Sunday, May 31, 2015

Volunteer at the Darling House for Kids with York Muay Thai

Sawadeekha YMT!
One of our members volunteers at Darling Home For Kids in Milton. This is a special facility where they welcome and help special needs children in many ways. The owner is an older lady who needs some help with the summer maintenance.

Can we get a few volunteers out to help her on a Sunday afternoon please? Let's put some energy into helping out our communities. It will mostly be manual labour like shovelling, moving equipment, removing rocks, assembling shelving etc

Times can be flexible and we can carpool rides.
Can we all spare a few hours June 7th?

**The volunteer sign up sheet is located at the front desk on our "news/events" board, please leave your name and the times you are able to volunteer!**

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Counter Hook Classic (video)

If you've been around Muay Thai long enough, you've probably seen this fight. If you haven't...well, this won't take long!

Traditional Muay Thai is often misunderstood as plodding, flat footed and slow. It's frustrating to hear commentators say that Thai style doesn't use footwork and just stands toe to toe. To sum up the mentality of a "traditional" Muay Thai style, it is based upon looking for the best answer to the problem at hand. That doesn't mean "traditional" Thai style is slow or stagnant, but that it is patient. In this fight, Buakaw throws very little, but quicker than his opponent can respond. Patience is not the absence of "immediacy", but being immediate at the right time.

Shishido is a high level Shoot Boxer (a sport similar to Muay Thai but not quite the same), but his pace was very different from Buakaw's. Buakaw chose to explode at key moments. Though it was only two times, his techniques were very accurate (a high kick that just grazed the target, and a left hook know).

This doesn't mean all Thai fighters look the same. Smaller fighters will certainly move very differently, as is evidenced by Saenchai (when you take a second to look beyond all the tricks he does) vs non Thais, or Samart (who was the greatest of his era). Some of these guys move much more, maintain different distances etc etc. However, if you watch them closely they are employing the same mentality that Buakaw used in this fight: patiently finding the best openings with the best techniques. Sometimes this means sweeps, sometimes it means a knee...sometimes its a hook that puts even the top level guys to sleep.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Thoughts on Shadow Boxing

No matter where you train, shadow boxing should be another staple in your Muay Thai training. Many trainers and camps may differ on their philosophies of how to shadow box, but just about every one agrees: it's important. These are just some thoughts on how shadow boxing is done at York Muay Thai, with some Ajahn Suchart flavor in the mix.

During individual training, it's a requirement for YMT fighters to shadow box at least 3 rounds before hitting the bag or doing pad/sparring drills. During mixed classes, we have group shadow boxing of drills and footworks built into the class routines for students of all levels to gain practice with, in addition to regular shadow boxing.

Shadow boxing is an exercise in self sufficiency. With only yourself to guide your practice, you should become more in tune with the balances/imbalances in your technique. For fighters, you also begin to develop a true sense of independence. Often times, we rely on set drills, the pad holders, bag or other training aides to push us.

Shadow boxing forces you to truly dig from within, as well as become more thoughtful. As a fighter gains experience and add more scenarios to their pool of knowledge, their shadow boxing should evolve to reflect that. Your shadow boxing should continue to evolve as you continue to train, and help prepare you for any situation. Reflect on how your shadow boxing has changed over the years, and hopefully you'll see some progression.

Ajahn Suchart, our grandfather in the art, outlines 3 basics styles of shadow boxing rounds in his seminars:

  • Warm up 
  • Power and footwork
  • Strategy/Personal skill
Other styles we have employed at YMT to get students thinking in different ways:
  • Footwork only
  • Hands and elbows only
  • Knees and kicks only
  • Southpaw/Weak hand stance only

The above are just outlines. There are many variations you can come up with to help focus on an area of need. Despite the differences in the "styles", each should be done with intensity to gain maximum benefit. It's always advisable to start slow in practice, but by the end of the round you should have what you need to go full throttle. If you have the time, shadow box even more rounds. If you do it correctly, and with spirit, it should be work out in itself.

Here are some parting tips, which will hopefully be useful no matter what camp you train at:

1. Practice both stances: 
Be ready for every situation. Practice in your weakest stance and you'll find you might be working twice as hard. This will help give you another option for adapting to your opponent. Why have only 8 weapons when you can double that number??

2. Footwork: 
Some people either move too little, or too much. Muay Thai footwork is simple and crisp. Many misunderstand this and think Thai fighters only stand in front of the target. Don't be a sitting duck in shadow boxing, but don't circle endlessly either. Move in order to practice getting into range for a technique, or as a defensive maneuver to gain advantage. Tiger step (North, South, East, West), diagonal step, Switching (Yam Sam Khum, Mah Yong, Salaap Fan Plaa), Quarter turning...they all have numerous places they can be used in. 

3. Use the mirror (if available):
Using the mirror can help you build accuracy by using yourself as a target, but the main advantage is in seeing your overall technique. You should be taking note of your weight transfer, your guard hand, your chin position...everything. The mirror should provide the feedback for you to slowly close the holes in your technique before you use them on the pads, bag or sparring. Also, by paying attention to technique, it should make you more aware as a fighter when you start looking for holes in your opponent's techniques!

4. Technique over speed:
You don't need to throw high volume combinations to keep a work rate or intensity. Keep it simple and keep it crisp. If it stops looking clean, slow it down and do less. In fact, make sure you start simple first, then build your combinations and footworks in as you go. Shadow boxing is a primer, which means you want to prepare yourself for what's to come...and being messy isn't on the list. 

5. Don't go through the motions:
As mentioned, your shadow boxing should evolve over time. This means you aren't throwing the same set combinations, or putting your body on "auto pilot". It's easy to fall into the "auto pilot" phase... but forcing yourself to stay in the moment and be dynamic is a huge benefit to the exercise. Fighting is something that takes 100% of your attention, and falling into a repetitive rhythm is asking to be decoded and defeated.  

At the end of the day, shadow boxing is a piece of Muay Thai that never leaves you. It can be done anywhere. If you find yourself unable to hit the gym, you can at least set a timer and work on your skills at home!!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Train. Enough Said.

Battle Ropes Grind

Pc David working in the battle ropes during Coach Grant's strength class!! 

Just another one of the tools in the YMT shed to build the body for Muay Thai, and to last for a long and healthy life. 

Don't miss the lifting, core work and conditioning on Mondays and Wednesdays with Coach at 6:30pm!!

Thoughts on Pad work

Pad work is a staple in Muay Thai training. Although it works a little differently for the beginner than it does for the fighter, it's primary purposes remain the same: Target practice. Let's take a step back from the strategic purposes of pad holding and focus on just the small details that really make a difference. 

Padwork as a battle

Ajahn Suchart once said that good pad holding is like a "battle".  The striker and the pad holder press against each other with each strike. The pad holder usually presses at about 10-20% max of the distance that the striker attacks, forcing the striker to press THROUGH the target to achieve full extension. This simulates the depth and power needed to punch or elbow through the jaw, knee through the body, and kick through the various targets. Muay Thai, like the sword in Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings, is most effective in cutting first, not slashing:
 "Cutting, whatever form of cutting it is, is decisive, with a resolute

spirit. Slashing is nothing more than touching the enemy. Even if you slash strongly, and even if the enemy dies instantly, it is slashing. When you cut, your spirit is resolved" 

Therefore, the pad holder must be able to press adequately to allow the striker to go deep with their technique and attack with intent, rather than just smacking the surface of the target. 

Catching the Target

The pad holder must then develop good eyes and a sense of rhythm. With good eyes, the pad holder can tell when the striker will begin their attack, and with good rhythm they can catch the strike at the correct time. Any mistake in timing can cause the striker to hyper-extend, miss the target or hit an incorrect target. A good sense of rhythm also makes it easy for the pad holder to predict when the next strike is coming. 

Holding the target at the correct angle and height is also important. A simple example would be holding at the correct angle for a hook. If the pad holder cannot hold correctly, they will cause the striker's technique to adapt in a negative way. Bad pad holding deteriorates technique, good pad holding maintains technique, great pad holding improves technique. 

Holding Safely

If done incorrectly, pad holding can be very painful for the pad holder. This is especially true when the striker is much bigger or stronger than their holder. The holder must utilize their body for support instead of their limbs. For strong punches, rotating the body (as you would for your own punch) will help you press against a powerful striker. If you use only your arms to press, the force of the punch can easily strain or (in the worse case) tear your shoulders. Any small injury from pad holding can build over time into a major one. 

Holding for kicks and knees also require the body to brace and press toward the strike. If not, your arms take all of the force and a strong kicker/knee-er will make you hit yourself in the gut. Absorb the strike across a larger area by supporting your press with your body.

Larger or stronger pad holders may find don't need to use their body as much. This is fine when the striker is smaller or weaker than you are. However, pay attention to your partner and use the technique necessary to ensure both of you are safe and able to hit pads for years to come. 

Here is Ajahn Suchart, who is much smaller than his fighter, holding for Simon Marcus. He presses enough to make Simon work, while using his body to save himself:

One of the corner stones of Ajahn's mastery in building technique on the pads is that he doesn't move when he absorbs a strong strike. Simon's power and size should be enough to move Ajahn, but stability and technique keeps the pad holder in front of the striker the entire way. This means the pad holder is able to continue holding or attack back with their own strike right away.

Padwork for the Pad holder: Steel Sharpens Steel

A good pad holder improves their striker's technique and habits. They notice when their partner's hand drops, or if they aren't connecting accurately or powerful enough. They help their partner by reminding and encouraging them to keep their technique proper. 

By doing this, the pad holder develops a sense of good and bad habits, which translates into the ring. Seeing and processing a bad habit of an opponent in the ring is the first and most crucial step to engineering the knock out. An opponent who consistently leans forward too much on their punches is susceptible to sweeps or leg kicks or knees. By paying attention to their partners in pad holding, the pad holders ultimately develop their own fight sense and sharpen their over all abilities. 

Being a good pad holder can benefit everyone. Stay alert, be a team player and watch the team grow. 

Student of the Month (April 2015): Andrew "Officer" Won

Thursday, May 7, 2015

SmartGuard Fitting, 11:30 on May 9 at York Muay Thai

Smart Guards is coming to YMT this Saturday May 9! Come get fitted for a custom mouth guard that is perfectly molded to your mouth and with your own design (or choose from a catalog...see sample below)!!

MuayThai Ontario secures Woodbine Racetrack for Fight Night!

While details are still being finalized you can expect a 12 to 14 fight card, vendor booths, and an after-party held on location!
We are officially accepting athletes to begin the matchmaking. Coaches, please email your submissions to, this will be a night to remember!

If you are unaware, IFMA is the Olympics of Muay Thai...the pinnacle of amateur MT fighting. Over 100 countries are represented with their teams, the cream of the crop fighting to bring home gold. This is huge, and YMT looks forward to supporting and participating. 

This will of course follow Krudar's 10 Year Anniversary Fight Gala, which will be MTO's FIRST ever event on May 29th. 

Also on the May radar:
Southside Muay Thai will also be hosting demos as a fundraiser this Saturday May 9. They will be sending a large team to the U.S. to take the TBA tournament by storm and we would like to support their efforts! 

Run with Terry! Mon and Wed, leave at 7pm!

The weather is beautiful! A staple in any nak muay's regimen is road work!  Running with Terry classes (Mon and Wed leaving at 7pm) are a perfect way for beginners to get started and at a manageable distance, to build good habits to get them where they want to be.

Use his decades of experience with half and full marathons, 10k's, and more to your advantage!  Most of all, learn to enjoy running!!

Highlights of the Week

Advanced students practicing drills to set up their offensive techniques on angles

Kru Jen leads by example, ending the class with some leg endurance exercises for beginners, and burpees for the advanced.

The beginners jumped on the bags while they waited for the ring to be free for post-class clinching.

National Geographic on Muay Thai

A great documentary on Muay Thai featuring fighters from different levels in the Thai fighter, Bangkok fighter and Lumpinee Champion.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Buakaw and Matt Embree's fights from the weekend (videos)

Buakaw and Matt both had big fights (not against each other) this weekend! Neither had an easy time and made for exciting match ups!!