Andy is a legend in the Muay Thai community of westerners who come through Thailand. His gym in the north, Lanna Muay Thai, seems to have influenced countless gyms and the folks who trained under Andy over the past 20+ years often cycle back to work with him again. He is as close to the “Guru on the Mountain” as many come in terms of a trainer and mentor.
Certainly Andy has had an enormous impact on my own Muay Thai. He was my first trainer when I moved to Thailand 4 years ago and I cherished our mornings together. I’d come to the gym in Chiang Mai before sunrise and we’d drive out to one of his famous running spots: the lake, the waterfall, the tortuous hill runs. Then we’d get back to the gym, just as first light was breaking, and we’d go through some pads and then a number of Andy’s conditioning practices, very similar to what’s seen in this video. Andy is an avid reader and watcher of online videos to find new or traditional movements that he can try out. He’s his own test subject and he is always developing to more attuned, better routines. He’s a living, learning teacher and just looking at his muscles and movements lets you know that his systems work. And more than anything he’s incredibly gifted at breaking techniques down to their purest element. He’ll correct the way your foot is landing on a kick and suddenly, BAM!, there’s your power. Then he’ll give you a few body strength drills that help you land that angle every time. He’s brilliant.
The night before filming this video I’d had a fight in Hua Hin. That’s a long way from Chiang Mai, where Andy was the father figure of the Lanna Muay Thai camp and Hill Camp for nearly 30 years. He’s come down to the Cong Carter gym in Hua Hin to help raise up the young Thai boys to be fighters, something Andy certainly missed when the boys at Lanna all became young men and there was no next generation to follow. It was pretty amazing to have Andy in my corner again. So the next morning we drove over to the CongCarter gym to see Andy and get some work in. I wasn’t hurt at all from my fight, but even if I’d been sore I would go see Andy – you don’t pass up those opportunities. It was raining on the tin roof and it was just Andy, Kevin, me and Jaidee in the gym. We talked a lot and Andy got excited about showing me some of his latest routines, which Kevin recorded nearly all of. I’d lamented to Andy that the “trifecta” he’d taught me 4 years ago went to the wayside when we weren’t training together anymore and I could no longer do a back bridge. I’ve lost flexibility due to increased strength, I believe almost entirely the result of clinching to the extent that I do, and Andy set right to work getting me back to a place where I can rebuild the suppleness of my muscles. It’s important for guarding against injury as well as for recovery. Believe in Andy, man… I did the bridge within a few minutes and I’ve been trying to do it on my own for quite a while now. He gets your mind right. The body just falls in line.
We just let the camera run for the near hour together, you can see the full video – which was originally Live Streamed on my Facebook Page – at the bottom of the article, but here is a segment of exercises focused on Muay Thai movements:
(above) Muay Thai Lunges and Squats
Muay Thai Back Lunges and Squats
One of my favorite exercises that Andy showed me (above) was one he developed out of watching Buakaw do some kind of lunge with a “land mine.” (I asked what that was, it’s a floor piece into which the end of a bar can be balanced and then you add weight to the top of the bar and can twist, lift, whatever. Lots of range of movement.) So Andy took that and ran with it, as he does, and developed it with the equipment he had access to up at his Hill Camp – which is no equipment at all, haha.
He starts with a deeps squat and as he comes up he transitions into a shadow knee. No steps, just a knee right in place. Then you do the other side. He comes from the squat into a teep – a really reaching, long teep, not a snappy one – and does kicks as well. The important thing is to begin the strike as you are coming up, not once you’ve already stood completely. It’s to transition from the deep squat into the strike all as one movement, as if you’re kneeing or teeping or kicking out of the squat, not after the squat. Then he does all this again with a backwards lunge instead of the squat.
What I like about this is that 1) it’s so hard because it forces you to balance from all kinds of uncomfortable angles; and 2) there’s a purity to the movement when you make it all one thing instead of a squat or lunge and then the stike. When you’re striking out of the squat or the lunge, you’re really exaggerating the movement of the strike and you have to do it kind of slow and control it the whole time. You can’t adjust where your foot is, you have to adjust all your weight around where you already have it instead. It’s fantastic for balance and, same as how doing squats or situps on a stability ball forces you to fire all these muscles to keep the form, it really forces you to think about the form of the technique all the way through, from start to finish.
Watch the full hour together here:
click to view, above
Here is a Google Map of Cong Carter Gym in Hua Hin Thailand: