above, enable Closed Captions for English (CC) – 10 minutes of my interview with the great Sirimongkol, you can watch the full translated interview by supporting the project here.
One of the things I’m trying to do with the Preserve The Legacy Muay Thai Library project is to create more interview opportunities with legends of the sport. It’s a chance for the world to hear directly about the lives of past stars and to let them speak for themselves. This involves not only being able to sit down and talk with these amazing men, but also arranging and paying for translations. Your patron support helps make all of this possible.
This is the full interview with 1972 Fighter of the Year Sirimongkol Looksiripat, a dear man who unfortunately died within the year after this recording. As such it is probably the only translated interview in his long and distinguished career in Muay Thai. The interview was already included in the full Muay Thai Library session with Sirimongkol and General Tunwakom, with my voiceover paraphrase. But I thought it was important to also create a translated, subtitled version for the sake of history. You can read the English subtitles by turning the CC playback option ON.
You can also watch Sirimongkol in the original General Tunwakom session here, in which he was an assistant.
A special thank you to patron Prin Amorapanth who worked hard on the translation of the interview. We are all together preserving the legacy, and videos like this are part of that.
The English Subtitle Interview is part of a larger session that included the Muay Lertrit Master General Tunwakom, Sirimongkol’s friend. You can watch the full session as a patron. Below is an extended description found in that Muay Thai Library Patreon post:
For the last years of his life, Sirimongkol was working as an assistant to General Tunwakom at the Thailand Culteral Center, teaching the Lertrit style of Muay Thai. General Tunwakom is the last surviving direct-student of the man who invented Lertrit, and he’s trying hard to pass on that heritage to sincere students. We have General Tunwakom in the Muay Thai Library (Sirimongkol appears in that footage as well, but not teaching his own style) and he shows more techniques in this session as well, with Sirimongkol popping in here and there to help demonstrate or add a note on how much damage a counter can do. Their relationship was pretty wonderful and in doing the voice over for this session, I was reaffirmed in the sense of urgency in the Preserve the Legacy Project – not only in archiving the techniques and styles which are disappearing from Thailand, but also documenting the men who carry and express those techniques. General Tunwakom is looking for serious students to carry on the legacy of the Lertrit style. If you or someone you know is interested, please click on this link and contact the WMA. Some things to look out for in this video:
- In Orthodox vs Southpaw stance, as the opponent is kicking you take a deep step away from the kick and at the same time land your own kick to the standing leg of the opponent. Sirimongkol says that it’s about who can withstand better, and with a kind of glimmer in his eyes says that it hurts the standing leg way more than the opponent’s middle kick can hurt you, since the impact to their leg takes out some of the power anyway.
- Accuracy: in our interview, Sirimongkol notes that the secret to his punches were their accuracy. He said everyone likes to punch the face and the head, but he hit the button on the jaw every time. He’d punch the body to open the chin, punch at the chin to open the body, etc.
- “Do Naa”: Sirimongkol is one of these fighters who demands you look in your opponent’s face. He says you have a complete sight picture, but also that you can read someone’s intentions from their eyes.
- Kicking out the standing leg on a knee. This requires a nice step over, more so than kicking out the leg on a kick, because you pivot outside of the knee and kick out the standing leg from behind.
- Parrying in the clinch: Sirimongkol said he wasn’t afraid of Muay Khao at all because he never let them lock him in the clinch. He shows me how to parry and disturb every attempt at grabbing his neck.
- Sirimongkol insists that counter-attacking is his favored method. He never went first, but instead let the opponent strike and then he’d snuff, dodge and counter. This is the same method for Lertrit, which uses a lot of bone-on-bone blocking to do damage to muscles and joints in the block, which then flows directly into the counter.
- General Tanwakom’s reversals: General shows me how to reverse direction quickly, whether you make contact on the first direction or not. First he shows me with elbows, cutting on a regular “fan sok” horizontal elbow, but opening the cut further on the way back. I also struggle with a missed kick that then gets reversed to another kick or teep on the way back.
- But all of this is a matter of using economical, balanced footwork and weight transfer, which we work on at the end of the session. It’s simple, but not intuitive. It requires a great deal of practice to make it automatic, but the rationale behind keeping everything grounded works wonderfully well for such a solid, defensive and simultaneously offensive style.
In memory of Sirimongkol my husband and I were honored to attend his cremation ceremony, marking the passing of this remarkable man. Kevin made a short, beautiful film of the event, that we posted on Patreon. There are some remarkable moments in it, including Sagat’s Ram Muay tribute before Sirimongkol’s casket.
watch the 20 minute film here
Thank you to everyone who helps make this kind of documentation possible. Usually there is an explanation here to how you can send tips or thank you donations from Krus and Legends that you have learned something from and appreciate. If you would like to send a donation to Sirimongkol’s family I’d be glad to send it onto them. Just message $5 or more via PayPal to the address firstname.lastname@example.org, please in the “add a note” section specify “for Sirimongkol”. I will transfer the funds and cover the transfer fees on my end.
KRU FUND: additionally, 5% of all Patreon pledges go into my Kru Fund, and is directed back to the Krus and ex-fighters who have helped make this documentary Library possible: http://8limbs.us/muay-thai-thailand/starting-the-kru-fund
Some stills from the session: