We are honestly trying to change the fate of Muay Thai through what is happening on Patreon. This is a dying branch of the art, it literally is going to die out if General Tunwakom does not find a serious student. Legit. He is the sole inheritor of this military style of Muay Thai, the last teaching student who directly has received the art from it’s creator, วิสิทธิ์_เลิศฤทธิ์ Ajarn Wisit Lertrit, a naval officer who incorporated his own Muay Khorat (a Boran style from the Khorat region of Isaan) with likely influences of martial arts he studied in his travel with the Siam navy as an officer. There is no martial art like this in the world, and it’s on a precipice.
If you made a movie about this, you would have to set it up in the high, romantic mountains of China 150 years ago. The lone master who is looking to pass his martial secrets onto a worthy student. A Kung Fu movie if there ever was one. And if no student comes then the art may very well die. But it’s not high in the Wudang Mountains. It’s right in the center of Bangkok. You can read Sylvie’s article on what we are doing about this: Legacy Projects: Documenting 3 Student Weeks with General Tunwakom.
Finding Serious Students
We found a possible student, a reader of Sylvie’s and a researcher, and he’s coming to Bangkok in a few weeks, and we’ve taken on the sponsorship of elements of his visit. Sylvie and I talk a lot about preserving the legacy of Muay Thai, and making sure that the height of the art, and its incredible men of the Golden Age are not forgotten, but this is really at a whole different level of threat of extinction. If you spent 5 minutes with the General you would immediately say to yourself: This cannot be lost. Here is a clip from two sessions we’ve filmed with him, the only substantive documentation of his Muay Lertrit we know of:
What Can You Do To Help?
We have the very beginnings of helping save this branch of Muay Thai. We’ve filmed twice with the General, so just a small portion of the art is at least filmed. We’ve searched for and found at least one student who is eager to dive into this project, which is really cool (you can listen to my initial conversation with Timothy in the YouTube posted below). But so much more is needed than this.
- Timothy Macias will be vlogging and keeping a diary of his experiences during his 3 weeks, on the Roundtable Muay Thai forum we’ve created with the help of patrons. If you are interested in this project register with the forum and be an active part of his record keeping. Follow his vlogging there. As him questions. Help direct his research, give him ideas on things that you would like to see documented or preserved. The more people who are a part of this preservation conversation, the more life that we give it, the better chance it has to produce real preservation. Register for the forum here, it’s easy to do, you can even register through Facebook. He’ll be actively posting there. This will help.
- One of the good things about documenting this initial experience, which will last 3 weeks, is that what is involved in actually becoming a student of the General will be open for anyone to read up on, and watch. This means that if you are yourself interested in devoting a year or so into literally learning this martial art, having the flame almost-literally passed to you – this is your doorway in. Follow Timothy along, and think about if this is something you would want to do yourself. The General needs more than one serious student. He needs a handful, if his knowledge is going to be preserved. Think about if this is something you could devote a year to, or if you know someone who might be interested alert them to what’s happening in this project.
- Widely so, even if you can’t get deeply involved, helping spread the news of this project to others, making the martial art and fighting world aware of the General and this documentation of study that is coming up is a great help. I believe that if there was wider awareness many would come to the General’s aid. There just is too much goodness here.
- You can also become a patron supporter of Sylvie if you aren’t already. There are lots of content reasons to be a patron, we’ve created the single largest archive of true Thailand Muay Thai techniques with the Muay Thai Library, you can study over 70 hours of video so far: See all of the Muay Thai Library here. But we are also doing many things beyond that, beyond Sylvie fighting like nobody on the planet, pursuing a world record, and thought impossible 471 fights. The Legacy Project of helping sponsor Timothy’s study, and documentation is one of several things we are doing in this vein, including the Legends and Residence efforts bringing Dieselnoi (and recently Namkabuan) back in touch with young Thai stadium fighters. Sylvie’s had incredible support by patrons, and we are always bending that support beyond, ultimately toward projects like this. Increasing the conversations, the documentation, and the remembrance of the greatness of Muay Thai. You can become a patron here.
So please, register for the forum and follow Timothy along on his acolyte journey into the world of Muay Lertrit.
Read Sylvie’s article on the support we are giving this project, and the background to it.
You can watch the two Muay Thai Library Sessions with the General here, as a patron:
#36 General Tunwakom – Lertrit Military Muay (46 min) watch it here
General Tunwakom is the last living direct student of the grandmaster who developed this Lertrit/Muay Khorat military style of fighting, designed to end exchanges quickly. Much can be learned from the foundations of these techniques, and these are definitely techniques that could be effective in the ring with proper timing.
#54 The Late Sirimongkol and Lertrit Master General Tunwakom (81 min) watch it here
This session is a big part of what the Muay Thai Library project is all about. It’s likely the last substantive video of the 1972 Fighter of the Year Sirimonkol Looksiripat, including a lengthy interview telling of his remarkable career. He also goes through the basics of his southpaw fighting approach. As an added bonus, Muay Lertrit (military Muay Thai) master General Tunwakom jumps in and teaches the unique strikes of his art.
This was my original Muay Thai conversation with Timothy, a Skype call, some background on his interests. We talk about an Ecology of Muay Thai: