Chatchai Sasakul – Breaking Down the Hook | Patreon
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The first time I worked with Chatchai at his gym in Bangkok, it was by accident. I’d gone to his gym to meet Karuhat for a private session and it turned out that Karuhat couldn’t make it there. I knew who Chatchai was – not by sight, I had to figure it out by seeing his name and WBC belt and realizing I’d certainly read about him before – but definitely had no idea what Chatchai was. Even after the session, which I really enjoyed, I didn’t really know what he is…
About a year later I went back for another private session. I’d been around Chatchai a handful of times in that year and I really like him. He’s got a kind of “old man librarian” manner about him, but when he starts moving it’s just unreal. He’s one of these ex-fighters who is just utterly relaxed and even-keel, all the time. Recently, one of his fighters lost a boxing title fight in Japan and his response to the public on Facebook was, “I didn’t train him well enough.” What former world boxing champion (WBC Flyweight, 1997), or Thailand Coach of the Year (2011), or even regular gym-rat trainer takes that responsibility? He’s awesome. But aside from how much I like him, the second time I went to work with him on boxing, something clicked. It wasn’t all of a sudden, not really, as the year of work I’d done in between sessions is what made me ready to understand him this time, but it felt like a Eureka! kind of moment. I felt his weight transfer on punches and suddenly his entire system opened up to me.
above, 12 minutes of the hour and 45 minute double session available on my Patreon Muay Thai Library…a suggested pledge of $5 gives you immediate access to all of it
In this excerpt (above) of our longer-form training sessions (the full-length video is two sessions put together), Chatchai is breaking down the lead hook. The video starts out with one of his fights, where he is throwing that hook and uppercut again and again, so smooth and beautiful. What’s really key is watching how Chatchai’s limbs rotate around the absolutely solid core of his torso. His hips, knees and shoulders are the power vectors from which his limbs come out like pieces of machinery. His arm stays all one piece while he’s punching, but the rotation of the shoulders and hips and knees around the center of his torso is what generates all the movement and power. It’s incredibly efficient. You’ll see how smooth he is in the old fight, but the 20 years or so that he’s been continuing these movements as a teacher have just distilled them down into perfection.
In the first few minutes of the excerpt Chatchai has me working on a front side uppercut into a front side hook. I have a hard time coming back to “neutral,” so to speak, between the strikes and end up kind of cheating the transition between the two. He explains to me that you have to pull the shoulder (on the same side as the uppercut and hook) back before the rotation. Not so much a “wind up” of the arm, which you obviously shouldn’t do, but more like how you pull back the string on a bow in order to fire the arrow. If you’re coming off of a right cross, for example, that shoulder should already be rotated back for the left hook. If you don’t throw the cross, you should still pull that shoulder back for the rotation, and indeed between the strikes.
Watching Chatchai’s feet will work as a brilliant “cheat sheet” for his movements. He’s so even and measured, no excessive movement or energy expenditure. When you watch the two of us side-by-side the disparity is really stark – my body kind of contorts and my legs go wonky to get that rotation, but his body is absolutely balanced at all moments throughout the entire range of movements. He just does these small steps to shift his weight and track forward or punch through the target. Watch his feet, man.
One of my favorite things about this video is when you see Chatchai stand directly behind or in front of me and check my calibration, basically. He’s looking for angles and pulling outside the lines, so to speak. Like looking down the barrel of a rifle or taking the slight pull to the side off of the axl of a car. That’s how detailed his balance is… that’s how off-balance a huge majority of non-masters are. Thing is, I can’t feel the moments of not being balanced until I hit the pocket of being balanced. Once you feel that absolute steadiness, then you can feel being off-balance by comparison, whereas it kind of felt okay before. But he uses visuals to check it. My left shoulder tips to the left – I’m coloring outside the line just a little and so I’m off-target. He sees it; I barely even feel it until I stop doing it for a second. But these tiny adjustments make huge differences.
Here are two hook GIFs from my very first session with him, when I filmed for Nak Muay Nation. They illustrate his perfect form. First his standard hook:
And then his walk across hook:
Study and Support my Patreon Muay Thai Library with Legends – suggested pledge $5
If you are in Bangkok you can train with Chatchai at his gym, you can find info about his gym at the bottom of my original Nak Muay Nation private session post here. You can also directly connect with him on Facebook if you would like to arrange a session. There is nobody in Thailand as precise with hands.
If you like what you see in the 12 minutes above you can watch the entire hour and 45 minutes, with audio commentary, by pledging a suggested $5. This gives you not only immediate access to the full session, but also to 14 more sessions with some of the greatest fights and trainers Thailand has produced, a growing Library of now 14 hours with commentary. You can see what is already in the Muay Thai Library below: read about each session individually here
Part 2 of my session with one of the most feared elbow fighters of the Golden Age, Yodkhunpon Sitraipom, The Elbow Hunter of 100 Stitches. Lots of fine details in this one, escapes from clinch locks, turns and catches. Best is his floating, gentle style that also holds such violence.
Former WBC world boxing champion at Flyweight, and winner of Best Coach of the Year in Thailand, Chatchai in this nearly 2 hours of video makes micro adjustment after micro adjustment, honing in pristine technique in the basic strikes of boxing, for use in Muay Thai. It’s all about weight transfer.
#13 Kem Sitsongpeenong – Building a System (52 min) watch it here
Kem, one of the best fighters of his generation, shows me building blocks of his system. He teaching a firm, defensive frame, and especially likes an upward elbow that explodes out of blocks, checks and fake teeps.
Andy is absolutely unique in the lore of Thailand Muay Thai. An instructor for more than 2 decades, a mentor to so many, he innovatively teaches a Muay Thai emphasizing symmetry, strength, balance and explosiveness, expanding what the body can do under duress, holding pads like no others do.
#11 Karuhat Sor. Supawan Session 2 – Float and Shock (82 min) watch it here
In this session one of the greatest fighters who ever lived really digs into what must lie beneath techniques, a general state of relaxation and rhythm, the thing that made him one of the most dynamic fighters Lumpinee has ever seen.
#10 The Clinch Techniques of Yodwicha – Session 2 (34 min) watch it here
This is my second session with Yodwicha, you can see the first further down below. This one really gets into the specifics of clinch technique and defense. One of the best clinch fighters in Thailand, co-Fighter of the Year, sharing his unique attack style.
#9 Yodkhunpon “The Elbow Hunter” pt 1 – Slicing Elbow (37 min) watch it here
Simultaneous Raja and Luminee title holder at 118 lbs, Yodkhunpon was one of the most feared elbow fighters in Thailand, and in this session he teaches the looseness and spacing that made his lead elbow such a viscious weapon. He also shuns the traditional rocking chair knee, and instead teaches a powerful stand-in crossing, open-hipped knee that compliments his elbows up top.
#8 Sangtiennoi Sor Rungroj – Advanced Clinch (52 min) watch it here
The Golden Age Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Champion, a legendary Muay Khao fighter who fought all the greats instructs on the finer points of clinch technique. Small differences that make big differences. Advanced tips on the swim-in and turn, and the importance of going from long distance techniques to short distance grab and lock.
#7 Karuhat Sor. Supawan – Be Like Sand (62 min) watch it here
2x Golden Age Lumpinee Champion (112 lb and 122 lbs), Karuhat is considered elite among the elites. Mixing an explosive style with constant off-balances, angling, and melting aways, he was nicknamed the Ultimate Wizard. I can only describe the things he’s teaching here as: Be like sand. This is very subtle, advanced stuff, far above combo techniques or specific defenses. It may take a few viewings to absorb what he is teaching. Everytime I watch this I learn something new.
#6 Namkabuan Nongkipahuyut – Explosive Attack (28 min) watch it here
266 wins, 15 losses, 2 draws. Namkabuan may be the best fighter I’ve ever seen, and it was an intense privledge to train with him. I can honestly say that it changed me as a fighter, inspiring to become more. He combines Muay Khao fighting with technical precision and explosive energy. The knee he teaches in this session is really like no other I’ve seen, like it is shot out of a cannon.
#5 Hippy Singmanee – Developing Power (69 min) – watch it here
Two-time Lumpinee champion Golden Age legend Hippy Singmanee takes me though one of the most unique and valuable hours I’ve spent with a top trainer. He is building ground up how power and relaxation are related to each other. This session has been highly influential upon my own training. Learn how spacing+timing+relaxation produces dynamic power.
#4 Yodwicha – Clinch and Muay Khao (Knee) Specialist (35 min) – watch it here
Yodwich shared the Fighter of the Year award as only a 16 year old, and his success in the Lumpinee ring made him one of the most feared clinch fighters in Thailand. In this session he goes through his favorite Muay Khao techniques, shows why he prefers side-attack locks, and turns.
#3 Dieselnoi Chor Thanasukarn – The King of Knees (54 min) – watch it here
Dieselnoi is the greatest knee fighter who ever lived, and it just wasn’t because of his height. Spending this hour with him lets you feel how much love and energy he pours into his Muay Thai, even at this age, the real secret to what make him dominant in the Golden Age of the sport. There is nobody like Dieselnoi. Nobody.
#2 Joe Hongthong – Developing Muay Khao Style (87 min) – watch it here
This is nearly an hour and a half of straight on Muay Khao instruction. Joe was a top stadium fighter and he’s watched me fight for several years, so this is Advanced Level tweaking, as he teaches how to bring elbows and knees together, discussing the ways that dragging back can work for a forward fighter, and the differences with more technical (femur) approaches. Muay Khao is a technique unto itself.
#1 Pi Earn – Head Trainer of PTT Petchrungruang (34 min) – watch it here
PTT is the rising star of my gym Petchrungruang. He was so sought after he turned down title fights at Lumpinee and Rajadamnern and instead signed with Thai Fight where promoters feel he’s going to become an International star. Pi Earn has been a trainer who has sculpted PTT’s methodical Muay Khao fighting style, and in this session he starts right away making the tiny changes in my technique that are necessary for the strong, forward fighting approach that he favors.