Muay Thai Obsession

My unwitting indoctrination into the greatest fighting art on Earth.

Glory 18 - Davit Kiria vs Robin Van Roosmalen

Delighted that Glory is back; this should be a *killer* fight. Van Roosmalen’s pure Dutch kickboxing versus Kiria’s unorthodox karate style. I love watching Kiria fight and since he holds the belt and has been beaten twice before by Van Roosmalen, it’s gonna make for a total war!

Title Shots: Luke Rockhold (click to watch)
This is awesome. Really inspiring. On a side note, it’s fascinating how Vice do their sponsored content…I wonder how much of the production costs Sailor Jerry are paying for these?

Title Shots: Luke Rockhold (click to watch)

This is awesome. Really inspiring. On a side note, it’s fascinating how Vice do their sponsored content…I wonder how much of the production costs Sailor Jerry are paying for these?

6 Weeks

Looks like I’m going to compete in an Interclub at the end of November to dust off the ring rust. It’s also good in that it forces me to get the weight down; in the first three months I was away I put on 15 fucking kilos! (that’s 33 lbs, Americanos). I got rid of about five kilos down to 87.5 by the time I got home two and half weeks ago and another 2 since, so I’m looking to compete at around 80 killos. That gives me 6 weeks from tomorrow to lose another 5kg. Then I’ll be well set up to get back to proper fight weight and hit the ground running next year. 

Cut from footage shot during the last few days of Bangkok’s legendary old Lumphinee Boxing Stadium, at the stadium itself and boxing gyms in the city, the client’s challenge was to shoot a very short 2:30 minute film illustrating the sport of Muay Thai, working as a one man team…

Reflections On Thailand

I’m home 10 days now and after my first full week back at work + training I’m pretty much acclimatised to the routine. Thailand really does seem like a wonderful crazy dream…

One of the best parts was seeing the level of skill in those who live the life of a fighter there. My previous (and first) trip to Thailand was to Chiang Mai, where some of the fights I saw left a bad taste in my mouth. Many of them involved touristy nonsense, terrible match-ups and lack of real spirit. This time however I got an insight into how things are in the capital, trained with some of the best in the world and experienced some really top level Muay Thai.

A crucial point is that Thailand is 100% different to Western Muay Thai. Fighters from other countries rarely fight to make money. They do for adrenaline, for fun, for the challenge and personal betterment. Not so in Thailand. Most fighters in Thailand are farmer boys – fighting is a job. A better job than working in the fields, or whatever else is available in rural Thailand without access to education and opportunities. Most fighters come from poor families, and fighting is a means of access to wealth otherwise unattainable.

One of the most striking ways in which this translates to action is in training. A few times while we were running I’d see top fighters from the gym taking shortcuts or hiding and trying to get away with taking it easy. These aren’t lazy young lads, but guys with names, chaps who go overseas to fight and make good money, who have their own sponsored merchandise for sale etc. It’s to the point that for the morning run their coaches come out and watch them to make sure they do the full thing. This is anathema to me; although my coach and training partners often push me harder than I ever thought I could go, I still push myself extremely hard. These lads don’t want to, and to be honest, probably don’t need to. They’ve been fighting since they were little boys – their skill level is insane, and so a lot of them try and get out of hard work whenever they can. Which makes sense when you think of it in the context of it simply being a job. Don’t get me wrong, they love the sport…but it’s primarily a job.

Probably the most striking point for me was the lack of modern thinking that seems to define most camps over there. Strength and conditioning is done in an extremely slipshod manner, with a lot of pointless running, half-arsed weight training and a non-existent knowledge of nutrition. Many people tend to overly venerate the Thai method, but what they often fail to recognise is the fact that the Thai fighters who embody the ideal they’re seeking have been doing this since they were 6 or 7 years old. They’re already so good that they don’t need to train like Western fighters in order to attain those levels of mastery and continue to easily beat 99% of Western fighters. For us, it’s like trying to beat a fish at swimming.

Despite the fact of training at a higher volume than ever before, none of these sessions were as full on and insane as the ones we do in the gym at home. Where you leave exhausted, barely able to put one foot on front of the other. Where your whole body is worked out as well as your mind, with new techniques, new approaches, important critiques both mentally and physically. Understandably, only being there for a short period, the level of attention I received is nowhere near the same as I get at home. My kicks and elbows improved, though my knees, boxing and clinch didn’t benefit in any useful way. Training in the Thai style is quite repetitive. You know what to expect from a session, meaning that you either unconsciously or consciously store up your energy and take it easy for the next “hard part”  you know is coming. The way we train at Prestige, it’s different every day. You never know what’s coming. You could be surprised with an insanely intense day, rounds of hard partner drills mixed with sparring and pads, or endless insane sprint rounds on the bags. The next day could be worse, or it could be recovery…focusing on footwork, technique, conditioning. It makes me grateful for how amazing my coach is here in Melbourne.

Finally, something which I mentioned before was my experience of serendipity in the world of Muay Thai. Strange connections between people who I never would have known were familiar with each other, things coming along at the right time, people from my past reappearing. My friend Jamal who now lives in Bangkok and trains at Eminent Air…the last time I met him prior to Thailand was 2007 in Prague, Czech Republic at our mutual friend Ethan’s place. At that time I’d never heard of Muay Thai, and if either of those guys were into it I never heard about it from them. We knew each other from the underground European DIY crustpunk scene. After I got into it a few years later, I found out that we’d all independently started training and fighting – Ethan in Portland, USA; Jamal in Chiang Mai, Thailand; myself in Melbourne, Australia. Different corners of the globe. Various other friends all over the world who I know through the underground punk/metal scenes have become fighters or started training for fun and fitness.

Perhaps it’s merely that the kind of crazy motherfuckers who’re attracted to hardcore punk are the same kind of mad bastards who get into Muay Thai…or perhaps it’s a glimpse into a curious and unexplained divine symmetry. It’s impossible to say, but either way – I’m paying attention!

Muay Thai - Pornsanae vs Pokkeaw - New Lumpini Stadium, 8th July 2014


WOW - total war!! What an insane fight, multiple knockdowns, and almost double KO and a fantastic finish.

First session back and a lovely warm welcome from all at the gym. Even new advertising out the front with a few pictures of yours truly up there! 😎

A few of the novices have graduated to the fighter’s class - nice! More sparring partners! Nine from the gym competed in the Interclub at Hammer’s Gym last weekend with mainly wins, a couple of draws and only two losses. Excellent!

Back to the temple of pain!

Back to the temple of pain!

Reality?

Back in Australia and it seems like Thailand was all just a wonderful dream…