So I'm looking through Instagram on Wednesday (the 10th) and I see Kevin Ross announcing he's coming to Vancouver to do a seminar!
In two days.
Right when I'm working (Teaching Muay Thai at UBC Rec.)
Now if you don't know why I'd be choked to miss out on this, then you probably aren't familiar with Kevin Ross is. Here's some background on him -
Pro Muay Thai Record - 31-10 (12 KO's).
–WBC Muay Thai Super Lightweight (140 lbs) International Champion
– WBC Muay Thai Welterweight (147 lbs) National Champion
– USMF Super Lightweight (140 lbs) National Champion
–FIDAM Mexico Welterweight (147 lbs) National Champion
Oh, and he has also fought Saenchai. So that's pretty awesome.
It's been years since I've been to a good Muay Thai or Kickboxing seminar in Van City, and it could be a while since the next, so I really wanted to check this out. But...It's hard to get a class covered on Friday night on short notice. Most people are busy doing fun things or teaching already, but after a few "Sorrys!" I got lucky and Anthony, a very capable, friendly and experienced student at UBC took my class
There's a lot of stuff I want to get to so I am going to skip the rest of the pre-amble just get down to it.
We started off with a Light Warm up of Shadow Boxing. Probably a good way to start so he can see the skill level of the people he'll be teaching. We spent maybe 4 or 5 minutes doing that then we got into some light drills. The whole seminar we had just gloves, no shinguards. We started off nice and slow making contact with every kick in a light way. We did the same thing with just teeps and then just knees. At least I think that was the order we did it in. I can't remember. My brain is kinda mushy right now from sleep deprivation. Anywho...each time we spent a few minutes doing just one strike back and forth. Then we spent a few minutes doing all three.
He emphasized how important it is to go slow, so you can really feel if anything is off and not cover up bad technique with a show of speed/power. Also it's to get used to kicking elbows and other undesirable targets. Because it's will happen sooner or later, so we might as well get used to it now.
Something I totally agree with and was happy to hear. He does this almost every day by the way.
The overall theme for the night was kickboxing style combos with an emphasis on Body shots (liver punch, straight right, right hook etc.) and finishing with leg kicks. This was awesome because landing a good Liver shot is something I have been trying to really work on. He also had us doing a lot of "hand fighting" using our hands to grab, push or pull our opponent's hands/guard in order to set them up for the next strike. We'd spend quite a few minutes on each one as him and Ken (Tran, the coach at Titan) came around and made corrections.
For the sake of simplicity I'm going to use the number system for Punches.
1=Jab. 2=Cross. 3=Hook. 4 = Right Hook.The letter "B" stands for Body. So a 3B = Left Hook to the Body. Clever, right? Right.
Pushing the opponenets hands up and back with the jab while stepping in to hit the 2B and 3B. So, 1-1 Push the guard, while stepping in, then dropping down to hit the body shot. My timing felt a bit off at first but I got it after a couple minutes.
Grab the hand with the hook to pull opponent into the right hand. So 1-2-3 (the grab), pull opponent counter clock wise so they're open for the 2B or 4B.
1-1-Overhand to grab opponents lead hand and pull them into the liver shot.
There were a few more like this, and he'd have us stepping out for big leg kicks at the end. Again, this was with no shinguards so we were going pretty light and really focusing on control and crisp technique each time. My partner, Joe, was really controlled but he's either got bony ass shins or I'm getting soft in my old age, cause my legs were starting to hurt after the, ya know, the 100th or so leg kick.
We also did some off of defense (slipping or parrying incoming straight punches. He had us using some baiting jabs at first but some of the newer students were having trouble with the drill so he simplified it and everyone caught on pretty quick it seemed.
I love that he took the time to get into a lot of details with each strike, and the benefits of doing things different ways. He's prefers a Shovel hook style punch for the liver and he had us really dropping down into the 2B. This is something I normally do anyhow, or at least thought I did but he pointed out I wasn't down far enough.
He also mentioned details about where to be after throwing your kicks, especially to the back leg and how to use your hands to defend yourself while kicking the legs at closer ranges. Very similar to how Duke taught me and how I teach it to others.
The last 20 minutes or so we did a Question and Answer session. "This is my favourite part of doing seminars, and please feel free to ask about anything. I'm pretty much an open book"
A few things that were discussed were:
The difference between Muay Thai vs Kickboxing - Kevin spoke how they are so similar in some ways but they are also like night and day. The scoring and the rules of Muay Thai make it a lot different. And how if you don't have good "Boxing" you can't really become a good Kickboxer.
Sprints vs jogging. "Jogging will help you get your gas tank bigger, but sprints will fill it up faster" Cool way of putting it.
Of course that one question always comes up - "How do you get your shins to the point where they don't hurt?". He said the same thing Coban said when he was asked "Kick a lot of things till your shins hurt a little. But no so much you can't kick anything the next day." He also said that if you don't keep up on it they will get re-sensitized. Something I can attest to, unfortunately.
Some of the other things I remember from the Q&A
Well, I just got back from Milwaukee where I spend the last few days training at the Roufusport HQ. I only had 3 days there but man, I learned a LOT. I got 5 sessions in and in each session there had so much content and attention to detail it felt like a weeks worth of training.
A lot of the stuff Duke teaches is pretty similar to what I teach as well, but he has a lot of insight into the "small" things, and like they say, the Devil is in the Details! I'll go through some of my thoughts on what was taught to me personally, and some of the ideas and concepts and tactics that make Roufusport one of the best Striking gyms in North America.
1. Extension and Snap
One of the many things Duke had me (and everyone else) working on was getting more extension on the punches. It's something I often have to tell students as well but at Duke's they really take it to the next level. The basic 1-2 (with footwork) is practiced for about 5 minutes EVERY class with a focus on proper hip rotation and extension. This is for everyone from White Belt to Black Belt. I also made a point to shadowbox my right cross for 5 minutes, twice a day to help drill it into my head and make it a natural part of my behavior.
As for the snap, everything from punches to kicks to even parrying punches is done with smaller movements followed by a defined "snapping" or bouncing of the technique at the end. This made a big difference in my defensive parry and especially my lead hook. I couldn't believe how much more power I got from it, even though I wasn't winding up or over committing on it. Still need a lot of practice, but man... does it have some kick now!
2. Guard and Stance
This was another small but significant adjustment Duke got me to make. He advocates more of a "hanging" guard, where the hands are a little further out. I have gotten used to keeping a tight guard which I keep my hand close and tight. With the hanging guard you don't get as much power from the distance traveled, but with the proper "snap" of the strike at upon contact, you don't really need to worry about loading up. The basic idea is that the punches travel less distance so you can get more in, and the proper technique (snap) will help with the power. He also got us throwing punches in bunches (along with quick kicks) -aka Machine Gunning- and looking to fit our strikes into the small openings that are created when volume striking. I could write a whole essay on this, but if you want to really learn it from him I suggest checking out his online University/Striking Formula - Duke Roufus Striking University. (that's the link to the 1 Week/1$ Trial)
It seems I have gotten into the habit of trying to breath out on every punch or kick. That's fine if you're only throwing a few at a time, but Duke would often get us to throw 8,9,10 (or even more) strikes at a time. If you try to breathe in and out on each one you'll probably start hyperventilating! And then the speed of your strikes is limited but how quick you can breathe in and out. Instead we'd breathe one continuous breath while throwing a combo, then using our breath to help with the Broken Rhythm. It's nothing crazy, concept wise, but it was one of the little details that just makes things flow so much better.
"What do we teach here -Offense, Defense....Strategy?". Duke asked "We teach Behavior!". This one isn't so new to me, as I pretty much say the same thing almost every class I teach. The idea is to make your training as realistic as possible. Doing a defense drill? Well, the person throwing the attack should make it as true as possible - as if they were sparring. Hitting pads? Don't just walk up and throw a 1-2 and stand there - use footwork and feints before you start, and bring your guard back and use proper footwork at the end of the attack as well. Make every attack, defense, every movement meaningful, EVERY TIME, and you'll make the proper way of doing things a natural part of your behavior.
So those are just a few of the things I picked up there. There was a LOT more, and if you're interested in learning more then I highly suggest checking out the Striking University. There's a 23 week curriculum to work on, Member Only Videos (whole classes at his gym being recorded, behind the scenes stuff at Glory and TUF) and an Ask Duke section in the forums. He replies quickly and has even made videos lessons to answer specific questions posted there which is pretty awesome.
Here are 5 Simple things we can do each morning to get us going on the right path for the rest of the day. I'll explain each one in more detail below.
1- Drink Water. This is probably the simplest and easiest thing you can do, and has quite a few benefits. Since you probably haven't had any water since before bed, you're definitely due for a glass or two. There's a tonne of claims out there saying that drinking water first thing will do everything from give you nice skin, to burn fat to cure cancer. Since I can't find any sources on these I won't bother claiming them as truth. What I do know is if you are dehydrated, you will feel tired far quicker, you're more likely to have digestion problems and your brain, heart and lungs will have to work harder. Your cardiac output can be reduced by 5- 10% if you're only 3% dehydrated.(source) Most people need about 1 liter of H20 for every 25 Kilos (roughly 50lbs) they weigh. That means a 150lbs person needs roughly 3 liters of water (which can also come from other sources). Get a jump start on that and get it in first thing!
2. Bullet Proof Your Coffee.
"What the hell are you talking about?" is what you might be thinking. It's quite simple Bulletproof Coffee:
- Take the best coffee you can find (some buy the real deal from The Bulletproof Exec), add organic grass fed butter and MCT oil, blend it and enjoy.
I personally use local Organic Coffee (Salt Spring Island Beans) and since I can't find grassfed butter here I use organic Coconut Oil instead. I also put a bit of cinnamon for flavour and organic dark cocoa (helps prevent caffeine leaching iron from you system) into the blender as well. It's delicious, give you a tonne of useful energy (we mostly need fat for Oxidative system) and promotes fat loss, and brain function! And did I mention it's delicious? If you want to learn more about it click the Bulletproof Exec link above
I know getting out of bed can be tough enough, but a brief exerices session first thing can do wonders for you. In can help your body burn extra calories throughout the day, get your blood pumping (which will help wake up your foggy brain) and if you don't make it to the gym that day, at least you got something in.
you don't have to start off with a crazy intense session, either. A quick jog, some burpess, even just doing some push ups to start. Once you make it a habit slowly add a few more reps or rounds. One of my favourite is to do TABATA a couple times a week. It's quick (under 4 minutes) and will kick you butt!
Now this won't be for everyone, and I can't say everyone should do it, but if you're a healthy adult (as in a doctor says so, not what you think) who has been exercising for awhile already there's no reason why you can't. Except that it's hard and kinda sucks, but in a good way. The protocol is simple. Work as hard as possible for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat 7 more times. So 8 Rounds of 20W:10R. And by work, I mean full effort, running for your life work, not lazy ass jumping jacks.
Personally I think that Burpees are the best exercise to use, since they require no equipment and pretty much use the full body. They also don't require much skill, so when you get tired (and you WILL get tired) you don't need to worry about your form being off and potential injuries.
If you can't do Burpees, then omit the push-up. If that is still to hard, then skip the jump and just do Squat Thrusts. For variety, you can incorporate Mountain climbers, Squats, Kettle Bell Swings or any other full body intense exercise.
What are some benefits? Well, other than it's only 4 minutes
NOTE: If you are already training hard for more than an hour a day, then the Tabata protocol should be considered with your coach before adding to your workload.
4. Make a Shake-
If you're already eating really healthy then this might not be necessary, but for me (and many people I know) this is a great way to increase the amount of quality nutrients you get. I keep mine simple - almond or coconut milk (natural and unsweetened), a bit of fruit (one banana, or half a banana and some berries) a handful of spinach, half an avocado and some Vega protein powder. Sometimes I add some cocoa in as well.
I am not vegan or anti dairy, but there is some research out there that shows milk consumption may effect the bodies ability to absorb other nutrients such as flavinoids and phytonutrients from berries and chocolate and anti-oxidants from Spinach. I am not sure what it is in milk that does this exactly, so I just avoid all Dairy (including Whey and Greek yogurt) all together when I am eating my veggies!
This is great way to get 2-3 servings of fruit and vegetables, protein, and help with maintaining hydration.
5. FIsh Oil-
Fish Oil is the bomb! It helps your body metabolize fat, increases function in the brain and eyes, increase protein synthesis, decrease protein breakdown, enhance immune function, improve insulin sensitivity, improve nutrient delivery to cells and best of all reduces inflammation!
Unfortunately most people do not supplement with it, and those who do, are not usually taking enough. On the bottle of Jameson Brand it says to take 3 caps (or 3 grams) a day. The bottle of Kirkland (Costco) I have it says to take 4 a day. This seems about right, except that I don't need 3-4 grams of oil, I need about 2-3 grams of EPA and DHA. Now one capsule of Kirkland only has 90mg of EPA and 110mg of DHA, That means I need take about 20 a day! That's a lot. The Jameson brand is a bit better as it's EPA (the one that helps with inflammation) has 180 mg, but i still need about 12 grams a day to get the 2 grams of EPA.
Whichever brand you buy, or type of oil (krill, salmon, anchovies) you take, make sure to check the amount of EPA/DHA and adjust your intake accordingly. Start small, and slowly add a few more grams per day over the course of a few weeks. See if there is any unwanted side effects before going all out and eating 12-16 caps a day.
That said, I recently started upping my intake and I have noticed a quite a bit of difference, mainly in how my knotted muscled are less sore and my recovery from training is better (though that is purely anecdotal). I take 4 in the morning, 4 in the afternoon and 4 more before bed.
We are now an official Duke Roufus "Roufusport" affiliate!
If you'd don't know who Duke Roufus is, let me give you a brief rundown of some of his accomplishments -
On top of those amazing credentials he is also a top coach; not just in Kickboxing, but in MMA as well. Some of his more notable fighters are:
What does this mean for us?
Well, for starters, Duke was one of the guys who I first looked to when I started coaching. Doing something is one thing, being able to break it down and teach to others is a skill set unto itself. Duke's ability to break things down and teach the details set him apart from a lot of other coaches. My ability to hold the pads, teach large classes as well as 1-on-1 with people largely comes from his teaching style. I have been following him for quite awhile, especially the last few months in his Striking University. I truly believe he is one of the best coaches I've ever seen teach, and I have seen a lot!
Not only will we have access to his tested and true Kickboxing curriculum, we'll also have personal access to Duke himself! Have a question for him? I'll be happy to ask on your behalf. Want to fight in Kickboxing or MMA? As a Roufusport member you can go train with the elite fighters and coaches in Milwaukee! Want to get certified or ranked (think belt promotions)? We'll be doing that too!
On top of that we'll be starting some new programs to reward students for consistency, participation, mentoring and plain old hard work.
So look forward to new techniques, drills, concepts and taking your Kickboxing game to a whole new level!!
PS - Sorry for all the exclamation marks but I am beyond EXCITED for this!!
Here I am in Pai on Day 7 of training. My wifi and access to proper computers has been quite limited so I will try to get everything I remember from my notes in one post. It will be long. And now with VIDEO! YEAH!.
Coming to Pai was very high on my list both for personal reasons (this place has a very special place in the hearts of my wife and I) as well as for training. Pai is home to Charn Chai Muay Thai and famed trainer/fighter True Bee. He has fought over 300 times and on top of training Thai Champions he has also had a hand in training K-1 and Glory Kickboxing Champions out of Mike's Gym in Holland. This is where fighters like Gokan Saki, Artur Kyshenko, Badr Kari and Alistar Overeem have gained their skills to become world champions. This is perfect for me as it has the best of both worlds in traditional Muay Thai and Dutch Style Kickboxing!
I took the 762 turns up from Chiang Mai to Pai on Wednesday morning, checked into a Bungalow and then after a quick nap went straight to training. It's even hotter here in Pai then CNX and I was sweating buckets in the 40C heat on the way to the gym. I got there right before 3:00pm thinking I'd have a few minutes to get siturated. Nope. Unlike most gyms here this one is run on a very punctual clock. Bee saw me, asked if I had shorts, and when I replied yes said "get changed and start skipping in 1 minute!" There was about 30 people training and when there's that many the trainers need to keep everything flowing and organized well. No mucking about here.
After a quick warm up we got right into sparring. Bee asked me if I knew what I was doing, I said yes, and that was it. Gear on and go! I sparred with quite a few people - from Chile to Australia, Holland, Thailand, Hungary, America... everything was very cool, even though the mats were packed. The best part was sparring with Bee though. Man, this guys is very good, very quick and has some tricks. He was throwing leg kicks and I was doing a typical Thai style check. On the third one he quickly changed the kick to an ankle hook and sent me flying to the mats. This would not be the last time he tossed or dropped me with barely an effort. I got him to show it to me and I will definitely be practicing it and trying it out when I get back to Vancouver!
After that we clinched for awhile and that went pretty well. Sabai Sabai for the most part, with one exception. With a group this big you'll always get that ONE GUY. I won't get into it too much but let's just says those that go too hard are soon shown the floor.
Typical finisher was next. 50 round kicks on each leg, 100 knees and then pushups. Then came the abs....
We sit in a circle and each person counts to 10. Not ten reps, just count to 10 fast. Probable about 3 reps per person Keep in mind that's still about 90 reps. We did about 8 or 9 exercises (including planks, side planks and superman) so somewhere around 500 reps and then isometric holds. This is done everyday, 2 x a day. You can try to slack on it but be careful, Tree (another trainer there) was walking around with a stick wacking people who got lazy. That stick is pretty much used whenever you slack, do something wrong, or just happen to be walking by a trainer who's feeling in the mood to whack someone. It's not super painful, just a bit of a sting (to go along with the Bee name?) but it definietly keeps you on your toes! After that, we stretched and that was it. For 50 THB you can stay and eat with everyone or just hang out and talk.
Very tight community there with people just hanging out between sessions playing chess or cards or relaxing.
Day 2 at Charn Chai went pretty much the same, only with a lot more pad rounds. I did 3 x 4 minute rounds with Phone Det (No idea how it's spelled, but something like that). He didn't really seem to into it and didn't show me much, but I got a good workout. He was super helpful in the clinching that came after. Unfortunately he was more helpful to my 230lbs training partner who went from being manageable to beastly very quickly, which my sore neck will attest to!
After that was a S&C Circuit with Bag rounds and weights as well as some calisthenics. 1 minute work with a 10 second rest to get to the next station. Pretty well organized and though not super taxing definitely complimented the rest of the training session. More kicks, knees and abs followed and then stretching with Tree. He also led a "bow out" but in a very comical and entertaining manner. I haven't worked with him much but I hope too because he really seems like he's having fun but still taking the training seriously.
Day 3 - Today was technique drills taught by Ben. These were very, very similar to what I do in Canada and more along the lines of the Dutch Style as far as the fast hand combos and low kicks you see in Glory and K-1. Claudia was my training partner and other than a few questions we had everything flowed really well, except that the mats were a little too packed. Here's a quick video I took of one of the combos. If you've done my class I am sure this looks really familiar:
After that we (Claudia and I) started on Pads. She got my trainer from the day before (and like me, was not overly impressed) but I got to go with Bee! And man, what a treat. He made so many little tweaks and showed me some very simple ideas to help with my movements and really get some good power in my kicks. He advocates leaning back and to the side while throwing a body kick as opposed to coming up and in. He also had me throwing my hand out to the side even more, as opposed to "reaching for the back pocket" like I am used to.
He also threw me on my ass again. Sorry, no video for that.
After that it I was pretty much on my own. I caught my breath while talking with Claudia for a bit then joined in on the S&C circuit. I didn't feel like I need to go too hard on the weights but I did push myself on the bags when I had a chance, doubling up on them a couple times if there was an open space.
Kicks/Knees/Pushups and Ab finisher then stretched. Also, Bee broke his stick on someone who was slacking so much - he must have hit that guy like 15 times while doing abs.
Tomorrow: More Sparring!
Ok - Day 4 found me at a new gym, right in town near the Night Market and Kalare Boxig Stadium. Why did I make the switch? A few reasons.
1- I slept about 2 hours last night. I woke at 4:45 and knew I wouldn't get back to sleep and dreaded the 5:45am alarm.
2- Mornings at Hongthong are slow, and it's mostly focused on conditioning as opposed to technique, which I do not prefer.
3- I thought it would be good to check out a new gym to compare, should I come back this way again
I picked Sit Thaharnaek for a few reasons, not of least is their start time of 9:00am! When I finally woke and was feeling ok it was about 7:30 and most gyms are already in full swing by then. It was actually closer to 8:20 when I found this on Muaythailand and saw the start time at 9:00 so I brushed my teeth, double checked my gear bag and took off!
I have been to this area many times as this is where the Night Market is (where I got my sweet shorts last night, pictured right), but navigating the one way streets on my motorbike was a just wee bit of a hassle so I got there right at 9:00. Which, to be honest, doesn't really matter. Everyone here is on Thai Time, which means everything starts/ends 20 minutes later than stated.
So I arrive and I am greeted by Kru Hua's young son, who I think is named Fah Baet. He showed me the lockers and asked me my name, then asked me if I would like some nam rawn (water, hot) to make some coffee, which of course I did! I then talked to another falang named Matt from Philly and we chatted about the gym, what I should expect and how freaking hot it was in there. "IN" being the operative word, as this is one of the few indoor gyms I've seen/heard about here. Kru Hua showed up and got us to do the warm up (skip for 10 minutes, then stretch) then we started the workout.
It was just Matt, me, Fah and I think his sister, who's name escapes me. Fah is 9 years old and his sister is 15. They have over 100 fights between them, but you wouldn't know it to talk to them. They are both very friendly and happy kids, and the sister was very sweet and a bit shy as we spoke as she doesn't speak English well, but she got a good chuckle from my crappy Thai.
Training went like this:
1 Minute Rounds Straight Punches for 10 Minutes - I usually reserve this for finishes in my classes, but when in Thailand ...
We would throw straight 1-2's for 1 minute, speeding up at 40 seconds (20 seconds left, FASTER), 50 seconds and 5. The cadence was probably around 2 punches per second at the start and about 6-7 at the end. Hua had a big yellow stick with him and I know enough to keep my head down and just punch when the trainers say to punch! We would then rest for 1 round which also included 10 situps and 10 pushups. Whatever was left was your rest time (so about 30 seconds). Then we did...
3 x 4 minute rounds on the bag
3 x 4 minute rounds on the pads
And... that was pretty much it. It's up to the fighter to work or not after the main training so other than a few more rounds on the bag that was it. Doesn't seem like a lot but I did get a TONNE out of the Pad rounds. Not only is there a longer break (2 minutes) between to talk and ask questions, Kru Hua showed me a LOT of cool stuff during the rounds and would get me to repeat it a few times to make sure it stuck. I really appreciated this and found it was the one thing lacking at the previous camp.
Checking kicks with opp hand outstretched to prevent follow up Punch
Turning/inside pivot to avoid knee, clinch and knee.
Turn/Trip in clinch.
Clinching Arm bump to throw elbow over top
Round kick to check, no foot down between.
Teep, rope bounce, flying elbow (or punch, many options here!)
There was a few more but those were the ones that were new to me. Kru Hua's English is very, very good and we spoke a bit about my previous training. He asked if I knew Andy from Lanna because we're both from BC, and when I said I did and had trained with him he said that I should come and fight for his gym instead! I told him I had no plans to fight and he said that I should think about it and maybe come back if/when I want to. Pretty flattering coming from #2 ranked Ratchadamnoen fighter!
As we were finishing up I noticed the kids doing their finisher. 100 Situps while their mom hits them in the belly with a focus mitt! While, of course, holding their youngest sibling. It's definitely a family affair at Sit Thaharnaek!
Well, Day 3 was pretty awesome. I had Sunday off as there is no training anywhere. Not one gym is open anywhere in Thailand as far as I know. I skipped the morning session in favour of having a proper breakfast with Claudia and her dad and then explore Wat Chiang Man, which is the oldest temple in the area, built in 1297.
I also wanted to save some energy for what would likely be a grueling afternoon session. I went out the gym around 3 :15 or so to make sure I'd have enough time to battle traffic and to get some food. Glad I did too because the normal 20 minute commute turned into about 40. The Super Highway gets pretty goddamn crazy that time of day.
Anywho, I got to the gym and it was biz as usual. Skipped and shadow boxed for 30 minutes then started on Pads with Gen. Same Same. Then I did my bag rounds for 20 minutes. Unlike Chinnarach's gym there is no one around the bag area to hit you or correct techniques. You're expected to work . That's it. After that we all got in the ring and worked clinch.
The way it's done here is the way I try to do it back home - Sabai Sabai = Easy Easy. Not sloppy or lazy, but relaxed and taking care of your partner. There was anywhere from 8-12 of us in the ring at a time and there's isn't a tonne of room to move, so you're expected to watch out for each other and to move out of the way for others if they're fighting soon or if they just happen to be having a good exchange. By training this way you can work on technique properly, every day, and not get injured.
I was pretty on par with everyone else there, except Cody, who eats, sleeps and breathes Muay Thai. Seriously. The guy sleeps on the floor in the house next to the gym. He got me with some nice trip throws which I was not expecting. When I crossed faced him into the corner he climbed up on me like a koala and did a nice spike elbow to the top of my head. Lightly, of course, but if that was real fight I'd been in big trouble.
After that we sparred full kickboxing. I went with Lennart, who is still pretty new. He hasn't learned to use his reach yet but when he does he''ll be quite dangerous, I am sure. I did really well with him and since he was new took the time to work on some of then new techniques I had been taught. After that Gen saw me and said "NEW STUDENT! YOU SPAR ME NOW!!".
This was a whole new level of fighter for me. The guy has over 300 fights and anything I know or can do he has seen it 1000 times before. That said, I did ok at the start, landing some nice teeps and countering his body shots with uppercuts. But I'm sure at any time he wanted to he'd light me up. We worked on some kick catching - and he corrected my footwork a bit. Near the end we started to go a bit faster and harder and he hit me (lightly) with a beautiful elbow to the body. This was the same elbow he had me working on during pads rounds, which I thought at the time "This would never work!". Man, was I wrong. He hit me at Maybe 10%-20%, just nicking me near the liver. I was ok but I immediately felt that numbing, semi paralysis that a nice liver shot brings about.
Midway through I got hit with something and my nose bled a bit. I hopped out of the ring and stuffed some paper up my nose and got back in the ring after asking if it was OK too do so. I got a few looks from the trainers and a few of the other Thai's who were watching from outside the ring. I am not sure if they were looks of respect, disgust or just concern (maybe a combo of all 3?) but I finished up with Joe and then seeing the time, ended my session at 6:10 with 200 knees and 100 teeps. I was due fr dinner at 7:00 and didn't want to keep anyone waiting for me.
So yeah, the 4:00 heat wasn't so bad and it was well worth it to get to learn some new clinch techniques and to spar with a high, high caliber fighter. Now I know I can handle it I plan on doubling up some days up in Pai at Charn Chai (True Bee) Gym!!
Alrighty, despite some initial malady Day 2 went pretty well. I woke at 5am, pretty awake (got about 6 hours which is amazing even at the best of times for me) and headed off to the gym around 6. It only takes 20 minutes but I wanted to get some real food and not keep Claudia up. I was feeling really good which I attribute to drinking tonnes of water and taking some Amino Acids before and after training. I am not one for supplements anymore (I used to use a LOT) but I find BCAA and some glutamine are essential for dealing with soreness and recovery.
However, my good health soon changed shortly after arriving to the gym. The gates were locked but there is a food vendor out side who grills bananas, taro and other goodies inside banana leaf with rice. Very tasty and not too filling but gives some good carbs for the 2.5 hour session. Right after eating I started feeling really, really off. Probably from food the night before but possible from accidentally using sink water too - not sure, but I am really glad I learned some Thai before coming here. Simple things like "Where" (tee nye ee) and "toilet" are good things to learn when going to developing countries. Well, any country really.
Anywho, I started training shortly after (around 7:00am). I was the only one there so I just skipped and shadow boxed on my own. A few others showed up later and went for a run. I am doing my best to stay out of the sun, especially as I was still feeling a bit nauseous but now that I am acclimatized somewhat I'll be running with them tomorrow. I continued on my own for about 45 minutes when I was then called into the ring by Joe. We did 3 x 4 min rounds then I went and hit the bag for about 30 minutes on my own, finishing with 200 knees and 100 teeps. I was feeling a bit dismayed as I had been there for 90 minutes and had yet to learn anything new or have my technique corrected. If I just want a work out, I can stay in Canada and do that, right?
That changed quickly enough though. The other Nak Muay finished their rounds and then we geared up to work on technique. I was paired with Eddy, from Switzerland. He's really good and we're roughly the same size, which was perfect. We started off on kick techniques and were coached very thoroughly by Joe (mostly) and Gen. There was a LOT of techniques taught from blocking and catching/returning. Some cool tricks involving misdirection and changing hands before landing a counter. I'll try to get video tomorrow. The cool part was the ideas behind what to do and when, and of course why. Strategy and Tactics. Perfect.
Here are a few things that were taught:
Eddy fights similarly to me - lots of low kicks. Joe calls this Farang kicks (pronounced "falang" = foreigner) . He said if Fighter A lands 10 Leg kicks and Fighter B lands 10 Body kicks, Fighter B wins. Even if he only landed 8 to 10, he would still win. They also admonished us (well, Eddy mostly) for moving back to much. Again, according to Thai rules, moving back too much is a sign of weakness, or lack of conditioning. This will lose you a fight if it goes to the judges, who judge the fight as a whole. He said that when you're at the fights you'll hear the trainers screaming out "Strong!!" to their fighters if they look like they're evading too much or getting tired. Basically, keep your poker face on and keep pushing forward.
As for the kicks, he said it's better to block in the first 2 rounds and start catching in rounds 3, 4 and 5. I am not completely clear as to why. From what I gathered, the first 2 rounds are to keep it simple and low risk and to ascertain if your opponent is going to try some sneaky stuff. Basically a feeling out process. The 3rd round is when things start to get serious and the real dangerous techniques start to come out. More catching, throws, elbows and such. I watched a few fights last night at Tae Pha Stadium (I use stadium very, very loosely here) and the legit fights did indeed seem to follow that protocol.
Joe and Gen taught all this in very good English while demonstrating and, of course, joking around and making us laugh. Joe kept pointing to Eddy and then would do these funny dances to remind him not to back up and such. Good guys these two, getting your ass kicked by the heat and hard work is much better when you get a good laugh in here and there. I feel this is pretty typical of most of the Thai trainers I meet (they don't call this the Land of 1000 Smiles for nothing), but you can tell these guys really enjoy teaching us and having some fun, too.
Today (Sunday) is a day off so I'll just be chilling before going to get some custom shorts made (very excited) but I really wish I could train some more. I was wide awake at 5:20 and ready to go! Looking forward (sort of) to tomorrow - Going to try to do the late session and get some clinch work in!
Day 1 of Training at Chiang Mai
Finally! After 4 months of planning and three days of traveling I finally made it to Hongthong gym, home of trainers and twin brothers Gen and Joe.
We (my wife Claudia and I) woke at 5:30 after about 4-5 hours of sleep. I was groggy but excited to go, and a lack of sleep was not going to stop me. Besides, caffeine and a bike ride is enough to wake me up! We quickly ate a quick breakfast of croissants and amino acids at the ubiquitous 7-11 then rode our motorbikes about 30 minutes south and arrived at 6:40am, 20 minutes before training started. We were greeted by Christian, a friendly and experienced New Zealander (who now trains/lives in Sydney), who took us through a quick run down of how our 2 hour session was going to go. I have trained here (Thailand) before and know the basics of Thai style training, but I just let him take us through the basics and try to learn and absorb as much of that as possible. I am a big believer in mastering fundamentals so I would rather focus on that then act like I know it all and miss out on some simpler but effective stuff. And I am glad I did!
He took us through some simple drills with a focus on elbows, stance and defense (all of which I need!) before we started our bag and pad work with the twins.
For those who do not know how it works here it goes something like this:
Skip or run (I opted to skip with a HEAVY rope today)
Pad Work (4 minutes work, 1 minute rest, 3 Rounds)
Clinch or Spar
100 Teeps (front/puch kicks)
I will get into the details of each later but the Pad Rounds - man, that was tough but fun! Learned some cool elbows techniques (involving the body, if you're reading this Tom - I'll show you when I get back) and lots of knees and kicks. Nothing to technical or new, but I don't expect them to show a brand new guy off the street all the cool stuff right away. That needs to be earned, which I plan on doing! Probably by training from 3-5 in 42*C heat when "it's more fun" according to my pad holder, Gen. I don't think I have ever wanted to do something so much while at the same time dread it more than this.
Since I've converted to eating Promal, I've been trying my best to buy organic vegetables, free range chicken and eggs and grass fed beef as s possible, but the prices are often 50%-70% more. I was wondering to myself how often I REALLY NEED to buy organic; is it worth the extra cash every time? So I did a little digging and this is what I found - Hope you like it!
(Please keep in mind most of these tests were from 2010, but it's a good place to start)
Not all of us can afford to go 100% organic every time we shop. The solution? Focus on those foods that come with the heaviest burden of pesticides, additives and hormones. According to the Environmental Working Group, consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating only the cleanest. If Canadian Adults get their recommended 2011 Canada Food Guide 7+ daily servings of fruits and veggies from the 15 most contaminated, they could consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat the 15 least contaminated conventionally grown produce ingest less than 2 pesticides daily.
EWG has been publishing guides to the "dirty dozen" of most pesticide contaminated foods since 1995, based on statistical analysis of testing conducted by the USDA and the FDA. The dirty dozen list only reflects measurable pesticide residues on the parts of the foods normally consumed (i.e. after being washed and peeled). The following 12 foods are the worst offenders, along with substitutes if you cannot buy organic.
It's also important to remember that this dirty dozen list provides no information about antibiotics or hormones, or about the impact of producing food on the surrounding environment.
Celery has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the chemicals that are used on conventional crops.
Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include broccoli, radishes and onions.
A perennial entrant on the Dirty Dozen list, 64 pesticides detected in residue on this veggie make celery rank No. 1 in the 2010 analysis, up from No. 4 in 2009.
Multiple pesticides are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards.
Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include watermelon, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit.
Peaches, No. 1 on the Dirty Dozen list in 2009, rank No. 2 in 2010; 62 pesticides have been detected in residue on peaches.
If you buy strawberries out of season, they're most likely imported from countries that use less-stringent regulations for pesticide use.
Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include kiwi and pineapples.
Up from No. 6 in 2009, strawberries rank No. 3 on the 2010 Dirty Dozen list. Why? 59 pesticides have been detected in residue on strawberries.
Like peaches, apples are typically grown with the use of poisons to kill a variety of pests, from fungi to insects. Scrubbing and peeling doesn't eliminate chemical residue completely, so it's best to buy organic when it comes to apples. Peeling a fruit or vegetable also strips away many of their beneficial nutrients.
Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include watermelon, bananas and tangerines
Down from No. 2 in 2009, apples still rank among the dirtiest fruits and vegetables, with 42 different pesticides having been detected as residue.
New on the Dirty Dozen list in 2010, blueberries are treated with as many as 52 pesticides, making them one of the dirtiest berries on the market.
With 33 different types of pesticides found on nectarines, they rank up there with apples and peaches among the dirtiest tree fruit.
Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include, watermelon, papaya and mango.
7. Bell Peppers
Peppers have thin skins that don't offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They're often heavily sprayed with insecticides.
Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include green peas, broccoli and cabbage.
Tests have found 49 different pesticides on sweet bell peppers.
New on the list for 2010, spinach can be laced with as many as 48 different pesticides, making it one of the most contaminated green leafy vegetable.
Traditionally kale is known as a hardier vegetable that rarely suffers from pests and disease, but it was found to have high amounts of pesticide residue when tested this year.
Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include cabbage, asparagus and broccoli.
Even locally grown cherries are not necessarily safe. In fact, in one survey in recent years, cherries grown in the U.S. were found to have three times more pesticide residue then imported cherries.
Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include raspberries and cranberries.
Government testing has found 42 different pesticides on cherries.
America's popular spud re-appears on the 2010 dirty dozen list, after a year hiatus. America's favorite vegetable can be laced with as many as 37 different pesticides.
Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include eggplant, cabbage and earthy mushrooms.
Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically only imported grapes make the 2010 Dirty Dozen list). Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides during different growth periods of the grape, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape's thin skin. Remember, wine is made from grapes, which testing shows can harbor as many as 34 different pesticides.
Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include kiwi and raspberries.
Dan Slobodin -