, but both – repeats itself in loops not unlike the shallow emotional loops of Westworld androids. And this dedicated repetition to what is called “the grind”, a grind which includes fighting every 10 days or so, probably in some virtual dimension is acting out and rehearsing, and ultimately solving parallel emotional loops built into her “real life”, the coded stories that she and pretty much all of us serve.  And as she bangs into the wall of the maze over and over: Why can’t I throw elbows! Why can’t I step there! Why did I freeze! Why don’t I fight how I train? --- making small adjustments in herself along the way, it feels like she is coming to a realization. An incredible moment within herself.

She is not the ball, she is the maze.

It doesn’t change the violence, it changes one’s proximity to the violence. One is both closer and further from it and the grind. It changes the valence of the Body. It unhinges dimensionality. It makes for polyvalence. There is a moment precariously balanced in the season finale when different androids are poised between differing attitudes towards the foundational pains that stamped them early in their code. As one orbits outward, toward apogee, one makes a decision toward the foundational pain that more or less is “you”. Do you return to the code that you know, and that knows you? Or do you ascend to an alternate vehicle of Self? One that knows no loop, in any common way. This is what is fascinating about the sheer volume of fights Sylvie has had, and what makes her special beyond what many will know. There is a certain Groundhog day process that the soul must undergo. A certain boredom that comes from inescapable repetition, that in the context of violence breeds a certain discovery. The discovery comes straight out of the nature of Pain and the Body. The sheer, rote mashing of the self in violence, in search of art produces something…a perspective, and ultimately a certain kind of release. A release into the Possible.

But we are ever left with the question of what we do when that sing-song tune comes round again, the dolorous ditty we hum in our sleep, the thing that stamped us.

This is the most incredible journey.

So one carves oneself into a maze, perhaps. The wall of you, the spaces, stretching out with the aid of the artifice of martial form. One constructs a labyrinth of freedoms, full of dead ends and false openings. Because you are weaving out of the very form of the Body, the thing that sheers the physical to the mental and back – Pain – the freedom of you movement under duress, in high repetition, as a certain unquestionable quality, ultimately a grace. But you cannot learn this I suspect, without fighting, and fighting into utmost repetition towards release.

Link to post
Share on other sites

12-31

Good article on the Rousey disappearance.  To me this was just a terribly sad event. Long ago did Ronda Rousey lose me as a fan - and I was a fan - it probably was when she viciously attacked Cris Cyborg's femininity that I just felt that she had lost her way as a person. She was no longer the Door-Opener. She was the Door Guardian. But to see her lose like this just rocked me. Not for her, but for female fighting in general. Clearly this was a person who trained damn hard for this fight. Her rocked-out body was put on display, as a kind proof of work, but as she wobbled under what really were endless, and pretty basic 1-2, 2-1 combinations and her aura of not only possible invincibility - which was already gone - but her impression as an actually highly skilled fighter just melted away, strike after strike, what was exposed was not the fraud of Ronda, but really just how far female fighting has to go. There was a HUGE hole in front of Ronda's left side and Nunes drove a bus through it. Ronda had no belief in her front side, and never had. She was a Roman solider without a shield, but nobody before really had exposed it, not like this. This is nearly a literal example of The Emperor's Clothes, where "clothes" are the techniques you wear into battle. This whole time she had been fighting like this and nobody really saw, not like this.

I'm sure the hyperbole is going to be lavished on Nunes, who knows, she may be vaulted into the ether like her sister Joanna Champion, who is hailed as The Best Striker in the UFC, by some, for her rather elementary but relentless 1-2s. People will want to elevate her because it would help explain Rousey's loss. They did the same with Holm. No, Nunes shows amazing energy and heart, is skilled in many ways, but is not an elite striker in the general sense of what boxers can do. What she did to Rousey was basically to drive that bus straight through that hole. Female fighting is still in its Rock-Paper-Sissors stage, where if you can do one thing pretty well you can beat another person who does another thing pretty well, and you can look really good doing it.

But what is really sad to me is that Rousey clearly trained hard. She must have. It's in her character as much as we can know. But she trained around the huge hole right in front of her on her left side, failing to even address it in a significant way under pressure. For her that is tragic, because this fight will make her look like a fraud. It will diminish so much of what she accomplished, and really the accomplishments of those who lost to her as well. She was made to look UN-skilled. I can't imagine what this fight will do to her own enjoyment of her own career for the rest of her life, especially under the withering and unsavory hatred of MMA fans, many of whom will never let her live down that she sat on the throne for so long...and then looked like this. All because of training. What we saw out there was simply her training and nothing more. It didn't have to be this way, that is what is sad to me. 

 

More of my thoughts on the state of female fighting, and the "Natural" Inferiority of Women

Link to post
Share on other sites

12-31

Good article on the Rousey disappearance.  To me this was just a terribly sad event. Long ago did Ronda Rousey lose me as a fan - and I was a fan - it probably was when she viciously attacked Cris Cyborg's femininity that I just felt that she had lost her way as a person. She was no longer the Door-Opener. She was the Door Guardian. But to see her lose like this just rocked me. Not for her, but for female fighting in general. Clearly this was a person who trained damn hard for this fight. Her rocked-out body was put on display, as a kind proof of work, but as she wobbled under what really were endless, and pretty basic 1-2, 2-1 combinations and her aura of not only possible invincibility - which was already gone - but her impression as an actually highly skilled fighter just melted away, strike after strike, what was exposed was not the fraud of Ronda, but really just how far female fighting has to go. There was a HUGE hole in front of Ronda's left side and Nunes drove a bus through it. Ronda had no belief in her front side, and never had. She was a Roman solider without a shield, but nobody before really had exposed it, not like this. This is nearly a literal example of The Emperor's Clothes, where "clothes" are the techniques you wear into battle. This whole time she had been fighting like this and nobody really saw, not like this.

I'm sure the hyperbole is going to be lavished on Nunes, who knows, she may be vaulted into the ether like her sister Joanna Champion, who is hailed as The Best Striker in the UFC, by some, for her rather elementary but relentless 1-2s. People will want to elevate her because it would help explain Rousey's loss. They did the same with Holm. No, Nunes shows amazing energy and heart, is skilled in many ways, but is not an elite striker in the general sense of what boxers can do. What she did to Rousey was basically to drive that bus straight through that hole. Female fighting is still in its Rock-Paper-Sissors stage, where if you can do one thing pretty well you can beat another person who does another thing pretty well, and you can look really good doing it.

But what is really sad to me is that Rousey clearly trained hard. She must have. It's in her character as much as we can know. But she trained around the huge hole right in front of her on her left side, failing to even address it in a significant way under pressure. For her that is tragic, because this fight will make her look like a fraud. It will diminish so much of what she accomplished, and really the accomplishments of those who lost to her as well. She was made to look UN-skilled. I can't imagine what this fight will do to her own enjoyment of her own career for the rest of her life, especially under the withering and unsavory hatred of MMA fans, many of whom will never let her live down that she sat on the throne for so long...and then looked like this. All because of training. What we saw out there was simply her training and nothing more. It didn't have to be this way, that is what is sad to me. 

 

More of my thoughts on the state of female fighting, and the "Natural" Inferiority of Women

This sums it up for me.  I didn't watch until this morning US time.  I lost love for Ronda too when she started the gender bashing.  I also still see her as a hero who is willing to be an anti-hero, to be a cocky villain (as Ali was) in order to consciously bring massive attention to women's fighting.  I love Nunes.  The UFC ignoring her was such intense, blatant racial and sexual disrespect it was appalling.  Nunes' flawless indifference to those social realities was really beautiful to me - i mean an out lesbian champion in contrast to the gender basher - it was too much not to want her to win.  None of this has anything to do with actual fighting, except that the beautiful, relentless 1/2s by Nunes were kind of.. restorative.  Simplicity and basics.  <3  Thanks for writing this.  I don't want to haunt social media and say "yeah but" and try and explain why its sad, this loss.  So you did it for me; appreciate it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just telling my dad in an email what a shame it is that in fighting sports people are allowed so few "mistakes." The undefeated fighter in the West is a crazy phenomenon, in the sense that fans have such a fascination for it. Rousey has two losses, but out of 14 fights. Fourteen fucking fights. How can you be a master of anything you've only done 14 times? As a Judoka she has, what?, hundreds of matches? The comparison isn't even a comparison. I'm closing out 2016 with 169 fights and I'm just barely inching into being "good." 

Kevin always reminds me that wins make you look better than you are and losses make you look worse than you are. I just hope that Nunes gets the challenges and accolades she is due; I also hope that we don't forget what a hero Rousey has been for ushering in women to the UFC... even if she didn't do it perfectly, even if it's still heavily flawed, even if she was a dick to so many other women in the process. I don't want perfect, I want persistence. I reckon she'll retire off of this, but the main focus now is keeping that fire alight for more women and more divisions to gain traction.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was so happy for Nunes, she is so cool. I think she will be an even better ambassador for female fights than Ronda. Hopefully we get to see Nunes vs Cyborg one day.

 

Did anyone here catch the Rizin NYE events? There were definitely some rocked out female bodies on display. They are very open towards the masculine female body type there:

 

Gabi Garcia:

 

674583758.jpg

 

Rin Nakai:

 

maxresdefault.jpg

 

Jazzy Alpha Female:

 

alphafemale_elbow.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

2-24

Well, this diary writing process just isn't working out how I hoped it would, so I'm just going to have to use the thread haphazardly, to note and semi-explore thoughts that come to me. And the topic today unfortunately follows upon some giant female masculinity images, posted above, so it might be misconstrued (nothing against those images, but they are not the direction of where I am heading).

I've wanted to write about what might be called Sylvie's trans-gender project, but in order to appreciate my vector in this it may be worth people reading my essay written 10 years ago:

Wasps, Orchids, Beetles and Crickets: A Menagerie of Change in Transgender Identification

It contains the architecture of my thought: how mapping across genus can effect transformative becoming, and a clue to how I see Sylvie's project. I'm going to take the short cut here, and not re-trace most of the concepts I'm working with. I'm using this space somewhat selfishly, as a note-taking reservoir, posting semi-publicly (as few know about this corner of the internet), in case these thoughts will be of interest to others.

The most important concept here is one of the diagnostic analogy used by Deleuze and Guatarri, that of the Workhorse and the Ox. Here are some secondary texts that seek to illuminate this diagnostic, along with the concept of the Body Without Organs:

Workhorse-and-an-Ox-Deleuze.png

 

and:

Workhorse-and-an-Ox-2a-Deleuze.png

Workhorse-and-an-Ox-2b-Deleuze.png

 

and then on the Body Without Organs (BwO):

 

Workhorse-and-an-Ox-3-Deleuze.png

 

This is what is incomparable in what Sylvie is doing and has done so far. By undergoing training regimes very close to, and many times surpassing in intensification, those used to inculcate young males as fighters, and submitting to fighting regimes that really surpass in frequency almost any Thai male examples (165+ fights in 5 years), she has performed and IS performing a mapping that is incredibly in-tense, outlining - one might say - on (her/the) Body Without Organs a cartographic transformation, across gender, across culture, across age, much like Deleuze and Guattari might prioritize the "becoming-woman" of desiring streams ("...becoming-woman or the molecular woman is the girl herself"), inversely the mapping is the "becoming-warrior", the molecular man as boy, submitting oneself to the outrageous process of masculinization as fighter to map a frequency/fate onto the body, the electrify it, to create the masculine egg surface ultimately without molarity, producing only the fight...the apparition in the ring, where fear and desire clash creating a shore, a sketched out line of becoming. This is where the Ox and the Workhorse come into play. No matter her origins, her scale of affluence (by culture) or deprivation (by gender norm), in submitting to this project, this kind of becoming-horse, what matters is not comparisons. It is not about "good" and "bad" copies of the original. This is about surpassing, or really under-passing copies and approximations: (ie, not about "fighting well", or "using good technique" or "fighting like a Thai", blah, blah, blah, all those goals). Very possibly no fighter in history has attempted this kind of catalyzation, to this degree. Ironically enough, this IS really the story of Kickboxer (the vapid JCVD male fantasy), but taken to nth and serious degree, its perverse literalization and de-mythologized potential. It is where the Ox and the Workhorse have the most in common, despite sedimented, (obvious) molar (organized) dissimilarities, genealogies. Ultimately this is a project of ritual and rite, and maybe is only half-way done at this point, knowing that it can never be "done", throwing oneself "up" and "out", hinging techniques like trapezes, along a line of fear, consolidated by commitment.

 

No doubt this is just meandering jargon to some - but this is my sketchbook.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry the images are so big, I can edit them out if you want. I just went with the sizes readily available on google image search. Another great entry Kevin! Sylvie really is bursting into the stratosphere on her epic journey. Maybe one day JCVD's daughter will be playing Sylvie on the big screen.

 

:) :) :) No worries about the size at all. It was only to remark that the trans-gender I am speaking of stands somewhat in contrast with the large, masculinization of the female body images above it. It's a very loaded term these days, and I'm using it here uniquely...or at least with a kind of literalization.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...


×
×
  • Create New...