The above is my vlog shot two days ago. I’d intended to finish up training with a good run on the stairs at the temple, but there was a service going on. I’d just had a grand time listening to Pi Nu relating his “kids these days are soft” story at the gym and before finding an alternative to the stairs had to sit and share what I’d heard about his childhood. I’m a sucker for “when I was your age” stories, and I find these generational differences in Muay Thai so interesting. Pi Nu doesn’t train his 15-year-old son Bank, who is a Lumpinee fighter raised in the family gym, in the way he himself was trained. And despite the notion that kids these days have it so much easier, Pi Nu sees that as a positive – just maybe a bit of head-shaking when kids are lazy. There is a sense of his son having a better life, but also a sense that the old way of life and effort has been passed by. This is so common between generations that straddle an uptick in economic class: the parent progressed through his work ethic and the progress is passed on but the work ethic isn’t. You want your kids to have everything, but you also want them to have the character that not having everything created in yourself.
It’s hard to imagine that the Petchrungruang cement-lined neighborhood was a farm with fields and animals only a few decades ago – there is a tiny chicken “farm” next door, chickens raised for fighting, nothing you would see from the street. But even to this day there are strong divisions between areas where Pattaya tourism and the beach have their playground, and where Thai ways of life are still grounded in older generations. They still feel worlds apart, even when they’re a few streets down from one another.