photo credit above: Tom Brown
The big news is that I’ve got my first official sponsor, but first let me get caught up on what’s happening.
This is pretty exciting news that grew out of the tremendous response from my readers, friends and family on Patreon. 8limbs.us is still in danger of having to shut down, and unfortunately will unless it reaches a point of self-sufficiency, but reader pledges – $1, $5, sometimes much more – added up to give a real boost to the life of this site in the last few weeks. This started the momentum to make my writing from Thailand permanently possible. And now Nak Muay Nation has jumped in to just push it all that much higher. We’re already nearly 70% there, a little more than half of that from readers and friends, and almost half from Nak Muay Nation.
The goal is to remain here in Thailand and reliably take 8limbs.Us Muay Thai journalism to a new level: to move from being the passionate amateur blogging enthusiast to a working professional writer. What is exciting about Patreon is that it is grassroots support, which means instead of writing for a company and editor who I have to bounce ideas off of, I’m literally writing for you, my readers. If I can reach just about $1000 per month, it can sustain staying in Thailand and continuing all the content for 8limbs that I’m currently producing, plus some. What’s better, because Patreon is a monthly pledge, I basically have to earn your enthusiasm month by month, prove 8limbs.us’s value as a resource, be meaningful. It’s never been about traffic or “likes”. It’s about creating relationships, seriously talking about Muay Thai, and changing what is possible for women and men all over the world, in their gyms, or in their basements. What I didn’t think about when I started Patreon, but realize now, is that this means that you (my reader) and I (your author) are in a kind of conversation now. 8limbs.us becomes responsive to you. For me this means that I have to really push the quality and the frequency of my writing (my aim is 3-4 posts a week). Before I would write just out of a compulsion to share, now to this motivation is added that I need to write because I have an obligation to my readers, to give real value, week after week, month after month. While this is a lot and requires a lot from me, it also really excites me and has me planning all kinds of topics and productivity that I might not otherwise have done. I have to raise the quality of 8limbs.us.
Nak Muay Nation an Official Sponsor of 8limbs.Us
Nak Muay Nation has completely jumped in on the vibe of grassroots journalism here. Sean and Lawrence were really bold about wanting to be a part of the sustaining and development of 8limbs.us. In fact, it’s no joke, their Patreon sponsorship is literally keeping me here in Thailand to write. I hope to add 2 more official sponsors in order to be able to secure staying here and continuing on, but already this is a huge change for me. They, and my readers and friends, are giving me a chance to continue.
My attitude towards sponsorship is this, just to be frank: one of the most difficult things is that fighters need sponsors – and I am a full-time fighter in Thailand – but when a fighter talks about whomever is investing support, it painfully comes off incredibly fake, especially in social media. Even if that fighter truly uses the product, it always feels like a sell. It’s one thing to wear a logo, but even if the fighter sincerely likes the product, and sincerely values the people they are working with, any mention of this kind of tape, or that kind of protein, or whatever just sounds like fingernails on the chalkboard; at least to me. This is no fault of the fighters at all, it’s the medium and the expectation. But this is a problem, mostly because it tunes out followers, and it certainly doesn’t help the sponsor. Hopefully my relationship between me and my sponsors will be somehow different. First of all, technically it is my writing at 8limbs.us that is being sponsored, not me as a fighter – though everything I do as a fighter is the foundation of my writing. That helps. Authors can approach things differently than athletes might. The second thing is, I think I can only really be sponsored by things I really care about. In my sharing of a sponsor I have to be sharing something that matters to me. If I can’t communicate why it matters, then I’m failing. I’m interested in what lies behind a sponsor.
What this sponsorship means to me. First of all, sponsorship is about people. It’s personal. Sean and Lawrence are super passionate people, who for a long time put out free content about Muay Thai and then have made the bold leap of trying to do it for a living. They and I are 100% the same in this. I’ve reached a point where I have to do this sustainably if I’m going to continue. My 8limbs.us content is, and will continue to be, free but I need to rely on the generous pledges and commitment of others to continue. Lawrence Kenshin has actually been in my corner for a long time now. His “Drowning the Genius” breakdown of my Queen’s Birthday fight last year, against the current 100 lb WPMF world champion Saya Ito was the very first time that someone in the informal Muay Thai male media took me seriously as a fighter. Quite honestly, when I booked that fight against Saya Ito I thought I was probably fighting out of my league. She had a huge name in the female Muay Thai world and had already beaten fighters I looked up to. But the win was dramatic and it showed me just how potent my clinch fighting could be – and I still barely knew what I was really doing in clinch yet (!). Lawrence’s breakdown, though, did something to me. It inspired me. It turned a great personal moment into a golden moment, it let me see myself as larger than life, and this is something I think all fighters need. It is said that the warrior fights the war, and the bard gilds it in song, turning war into glory. Put a bit more simply, Jack Dempsey said, “I was a good fighter, it was the writers who made me great.” Lawrence is the bard to the warriors of modern fighting, he was my very first poet. To be a part of his bold endeavor to make a Muay Thai community like no other is important to me. He helped me, I want to help him.
At the face of it Sean Fagan (Muay Thai Guy) and I may seem dissimilar, but actually we have a lot in common, which is something that makes this sponsorship exciting. We both have been blogging Muay Thai for a long time, over 6 years. We each have found our voice, our readership, and we each passionately want to help spread Muay Thai across the world, beyond the walls of gyms, beyond countries and languages. We both really love thinking about and talking about technique. Beyond this, we overlap in some history. Sean trains out of, and is a coach of Stockade Muay Thai gym in Kingston (formerly Black and Blue MMA). I began my Muay Thai journey living in Fort Montgomery up the Hudson Valley. When I was having so many problems finding sparring because of where I lived, back in the early days, I would drive the 60 minutes north to Kingston and spar with current Stockade coach Michelle Duff (Black and Blue MMA). This sparring with Michelle, who was close enough to my size, and my visits up there was a precious experience for me as I was just learning to fight. This was an oasis experience for me. My connection to Stockade Muay Thai goes further than this. Dana Hoey who has been one of my most ardent and thoughtful supporters, someone who always brings deep thought and introspection on the Muay Thai Roundtable Forum, is a member of Stockade in Kingston. While I’m here all the way over in Thailand, living out the dream, Muay Thai history binds me to Kingston and to Sean’s gym. Being a part of Sean’s growing community of Nak Muay Nation is a natural.
That a woman will be a part of the presentation of technique is also no small thing. Not that it’s me, any woman.
What This Means for 8limbs.Us
First of all, it means that this site is now not only powered by readers, it’s powered by Nak Muay Nation itself. For those who don’t know, Nak Muay Nation is a Premium Content ($39/month) Muay Thai member site that is filled with instructional videos to help preserve and communicate the knowledge of techniques, as well very detailed Lawrence Kenshin fight and technique breakdowns, boasting a private Muay Thai forum, and lots of new possibilities, some of which I’m going to be a part of. It’s like a Muay Thai university.
On my end it means only improvements to 8limbs.Us. Be rest assured, currently free 8limbs.Us content is not now going to go behind a membership paywall, in fact it’s the opposite. Sean and Lawrence’s Patreon support means that now I can start doing 8limbs.Us content I couldn’t have tackled before, and it’s still free. More in depth articles, more technique sharing. They are making this site look feasible, something to invest in. And that is exciting. For me this means that 8limbs.Us is going to grow along side Nak Muay Nation.
A Correspondent for NMN
But the cool part is this. Part of the sponsorship includes that Nak Muay Nation has basically now hired me as a Thailand correspondent to help produce premium long form content for their members. The possibility of this probably grew out of my video journaling of extended sessions with legendary great Sakmongkol in 2014, as well as perhaps my Sylvie’s Tips where I try to share tips and techniques I run into through my training and experimentation. In any case, this is a great opportunity. This means that I have the freedom (and responsibility) to search out and help create Muay Thai world shares I just would not otherwise ever do, simply because of the time required. But now it’s my job – a kickass job. As a reader of 8limbs.Us you no doubt will also benefit from this as just creating this content is going to also provide opportunity to do more for you here, but this is a big step as a Muay Thai journalist for me. Monthly I’m going to be sharing Muay Thai insight to Nak Muay Nation members and will be collaborating with Lawrence on breakdowns of what I uncover. And this is contribution that I really hope will develop as Nak Muay Nation grows.
Fighters and coaches I’d like to try to bring to Nak Muay Nation members are – a hypothetical, working list:
- Sifu McInnes (WKO) – everything
- Sudsakorn (Sor. Klinmee) – everything
- Master Toddy (Master Toddy) – everything
- Kru Dam (Sitmonchai) – low kick
- Yodsanklai (Fairtex Pattaya) – everything
- Pon “The Elbow Poacher” (Petchrungruang) – elbows
- Dieselnoi (Master Toddy) – knees, clinch
- Tanadet “Poda” (Tor. Pran49) – Chiang Mai long clinch
- Andy Thomson (Doi Modt)
if you have any suggestions of wishlist subjects please message me or email me at sylvie AT 8limbs.us
These are to be long sessions broken down and maximized in collaboration with Lawrence, so that everything becomes clear and teachable for Nak Muay Nation members. Pretty cool stuff. I’ll still be doing Sylvie’s Tips for 8limbs.Us readers, probably even more so, this is just a unique and special correspondence project. And with all the work put in to producing the breakdowns, I reckon they’ll be incredibly helpful and informative teaching tools.
I also would like to share about these and other gyms on Nak Muay Nation, and bring the history of fight culture forward in long form interviews, and many other video share. There are lots of possibilities here. And as I go down this journalistic path, my personal Muay Thai journalism here is only going to get better.
Starting in November
The sponsorship starts officially in November, though I’m going to get started on it early as I’m a little excited. I’ll be fighting in a top with the Nak Muay Nation logo on it (all official sponsors are added to my fight top, Nak Muay Nation is my first). In the sidebar here on the site Nak Muay Nation support is celebrated because they literally are making the site possible. You’ll see me talking about Nak Muay Nation on Facebook because honestly I want to know what is possible there, so I’ll be exploring it too, just like you and as a member of that community I’m excited to see if NMN can change the face of how technique is learned, preserved and added to. Not to mention how the Muay Thai community is built.
What Is Nak Muay Nation?
Well, this is the crazy thing, I didn’t really even know what Nak Muay Nation was before Sean and Lawrence reached out to me. I of course knew who they were. Lawrence is the breakdown video expert, and Sean is the epic Muay Thai Guy; and I even knew that they had started a project, but I was just too busy to figure out what Nak Muay Nation is. Now that I’ve become a member and I’ve gotten to see what it’s about it all makes much more sense.
The core of Nak Muay Nation is probably Sean Fagan’s video tutorials. They start from very basic things like how to throw a jab or switch kick to advanced combinations, and tutorials are added every month. When you join NMN, and it’s a significant $39 a month, you get continually new tutorial content and written articles. As someone who currently puts up technique tips and gets a lot of feedback from them, not to mention the number of times people have written to me about how much my 100’s of videos with Master K have helped them, I can see big benefit in this. The truth about most gyms in the west is that even though your instructors are very good with the techniques that they know, this represents a very thin band of available techniques and instructions. They learned things one way, but in the world there is a huge library of ways of doing things in Muay Thai (not to mention other Martial Arts), and Nak Muay Nation is creating a kind of library. Even if your instructor is a former top Thai fighter (and I’ve had a few very good Thai fighter instructors) the technique is still narrow, and seeing it afresh, from a different presentation can just make things click.
Over here in Thailand most gyms are actually very diverse with techniques. Every trainer brings their own bag of tricks, and fighters create their own version out of what they are exposed to from their trainers, as well as their own natural tendencies. You are exposed to a lot of influences and you want different perspectives. Ultimately you create your own style out of endless optimal technique possibilities. This is very different than other martial art traditions where techniques are very specific, codified, and there is more or less “one proper way” to do them. This is one reason why other martial arts award belts for performing techniques, whereas because Muay Thai gyms in Thailand are more like fighter laboratories, there are no organized rankings. It’s about developing your fight style. I’ve written about my own path to discover my fight style: The Art of Choosing Your Muay Thai Fight Style it’s an important part of the Muay Thai journey. As a mentor of mine, Andy Thomson told me a long time ago: “There is not one Muay Thai, there are thousands. Everyone has their own Muay Thai.”
So thinking about, reading about, watching techniques is an important part of Muay Thai, especially in the west where there is less chance for broad exposure to different styles and techniques. I believe you want to reach beyond whomever is teaching you, not only to make sure that you don’t get pigeon-holed in a technique or an approach, but also to help better understand what it is what you are being taught in the first place. Even now, 10,000 miles and a few years away from Master K’s basement in NJ, my exposure to different techniques and fight experience in Thailand, brings me back to lessons I learned in the beginning, from him. The wider your knowledge, the more perspective you get on the basics themselves. Having access to a growing library like Nak Muay Nation is just the kind of resource to make the most of your gym experience.
Sean’s tutorials are super clean. Some of the best dependable and concise presentations I’ve seen. He has a flair for showing technique, and they are made in collaboration with Lawrence whose eye for detail and explanation is proven. It’s only 3 months old from launch, it’s just starting to grow. There is a curriculum which follows tutorials explained by Sean, which are made into courses, for instance: month 1 is “Boxing for Muay Thai,” month 2 is “Defensive Dominance,” and month 3 is “Southpaw.”
If you want to see what Sean’s instructional approach is like, here (below) is his low kick set up technique video which gives a sense of his style. It is shorter and more concise than what is found on Nak Muay Nation, but you get the idea. And below that are 40 free technique demonstration videos in a playlist. Because I’m surrounded by so much really great Thai technique here in Thailand, to be honest I hadn’t spent much time looking at what Sean had created. But it is really extensive. Check it out for yourself – even the free stuff is pretty interesting, and already I started applying one of the techniques on his channel (found yesterday) in my own training. It’s a resource:
One of the most unique features of Nak Muay Nation is that you can send in your fight or sparring match and have Lawrence Kenshin break it down, which is then shared for everyone’s benefits on the forums section. Behind all the technique is commitment to creating community itself, which I’m really into. Community is what really changes things, ourselves and others.
My long film content will compliment that growing library nicely. I also have had the additional experience of being in Muay Thai gyms in Thailand for over 3 years. A benefit of this is that while I’ve been surrounded by excellent technique, I’ve also seen how westerners struggle to learn it from how Thai’s teach or demonstrate it. There is a kind of natural gap between Thai instructional thinking, and western learning. I hope to fill in some of that gap when I can, for Nak Muay Nation members, which then Lawrence will be great bringing out.
You can read about all of the NMN offerings here: Nak Muay Nation Sign Up. I can’t personally vouch for all of this yet as I’m just starting out there, just like you would be, but it does look really good. As I discover the value of more of NMN I’ll be talking about it from real, practical fighter sense – but the investment is up to you. Like me on 8limbs.us, Nak Muay Nation has to earn its value every month, or risk losing support. That’s the kind of pressure that creates interesting, innovative work.
Improvements to 8limbs.Us
The commitment from both my readers and NMN already has produced some improvements of 8limbs.Us. This week we just moved the site, and the Roundtable forum, over to a new Linode VPS host. There was just too much downtime, and slow loads on the site. It was a necessary move for dependability and speed if 8limb.Us was going to continue, and it is already done. You should be having a better website experience.
There is also a new comment system added to the site this week. One of the pains of many sites is that it’s just difficult to login and comment on blog posts. We’ve added easy Facebook or Twitter login to comments here, so I’m looking forward to the 8limbs.Us conversation growing.
My site designer, who I finally have been able to pay, also added a new captcha to the Roundtable forum (a very cool puzzle piece version, no more looking at confused words or numbers), to cut out the Spam we were getting. The forum is looking lean and mean.
I’ll be writing soon about some giveaways for my Patreon reader supporters. It’s been my goal from the very beginning to just being as much of Thailand to my readers, and in this case it it literally a small piece of Thailand, a Genesha Amulet from Wat Sisupan in Chiang Mai:
So if you are a supporter on Patreon, keep your eye out for communication on these random giveaways. In November I’ll ask my Patreon supporters if they’d like to join a giveaway list so that only people who are interested are eligible – drawings will be random, but hopefully interesting stuff. Every month I’d like to send one little piece of Thailand out to someone who has found it meaningful to support the existence of 8limb.us. If you’d like to be a part of it, you can start by pledging here.
I still have a ways to go before I can make my writing at 8limbs.Us sustainable, but I’m already almost at 70% of the final goal. If you are a reader who has valued my posts, or a sponsor who would like to join and support me, I’d seriously appreciate your pledge. It is a dream I am reaching for.