Sylvie’s Tips – Train the Matrix on the Bag – Jatukam Petchrungruang
Just a little bagwork drill/game that I ran into in the gym by one of my favorite young fighters, Jatukam. Jatukam is 14 or 15 years old and just crushes his competition at Lumpinee and Rajadamnern. He’s one of the best fighters at 40 kg (88 lbs) and has a really clever, muay femur style, which is the tricky and evasive style mostly associated in the west with Saenchai. He’s Southpaw and has a nasty teep, but that doesn’t stop him from getting in close and smashing my face with solid left crosses when we spar. He’ll smile the whole time, even when he gets hit back, which makes the whole experience like a game and it’s fun to work with him, even when I get my ass kicked. I like Jatukam a lot. He was the first kid at the gym to learn and start using Jai Dee’s name.
Lots of small things can be practiced on the bag aside from striking hard or with perfect form. Things like how you step off the bag, where your hand position is between strikes, how you “take a break” (do you lower your hands or stumble backwards habitually?), or push off the bag. A few months ago, because I want to be a stand-in fighter, I began stopping the swinging bag in full guard with knee up instead of lowering my hands to a shove or stepping away from it. But this matrix-like move seems like something to mix in too, so I’ve added it as well, as part of my bag reaction just for variation and balance, refusing to back out of range. I find that in the early stages of learning this the position of the back foot is particularly important, you need enough depth to flex back.
As Jatukam does it here in repetition it allows you to simply feel the rhythm and stance, and slowly work on your flexibility. It’s kind of like using a slipping bag in boxing, but on a larger scale in both movement and obstacle.
This kind of dodge is relatively common in Muay Thai, perhaps most iconically exemplified by Saenchai.
My trainer Den at Lanna used it pretty spectacularly in his fighting days as well (this fight was in 2001):
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