2ITK Podcast e01 – Two Ladies in the Kingdom – Women and Muay Thai – 01 Gym Hopping
Emma and I decided to try out a monthly podcast (above). We chat together on a regular basis and keep each other up to date on the fighters we both follow, which tend to be the fighters around our weight but also the well-known names that expand beyond our own possible opponents. We both share our experiences of living, training, fighting and in Emma’s case working as a teacher in Thailand on our respective pages and blogs (Under the Ropes FB and blog; Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu – Muay Thai FB, and 8limbs.us blog, videos, etc.) It seemed like a reasonable enough aim to do a podcast where we could talk about women in Muay Thai, experiences of living and fighting here in Thailand, what’s going on in the fight scene out here and try to answer some questions or give our insight into topics submitted by our current readers. There are a lot of podcasts out there, but I don’t know of any that are hosted by women fighters in Thailand.
Below is my introduction to the podcast, Emma’s blog post on it is here.
As our first attempt, I feel it went quite well. My biggest worry was that Emma and I would actually just gab the way we do casually, which is fun for us of course. I definitely think we can tighten things up a bit and, as an avid podcast listener, you’d think I would be more keen to the format of introducing all your topics to listeners, but we did rattle off quite a few names and discuss “current events” without giving proper introduction to what and who we were talking about. So, definitely taking note to be more careful and complete in the next go, but I’ll do my best to supply that information in this post so that listeners have a kind of “footnotes.”
The podcast can be downloaded or listened to above, at article top, and it’s been submitted to itunes and should be available for subscription there soon. Below is also is the video version of our podcast, via Skype, if you want to look at our talking heads – the audio is a touch out of sync, we’ll work on it!:
We’re still hammering out the process and I suspect that will continue to be the case as we go along, but the good news is that it was fun to do and I think the first shot turned out well for a debut podcast. Your suggestions and comments are welcome, and we’d love to get your questions or any topics you want covered in future episodes. You can comment on this blog post, you can send us private messages on either FB page, and you can email me at [email protected]
This Podcast’s Theme
A revisit to the idea of “Gym Hopping,” as it’s become a bit of a hot topic again as of late. Emma wrote a post for her blog a couple years back on “Gym Hoppers and the Importance of Loyalty in Muay Thai,” (written 2 and a half years ago) in which she criticizes a type of person who flits around from gym to gym or moves on without ever trying to stick things out, specifying that this type quickly criticizes their “old’ gym and often doesn’t offer thanks or credit for what they gained before moving on. That sounds irritating, and it is, but quite a few people who read the post disagreed with the title (it would seem) and defended moving between gyms to gain more experience, as well as the capitalist cry for freedom from loyalty under the right of having paid for services and nothing more. Emma’s post has been quite controversial. Recently, it’s come up again in part because the topic of the pros and cons of having multiple gyms has been discussed (I’m such a person who trains at more than one gym, while keeping my heart and identity set at a “home gym”), as well as some folks noting the Emma is looking to change gyms. Did she have a change of vision from her original blog post? Is she a hypocrite? What are the differences between “changing gyms” and “gym hopping”?
Some of the Cast of Characters
We discuss some fighters by name without explaining who they are for those who don’t follow everything we’re posting on our pages. The Por. Muangpet gym that Emma visited and was excited about because it has quite a few women fighters is located in Bangkok. The three women at the gym are Namtan, who is around 56 kg and one of the best-known female fighters in Thailand; she’s maybe 19 years old or a bit older and has had a few televised fights, as well as a world title or two. Gaewdaa is around 48 kg and is around 15 years old; she fought this year in the IFMA’s in Bangkok, although not on the National Team and medalled; I’ve fought Gaewdaa 5 times over the past two years. Rungnapa is about 16 years old and the same weight as Gaewdaa, so I’ve fought her 3 times recently. I really like Rungnapa’s style and disposition, she’s newer to their gym. But the whole Por. Muangpet gang is pretty cool to follow because they fight frequently and tend to travel around to support each other for fights. Emma went to train with them with very high hopes and unfortunately their training tendencies don’t fit well for her schedule and didn’t match her expectations; but that’s part of learning that not all gyms in Thailand function the way our gyms do, or big gyms, or western-familiar gyms.
You can see some of these fighters in my P4P Ranked Top 48 kg and Under Post
Emma mentions that she knew about the 1 Round KO tournament on TV because Peach was refereeing and Emma follows her FB page. Peach is an infrequent fighter at the moment but is a very well-known name and she is somewhat of a spokesmodel or “face” for Muay Thai. She’s in her early 20’s and the last fights of hers that I’m aware of were for the World Muay Thai Angels show last year, when she fought our friend Kelly Creegan (“It’s Pandamonium!”), who Emma mentioned she would be training with soon at Eminent Air gym in BKK. Eminent Air is also where Melissa Ray (“Muay Thai on the Brain”) trains and formerly fought, as one of the women fighting in Thailand a generation before the current set. We mentioned Melissa in the list of female bloggers who haven’t had a chance to tend their blogs lately, which we miss.
We mention Kate coming to train with me and who will go train with Emma. She’s a fighter from Montana and has spent the last month at Sean Fagan “Muay Thai Guy‘s” Muay Thai Training Camp at Kongsittha Gym in Bangkok. She had her second fight in 2 weeks at MBK, which is a ring set up outside of the MBK mall in Bangkok and is a central venue and one of few in Bangkok which has female bouts. She fought an Australian woman named Beck, who we also name when we’re talking about that fight. Sean is who we’re talking about when we briefly mention a recent podcast he did on the benefits of “Gym Hopping,” which you can listen to here. Emma’s original, ever controversial blog post that seemingly launched that term into discussion, and which we revisit as the “theme” of this podcast discussion, can be read here.
We mention Sophia “Cocopuff” Torkos as having just started her own blog (“A Fighting Spirit”) as having just recently fought for a WPMF title belt (somewhere around 50-51 kg) against Thananchanok R.R. Gilalampang. Sophia is a Canadian who trains out of Santai and is a high-rate fighter in the north. Thananchanok is the 112 lbs Northern Thailand title holder for the Muay Siam belt and was WPMF champion at 49 kg for at least two years – I rank her as the 4th best sub 48 fighter in the world. She’s an awesome, very crafty fighter and I’ve fought her twice, would love to do so again, and follow her closely as fan. She’s not a frequent fighter.
The Book and the Movie
Ugh, I can’t believe we dropped the ball so hard on not even introducing what these things are. So, firstly, Emma and I are working on a book together which is in its “skeletal” form, which in proper academic terms we might call an “outline” which is actually pretty far along. We’ve got 25 prospective chapter headings and lots of sub-headings already down. We now just have to write it. The working title is, “Female Guide to Training and Fighting in Thailand.” There are a million things you don’t know when trying to travel to Thailand for the first time, or even to move here for a longer stay, so we’re trying to cover as many of those issues as possible and gear it toward the particular challenges of being a woman undertaking such an endeavor. Things we know now we wish we’d known before; gym etiquette; what the hell do you pack?; what to look for (and look out for) in choosing a gym, and deeper issues like understanding cultural hurdles and potential mis-communications in the masculine space of a gym. We’ll also tackle things like: what to expect when fighting in Thailand, the kinds or types of opponents you may face, and specific strategies that can work against Thai female fighters. It’s a lot to cover but a lot of what is out there on the ol’ internet is useful and instructive for women, but not complete for some of the things we need to consider. So this book is at attempt to provide more of what’s missing. And we’re working on it!
And the movie mentioned is “Neung Roy,” which means 100 in Thai and alludes to my aim of achieving 100 fights in Thailand. It’s the project and hard-work of Marq Piocos of “Wombat Sports: Your Home for Women in Combat Sports” and is being submitted to the Artemis Film Festival. Marq edited together my vlogs and fight videos from when I was about to move to Thailand until I reached my 100th fight here, creating a narrative of that goal and achievement out of the clips. He sent me a preview and it made me cry, but I’m just incredibly moved that he had the idea and inclination and then has put so much hard work into it.
A big thank you to my Patreon supporters because it is projects just like this that your pledges are making possible. If anyone wants to help bring more quality 8limbs.us content forward you can pledge as little as a $1 a month. If this works out and turns out to be enjoyable for everyone we might be able to do it more frequently than once a month. Please do let us know if there are any sections that you really enjoyed, or if you have topics or suggestions about what you’d like to hear more of. For one, we’d like to be much more thorough and clear in covering the Thai female fighters, and introducing them to our listeners. All in all, I think we did a good job, and I’m sure we’ll just get better and more comfortable with it.
If you’d like to continue any parts of the conversation we had in this podcast, please do start a topic on our Muay Thai Roundtable forum.