There’s something about the actual “event” of going to a movie, the excitement of not knowing much about it other than that you like the main actor, or that it’s in a genre you like. You get your ticket, you find your seat, you sit in a strange state of anticipation before it begins. And then you can get lost in it – assuming the movie is good. That’s a bit what sitting down to watch a Golden Age fight with Kevin is like. We know at least one of the fighters, so we know it will be good, but often we avoid knowing much about the fight beforehand – like not reading reviews or spoilers before going to see a movie.
We sat down to watch Yodkhunpon Sitraipum, “Elbow Hunter of 100 Stitches.” We know him, personally, and love his style. He’s the greatest elbow fighter of all time, a Muay Khao in a broader sense, always coming forward, with a kind of personal affect that you can see from a mile away and never mistake for anyone else. You’d never watch a 3 second clip of him and wonder, “who’s that?” I’ve worked with Yodkhunpon for years now. He lives next door to the gym I’ve been based at for the past 6 years and in that time he’s very generously worked with me in the ring, sometimes for hours at a time, just slowly shaping my style from what he can see and feel. Standing with him in the ring, you can feel him. He’s such a quiet, kind, unassuming kind of guy. He smiles quietly when he sees an opening that he could capitalize on; he’ll even watch it for a while before deciding whether or not to point it out or try to fix it. He’s always thinking, pondering. He’ll stop and look kind of off into space for a second while he thinks, then he’ll push the front of his hair up with the palm of his hand, smiling to himself, while he figures out the answer or solution. Always like this. His arms hang off his shoulders like the empty sleeves of a coat; but when they come to life, they’re like the bladed limbs of an animated super-creature. Who moves like that? Yodkhunpon does.
A lot of times, Legends and ex-fighters who we train with for the Muay Thai Library have these completely distinct and beautifully distinctive styles. Very often, they didn’t look quite like that when the fought. They’ve kind of steeped in their own style over the decades since retiring from the ring. That’s not a bad thing, it’s actually beautiful. There’s kind of a strange reversal of how you’d expect an aged fighter to be a shadow of himself, and yet there’s rarely a feeling of diminishing. There’s still a strong, visceral response that is absolutely your “fight or flight” nature giving you warning signals when you feel Yodkhunpon’s attack mode come on. Watching this fight with Kevin, I saw Yodkhunpon’s style in full effect, almost like giving a demonstration. The relentless knees and elbows, back and forth, pendulous. I can feel the momentum building. But there’s almost never a change in pace, like how a bird flaps its wings to stay aloft – he has absolutely explosive kicks and punches at times – but its body just darts through the air without any discernible effort. Or maybe the awe-inspiring, breathtaking phenomenon of watching an entire flock of birds or school of fish move in unison. One bird is beautiful, one fish is remarkable, like, “wow, look at that anatomy.” But watching Yodkhunpon’s body move, his elbows and knees dancing together, it’s more the “how the f*** does that happen?” of watching a swarm, a herd, a flock, a school, or even a storm. No matter how many times you see it, it’s incredible.
Our Last Two Watch With Mes – Karuhat 2x
Our Full Watch With Me Playlist
Study Yodkhunpon’s Incredible Style
There are lots of resources in trying to learn the secrets of Yodkhunpon’s one of a kind fighting style. You can watch the 3 sessions he has on the Muay Thai Library:
#9 Yodkhunpon “The Elbow Hunter” pt 1 – Slicing Elbow (37 min) watch it here
Simultaneous Raja and Luminee title holder at 118 lbs, Yodkhunpon was one of the most feared elbow fighters in Thailand, and in this session he teaches the looseness and spacing that made his lead elbow such a viscious weapon. He also shuns the traditional rocking chair knee, and instead teaches a powerful stand-in crossing, open-hipped knee that compliments his elbows up top.
#15 Yodkhunpon “The Elbow Hunter” part 2 – Escapes (48 min) watch it here
Part 2 of my session with one of the most feared elbow fighters of the Golden Age, Yodkhunpon Sitraipom, The Elbow Hunter of 100 Stitches. Lots of fine details in this one, escapes from clinch locks, turns and catches. Best is his floating, gentle style that also holds such violence.
Bonus Session 9: Yodkhupon Sittraipum – Lethal Smoothness (73 min) watch it here
In this session Yodkhunpon really delves down into the smoothness of his style, with great emphasis on his galloping footwork towards the end. It’s all about building a pressure style that does not strain, but rather exerts a constant music of forward attack.
The Yodkhunpon Videos in the Sylvie Intensive
There are 6 full session commentary videos in the Intensive series. These are available for rent, purchase, or subscription. You can find the full series here.