A Glimpse of Evening Training: New Students and Technique

On Wednesday night Petchrungruang had two new boys at the gym. Kru Nu instructed them to bounce on the tires for 30 minutes first, an order which made their father gasp. But the boys happily bounced away on and between the tires because, 1) kids have endless energy and 2) bouncing on tires can be pretty fun. The extent of that warmup even for such young kids has two purposes. The first is to get the boys accustomed to discipline and following the orders of their trainer. If they can’t handle that part, they can’t train Muay Thai. The second is to tire them out just a little bit so that they can focus on the narrow tasks assigned to beginners. When young boys first arrive at the gym for Muay Thai training they are always very eager to hit things, but in traditional Muay Thai camps you have to build up to that. Discipline first, form and technique, and then after time put in to these elements and heart has been demonstrated, then you can hit something.

When Kru Nu was a young boy just starting out in Muay Thai, he hated it. For months he would just shadow blocks and knees back and forth across the dirt floor, before they had a ring. He thought Muay Thai was boring. The gym only had one set of pads and only the fighters got to hit them. When the finally got a hanging bag, only the fighters were allowed to kick it. Kru Nu tells the story of kicking the bag when nobody was looking and hurting his leg on the cement-like filling (sawdust that had gotten wet and dried a million times is like cement; it hurts). Only after months of this monotonous marching of blocks and knees and holding stance did little Nu finally get to start punching the pads.

The new boys at the gym still have to go through the process of discipline and patience, although not nearly as long as Kru Nu did. These two boys were finally let into the ring and must first wai to the Buddha and the spirits of the ring. Then Bank put their little bodies into a proper stance, which they had to hold for a few full rounds. The boys wobble and look around, struggling to hold the position both out of physical difficulty and out of lack of mental focus. They just get repositioned if they fall out of line. Then Bank showed them how to march back and forth taking a single step and throwing a 1-2. The older boy had this one down really nice right away and the younger one wasn’t as coordinated, but when he got to the edge of the ring and punched the ropes he was immediately made aware of how hard the ropes are on tiny hands… just like little Nu kicking the bag.

In this video you can see the two little boys leaping into the ring to wai to the shrine and then begin their stances with Bank. Yonis is on the pads with Kru Nu – he’s about 9 years old and has a couple of fights already, but his training is really good.

 

As the light dimmed, Sun (fight name Petchburapa) had a long session on the pads with Bank. Sun and his family just moved next door to the gym and so the whole family is there late into the evening session, watching Sun develop as a fighter and his younger siblings help Podee as clinching partners. Kru Nu steps in a few times during Sun’s work with Bank to demonstrate some techniques. Kru Nu is an incredibly gifted and patient teacher, something he’s passing on to his son Bank as he’s grown up in the gym and has begun instructing as well.

Here Kru Nu shows how to escape a body lock by wedging one leg into the inside of the opponent’s knee/thigh, putting the other hand on the opposite side hip – both of these are to control the knees of the opponent – and then pulling one arm back through to the front of the opponent’s shoulder to create space. Then he pivots on his standing leg while pulling with the arm that’s been pulled back and positioned on the opponent’s shoulder, creating a turn that breaks the lock and opens the opponent to a knee. Watch at the end when Kru Nu explains the importance of a strong forearm on the front of the opponent’s shoulder in order to control their grip:


And in this next video Kru Nu explains how to tuck the chin and stay facing forward with a long block to guard against punches. He shows a somewhat comical “don’t do this” example of turning your face away from punches, which will get you slammed and make you unable to respond right away, and instead shows how you can remain in position for a counter by staying straight and pulling your head down (tucking your chin) to take any punches that might get through on the crown of your head – which is hard – rather than on your nose or chin, which hurts and can cause damage. Sun’s teeps were getting awesome on this day, so the counter given as example is a nice, long teep:

Angie Fights at Thepprasit in Highlight

Our kathoey fighter Angie has been gaining attention from promoters who are interested in bringing her to their shows around Thailand. On the 28th of August (2017) Angie will be facing a larger opponent in a highlight fight at the local Thepprasit Stadium. There is a 200,000 Baht side bet on the fight, so Kru Nu has been paying close attention to Angie’s training. And she’s just getting stronger.

Angie Petchrungruang will be facing Siansu Humuaydujaruat, who has more Muay Thai experience in his background and outweighs Angie by about 12+ kg. However, Angie trains better and harder, we expect that Siansu only has a few good rounds in his gas tank. The buzz around this fight is pretty high and confidence in Angie’s prowess as a fairly new fighter is solid.

Angie will continue to train hard while also working full time, she owns and operates a small beverage shop on Thepprasit Soi 12. Kru Nu is amping up the intensity in her training in these last couple weeks, before tapering her off just before the fight. Regardless of outcome, we all know Angie will put out a great fight

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Petchrungruang and our fighters are proudly sponsored by Royal Thai Residence on Thepprasit Soi 7

Wan Wai Kru – Honoring Teachers Day

Wai Kru Day is a chance for students to honor their teachers, pay respect and solidify the student/teacher relationship of passing on knowledge in any given study. For Muay Thai students, this is a day to formally thank our instructors.

Petchrungruang is over 30 years old and many krus have been part of the family gym in that time, and some of the students have grown into teachers themselves for younger generations. Kru Den was a teacher to Pi Nu, who is now the head instructor of the gym and a kru himself. Filippo was a student of Kru Nu and now teaches at the gym as well. It’s a wonderful, living process.

Every year there is a National Wai Kru Day held in all the schools across Thailand and the Thai government comes up with a “motto” for each year. This year (2017) the motto is to the affect that a good teacher is also an image of the Buddha for his/her students (“ชาติพัฒนา ด้วยครูดี มีคุณภาพ ศิษย์ซาบซึ้ง ในพระคุณครู”). The patience and loving kindness expressed by the teachers of Petchrungruang absolutely embody this motto.

For those who were not able to make it to this year’s ceremony but consider themselves students of Kru Nu, here is a short video of the blessing he offered in the ring during the ceremony. In short: work hard, be a good person, and take care of yourselves.

And here are some wonderful photos of the ceremony as well.

All the students in afternoon training, teachers from front to back: Kru Watt, Kru Gai, Kru Filippo, Kru Den, and Kru Nu

Thongchai and Dti led the Bot Wai Kru chant – everyone creates a link by touching each other so that a single offering is given to all the teachers and by all the students at once

Wai Kru

The Buddha was brought in to the ring for the ceremony (there is always a statue above the ring as well)

Kru Den giving his blessings.

3 Fighters in Saraburi June 9th – Angie’s First Televised Fight

On June 9th Kru Nu will drive a group of fighters up to Saraburi for a card, a portion of which will be televised. Mahaheng (Team), Geng Gat, and Angie are all fighting and Angie’s fight will be broadcast on Channel 24.

This is a big step for Angie, our kathoey (“ladyboy”) fighter who has been training for only a little under 2 years. She’s had difficulty finding opponents to face, since the Muay Thai Authorities want her to fight with men but she’s still a beginner and an adult, so the men she’s facing are far more experienced and often quite strong. They don’t take it easy on her. But Angie has a solid record and has beat some good opposition in a string of wins, so we all feel very confident in her upcoming match this Friday.

Mahaheng is the most experienced of the 3 fighters and will be the final fight of the card. He’s a solid fighter and is sure to give his opponent a hard time in the clinch.

Geng Gat is the most recently signed fighter to Petchrungruang Gym. He has a couple fights at Lumpinee and is still gaining experience, but with a winning record against good competition.

 

Petchrungruang fighters are sponsored by Royal Thai Residence.

 

Generations in a Family Style Muay Thai Gym

Photo of three generations of the Rungruang family: Bamrung, Kru Nu, and Bank (three years ago when he was much smaller. Compare to Bank at 16 in the video below!)

 

There are many different “styles” of gyms in Thailand. There are Old School styles that try to stick to the old ways, favoring traditional and ceremonial styles over “ring Muay Thai” (Muay Thai for fighting); these gyms can be really beautiful spaces for the history of Muay to be carried on. There are also larger Commercial gyms, which deal in providing a “Muay Thai Experience,” mostly for tourists and longer-stay foreigners; these gyms largely do away with tradition but are focused on and adept with the business of Muay. And then there are Family Style gyms, which are carrying out tradition and the heritage of their own Muay through the literal generations of fathers to sons and daughters, uncles to nieces and nephews; these are fighter gyms, keeping up with the living, changing world of “ring Muay Thai,” under the rules and practices of this being their way of life.

Petchrungruang is a Family Style gym. Just as a farmer raises his children in this way of life, there are generations of fighters breathing life into the canvas, pads and bags of this Muay Thai gym. Our head trainer Kru Nu, along with his older brother Pi Nok, were the first students of Petchrungruang. Bamrung, their father, carved the gym out of what space he could find on the farm he’d grown up on. Clear out some ground here for the ring; cut down a pineapple tree to hang the first bag there. Small changes, the boys serving double-duty as both little farmers and little nakmuay. Gradually, the space grew more and more into a gym, and the life of farming gradually wore away. Now, Kru Nu runs the training at the gym, raising little Thai boys to be fighters and, for some of them, champions. His own son, 16-year-old Bank, has been raised in the gym. Three-year-old Nat will begin training in the next two years. It’s generations of Muay.

Below is a short video shot on just an average day of training. Kru Nu was asked to show an escape from the double-inside clinch lock. Kru Nu demonstrated with Bank. The technique is good and it shows how much Kru Nu can teach in just a few moments, as he is “Muay Gao,” a term meaning a teacher who knows through experience of being a fighter. But this short clip also demonstrates the relationship between Kru Nu and his son, a playfulness and maybe a little healthy competition. “I can still clinch with Bank because he respects me,” Kru Nu said one morning. “If he didn’t respect me, I would die after 2 minutes, because I’m old.” Then he laughed. A father feeling pride in his son’s strength, a mirror for his own passing youth. As much as one can see physical resemblances between father and son (and grandfather and father and son, really), you can also see similarities in their Muay. It’s as much an inheritance as any of it. It’s wonderful.