Above is my vlog today about the use of magical Muay Thai herbs prescribed to me by Arjan Pi.
About 15 minutes before I step into the ring, usually when the Ram Muay music is playing for the fight before mine, lately I’ve chewed a tiny ball of magical, herbal medicine prescribed by my Sak Yant master: Arjan Pi Bangkrating. The pellets are very light and dry, like tea leaves rolled into a ball. The taste is bitter and herbal, the texture a little bit like woodchips (spongy and fibrous), and little pieces stick into my teeth so that I’m pulling them out with my tongue for the full 15 minutes before getting into the ring. I don’t know what’s in them – I don’t know what they’re called (Arjan Pi called them yaa – medicine) – but the experience makes my head feel a bit buzzy, almost like the first little buzz off a cigarette or caffeine if you’re not accustomed to taking these stimulants. After the initial and very short-lived buzz there is just a sense of un-sticky focus. Thoughts don’t get stuck or repeat, they just flow. I don’t think ahead or behind or anything other than what I’m doing and my ultimate intentions; it’s very in the moment.
In December of 2015 (about 4 months ago) I happened to be in Chiang Mai for a fight and my Sak Yant master, Arjan Pi, called me to come to his office. When I went, I was little surprised to find that he was proposing giving me 8 Sak Yant all at once. It was kind of a constellation of Sak Yant to boost invulnerability, including some hand tattoos that he’d learned from his own teacher, Arjan O. It seems he had consulted with Arjan O specifically about me, and this recipe of 8 yants were specific Muay Thai oriented yants that had been the prescription. In addition, Arjan Pi gave me five of these little magical Muay Thai pellets, instructing me to take them before fights. Surely he doesn’t realize how often I fight because five pellets would last me about a month, so I was selective in which fights I used them for. Generally, I understood them to be provisioned for fighting opponents who are much bigger or very strong, which is pretty much why I was saving them.
A month ago I fought against former world champion Duangdaonoi, at the Wan Wai Nai Khanomtom celebration in Ayutthaya. It was a big fight for me because of the event itself and I’ve been trying to fight Duangdaonoi for probably a year already, but the schedule never came through. She’s about my size – taller and weighing in one kilo heavier, but generally speaking, the same size. Given our equality I didn’t think to use one of the pellets for this fight. As it turned out, I was cut in the 3rd round, the doctor let me continue and I went on to take a very dominant victory. Perhaps because he’d let me continue despite a bad cut and then I went on to win, the doctor took a photo of me with his phone after the fight and that image got circulated pretty broadly on Thai social media channels.
The next day, Arjan Pi wrote to me and asked if I’d been cut in the fight. I affirmed that and he asked if I’d taken the medicine. I explained that I hadn’t because my opponent wasn’t bigger and stronger, which resulted in him chastising me for underestimating her. That was embarrassing for me, because he basically called me out as having looked down on her – which I didn’t mean to do at all – and it was only in being put to it that I realized I had underestimated her. Not personally, she was world champion and I both know and appreciate this, but Arjan said to me, “size has nothing to do with skill.” True enough. He told me to come see him if I run out of the medicine and I agreed to do so, as well as to stop being so selective in which opponents I think “deserve” the limited supply I have.
This was interesting for me, and a good teaching moment. The medicine, like my Sak Yant, is a physical manifestation of something much deeper. My Sak Yant are visual meditations on characteristics I strive for or values I already have and want to manifest. The medicine for me is similar: certainly it literally has an effect to chew and swallow whatever it is that goes into the pellet, but by taking it I am also accepting into myself whatever it is I think the medicine does. All medicine, from homeopathy to radiation therapy, is somewhat connected to the placebo-effect. It’s the same with Sak Yant, the same with prayer, the same with training: you have to believe in what you’re doing. So I try to think about what this medicine is meant to create, which for me is a kind of unstoppable spirit. I certainly don’t give up anyway, but in this fight with Duangdaonoi I became stuck and single-minded in a way that is not in line with the free-moving, unstoppable spirit I wish to host. In the second round I had almost knocked her out, so when I came out in the third I was just thinking, “knock her out, knock her out,” completely stuck on that thought. That tunnel-vision made me charge forward with my arms open and I got hit by a spinning back elbow that sliced me open above my left eye. Stupid mistake and one that I made by being unfocused and micro-focused at the same time. I think at this moment I didn’t believe in the flow and I tried too hard to drive a straight line through a moving river. You have to allow for flexibility, which is the overall feeling I experience from eating the medicine before fights: that I’m moving with the flow of things rather than fighting against the current. I know I can get that effect without the medicine, but the pellets are maybe a way to get acquainted with the feeling in order to be able to return to that on my own.
the 8 yants in short video above
What is unique and beautiful about these magical Muay Thai herbs is that they are connected directly to my sak yant for me, and came out of my teacher thinking about me and my growth. Their prescription becomes a composite whole of what I’m trying to become, as a fighter and a person.
So that’s where I’m at with the magical pellets from Arjan Pi. I took them for every fight this month and I’ve done well, in terms of feeling free in the fights and hosting that unstoppable spirit for stretches of time. I only have one left, which might tempt me to “save it” for a special opponent, but that goes against what Arjan made sure to instruct me on: never underestimate an opponent. Any of them. So I’ll eat it at my next fight and hope to be able to go see Arjan soon for the next step in this learning process.
This was my vlog on the day I got my Sak Yant constellation and received the magical herbs from Arjan Pi:
You can read all my articles on sak yant here.