Video above. Originally published for patrons only, with the sad passing of Namkabuan the video of this seminar is made public for everyone. Enjoy the amazing Namkabuan, and the legends that were brought together
As written when published:
In early April 2018 we held the inaugural “4 Legends Seminar” at the Sport Authority in Bangkok. The Legends were the King of Knees (“Mr. Sky Piercing Knee”), Dieselnoi Chor. Thanasukarn; “Yod Sian,” Karuhat Sor. Supawan; former WBC world champion and 2011 Trainer of the Year (as awarded by HM the King, Rama IX), Chatchai Sasakul; and Namkabuan Nongkipahuyut, who held the 130 lbs Lumpinee Champion title for 6 years straight. As far as I know, this is the first seminar of its kind, in Thailand, and it was brought about in large part through the enthusiasm and support of you through Patreon. I can confidently say that without the Preserve The Legacy project this just wouldn’t even have been thought of to do, but the video sessions and friendships created through the documentary project created this. It was incredible.
On the first day it was a small group of Muay Thai enthusiasts, comprised of people from all around the world. Some came from whatever gyms they were currently training at in Thailand, some literally stepped off the plane and into a taxi to get to the seminar, fresh from home. That’s incredible. We broke into groups of 3-4 students for each Legend, then rotated every 20 minutes. Every Legend taught something different, focusing on their own style – which, honestly, these guys couldn’t fail to express their own styles if they tried. The second day was a much larger group, brought in from Matt Ball’s SMAC Gym group (also an official sponsor of the Muay Thai Library), which gathers students, fighters and trainers from gyms all around New Zealand and Australia to come train (and fight) in Thailand, annually.
Dieselnoi focused on knees, of course, but what he really teaches and demands from his students is how to walk through anything and everything. He demonstrates the heart of a Muay Khao fighter, which is relentlessly forward and merciless. Dieselnoi has a bad heart and has already had one operation, and last summer he was looking at having another surgery that has thus far been postponed. But his health is a serious issue with ongoing difficulties. We try to keep him calm and take frequent breaks after offering instruction and letting people work, but Dieselnoi only has one level and that’s “I’m going to walk through you.” He shows his technique, where to put your foot, how to angle your knee, but what he really shows and what he really wants is this ferocious heart that rips through the opposition. So, even if you put your foot there and angle your knee thusly, if you do it without the violent heart… well, he’ll just shake his head and show you again. He’s absolutely incredible and his fire, despite his age and health problems, has not dimmed at all.
Karuhat is small and lithe, endlessly slippery and technically unparalleled. He focused on how to slip inside of a “double plum” clinch grab, just rolling his shoulders to the inside of the opponent’s forearms to gain immediate dominant position and arm control. He also added a slip out from a one-sided grab. It’s like trying to hold on to a fish… that can also kick your ass once it’s free from your grip. Karuhat’s focus was narrow and seemed simple, but the actual mechanics and smoothness of it require a lot of practice and understanding of small details. Totally like Karuhat. You watch him do something and it looks so easy when he does it, but then you have your head stuck in the fence and don’t understand how you got there whereas he seemed to just walk through a wall, like magic. He offered some really wonderful trips in the clinch at the end as well.
Chatchai worked his very foundational emphasis on weight transfer and balance, which is unreal. It takes a moment to go against the grain of what most people have been taught or just developed on their own, but it’s something you can pick up quickly and then it’s a matter of just getting better and better at it. Chatchai is all about “feeling” the balance, power, twists, etc. None of these weight shifts or elements of footwork and balance go against Muay Thai, in fact they are often better understood through direct comparison to where your weight goes for a kick or knee. Chatchai was a top level Muay Thai fighter before he entered boxing at the Phetyindee gym.
Namkabuan had the greatest variety of techniques that he taught each group, but focused on catching, evading, and countering. Every movement is ready to spring into another attack, so the bend in the knees and twist in the hips is elemental to his style. I loved watching him put a 3 piece drill together, then not be able to help himself as he added how you could also then do this, then this, then this also, because everything flows into the next. He also showed some wonderful body throws during the clinching at the end.
I ran around between the groups to help literally translate the words of the Legends from Thai to English, but also to try to verbally explain elements of each Legend’s techniques. What was so thrilling for me in that process was glancing into each group and just feeling the wildly different and potently wonderful personalities of each of these men. Dieselnoi is so strongly Dieselnoi, always speaking with a kind of emphasis and urgency that feels very much like his movements look when he’s just walking through punches and kicks to get his long arms on you and crush you – but also hilarious, which his opponents probably didn’t feel in the ring with him. Karuhat doesn’t talk a lot but he’s always watching, smiling and just being like this Gunslinger in any space he inhabits. The quiet, lonesome cowboy who blew into town and probably has to save the whole community before he heads off into the sunset. Chatchai is so sweet and patient, giving individual attention to every person even if there’s 50 people in a room. I’d glance over to check on him and watching him from a distance is like seeing a dancer on stage whose every movement is visible from the back row, and yet he’s this totally unassuming man. And Namkabuan, the baby of the group, was always leaping around and playing like a game of Charades to bridge the language gap, demonstrating a crumpling response to not blocking properly and then solving the postures and movements to demonstrate how effective and powerful each was. These Legends have lived with their styles almost their whole lives and they illustrate it with every move they make. If you had the chance to learn guitar from Jimmy Page or Prince, they’re going to pull every note out of those strings with the stage presence and feeling of absolute rockstars. That’s what watching each of these men was like. Sometimes they would glance over at each other and give a look just to crack the other one up; just being in the room with them was a thrilling experience for me and one that felt unique to those two days with those two groups. As I was doing the voiceover on the film, I got to relive some of that and was re-instilled with that wonder and joy. I consider this the “live concert” version of my favorite music, but like a whole music festival.
Other times with Namkabuan in our Preserve The Legacy project, available to everyone:
our Muay Thai Bones podcast where we talk about Namkabuan is here
We miss you!