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#751 Losing Streak

Posted by Sylvie on 13 May 2015 - 03:24 PM

I have just lost again this past weekend making my amateur record 0-5. I know it sucks.

Overall its been frustating, especially with a 100% losing record I never felt confident going into my fights. I've been told I am more talented than what my records shows, but at the end of the day thats all there is to show. I disappointed that people supported and believed in me, but I let them down by not believing myself.

I can probably contribute most of my loses due to the mental aspect of the game.

I've never been dropped or really hurt in any of my fights (Lost all by decision).

However, sometimes I question if fighting is really for me. All that hard work, training 6 days a week (barely any breaks) for the past 3.5 years for nothing .... Even though I'm only 22 (23 soon). Were the sacrifices really worth it?

Thing is when I'm not at the gym (it doesn't feel right).
 

Ask yourself two questions: 1) did you fall in love with Muay Thai because you could eventually write some numbers down on a piece of paper and have the left column outnumber the right column? 2) if your friend, who loves Muay Thai, fights with heart and trains as hard and with as much dedication as you do was considering quitting because of his record, would you advise him to do it? (Note: if the answer is "yes," you're a shitty friend.)

I've bee through some really rough losing streaks. I lost 6 in a row in the US, which was over a year of losing every single fight I went into. I always came out thinking I could have done more, I never was injured, and I always thought I'd let everyone down. It feels like shit. But I kept fighting anyway because I love to fight and every single thing I do in the gym is toward the aim and joy of fighting. I never throw a kick and think "I ought to turn my leg over better because that's how I win." I change the kick because that's how it's done right, because that's what feels good.  I wrote about that year-long losing streak in a blog post, "I'm a Loser Baby." And I've had losing streaks again since then.

losing-streak.png

Above is a graphic of another 6 fight losing streak here in Thailand in 2013 - same number of losses, same disappointment, but because of my fight rate in only took me a month and a half to rack up those 6.

It feels less bad now, but I reckon that's because of two things: 1) I have more practice at losing now; I've lost so many times (34 times, as of right now) that I know how to handle it. Muhammad Ali famously put it this way,

"I never thought of losing, but now that it's happened, the only thing is to do it right. That's my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life."

And 2) I realized that nobody cares as much as I do whether I win or lose. My victories don't define me and neither do my losses. What defines me to me, to the people who train me, to people who pay any mind to my blog and my path out here, is that I keep going. You can lose without being defeated, you know what I mean?

It's a pity to think that all the love you put into what you do, all the pain and fatigue and hours, is reduced down to a record that means fuck all about you. I talked about how I feel about records in this video:

And Emma wrote a great blog post "Does your Record Really Matter?"

Pi Nu, my trainer at Petchrungruang, points out some of the champions at the gym and tells me, "he lost for one year, cry every day." Or, "Before, nobody want him, gamblers hate him." He's talking about champions, fighters who I see every afternoon at training and can watch on TV, read about in the fight magazines, etc. You wouldn't know it now because they grew out of these hard times - sure, they still lose sometimes, but they just kept going through those very long losing streaks. And I reckon it made them stronger. If they'd quit because they were losing, then that's all there would be. What a damn shame.

And I'll tell you something that nobody's going to tell you: you won't feel satisfied after winning, either. You can always do better, always do more, always have put more in. There's no, "well, that was perfect because I did everything right." Winning just feels better, so you can gloss over the mistakes more easily. You win and nobody has anything to say other than "great job" or "congratulations," or "badass." Wins make you look better than you are and losses make you look worse than you are - none of it is a full picture; none of it is an assessment of who you are or what you're worth. But you do have to get your mind right. You do have to believe in yourself, and at the times that you don't (and there are always going to be those times; I have those times) you have to trust the people who believe in you for you.

If you go on Wikipedia and look up Dekkers or Buakaw... those dudes lost a lot. It doesn't matter. It just gets pushed to the side so the work can get done. You're not a bad fighter, you're a work in progress. And that goes for all of us, really.


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#4369 A writer's journal - Muay Thai, My Wife and Thailand

Posted by K. von Duuglas-Ittu on 21 July 2016 - 05:22 PM

This is going to be a big experiment, but I thought to myself: Isn't this the place to do it? For those that don't know me I kind of keep a low profile. I'm the one holding the camera, the one doing the film editing, or the digital heavylifting so that Sylvie can keep blogging at her crazy rate, and still train and fight full time in Thailand. I'm Sylvie's husband Kevin. I'm 51, and have been living here with my beautiful, brilliant wife in Thailand as she pursues her dream. I do write occasionally for her site, a few articles under A Husband's Point of View, and occasionally I jump into the internet stream to press a point or two on an issue I feel is especially important, but mostly I'm very happy keeping to myself in all this, while I watch with admiration as Sylvie climbs to places nobody really has gone before.

But...I am a writer, and in all this time I too have fallen quite in love with the Muay Thai of Thailand. I get to express my thoughts all the time with Sylvie - we think and talk a lot about a number of dimensions of Muay Thai, everything from gender, community, technique, and most importantly it's future. But I don't really give myself permission to just flow in things, to write as I once really did, when I was younger. So, I thought that maybe this is a good space for that, a little corner of this forum where I can journal some of my more loosely connected thoughts, things that arise as I experience this incredible country and culture. Feel free to throw in comments if you like (a comment will automatically subscribe you to the thread, via email - you can all follow this thread by clicking "follow" in the upper right corner), but I'm just going to go ahead without much organization or even intent. You'll see from what follows I write in a unique, not easy to read voice, but hey, that's just me.


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#2292 Making friends through the forum

Posted by Freddy on 14 September 2015 - 10:07 PM

Heyho,

just wanted to let you know this forum isnt just web based, just as Sylvie and Emma established it and knew each other.
Darina and I met through this forum and last weekend we were able to meet up in Berlin/ Germany for the first time for some sparring! Darina just moved to Berlin from Thailand and we are almost exactly the same height and weight, what coincidence!

Keep this forum going, good things happen!

11221945_914231281980247_1206453451611893831_n.jpg
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#1225 Forum Members Training Together!

Posted by Emma Thomas on 01 June 2015 - 03:33 PM

Minu, who was one of the first members on the forum, has been training with me at Master Toddy's! At first, she was doing private lessons, but after a few of those, she started joining the group classes and last week, we were able to do some sparring together. It's really awesome that we were able to meet up in this way. Hopefully, more of us will be able to get together as time goes on  :smile:

 

1525066_398629890338817_3591114931641530


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#5792 Things that make you mad during sparring/fighting?

Posted by Sylvie on 21 July 2017 - 07:15 PM

I agree with Kaitlin on the rage induced by the dude who only wants to go against someone much smaller or less skilled. I'm 100 lbs and scraping 5'2", so when a guy who is 180 lbs wants to spar with me instead of the far more reasonable partners available at the gym - and then fucking coach me - I get really annoyed.

In a different vein, I hate when people go too light. There's a line past which being too light is just nonsense. If I'm pitching a baseball I do have to throw it hard enough to reach the damn plate so the guy with the bat can hit it, otherwise what the hell are we doing? Usually it's insulting as well because the person going that light is doing so with the belief that they can hurt me due to my size. I address this both physically and verbally, but some people just won't get it together. If Pi Nu can't hurt me, you certainly can't. (and he can, and does)

And above all I hate when people get emotional. Just don't, it's not fun.


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#543 Training Log

Posted by Gavin on 03 May 2015 - 02:04 PM

Hi I'm Gavin.

I'm not sure if this is the right place to put it but I thought I'd start a training log here. I'm a beginner in Muay Thai. I trained for one month in Phuket last year and did another month in my hometown before moving across country and getting sick.

I've just joined a new gym. I set a goal to log 1000 hours of striking training over the next 18 months (mt, boxing, kickboxing).

I work full time and I'm obese (103kg at 5'10'), so I have some challenges ahead, but I really love martial arts.

I have competed in Judo and Brazilian jiu jitsu, but stopped grappling due to injuring both my elbows and what seems to be an issue with extended gripping...

Some auxillary goals are getting to a fighting weight (I competed in BJJ at 67kg, and judo at 73,81kg), and competing.

I reckon I've done about 40 hours so far, but only 7hrs and 15 minutes since I started counting. My end date is Oct 17, 2016.

Reading Sylvie's blog and her goal of reaching 100 fights inspired me to set this goal. I know for some people it may not seem like a difficult goal, but for me it is. It's a stretch. I'm not sure if I can do it to be honest. I'm 30, overweight and out of shape and with a chronic overuse injury in my arms. I'm recovering from being sick for over 2 months and I'm also not sure if I'm tough enough.

So for me, it's a big goal. I am going to do my best to reach it. So please follow along and comment.

 

P.S. I had to edit the date as I had put 2015, instead of 2016!


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#1350 Forum Members Training Together!

Posted by Sylvie on 09 June 2015 - 03:39 PM

Emma-and-Sylvie-clinching.png

Emma-and-Sylvie-sparring-e1433835356451.

 

Me and Emma rockin' it at Master Toddy's on Sunday morning. Clinching and sparring. This is the fourth time we've had the chance to train together. Roundtable Forum members unite. Had a fantastic time. Hope to train with more members too!


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#969 postivity/accomplishments

Posted by michelle on 20 May 2015 - 09:24 PM

After struggling to get my coach's approval and for him to notice that I'm trying (I've been there for a year...), I finally got my first real compliment from him last night. Great striking and using my legs for thips and kicks (still can't use my left arm for shit), promptly followed by "you need to work on defense". But still, a compliment I didn't expect. I did an internal happy dance.
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#756 Losing Streak

Posted by Emma Thomas on 13 May 2015 - 04:40 PM

Wow, I was just about to write a reply to this, but I think Sylvie nailed it! I'll just add a little from my personal experience.

I definitely know how you feel. As my record currently stands, I've lost more fights than I've won and I've been through some losing streaks, during one of which someone told me to give up fighting altogether, but I've never told myself that. That's only been an external thing. Even at times when the thought has briefly crossed my mind, it couldn't be further away when I'm training. Everything I do in there is in preparation to fight, that's what I'm working for. It would be an awful shame to take that away. All that passion and hard work needn't go down the drain because of a lack of self confidence. You have to work on your confidence the same way you work on your physical training. 

I can also relate to what you said about being a slow starter and coming out of fights feeling like you haven't done enough. In every single one of my losses (also all by decision, as you said), I've felt that way. People have told me that most of the people I've lost to had no business beating me and it was only that I wasn't confident enough in my mental game, that I hesitated and let them fight their fight. I've been trying to combat that with mental training, which has really helped me in the past. I wrote a blog post about that here: Letting Go but Staying in Control: How Mental Training Enhanced my Confidence

 You can lose without being defeated, you know what I mean?

^ I could quote a ton of things from what Sylvie just said, but this is fucking perfect ^


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#5775 Things that make you mad during sparring/fighting?

Posted by Kaitlinrose on 13 July 2017 - 07:50 PM

Most of the time we do timing sparring, though I do enjoy the occasional hard sparring session. The thing that makes me rage is when someone asks to go light/do timing sparring and then proceeds to start going hard and fast to "get" something because their timing won't let them. It's probably unintentional, but SUPER annoying no less. 

I also loathe when you have someone in the room who only seeks out partners who are smaller and/or less experienced and then proceeds to clown on them. Bigger guys are usually good at noticing these types, and will take care of the problem :wink: Speaking of which, I love heavyweights. They have a tendency to be the best training partners, even if they have over 100lbs on everyone else. 


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#5758 Where to look when sparring/fighting?

Posted by K. von Duuglas-Ittu on 08 July 2017 - 01:23 PM

Personally, I am not a very eye-contact heavy person and when sparring I accordingly have a defocussed look which goes through my partner's midsection and with which I try to take everything in at the same time.

Would you rather generally recommend 1) this defocussed look or 2) looking your partner/opponent in the eye and why? Personally, I would still need to force myself to do the latter and should be doing it to experience the differences.

Furthermore, when do you recommend to deviate from either your 1) or 2) standard? For instance when looking at incoming attacks for optimal blocks? Do you switch from defocussed to eyes or vice versa when sparring/fighting?

 

Sylvie's definitely a no-eye contact person, so this is a thing that she's wrestled with as well. Hopefully she's hop on and talk about it. But til then I'll just note that last week Chartchai, former WBC World Champion boxer, and former Muay Thai fighter told a friend of ours that best is to look right below the chin, maybe the throat or collarbone area. He said that a lot of fighters look at the eyes and end up with their punches floating up, missing high. If you look here though they land right on target. Believe me, he said.


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#5743 6 days/week training challenge

Posted by Fighting Frog on 02 July 2017 - 06:20 PM

I haven't done six days on the trot (yet!) because my trainer has always made me have a rest day; but I have done four or five days together, or six days but with a break in the middle, several times. I train for two hours at a time followed by some power work. The warmup is shadow boxing, then two hours of pad work, practicing something new/technical, and then anything up to 12 four-minute rounds of sparring (start light and easy, build up).

This week I've trained four days in succession (and one of those was immediately after a night shift in hospital theatres); I'm okay but today we really kept it to lighter technical stuff; we sparred for about six rounds but kept it light and slower so I could practice and work on stuff that I am really flaky on. I was definitely slower today (not that I am fast when at my best) but in some ways that was good; it meant I really had to concentrate on neat footwork and my punches/kicks being light but super-accurate and tidy.

I work full time too, so if I want to get four days or more days together then I have to fit it in before my shift starts (or in the case of a night shift, afterwards).

This week we've had some pretty heavy sessions on top of several hard ones last week, and I am a bit bruised and sore, especially my right shin which is quite battered. But it's all good, I love training as much as possible.

And now I must go and sort out my horse, and do some work in the garden!

 

Incidentally, I'm in my 50s, so don't let anyone say that just because you're not 21 anymore that you can't train six days!


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#5139 Forum Members Training Together!

Posted by NewThai on 09 January 2017 - 05:54 AM

Threeoaks and myself finally got to trade strikes today. 👊🏻 Man, is she tall!
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#3867 Building Aggression

Posted by Sylvie on 05 June 2016 - 11:51 AM

Hi guys.

Quick question on a long standing problem of mine.

When I fight I lack aggression. In some fights I am very aggressive, but in all the fights I've lost, its been for the same reason, lack of activity and lack of aggression. What's wrong with me? Why can't I channel aggression on command, when I need it? I'm very new, 9-5, been training only four years. But I don't see why some of my peers that started at the same time and have even fewer fights than me seem to have more control over this aspect of their fight game. 

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Layal

I identify with this problem as well. My good friend Robyn taught me a really long time ago that aggression has to be trained, just like any other skill. That doesn't make it easy and I'm still figuring this out, despite being told and kind of understanding it so long ago. But the larger problem that you mention in your question isn't the aggression issue - don't compare yourself to other people. I used to go nuts over these guys who would come to the camp and train totally half-assed but were super gifted and seemed to be way more fluid, trying more things than I do, fighting in a more advanced way than I was despite having way more experience than they do. I finally figured out that the difference was confidence. Men have a natural gift for confidence, like actual cockiness is a true gift. That's what makes them seem more free. But some of them are made out of paper; building confidence out of not-natural cockiness is like carving stone. It takes a fucking long time and it's frustrating, but it's solid and you keep what you work for.

So, step 1: stop comparing. It doesn't help you and it feels shitty. People have different learning arcs, different paths, different drives, different strengths and weaknesses. If you see something working for someone else, figure out why it works and try to steal it for yourself. But don't think, "why them and not me?" It's a worthless line of thought. Believe me.

Step 2: practice aggression the same way you practice any skill. You have to break it down, find why it's difficult for you: are you too polite? Are you afraid? What does aggression actually look like? Moving forward, blocking, not backing up, striking more... if you know what it means to you then you can break down the elements and work on bringing them into your training in small pieces. For me, aggression is not be affected by mistakes. So I make a point to laugh if I flinch so I can correct that. Or staying closer to my opponent. You can practice this stuff outside of the ring, too. For me, I'm super shy and feel like I'm bothering people or imposing myself to ask anything - like, very normal stuff: asking directions, asking someone to show me something, ordering a coffee... I'm very unwilling to interact. But I push myself to do those things, because that's part of assertive, confident, and aggressive tendencies as well. I'm not a jerk about it and in the ring you shouldn't feel like you're being a dick just by being aggressive in training. You're helping your training partners by being aggressive, by "acting like" an opponent who does want to hurt them, even if you, personally, don't want to make your training partners and friends uncomfortable. But we've talked a lot on this forum about what a disservice it is when our training partners go too light on us or don't challenge us. Think of it as that you're helping the team, but also know that it's not easy. It feels weird. But do all those small things that, to you, feel and look like aggression: staying close, hitting more often, not backing up, blocking strong instead of kind of as a flinch...

Again, I'm still working on this on a daily basis. It's not easy. But it's also not impossible.


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#3238 'Ronda Rousey had Suicidal Thoughts after Losing to Holly Holm' - Art...

Posted by Claire on 18 February 2016 - 01:29 PM

My take on her comment about suicide was that it was a fleeting reaction to the shock of that KO. There was no talk of serious or sustained suicidal tendencies. I can see how being beaten so spectacularly could have prompted something of an existential crisis for her, since her whole persona was built upon her supposed invincibility. There is a psychological link between existential crises and the desire to reproduce, i.e. people who are grieving or have nearly died may feel a sudden urge to have a baby (obviously I’m not saying she literally nearly died but her sense of loss was clearly enormous). She also seems to be very in love with her boyfriend.

 

On a more cynical note, the confessional, teary interview, and viral headlines about babies, “suicidal thoughts” etc. has got her rolling through everyone’s newsfeeds once again, and in the absence of any imminent fighting, she needs the publicity.

 

Either way, I think she’s more interesting now than ever, and like Micc, I really hope a pregnancy doesn’t prevent that rematch!


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#2821 Your 2016 MT Goals?

Posted by NewThai on 28 December 2015 - 05:45 AM

I'm aiming to move down a weight class and to fight every 6-8 weeks instead of every 3-4 months. I may be aiming high on the fight frequency as a US nak muay, but I have two fights lined up already so hopefully we can keep the momentum. 👊🏻
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#2520 My First Fight

Posted by MTetris on 13 November 2015 - 01:45 AM

So, I have been training Muay Thai for about a year, and finally had my first fight Nov 6. I wanted to share my experience and maybe get some feedback from the more experienced fighters on the forums about what my training priorities should be for my next fight. Obviously, my trainer has some strong opinions, but I like to get different perspectives :) The fight was sanctioned under ISKF rules in Florida, which means no elbows and very limited clinch.

 

This is going to be a long post, so please feel free to skip to the end, where there is a link to the youtube video.

 

I am 5'8", and walk around at 140lbs. I had planned to fight at 135lbs, but about 2 weeks out from the fight, the promoter told me I needed to be at 130lbs if I wanted a match. I was very unenthusiastic about cutting weight, but desperate to fight (I had been waiting several months for a match) so I followed the advice in this blog post:

http://fourhourworkw...-to-cut-weight/

and managed to come in 128lbs. My opponent was 5'2", weighed 129lbs, and had a record of 2 wins and 1 draw. I felt like shit the last week of training because of the lack of carbs. But it was 'day before' weigh-ins, so I had time to rehydrate and refuel. I had some pre-fight anxiety, which I wrote about thusly:

"So I am less than a week away from my first fight. I keep thinking to myself "I must be crazy. Why did I agree to do this?" I'll be sitting calmly at work, and suddenly get a shot of adrenaline as I think of my opponent, as I picture entering the ring. I keep thinking of the worst things that could happen. I'm not really afraid of being knocked out, although that would be bad. It's more like the nightmares I used to have, where I'm so angry and I want to hurt someone but all my movements are in slow motion and nothing seems to land. And I'm scared of gassing out: of being so exhausted that my arms and legs feel so heavy and dead. Those are the things I fear: being helpless and tired and dumb. Everyone warns me about the adrenaline dump, and tells me that once I'm in the ring I won't be able to think and I'll just throw whatever my body remembers best. I've written a list of 8 techniques that I'm going to carry in my pocket until the day of the fight. Four of the techniques are "reaction techniques", and four are "initiation techniques". I think that should be enough."

(For those that are curious, my list was "1. Jab 2. Teep 3. Parry to punch 4. Parry to Knee 5. Leg kick 6. Hook to kick 7. Jab, cross, switch kick and 8. Superman punch". In retrospect, kind of silly. But I found it very comforting.)

Writing down my fears really helped me to process them. I realized the things I was actually afraid of (being totally helpless, getting totally gassed) would be nearly impossible considering I had been training Muay Thai for 3 hours a day, 6 days a week, for over a year. Yes I could lose the fight, but I had done everything my trainer told me to do to prepare, and I wasn't going to embarrass myself or the gym.  Reading Sylvie's blog posts also helped me to keep perspective.

The day of the fight came, and I was almost last on the card (I think I was the 20th fight?). We got there at 4pm, and I didn't fight until after midnight. I managed to take a nap in the 'locker' room, and stayed bizarrely calm the whole time. I'm generally a pretty anxious person, so I expected to be a bundle of nerves, but it just wasn't the case. Several fighters from our gym fought back-to-back, so I didn't really get much of a warm up, and didn't get a thai oil massage. My trainer is very traditional, and was clearly unhappy and superstitious about it, but I kind of just shrugged it off. In a way, the fight felt pre-determined to me. Either I had internalized the techniques, or I hadn't. I kept thinking of a quote from Muhammad Ali "The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights." I had a huge physical advantage with my height, and while there are absolutely people who train harder, I felt fairly well conditioned.

Then the fight happened. I kept expecting a shot of adrenaline, but it never came. I don't know if that's good or bad. I kept thinking "Surely as I warm up, I'll start getting excited". Nope. "Surely as I stand on deck, I'll get pumped". Nope. "Surely when I walk into the ring and see my opponent, my heart will start racing". Nope. "When the bell rings, THEN I will go into Beast Mode". NOPE. It was very weird. I just felt calm and detached, and totally in control of the fight.

Watching the video afterwards was hard though. I did some things 'right', but so much I did wrong. I controlled the pace and the distance and landed some good knees. But everything looks so SLOW and I looked so LAZY. My guard is terrible: I keep leaning back and wildly swinging my arms when I should be keeping them tight and leaning into her punches. I could hear my corner screaming at me to "Go forward! Engage!" and I straight up ignore them because I was out of breath, felt like I was winning, and wanted to play it safe. After the fight, my trainer was clearly very frustrated with me, but didn't lay into me too hard because I had won. But he felt that I probably could have KOed or TKOed her if I had just followed up more after rocking her. I have mixed feelings about this. Obviously, it's preferable to end the fight decisively without letting it go to the judges. On the other hand, I felt very dominant, and it seems strategically advantageous to keep something in 'reserve' for my next fight. I don't know. Or maybe ultimately I'm just lazy and like to do the bare minimum, haha.

Here's the fight. I am the very tall one with purple shorts:

Comments and criticisms welcome!


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#2120 Beginner sparring

Posted by Emma Thomas on 10 August 2015 - 03:14 PM

This thread is nice because I can complain about this for someone else's benefit, haha! One thing that I really can't stand is when people throw punches at my guard rather than aiming them at my face. It's as if some people are trying to hit my gloves, but I suppose it's more that they're not consciously aiming, they're punching just to punch. It ends up being bad for both people because one person isn't learning to block and the other isn't learning to be accurate. As NewThai said, the blocking kicks thing, too. I've had a lot of people bring their elbow down onto my shin instead of bringing the knee up to block, and that hurts a lot. It also leaves them open for head kicks.

This is just a personal one, others might not agree with this one, but it becomes irritating when people want to catch/grab every single kick. I find that it can become a hindrance to learning for beginners because the one kicking is always wary of having them caught, so starts throwing them with less effect (and then you get the problems that Sylvie talked about), and the one catching is less likely to learn to block, so I think it's something that should come later on. This is a question of style for a lot of people, though! 


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#1833 Muay Thai is Not Growing in Popularity - Some Data

Posted by K. von Duuglas-Ittu on 14 July 2015 - 03:29 PM

As a digital marketer and consultant I deal with broad data pictures a lot. I'm attracted to these things. I wrote a post a while ago about how Ronda Rousey had indeed passed Serena Williams as the "most talked about female athlete" if you use Google Trends as a measure. The MTG Charlie Hustle article on the importance of the "casual fan", discussed on the Roundtable here, got me thinking about the current state of Muay Thai in terms of reach and whether or not it is actually growing. Is it?

So I thought I'd run some Google Trends for search related search terms and get rough data pictures for how much these keyword concepts are at the fingertips of internet users. Now, keep in mind, things like Google Trends are very broad data pictures. They do present valid data, but the challenge is in how to interpret it. From the looks of it though, Muay Thai is not growing in popularity.

Muay Thai as Parasitic on MMA

To start off with I ran world wide data for the search terms "Muay Thai", "MMA" and "UFC". It is generally assumed that Muay Thai's popularity has been strongly parasitic on the popularity of both MMA and UFC, and one can see here just how flat Muay Thai interest has been compared to these dominant terms:

Muay-Thai-UFC-MMA-world-wide.png

The potentially alarming thing here is that both MMA and UFC have already peaked (2009-2012) in general popularity as a search term. If indeed the fate of Muay Thai relevance is depended on both MMA and UFC interest, Muay Thai has something of a problem here.

A note on the data: my guess is that because search terms like these are often more widely used in times of discovery, searches like "What is MMA?" or "UFC fighters" may flourish when a sport is growing and new people are exploring it. The widest band of growth indeed occurred between 2009-2012. Of the demographic which fighting arts may more naturally find appeal, these kinds of searches are no longer happening as frequently. This isn't to say that once converted MMA or the UFC isn't bringing in more dollars than ever, or that marketing of them to the coverted isn't thriving. But what it does suggest is that the bubble of growth may have already occurred. Now MMA/UFC interests are more focused on maturing its audience, and less able to grow it. Short term this may be great. Long term, though non-ideal.

If MMA/UFC is not steadily growing in its sphere of influence, and Muay Thai is truly parasitic on these, Muay Thai has a natural ceiling here. And in fact it seems that Muay Thai world wide has already experienced it's own bubble of discovery interest and now is somewhat on the decline. For those of us who love Muay Thai, we may be experiencing Muay Thai as growing, because the viewership is maturing. But, at least by these data pictures, the discovery of Muay Thai is slowed.

 

Muay Thai and Kickboxing

martial-arts-muay-thai-popularity-world-

There is a secondary avenue toward Muay Thai and that is interest in Martial Arts, as a somewhat exotic self-development discipline. There has always been the possibility that Muay Thai could flourish much in the way that Kung Fu (and then TKD) did through martial art interest, particularly through the influence of film. In terms of film exposure movie's like Ong Bak (and sadly much earlier, Kickboxer) have helped expose Muay Thai to the world, and now you have everyone from Sherlock Holmes to Jason Statham teeping and elbowing their way through fight scenes, showing that Muay Thai has incorporated itself into the vocabulary of cinema violence. But (above, blue) the keyword/concept of "martial arts" has been on the fast decline since 2004, world wide. In the world "muay thai" has crept above "kickboxing", but this remains incremental really ("kickboxing" does not include "kick boxing" a substantial variation). The decline of "martial arts" as a search interest suggests that the secondary avenue for Muay Thai popularity, that of Asian martial self-improvement is somewhat on the wane.

Muay-Thai-MMA-kickboxing-in-the-United-S

In the United States (above), "kickboxing" (yellow) has a stronger presence than "muay thai" (blue) and "MMA" (red) has been on the decline since 2008.

Country By Country Muay Thai Popularity

Below are the search term popularity indices by country. As can be seen only Brazil shows a strong increase in the popularity of the term quite apart from the general 2009-2013 MMA bell...slightly so in Italy. Every other country shows the index of the term in decline:

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Muay-Thai-popularity-in-the-United-State

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Muay-Thai-popularity-in-Italy.png

Muay-Thai-popularity-in-Germany.png

Muay-Thai-popularity-in-France.png

 

Muay-Thai-popularity-in-Brazil.png

Muay-Thai-Popularity-in-Australia.png

The most optimistic way to read this data is that indeed Muay Thai has flourished under a parasitic relationship to MMA and the UFC. And as those elements grew so did Muay Thai. As each of these larger phenomena decline in terms of growth rate (which I suspect is what is expressed in discovery uses of Search), Muay Thai also has suffered. For those of us who are the converted we are experiencing an increase in Muay Thai relevance. The relationship between itself and it's small western demographic is maturing. There is greater understanding of the sport and its scoring, more reach of its Thai stars and their fights, but there remains a very difficult growth curve problem - for those of us cheering it on.

I suspect that the real avenues for Muay Thai growth do not remain with MMA and the UFC who themselves are undergoing their own growth issues, and whose current WWE style story lines do not seem amenable to Muay Thai discovery anyways (see the kind of non-coverage of Muay Thai legend Jongsanan in TUF 20 for instance). Instead Muay Thai must fight for it's own branding, something that emphasizes its Thai-ness to the west. Muay Thai cannot just be: left-right-lowkick, or "the Thai plumb" two-hands-locked-behind-the-neck. We say this as Thailand tries to export its stars to non-Thai rule events, and tries to internationalize its sport (un-Thai it) so that the IOC will find it acceptable for the Olympics. Long term though, the "Thai" of Muay Thai is what gives it its unique character and expression, the strength of its adherence. Ultimately, the future of Muay Thai resides in Thailand itself, and with how effectively Thailand can communicate that Thainess to the west. 

An interesting anecdotal picture perhaps comes from the search popularity pictures of "muay thai" and "BJJ" in the United States. BJJ, I think it fair to say, has certainly grown out of the popularity of MMA, but it also has managed to maintain its own identity to some degree, an art quite apart from MMA, an art that needs to be learned in depth if it is to be of use. In the United States, and the UK as well, "BJJ" has surpassed "Muay Thai" and does not bear the same discovery arc pattern that MMA/UFC shows (below). Brazilian jiu-jitsu is both for the serious MMA fan and practitioner, and composes an art of it's own.

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Of course these are just wide-view concepts drawing on search behavior phenomena which may have very diverse influences. This is something like a measurement of memes. I do think though that there are worthy, prospective conclusions to be drawn, but real marketing aims of real events, cultural campaigns and real fighters must take a great deal into consideration. Just something to think about. Now that Muay Thai has received it's one-time bump from MMA and the UFC (2009-2012) I do think it must set its own unique course.


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#1488 Short Film - Muay Thai and Thai Women Shown in a Completely Different Way

Posted by K. von Duuglas-Ittu on 16 June 2015 - 07:44 PM

This short film is pretty incredible in how subtly Muay Thai and women are being put together in a VERY middle class way. I would have to think that this was unthinkable even 5-10 years ago. I love that there is not just one female story, but three. For those that don't know, Muay Thai has a rather low-class image in Thailand and in many ways is not only ultra-masculine, it is of older generations, and has an appeal to rural Thais. It is not "modern". Seems to be put together as a student thesis supported by Rajadamnern Stadium/Singha.


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