Muay Thai Seminar with Nakapan Phugephorn: The counter fighter is exquisite.

I had the incredible ability and honor to be able to go to a 2 hour Muay Thai seminar with Nakapan Phugephorn. 1/26/2020

He is a Martial Arts legend and owner of Beta Academy in Washington, DC. “Nakapan is a passionate life-long martial artist with over 20 years of experience practicing, teaching and competing in the martial arts. He began his journey in 1993, studying Shaolin Kung Fu. Mental discipline and physical conditioning gained from consistent practice later lead him to a fruitful competitive career in the traditional fighting arts and included over 50 championship titles!” (credit: description taken from advert for the Muay Thai seminar flyer on the Pure Performance Martial Arts Center.)

I love going to learn skills and techniques from different Martial Artists. You get different points of view, different ways of attacking and executing a skill, and different skills.

In this seminar I learned some techniques that I have noticed other people doing. However, I have never, been able to dissect it and figure out how to do that skill. I was so excited when we were working on them. I love learning new techniques, and attacks, counters, and shields. I also messed up a lot. I am going to have to work on them more.

Nakapan said, “counter fighting, is the highest form of fighting, it is the hardest, and it is elegant.”

He also said, “counter fighting is not just waiting for some one else to attack. It is the art of drawing your opponent out, to attack you.”

This really resonated with me. I have been training and working to make myself better. My coach Tony said a few weeks ago that he wants to work with me to start working on my reaction time, and my counter fighting. At first my brain was being mean to me, telling me that my reaction and counters are crap. But hearing Nakapan, say that it is the highest form of fighting, that it is the hardest part of fighting. It made me realize… no it made my brain realize that it is the next part of my training. I am actually moving forward in training. I am honing my skills and I am working to be a great fighter.

I was really down on myself, but I realized something. So long as I have hope, the hope of getting better, the hope of improving, and the hope of being the best I can be, I can work and keep working to do anything.

Anyway enough scribbling down my thoughts and feelings, on to the training we did yesterday.

  1. Five count drill
    • jab, rear leg kick
    • jab, cross, lead leg kick
    • jab, cross, hook, rear leg kick
    • jab, cross, hook, cross, lead leg kick
    • jab, cross, hook, cross, body hook, rear leg kick


      Counter fighting drills
  2. Lean back from opponents jab, return an overhand cross/rear punch, lead leg four count (lead leg kick, cross, hook, rear leg kick).
  3. Perry jab from opponent, return an overhand cross/rear punch, lead leg four count (lead leg kick, cross, hook, rear leg kick).
  4. Pop down opponent jab, and return a cross right away, lead leg 4 count (lead leg kick, cross, hook, rear leg kick).
  5. Flow kick and finish with a lead leg four count (lead leg kick, cross, hook, rear leg kick)
    • you counter a inner lead leg kick from an opponent by (jumping, spinning, and landing on your lead leg away from opponents kick), and kicking simultaneously kicking the back of your opponents lead leg.
    • the more contact you allow opponent to get on your lead leg, the harder your kick to their back leg will be
  6. Square back incoming leg kick and finish with a lead leg four count (lead leg kick, cross, hook, rear leg kick)
    • lateral back lead leg as incoming leg kick comes in to avoid being kicked, don’t shift weight to the now rear leg, but return same leg you lateraled back to round house kick from a south paw stance.
  7. Teep as an opponent tries to do a rear leg kick (this is just timing, but will stop them dead in their tracks)
    • Nakapan said that a teep is the longest and fastest weapon you have, and when timed right will get to opponent before a leg kick, torso kick, or head kick can come in.
  8. Sparring using the techniques we learned

I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to learn from Nakapan, and getting to meet him. He is very sweet, answers any questions, and wants to spread the love of Muay Thai. It seems from talking with him after the seminar, that he like Ajarn Chai want to spread Muay Thai and empower people to help others learn Muay Thai.

I also met some really cool people and hope to visit their gyms as well. I love that our Martial Arts community on the whole is open and loving. We try to be inclusive and understanding of all people. We are one big tribe.

Thanks for reading. If you have questions please feel free to ask and I will try to answer. Keep working to be the best you that you can be.

Muay Thai Seminar with Ajarn Surachai “Chai” Sirisute Day 2

Photo credit to MD Thai Boxing who took the group photo and said we could have it. This is the Day 2 of the seminar group photo.

5 hours of Muay Thai training. This was Day 2, and the final day. I cannot put into words, in a way that would do justice to how the seminar with with Ajarn Surachai “Chai” Sirisute was.

I am sore everywhere. I worked so hard and we drilled so hard, that I damn near vomited. It was fantastic. It was the hardest I have worked since I had that herniated disk in my back that was pressing on my sciatica nerve. I have been holding back just that last 10%…just cause I was/am scared of hurting myself again. However, it felt good to get in there and do it.

I am so proud of myself and my fellow student. I got a compliment from Kru Karo. I heard it by way of my Kru Krysta, that Kru Karo said, “she has great form.” Kru Krysta told me about it at lunch today. Then Kru Jason said I executed a set of knees and a drill fantastically.

As always I will try to put down what I remember, but I am pretty tired and wrecked right now. However, wrecked in a good way. =)

Kick Stance and Footwork

We started off with kick stance and of course footwork today. Because in Thai Boxing or Muay Thai, the footwork and kick stance are everything. If you are not in the right stance, it makes everything you do be it striking, or countering, or shielding that much harder.

Drill with elbow and knee

  1. Left hand reaches
  2. Right hand pushes opponents arm at elbow away from you
  3. Left hand Tachmalach #8 elbow
  4. Left hand head control
  5. Right hand bicep control
  6. Right curved knee

Clench Work

We worked on entries and how to get into a full plumb clench and how to remove a person when they have a full plumb clench on you.

Clench Counters and Entries

This is a drill we did today.

  1. Your opponent reaches out and tries to grab you in a clench with their left arm
  2. You pinch their arm with your shoulder and head
  3. Slap their arm down and out of the way
  4. You grab their neck in full clench
  5. Duck Stance
  6. Stand Tall
  7. Bracing your elbows on their collar bones

Counters:

#1 Cross Face

  1. If you arms are outside their clench
  2. Push their face away with palm of your hand
  3. Swim in your arms to clench
  4. Duck stance

#2 Wedge Over and Under Prayer Hands

  1. Opponent has full plumb on you
  2. Control elbow on one side
  3. Opposite elbow you wedge over arm you don’t control, and under the arm you do control
  4. Make prayer hands under your opponents arm
  5. Drop your elbow to your hip
  6. This will get them to release their hand

#3 Spike Elbow to the Bicep

  1. Opponent has full plumb on you
  2. Control elbow on one side
  3. Opposite elbow you bring your arm over, and grab elbow you control
  4. Drop your weight and elbow to your hip
  5. This will cause the opponents arm to release from your neck
  6. Elbow your opponent and swim in for full plumb
  7. Duck Stance

#4 Pull down and Push Up

  1. Opponent has full plumb on you
  2. Control their elbows
  3. Hip in
  4. Pull down on one elbow while pushing up on the other elbow
  5. knee the thigh
  6. curve knee to body
  7. Swim in and get plumb
  8. Duck stance

I know there were two more but I can’t remember them right now.

Skip Knee #2

We worked on these and I got complimented on my form and flexibility. I am a short person and I can knee another person as high as my shoulders. It is tiring but I can do it. I have some things to work on because I am far from perfect.

To practice getting over shin blocks Ajarn Chai recommends that we curve them over a chair. This will help with our form and make us stronger.

For a burn out after drills he had us doing the following:

  1. Clench
  2. #6 elbow
  3. Off balance opponent
  4. 6 rapid skip knee #2
  5. Spin opponent out
  6. Double Kick
  7. Teep

Third Man Out

We did a really cool drill called Third Man Out. This was a 4 minute round. Where we are clenching with our partner and we have a third person with their glove on the man in the middles shoulder. We then clench and try to get the upper hand. Whistle blows and the one holding onto the back of the other takes their place, and clench spars with the third person. One person is clenching and sparing for 4 minutes total, while your opponent changes.

This may not be a great description but its the best I can do. My body is tired and ready to sleep. =)

Thai Boxing Association 4 count Left Kick to Right

We worked on a 4 count L to R. Where you either cut step to left kick, then over hand punch, body shot hook, and then right kick.

The other version was doing the same but instead of cut stepping, you take a step forward with the right leg. This is done to close the distance.

Lean Back to Avoid High Kick

We worked on a lean where if you see a head kick coming you step back with your back foot, and lean back dropping your opposite hand. The key was to make your shoulder level with the other. If you leave it out you can have your shoulder dislocated.

Drill with Lean Back

  1. Opponent throws high kick
  2. you lean back avoid kick
  3. come back with a over hand jab (like you have a jug of water and you turn your hand to empty it out)
  4. upper cut
  5. Left kick

Bleed Power off Rear kick to Your left with Counters

One of the last things we did was a drill where you bleed off the power of an incoming kick. Instead of catching it though you step off the line, then hit them with an overhand jab, and follow it with more strikes. Here is the drill.

Drill with Bleed Power of Rear Kick to Your left

  1. Opponents round house kick is coming to your left hand side
  2. You step out 45 degrees with your right foot this bleeds off the power
  3. As you step off at 45 degrees you throw an over hand jab that comes down on their face from top
  4. Upper cut
  5. Double rapid torso kick
  6. Teep opponent away

We did this drill for 3 minutes to get the technique down. Each partner got a chance to work on this drill once. Then the next one, we were supposed to go as hard as we could for 3 minutes. Put the power into it. After that was a 30 second burn out drill with mackatune, Skip knees #2 for duration of time, and then double kicks right at the end.

This dam near killed me. It was great and so very hard. I did not stop I did not take a breather. I did keep going. Even though I was going a little slower than I started. We did this after nearly 5 hours of training. My muscles were screaming at me, and I was hitting a wall where I did not think I could physically pull more out of them. But I did and I did it.

I know this post was more of a list, but at this point that is all I have the juice for.

I got the best compliment from the man, the legend himself. Ajarn Surachai “Chai” Sirisute himself. He said, “You have great discipline!” Our school, really emphasizes the respect and honor you have to have for the art and the people. So we always wai when we should. He really wants to make sure that we keep the honor and the discipline in our martial arts. Throughout his seminar, he would stop other people who did not salute/bow/wai to their opponent. Ask them who their teachers were, and they and their teachers have to do 100 push ups. Because he said, “its your teachers fault to.” You wai ( means to salute, bow, with hands clasped together) before every drill with your partners, and you wai to your instructors. This shows your respect for your partner, your respect for the art of Muay Thai, and for your Kru and Ajarn (teachers, instructors).

The other honor he gave me, was he personally invited me and my fellow teammate to the Muay Thai Camp that is put on by the TBA (Thai Boxing Association). This is a 4 day camp. Where you live, think, and breath Mauy Thai. If I did this I would have to start training hard to get the endurance up. This is such an honor, because, this is normally only for instructors and students are allowed only if the instructor okay’s it and recommends it. I am not an instructor nor nowhere near one.

I have to think about this. I really want to, but I have to think about logistics and economics of it. I will have to make my decision soon, as it is in July.

Kru Krysta, one of my instructors really wants me to go too. So I have that vote already. =)

What this seminar did for me, was it made me realize how much I have learned, and do honestly know. Hearing other Kru from other schools say I have great form and execute the move properly was amazing. Such a huge boost for my feelings about adequacy in my martial arts. I let myself work at 100% which I have been afraid to do. Having Ajarn Chai compliment my work the first day and then invite us to camp was amazing.

This seminar was amazing and I really believe a pivotal point in my training so far. That is all my brain can dump out right now. I met some amazing people and I hope to see them again.

Thank you for reading. I see I have a new reader that is following this blog so welcome to you. I am still amazed that you all are reading it. Keep being awesome, and keep working on being the best you that you can be.

Muay Thai Seminar with Ajarn Chai Day 1

Beginnings

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.

Shadow Boxing

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.

Kick Stance

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.

Elbows:

  1. Horizontal elbow
  2. Upward Diagonal elbow
  3. Downward Diagonal elbow
  4. Upward elbow
  5. Downward Vertical
  6. Side In elbow
  7. Side Out elbow
  8. Tachmalach / putting the flower behind the ear
  9. 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.

Matkatune drill

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.

Matkatune drill:

  1. Matakune
  2. Elbow #6 or Side In
  3. Rear Knee
  4. Rear Kick
  5. 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.

Burn out:

  1. Left #6 elbow
  2. Right #6 elbow
  3. Skip knee #2 till time ran out
  4. 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.