Articles

Muay Thai is a Mountain

—James Gregory is the author of Paleo for FightersHeart of 8: What Is Muay Thai?Primal Deliverance: How Paleo Saved My Life from Addiction, and Japan: Stories from the Inside

I didn’t fight my first Muay Thai fight until I was 31. I didn’t even wrap my hands, lace up a glove, or crack a Thai pad until I was 29. I’ll be 34 next month as I’m writing this, and I have a tiny fraction of the fights fighters in Thailand have when they retire—when they’re nine years younger than I am.

Conventional wisdom says eight fights at 33 doesn’t leave too many years for a pro career. Fighting Muay Thai is also not the only thing in my life. I could just as easily spend it on my writing, or my business, or traveling, or any number of other things. But how at all am I benefiting myself by limiting myself, by being realistic? As it’s tough to go wrong quoting Bruce Lee when writing about martial arts: “If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

I’ve decided not to limit myself, and I’m planning on fighting again in a few months, and probably more after that. And, I know plenty of active fighters older than myself who have chosen similarly.

In life, and in Muay Thai, we have to craft our own meaning. I may not end up with 200 fights and know what it’s like to give my entire life to fighting. And that’s ok. I’m also not satisfied going to class a couple times a week and then ending up never having known the feeling of stepping into a ring—not that there’s a single thing wrong with that—it’s just not me.

What I get from Muay Thai first is my sobriety. It’s the finger that scratches the itch I almost scratched to death with cocaine and alcohol in the past . I’ve trained four to six days a week since I started four years ago with the exception of rest weeks every few months and a broken collarbone and dislocated shoulder, and I was still present at camp even when I was injured. I don’t say that to brag, because it’s not a chore. It’s what keeps me sane; what allows me to challenge things in my life outside of camp, to be a good person and to feel healthy and strong. As a writer and online business owner, it’s also what gets me out from in front of a computer screen and into “real life” every day. It’s what makes me happy.

Fighting is a lesson about myself. I battle with anxiety and the inability to step out of my head and into the present moment on a daily basis. If there is any place on this earth where you must overcome these things to be successful, it is in a fist fight.

It is also a lesson in perseverance and focus—you have to finish strong and with grace and skill in the very eight minutes after you have just completed an arduous training camp.

And, it’s a test of emotional control—for me, a test of whether I can turn on the tough-guy switch within me when it comes time. You can train hard, be fit, take care of your body and know technique, but when you step into the ring, as the saying goes, it’s a fight. You have to be ready to really want to hurt another human being—something that, for me at least, doesn’t come naturally.

There is the idea of the “path” in martial arts. I think you could liken one art to one mountain. I and most everyone reading this are on the Muay Thai mountain. Like an actual mountain, there are different paths to the top. My path is laden with anxiety, over-thinking and gentleness. Those mental obstacles are the streams, boulders and fallen trees I must cross, climb and hurdle on my way to the top of the mountain.

Maybe your goal is to get in shape and know how to handle yourself if you were faced with a fight. Then, fitness, courage and technique would be parts of your path. Maybe you found Muay Thai much later in life, and you want to have something new to learn. Your path involves maintaining an open mind. Maybe you came to Muay Thai young, are naturally tough and athletic, work hard, and are blessed with talent. Your path involves sticking with it until you find yourself fighting for a belt in a stadium on the television.

We can all meet at the top, but only if we understand and decide to walk our own path. You may be in competition with the person you are stepping into the ring with, and you and your camp mates may push each other to work harder and be better, but you are never in a race along the path, because each path is unique to the one walking it. Yet we all climb the same mountain.

Why am I doing this? How will it make me a better person? How does it make me happy? What do I want to look back on and take joy in? It’s perfectly fine not to know the answer to all of these—that search for answers, and even for the right questions, is part of the process. But, the one thing you must realize is that the path leads only inward.

Buy More, Save More! Boxsense Muay Thai Shorts pack of 3!

Boxsense, one of the most famous and highest quality Thai boxing factories in Thailand have offered a new product set that give us a chance to buy quality Thai boxing shorts for a lower price. The set allows you to choose 3 different pairs of Muay Thai shorts from Boxsense for $84.50 when they are usually $32 each.
This is a pretty good deal if you ask someone who train regularly. We do use up our shorts quite fast. The nice and beautiful design with lots of details on the shorts are totally Not necessary for training unless you have an extra money to spur.

Besides, choices of Boxsense Shorts in the set look good too. Plain Muay Thai Shorts with the text “มวยไทย” in the front middle (BXS-008) and the other are plain 2 colors shorts with “มวยไทย” text in the front middle and stars on each sides (BXS-007). Good design, High quality, yet simple, and CHEAP! Are what we really focus on. Here are the pictures of the shorts that you can choose in the set. Which three of these would you pick?

Click below to pick your shorts!

33bxs-set-others

Muay Thai Is an Island

Muay Thai is an Island 

James Gregory is the author of Paleo for Fighters and Heart of 8: What is Muay Thai?, from which this essay is taken.

I have a new ritual since moving to New York City and my new camp. After training, I walk a block down the street to the corner deli and buy a cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice and container of cut water melon.

The deli is well-lit and well-stocked with an ample hot and cold salad bar and tons of cold drinks that I like, like sparkling water, coconut water, and the fresh orange juice, which is nearly orgasmic after a long training session. The entire 35th Street side of the deli is made up of a fresh-cut flower stand, rows and rows of colorful, neatly wrapped flowers, the aroma of which mixes with the grunge of the city to form a mélange that is uniquely Manhattan.

Planter

The planter at 35th Street and 7th Avenue

The sensorial energy of the place is compounded by its intense busyness. This is a short walk from Madison Square Garden and the Empire State Building, a street corner swelling with cabs, tourists and people trying to make a buck to get through the day.

At times, people seem to be driven by the collective energy as much as they create it. And at times you see things that seem crazy, but probably commonplace to a long-time New Yorker.

The other day I saw a man run out in front of a taxi in the middle of the street; the cab driver cut him off and nearly hit him; the pedestrian kick the rear cab window and then spit in the cab driver’s face; the cab driver spit back in the pedestrian’s face, the pedestrian walk back to near where I was standing, exchange a pleasant smile with a woman who had seen the whole thing happen, laughingly tell her “I told him I would break his shit,” and then them both chuckle about it, like they had just seen a small child do something funny, or a puppy chasing its tail.

I watched this all from the place where I always eat my watermelon and drink my orange juice, leaning against a four-foot by four-foot planter that sits directly in front of the deli on the 7th avenue side, right next to two public phone booths, which, since nobody really uses public phones anymore, have transformed into cigarette-smoking and cell-phone-talking alcoves.

With the feel of the warm sun shining down, the taste of the fresh-cut watermelon and fresh-squeezed orange juice, and the smell of both the fresh-cut flowers and the seasonally planted tulips and dirt of the planter, it’s like a tiny, organic island I can get away to for a few brief minutes on my commute home through the concrete and steel cityscape.

I think it’s very easy to confuse activity with vitality, and Manhattan is one of the places in the world where this confusion is most pronounced. While it is indeed bustling and full of movement, sites, smells and sounds, it is at the very same time a 23-square-mile block of concrete, steel, and plastic through which life flows in and out of choked, dilapidated bridges and tunnels.  Cut off from these artificial lifelines, it would die very quickly.

And this is not to pick on Manhattan. Our entire modern world is like this, supported by energy dug from the ground thousands of miles away, shipped on trucks down stretches of asphalt highways, always just enough to keep us going for a couple days. We live a life removed—often far removed—from the source of what actually keeps us alive.

Muay Thai is an island in a very similar way for me, an organic and pure respite from a world that has become both very contrived and, under the surface, often very much lifeless.

The second that I walk into Coban’s Muay Thai Camp, everything suddenly becomes organic and alive. Before I even reach the door, the noise itself transforms, from the clashing, mechanical, metal scramble of Midtown to the primal grunting of human effort and the thud of living flesh against leather pads.

As I open the door, I transition from a world where politeness seems to be a thing long forgotten to one where it is still ritualized: I wai first to show respect for the space and the beautiful thing happening there, then to my teacher if I catch his eye, who I address as such, Ajahn. The students are equally as courteous to one another—soft-spoken, deferential, kind, and welcoming to newcomers. I feel that the people there are nurtured by how they treat each other as much as they are by the graceful physicality of Muay Thai.

IMG_1264_2

Ajahn Coban teaching me the Wai Kru

Graceful, and at the same time, simple. In our modern world the pureness of something that requires only your body, mind, desire, and a bare minimum of physical objects to devote yourself to, even to devote your life to, is very fulfilling. So much of our world is so contrived that we find great comfort in the primal and pure.

This is certainly the case for me. Much of my day outside of Muay Thai takes place in a very contrived world—one that I love, but one that is contrived nonetheless. Even the act of writing this—something I love very much—is one of sitting in a locked and unnatural position, tapping away at a hunk of molded plastic to make lighted symbols appear on a screen of more plastic, glass, and metal. It feels good to shake away and unlock my body, mind, and spirit into something freer.

For those few hours of the day I can wear nothing but my shorts and gloves, feel my body move powerfully and freely, be in the very moment with the technique, in a space that is simple and unadorned, with people who are there to feel the same thing I am—who know that feeling, and respect it— I am unattached, unbound, unfettered. And, for those few hours, I am happy.

 

Research Study on Muay Thai Judging by Tony Myers, Stephen Strotmeyer, et al.

by Stephen Strotmeyer

Who do you think wins this fight?

The fight game has been littered with controversial decisions that have left fans outraged and bewildered by the judges’ call. From the outrageous Roy Jones vs. Park Si-Hun in the 1988 Olympics, through the richly disputed Hagler vs. Leonard battle, to more recent MMA controversies such as Galvao vs. Warren or Machida vs. Rua I. Muay Thai is no exception with some hotly disputed decisions across the globe.

We would like you and other fight fans to help us discover what makes fight decisions fair or totally outrageous. If you would like to help us your participation will take approximately 16 minutes in total and involve you watching a 15 minute video of a Muay Thai match. After watching the match, you will be asked who you think won the match and, when you are given the actual decision, rate how fair you think the decision was. To give us your opinion of who wins and what you think of the decision click on the link below.

CLICK HERE TO PARTICIPATE!

(The study is being conducted by Dr. Tony Myers & Mohammed Rehman- Newman University, UK. Dr Nigel Balmer -University College London, UK, and Stephen Strotmeyer – University of Pittsburgh, USA)

Your thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

The Art Of Crazy

Why you need to be some kind of crazy to be a successful fighter

Wait. There’s an art to being crazy?

Hell yea there is!

Crazy goes a long way!

Crazy goes a long way!

If you are a muay thai fighter, you have to admit. You are kind of insane.

You have a little section in your brain that most normal people don’t have. Most normal people wouldn’t want to push themselves to the physical and mental extremes that you do. Normal people wouldn’t make it through one of your training camps. Normal people definitely would not be able to fight a 5 round war in front of hundreds of blood thirsty fans.

In order to truly be successful, you need a healthy dose of ‘crazy’ as a part of your every day diet. Think about it, most successful painters and musicians were/are crazy, so why not you?

You are an artist too. You dedicate your life to a physical martial art that pushes you past your normal limitations and fears. Just like any painter, you start with a blank canvas when you enter the ring and it’s your job to make a masterpiece out of it.

That being said, it’s important not to overdose on crazy, otherwise you might do some really crazy stuff. I mean, one dude even cut his own ear off to prove his devotion to his lover… I’m guessing you probably don’t want to do that. Then again, he was a pretty damn good painter so he must’ve been doing something right.

The 4 Steps To Being Crazy

1. Be obsessive

You need to be insanely focused and determined in order to be a successful fighter. One of the most common characteristics I see from badass fighters is that they are completely obsessed about being the best.

That means everyday you need to be improving as a fighter in one way or another. Each day you wake up, you need to have an obsessive drive to improve your technique, diet or conditioning. You have to want it BAD. Keep reminding yourself that each day you slack off or eat like crap, your opponent is doing 100 rounds of pad work and eating an organic chicken salad.

Wanting it badly is key to not only training hard, but fighting hard too. If you are as focused and determined to win the fight as you should be, you will be more likely to fight through injuries, show off all your potential and do what you do best… win!

“Obsessed is the word lazy people use to describe dedicated”

 

2. Don’t believe the hype

No matter how good you are, you always have to strive for perfection.

You will have your fans, commentators and other fighters praising your technique, heart and skill, but you have to be your own worst critic. You have to never believe the hype people build around you.

If you get comfortable with where you are and start thinking you’re too cool to train hard, you will fail miserably.

Once you start believing in your own hype, you’ll start to slack off at the gym and take your opponent lightly. You’ll think that you don’t need to train hard because you already have all the skill set and talent to win.

Don’t be stupid. 

Never be satisfied with where you are. It does not matter how many people think you are sexy as hell, or that you are the next muay thai prodigy. If anything, you should be training as hard as ever to prove to your fans that you are that sexy muay thai champion they envision. You need to be so critical of yourself that people think you are crazy for not thinking you are absolutely awesome.

 

3. Feed off the haters

Haters are EVERYWHERE. The good thing is, if you have haters, you are doing something right.

It’s great to get to the point where you have a good amount of passionate fans, but you truly aren’t at the level you want to be at until you have those blood sucking keyboard warriors. Once you have people going out of their way to try to mess with you, you know you’ve made it.

No matter how awesome and badass you are, there will always be miserable people trying to take you down. These people are sad, pessimistic, miserable and have nothing better to do with their time than to criticize the people who are doing what they love to do. Meanwhile, most of them live a hopelessly meaningless life, so if anything, you should almost feel bad for them.

It sucks that people have to suck, fortunately, you can turn all of their negative energy into motivation. Haters should fuel your fire when you are training for a fight because, if you slack off at training, you’re supplying the haters with plenty of ammunition.

It might sound a little crazy to embrace the haters and use them for motivation, but that’s because, it kinda is.

 

"Do what you do best… WIN!"

“Do what you do best… WIN!”

4. Have complete confidence in yourself

Believing in yourself and your dreams is one of the most important things you can do to become successful in any area of your life. Most people who have dreams to become world champions or a successful fighter, often get their dreams laughed at because of how unrealistic and unusual they are.

You know what though? Screw those people.

The people who criticize others dreams most likely live in their own sad world where they never look to push the envelope or step outside of their comfort zone. Chances are they live a sedentary life, watch too much TV and live their dreams through others who are actually doing something with their lives.

The good thing is, the only dreams you have to believe in are your own. Once you truly believe that you will accomplish your goals is when you will start to focus, work hard and persevere through paralyzing difficulties where most other people would just end up quitting.

You might be crazy, but you are not a quitter.

If you set your mind to something and truly put in the effort to make it happen, then chances are much more likely that those dreams will come true. And even if they don’t, you will still have accomplished more than if you didn’t try at all. Plus, have you ever heard the corny quote – “life is a journey, not a destination”?

Well it’s corny, but just like most corny quotes, it’s true.

Yes, it will feel amazing when you reach your goal, but that ultimately isn’t going to benefit you as much as the time, effort and sacrifice you put into getting there. The journey to your goals will help you learn a ton about yourself and grow as an individual.

It might sound crazy to want to do some of the things you want to do, but I think it’s INSANE to live a boring life and not take risks to do things the things you love.

What do you think? Do you think it’s good to have a little bit of ‘crazy’ in your personality? What other crazy characteristics are important for a successful fighter?

Why Fighting Solves Everything

– by James Gregory –

James is the author of Paleo for Fighters

There’s a popular t-shirt among Muay Thai fighters, black with “Fighting Solves Everything” embossed in big white block letters right across the chest. Of course, this is poking fun at the idea of using our words and not our fists, talking things out, walking away, and instead saying, “Screw that, just punch them in the face!” Obnoxious t-shirts are the best, and it is a guaranteed conversation starter.

But at the same time, there is a very resounding and likely unintentional truth in the meatheadish message of the t-shirt. Muay Thai tests your entire being—it is as much physical as it is emotional and intensely intellectual. You can have the athleticism but not the technique. You can have the technique but not the fitness. You can look like a Greek statue and still freeze like a deer in the headlights once you step in the ring.

Because of this, it makes other things in life comparatively easy. To do it competitively, even at an amateur level, you need self-discipline, physical and emotional awareness, a sense of life balance, and, determination. Fight training is grindingly intense, you push your body to give absolutely everything it has while your mind simultaneously deals with the inevitability of getting into a fist fight in front of hundreds of people. Read More