Hello, everyone! Welcome to Muay Thai Roundtable.
This forum is Sylvie's brainchild, I am here to help moderate. For those of you who aren't familiar with either of us, I want to offer an introduction, so you know who we are, where we come from, what we're trying to do, and all that jazz. The quick, easy to digest version is in the picture below, which breaks it down pretty succinctly. You can scroll down to see a more detailed explanation.
Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu
This forum is a part of Sylvie's site and blog, 8limbs.us. She's been running the site for 3 years now, starting at the very beginning of her Muay Thai journey since moving to Thailand and sharing its most intricate details along the way. She's from Colorado, US and first discovered Muay Thai while living in New York after her husband, Kevin, urged her to watch Ong Bak with him. From there, she started training with Master K in 2008. She trained with him in his basement and started filming her private sessions with him as a way to study and track her progress as well as to preserve and share Master K's teaching. There, her Youtube channel was born, which now has more than 2,000 videos! The following year, she went to Thailand for the first time to train, with Kevin in tow. After returning, she went on to train at Chok Sabai gym and also with Kaensak while saving and planning to make her way back. The original plan was to be here for a year if possible, but hoping to stay long enough to have fifty fights, but she's still here, has been for three years now, has had more than one hundred fights and is planning to keep going for as long as she possibly can. Her and Kevin sustain their stay here with a combination of income from Kevin's work, personal savings and a Go Fund Me campaign, by which lots of generous supports donated money to help keep her here after following her journey. This allows her to maintain a full-time training schedule. You can see what a day of her training looks like in the video below:
Sylvie spent the first part of her Thailand fight journey in Chiang Mai fighting out of Lanna gym, but now lives in Pattaya, training at two gyms, Petchrungruang and O. Meekun, which are both very Thai. O. Meekun is also the home of PhetJee Jaa, who is quite possibly the greatest female fighter on the planet. To say that Sylvie fights regularly would be a massive understatement. She not only takes fights whenever and wherever she can get them, but is constantly seeking opportunities to fight more, with the best competition she can face. She has already gone up against some of the best women in her weight class in the world, often with a big weight disadvantage. Her huge wealth of experience in fighting along with her insight into Thai culture and social dynamics and her desire to build and share as much as she possibly can makes her invaluable, and I'm grateful that she has created this forum as a way to share more of that.
I'm a 26-year-old Brit, who first dove into the world of Muay Thai at the age of 22 while on a solo backpacking trip through Thailand after graduating from university, having absolutely no previous athletic experience or knowledge of combat sports but a huge passion and desire to get into it, which emerged almost out of nowhere. I was hooked from the start, not only on the sport but on the country, and after a month of full-time training in Chiang Mai, immediately changed my plans, cancelling the last leg of my trip so that I could stay in Thailand long-term and commit to Muay Thai. I then took the steps to be able to work in Thailand as a teacher, getting qualified while training in Chiang Mai before being sent to Bangkok for work. There, I found Master Toddy, the man who turned me into a fighter. I stumbled upon his gym never having heard of him before (which shows how out of touch with the Muay Thai world I was at the time) and planning to leave after two weeks, but have now been living and training at his gym for three and a half years (living in Thailand for over four years in total so far) with no plans to leave as of yet. This is my home now. Meeting him was a huge turning point for me, as he instilled the confidence I needed in myself in order to believe that I could fight. Since then, he's continued to be a wonderful teacher to me and a driving force in my life. I had my first fight after eight weeks of training with him and have now had twenty. Halfway between those two places, I set up my blog, Under the Ropes, which was born as a way to create more Muay Thai content for women as well as to share my experiences. I continue to work as an English teacher, which is something that I really love as well as something that provides a visa and a continued source of income. It means that I constantly have to balance my training and fighting with my work schedule, but it's wonderful.
Where our paths cross - Similarities and differences
I met Sylvie for the first time via her blog in 2011 and later on, as mine started to grow and we both shared our stories, we noticed similarities. as well as the obvious factor of both being women carving our places out in a male-dominated space, we both have rather introverted personalities and are feminists who are passionate about sharing and creating as much as we can for the benefit of other women.
Sylvie and I have rather different lifestyles, and for that reason, our collective stories and experiences here can give a broad view of what it's like here. We also have rather different training experiences, as I train in a very Western-friendly gym which is just generally a very different setting to the one she trains in. We have been able to meet up and train together a few times in the last year and intend to keep doing so. Our difference in schedules means that for the most part, we maintain our friendship and collaborations online (and what better way for a pair of introverts?) Here, we hope to make it possible for others to make similar connections as they continue to share and discover. We thank you all for signing up to the forum and look forward to meeting everyone in it.