Last week I was privileged to be able to attend the 21st Annual Thai Boxing Association Muay Thai Camp in Washington State. The camp lasts for four full days and takes place in a beautiful wooded preserve near Mount Ranier. It is attended by members of the Thai Boxing Association from across the country and the world (I had partners who were from Italy, Australia and Mexico). The camp is led, of course, by Ajarn Chai Sirisute, the founder and head of the TBA, but he was assisted by a team of senior instructors including Ajarn Dan Inosanto, Ajarn Kim , Ajarn Rex and other very senior and experienced muay thai teachers. In addition, many of the techniques and drills were demonstrated and supervised by Ajarn Saengthien Noi, a legendary muay thai fighter who now leads a famous muay thai school in Bangkok.
The camp is a tremendous experience and opportunity to concentrate on refining basic techniques and adding new ones. Each day lasts from 6 a.m, with a warm up and run, to dinner at around 8 p.m. and is broken up into sessions focusing on all the key elements of Muay Thai. Notably, the first session of every day was entirely devoted to stance and footwork – the importance of these two elements was stressed at all times throughout the camp. Many of us were reminded if our stance was not correct during other drills by the “gentle” tapping of Ajarn Kim’s wooden stick. Other sessions were focused on -- knees, elbows, punches and kicks – individually and in combinations and with counters. Each day, a session was also dedicated to training led by Ajarn Leonard Trigg which was focused on very technical aspects of Western boxing. The last part of the day was 8 rounds at each of 6 stations (yes, 48 rounds): heavy bags, shadow boxing, thai pads (twice), lang shun (“light sparring”) and plumb (“clinch”). This was followed by more lang shun or 20 minutes of 3-on-1 plumb and then quite a few “body builders” and sit-ups.
We were all weary by the end of each day but having the opportunity to train hard and long and with these instructors was definitely worth the effort. The Oregon camp is a unique institution and should be a part of every muay thai student’s experience.Thank you to my senior instructors at PAMA for getting me an invitation.
Student of the Month
- Kai Kiernan -
When did you first start training at PAMA?
I first started training at PAMA when I was seven years old.
How do you think that the Children's program at PAMA prepared you for your present training?
The children’s program helped me by teaching me some of the most essential and important things in martial arts--the fundamentals. We learned about things like distancing, footwork, and also most of the drills that are done in the front of the class, and if a student was confident in the drill, we were even allowed to go beyond the basic drills and get a taste of techniques you learn in the back of the adult class.
You are an assistant instructor in the Children's program presently. How do you think it helps you on your own path?
I don’t know why this is, but at first when I trained in the adult classes I would put all my effort into the big motions behind each drill, and would forget to look for finer details. But when I became an assistant instructor, I couldn’t just imitate, I really needed to know those big motions, and begin to learn about the finer movements in each drill. Teaching helped me move beyond just copying; with every mistake I helped the students to correct, I learned more and more about the drill, and helped myself become a little better.
What made you first interested in Martial Arts?
Martial arts were everywhere around me, and I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with three people who also went to PAMA. The first reason is because it seemed almost like a tradition in my house, but the second (and main) reason I started was simply because I thought it looked cool.
What are some of the key things that Martial Arts has taught you?
No one can just sit around and expect to learn anything, you have to pay attention, try to be fully in the moment to get something out of it. This isn’t just for martial arts, this is for everything you do in life.
What are your favorite arts and why?
Everything has its highlights, but if I was really to pick something I would have to pick Silat. Silat goes into many things that (because of time) students rarely cover in Jun Fan and Kali. But one of my favorite things about Silat is its creative approaches behind fighting, and just how effortlessly amazing it can look when someone who understand the motions do it. Even after I’ve done it for almost a year, I still get this wide eyed look on my face whenever I see some drills for the first time.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Thank you for having me as the student of the month, and try to take advantage of this amazing opportunity you have right in front of you!
- Children's Testing: 9-13 Tests -
PAMA Students Soar in Recent Test
Congratulations are in order for two members of PAMA’s 9-13 Children's program. Nick Castro and Matthew Tantoy, both Black Sash holders in the program, recently underwent and successfully passed the demanding Black Sash 1st Stripe test. The demanding test required Nick and Matthew to demonstrate and execute multiple techniques and methods from the Filipino Art of Kali. Nick and Matt rose to the challenge performed sinawali, footwork, single stick and other areas of the art, successfully becoming the first Black Sash 1st Stripe holders in the PAMA Children's program.
- Jun Fan Testing -
The 4 and 8 month tests for Jun Fan will be held on September 3, 2011. Please see an instructor for details and don't forget to sign up in the Pro Shop.
Garlic is a popular ingredient in many recipes, it is also known to provide health benefits such as; improved cholesterol, cold prevention, improved immune function, and regulates high blood pressure. Garlic also reduces the risk of developing colon, rectal and stomach cancer. Because of a chemical in garlic called ajoene, garlic is also a good treatment for fungal infections in the skin.
Sifu Recommends a Book
- The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman (The Way of the Warrior Series) -
In a life-and-death situation of being sword-tip to sword-tip with the enemy, where should the swordsman put his mind?
This is the first question posed in the first of three essays written by a Zen master for the guidance of samurai swordsmen. Among the other questions that arise are the difference between the right mind and the confused mind, what makes life precious, the nature of right-mindedness, the Buddhist paradigm of form and consciousness, and what distinguishes the True Mind. So succinct are the author's insights that these writings have outlasted the dissolution of the samurai class to come down to the present as sources of guidance and inspiration for captains of business and industry, as well as those devoted to the practice of the martial arts in their modern forms.
The history of the sword in Japan goes back to antiquity. Zen and its meditative practices also have a long history, but it was not until the rule of the Tokugawa shoguns, beginning in the early 1600s, that the techniques of swordsmanship fused with the spirit of Zen. And if one man can be said to have been the prime mover in this phenomenon, it was none other than Takuan Soho, confidant and religious instructor to an emperor, to a great sword master, and to the heads of the most important sword schools of the time.
Takuan's meditations on the sword in the essays presented here are classics of Zen thinking.
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Video/Pictures: Mary Jo Colli, Mike Lee
Stories: Mary Jo Colli, Mike Lee, David Ramsay