Day 1 of the Muay Thai Seminar by the legend Ajarn Chai. He is the head of the Thai Boxing Association, U.S.A. He brought Muay Thai to the U.S.A. in 1968. He is the father of Muay Thai in the America. I feel like there was so much information taught to us that I will never remember it all so I wanna get it written down before I forget.
Let me gush a little more, I got to meet him in person, I got to shake his hand, and he even said, “yes, good,” to when he came around to watch me practice the drills and moves. Apparently compliments are rare… he was going around correcting other people on kick stance, their body movement, and execution of the moves/drills.
I make it to Laurel, MD and grab my gear, head into the gym and set my gear down, and down my pre-workout. The gym starts filling up and we are all prepping for the seminar to start. There is a palpable excitement in the room. Its 95 degrees F/ 35 degrees C. The gym itself is a balmy 90 degrees. Then Ajarn Chai enters. We all look over, and my team and I immediately wai. We make our way over to Ajarn Chai and are introduced by Kru Krysta one of my Thai instructors.
Kru Krysta says, “hello Ajarn Chai, these are my students, T, J, J.”
We wai and bow deep and he shakes each of our hands. I fan girl a little and all I can get out are the words, “hello, Arjan Chai, so honored.” I stumble over those words. I am sure I sounded like an idiot. However, we all get about 3 minutes to stretch, and then the seminar/training begins.
We start with shadow boxing. I am trying to remember all the things the Kru have been teaching us. How to visualize your opponent, how to follow through with kicks, and most importantly how to vocalize. I am yelling sok for elbows, tang for knees, and hwaye for kicks.
Ajarn Chai then has us all line up. Counting off 1 to 4, he asked each person with number one to stand on a line, all people with the number 2 stand on a line. Lather rinse and repeat up till 4. There was a good 30 of us and we all lined up in staggering lines. He started with our stance, and moved on to making sure we all stayed in motion on the balls of our feet. I made small changes to my motion per his instructions to everyone and feel so much more at ease with the stance and more constantly on the balls of my feet. He had us moving forward and backward keeping our stance and keeping the bouncing motion. He had us moving in south paw stance, and in orthodox stance. Your kick stance is everything in Thai and it is where you will execute your moves from.
Hand placement for protection during kick stance and movement
We worked on our hand placement. We were constantly moving our hands but keeping them right under eye level. Again I made small changes to the way I kept my hands and it is a big improvement. If you are an orthodox fighter you put your right hand on your face and the left hand just slightly out and away from your face. Constantly moving them in a pulling toward your face motion circular motion. This gives you best visibility and best protection at the same time.
Rear Leg Kick to Rear Teep
The next thing we worked on was rear leg kick to rear teep. Did I mention because this day we are working in gymnasium we had to wear our running/workout shoes? So we had to do our kicks in shoes. This was interesting and some what hard. But what it did do was make us work on the balls of our feet a lot more. This is great, cause it helps for the turn over of our kicks. So we worked on rear kicks to rear teeps. This is hard to do in slow motion because we were not using pads, we had to gently lay our kicks in, and we had to figure out our distance/range management.
The major thing Ajarn Chai wanted us to add/fix/start doing was to execute a diagonal cover of our face with our rear arm, and front arm touching the elbow, as we ax down to add leverage to our kicks.
Front Leg Shield to Front Leg Teep
Ajarn Chai had us shielding with our front leg. We shielded the way our Kru teach us, with our foot flexed and not pointed. He demonstrated that if you point your foot, or if you let it be lax/lazy your shield will not shield anything. Shielding with front leg and then teeping with same leg is hard to do. If you are even a little off balance, you will fall or have to take a step back. We practiced so much I could feel the difference between when I had control and was executing it correctly and when I was off balance.
Break for lunch
We broke for an hour lunch and I had the pleasure of being able to eat with Ajarn Chai. He is a humble gracious man, and truly just amazing. If it sounds like I am just blowing him up because I am star struck. I assure you I am not. If you can ever meet the man. He is sweet and so kind. Willing to answer anyone’s questions, and gives each of his students the utmost respect.
During the seminar he talked bout respect, and how the martial arts world is growing. We are gaining so many more practitioners, but we are moving away from the respect, honor, humility, and humble beginnings we started with. He wants us all to bring that back. Respect your students, respect your masters, respect the art, and give the respect you want to receive.
Thai Lean to Teep
When we returned to the gym. I remarked that it smelled like hard work in there. We had all been sweating so much that the gymnasium had a damp, “hard work” smell to it.
We started working on an old school technique. I am not certain if it is just not used any more, or if it just fell out of favor because other things/moves give you more points in the ring. But we worked on the Thai lean to teep. It involves you holding your hands out, one arm is bent one arm is straight out. You are doing this against your partner. Your partner is doing the same thing. What this did was allow me to feel when my partner was going to move, I could then scoop his arm and elbow him, or scoop his arm and knee him, or just teep him.
Thai elbows 1-9
Ajarn Chai separated out the instructors and had them at the 4 corners of the gym. He had each set of instructors take a group of students about 8 students per group, and teach them one or two of the 9 Muay Thai elbows. He then would go around and ask each group to show him the elbows they were taught. I learned some small tweaks to make each of my elbows a little better. For instance I learned, with the tachmalach (spelling?) also know as putting the flower behind the ear. I need to lift my arm higher to get the spearing elbow to hit its target. Each of the 9 elbows I learned a little tweak to help me execute them better, faster, and with more precision.
- Horizontal elbow
- Upward Diagonal elbow
- Downward Diagonal elbow
- Upward elbow
- Downward Vertical
- Side In elbow
- Side Out elbow
- Tachmalach / putting the flower behind the ear
- Spinning Backward elbow
Crows Think 4 Steps Ahead
One of the side conversations he had with us was that crows think 4 steps ahead. Ajarn Chai has worked with/trained the Dallas Cowboys before. He related a story about when he was talking with the coach. The coach asked him how many steps ahead do you think. Ajarn Chai said 1 steps ahead. The coach told him as a coach he has to think 3 steps ahead to coach his team. He related that crows, those little black birds think 4 steps ahead of us. He said Martial Arts is the same way. When you are in a fight you must think ahead, if your opponent throws this, you can do this, this or this. If you opponent throws that you can do this, this, or this.
Skip Knee #2
Repping out skip knee #2 on the wall is hard. We were working on opening the hips and kneeing in, and or doing a side knee. Opening the hip when you are tired is damn near impossible. But I kept on keeping on. Putting your leg out behind you straight, opening the hip, and leaning in the knee either straight or side knee is what we worked on.
Last but not least we did some pad work. I learned a completely new to me strike called the Matkatune. This is a jab strike that you lean back/cock with your shoulder, and step forward putting the force of your shoulder into it.
- Elbow #6 or Side In
- Rear Knee
- Rear Kick
- Left Teep
It felt so good to kick the pads. We were placing kicks and working with partners trying not to hurt them. But with pads we were able to just lay the kicks in there.
After 3 minutes of doing that drill, we had to do 30 seconds of burn out drill.
- Left #6 elbow
- Right #6 elbow
- Skip knee #2 till time ran out
- Then double right kick
End of Day 1
We finished out the last of our drills. All of us were dripping, and just soaked with our efforts. We all worked hard and I think learned a great deal. Ajarn Chai assembled us on the line again. He spoke to us about what we learned. He spoke about practicing what we learned.
Ajarn Chai called out at a student and asked, “Do you know what it says on your shorts?”
We are all dying laughing.
The student looked startled and worried said, “no sir, I don’t, I got them from Muay Thai Factory Sir.”
Ajarn Chai laughed and says, “I can’t say what it says on your shorts.”
The student looked worried, and we are all laughing at this students predicament.
Ajarn Chai is laughing a lot now and says, “they say #1 fighter.” (I am not certain what he said, cause his accent got thicker and he was laughing, but that was the gist)
Ajarn Chai goes on to say, “be careful where and what Thai shorts you get, cause there are some with bad words on them.”
I made it home. I got the kids dinner and I sat and ate myself. I then I just sat there, regaling my adventures to my husband. I ended up taking a bath with a bath bomb and some epsom salts. This was a first time for both of those things.
I also did the math and I drank over 5 liters of water today. I had to use the restroom very little if at all today, so it seems my body just used it, and expelled it.
Thanks for reading, I hope your weekend is going great. Keep being awesome, and keep working to be the best you can be. I have another day of this seminar and I am so excited. I am a little sore, but am going to be hurting tomorrow I can tell.