What can I say about Master K that isn’t an incredible understatement? To me, he’s a legend in his own right and the man who gave me my Muay Thai heart. We found Master K at the start of my Muay Thai path and really everything – all of this – started in the “basement sessions,” as people who have followed my YouTube from back in the day 8 years ago call them. Master K is very, very Thai and an Old School gentleman to boot – but to this day I have never met anyone quite like him, even though I’ve crossed thousands of kilometers of Thailand in these 4 years+ and trained under so many different krus, arjans and legends. He’s just… incredible.
As the story goes, as young kid in Prapradang, just outside of Bangkok where his father was Mayor, Master K begged his mom for a heavy bag so he could practice Muay Thai. Kids lose interest quickly, so his mom gave him a rice sack to kick and he kicked through it – and another one – until finally she sent him to learn from his uncle. And from that time to now, at the age of 78, Master K is kicking anything and everything to feed his love for Muay Thai. He was a fighter, with something like 79 fights (and just 4 losses), but Master K’s love for just doing Muay Thai is what is so amazing about him. In his 70’s, training himself in his basement at the wee hours of the morning and matching his footwork to the erratic rhythms of Jazz on the radio, Master K is still working on his technique. He’s distilled it in some ways, making every movement more refined and beautiful than what you’d see in a ring, but he’s also honing it. He told me not too long ago that his right kick still isn’t as good as his left, so he continues to work toward balancing those scales. Absolutely incredible. Some people wonder where my training ethic and passion come from? Master K was the birthplace of my Muay Thai. How could I not turn out how I did? He gave me the example of his heart.
Master K at 78, video above
These videos were posted by him on November 3rd, 2016. Master K’s kicks aren’t only impressive “for a 78-year-old;” they’re astounding for someone that age, but they’re impressive for their power, speed, balance and skill period. I showed these videos to my trainer at Petchrungruang, Pi Nu, who is only turning 44 but already gripes about being old all the time. His eyes got wide even before I told him Master K’s age and he said, “แข็งแรงมากเลย!” (really, so strong!). That’s without even coming in contact with Master K, whose body is forged out of iron from decades of training – if you kick him you end up hurting yourself on all his sharp edges: shins, forearms, elbows, knees. Anytime I hurt my opponents, sparring partners or trainers with my steel shins on a checked kick, I smile and think, “one step closer to being Master K.”
For those who don’t know my early sessions with Master K – I began training with him in his New Jersey basement when he was 69, and left for Thailand when he was 73 – here is a YouTube playlist someone made of much of our work together.