Love. Respect. Believe.

Muay Thai Expo presentation: on learning

Posted on August 17, 2014

I was honoured to be requested by Ajahn and his wife Yiola C to open the 2014 Muay Thai expo with a talk about learning Martial Art.

Public speaking really scares the crap out of me, so I really wanted to come with something useful and relevant.

Here is the talk, in full. Hope to see you all next year!

Last week, Ajahn requested I speak for 90m and teach everyone how to learn. I was hesitant. 1). I didn’t want to talk for 90m and 2) I would feel very condescending teaching people how to learn. I think everyone already knows how to do that, in their own way.

So I decided to do two things: 1) Not to speak for 90m. Instead I’m gonna speak an effective 15-20m. And 2) I think maybe I’ll just share my observations of the challenges that make Martial Learning difficult.

There are three main recurring challenges that you will come across in your Martial Art/Muay Thai career:

1. Listening to understand, vs. Listening to reply.

2. Organizing vs. Authenticating

3. Context vs. Content

Let’s start with the first:

1. Listening to understand,
Listening to reply

If you’ve ever gotten in an argument with a significant other, this is typically the challenge. We are listening, only to assert our own view, not necessarily someone else’s view.

Which in relationships is natural, but in martial art is useless.

Simply because Martial Art is physical education. It’s kinetic learning. It’s more than just about ‘shutting up’–it’s about resetting motor patterns so that new ones can be acquired.

In that sense, ‘listening’ isn’t really done with yours ears, it’s done with your eyes. It’s done by copying and mimicking without any comparison, critique or skepticism happening in the background. It’s about doing first, and understanding later.

Let the question and prodding happen after during reflection time.

2. Organizing vs. authenticating

As martial artists, we always run into the dilemma of authentication vs. organization.

We see a respected/renowned individual teach/perform a move a certain way, only to see another respected/renowned individual to do in another. We then spiral into a ‘whose correct’ rhetoric. This is the process of authenticating. Which can be detrimental to the learning process of a kinetic subject.

I instead suggest seeing Martial Art simply as movement. By that I mean motor patterns. That’s how we read kinetically. We then take those patterns (because they are not always taught in levels) and organize them into hierarchies. Hierarchies of movement.

A teachers instinct is to always give as much as they can. And often, that zeal to share can sometimes become information overload. This to me is a good thing, because it gives the student a chance to actively participate in their learning–not by refuting/ throwing away certain pieces of knowledge, but rather understanding how they fit.

Students, to me should always have a hierarchy, a prime movement, secondary movement, and optional movement. This is consistent in all sport.

A prime movement is jumping. A secondary movement is dunking. An optional movement is reverse dunking. All of them, are jumping and a relative of that master motor pattern.

We understand this in mainstream sport, the challenge for us in the west is to accept the same process in understanding Eastern sport.

This weekend, we are exposed to Ajahn, Coban, Matt and Simon. All different body types, different movement patterns, different expressions of those movement patterns, different experiences and different lessons from those experiences. The challenge for the student, this week therefore is to find the common physical movements that unite them all.

3. Context vs. Content

One of the challenges I’ve encounters in owning a gym and school, is creating a positive and productive training experience in a classroom of people with polarized athletic abilities and polarized internals.

People are all sorts of sizes, shapes, strengths and coordination. To add to the complexity, they all come in with different attitudes, learning styles, intentions, and comprehension.

How do I teach them all and improve their skill with all these differing directions?

I focus on the why, and less on the what. And so do they.

Why we learn, as what makes what we learn, stick.

Look at the internet–you can look anything up. It’s a wealth of information–but what do we access? Only the portions that interest/matter to us.

There is representation here from at least 7 different schools–are all your classmates here? Statistically we should be at about 7000 in attendance, but were not, are we?

That’s simply because you represent the most curious, of your respective academies, and I applaud you for that. Now my challenge to you is, to know why you train, it’s benefit to you and your life. If you know these things, you will know how to appropriate what you are about to be shown this weekend.

Information is not enough on it’s own. It requires practice to become knowledge.

Knowledge isn’t enough on it’s own either. It requires purpose to become wisdom.

That’s the goal of all learning, isn’t it? To acquire wisdom. All wisdom, should tell us about ourselves. Which is why context is important. This weekend, you must supply your own context. Our great instructors will supply the content.

I do appreciate the time, and hope I’ve offered something useful on your lives.

Sawadee Khrap :)

Noise vs. Sound

Posted on August 15, 2014

Straight up, I don’t believe anyone is entitled to an opinion. I repeat: WE ARE NOT entitled to an opinion.

Simply because an opinion, is an un educated, unfounded based on personal and often skeptical premises.

Many wars have started this way. This is essentially what racism, stereotypes, and ignorance essentially is: uninformed ideas being expressed.

We don’t have the right to an opinion. Opinions are just noise with the illusion of form.

What we have, is the DUTY to educate ourselves and share positive and productive thought.

We need to think less about what we’re entitled to have, and more about our duty to provide.

expo2014_11x17 copy

2014 Muay Thai Expo

Posted on August 12, 2014

expo2014_11x17 copy Be here.  The Muay Thai Expo is about opening up dimensions of learning in Muay Thai.  From a Student perspective, Athlete, Coach, and Teacher we have the best and most experienced minds focusing their efforts on one weekend for a single purpose:  To Share.  So no matter your experience level, or aspiration, you are sure to improve.


The Masters:  Ajahn Suchart Yodkerepaupri; Coban Lookchaomaesaithong Perhaps the most experienced and accomplished Thai instructors on this continent, they bring a wealth of proven ring and trainer experience.  Ajahn Suchart, author of there world champions (2 Current) will be sharing his methods of building from the ground up, while Coban, legendary Muay Thai fighter and champion will show how such approaches are expressed at a refined level.


The Fighters:  Simon ‘Bad Bwoy’ Marcus; Matt ‘Matics’ Embree Both fighters are currently ranked top three in their fields, and will be conducting a workshop on skills and habits from a professional fighter perspective.  Focusing on clinch skills and training regimes, these two are determined to help get you to the top, but most importantly, what it takes to stay on top.


The Coach:  Kru Chris Kew, Brampton Muay Thai A rising figure in the international scene, Kru Chris Kew of Mas Thai Boxing has made quite a splash in North America, South America as well as Asia.  He is a well travelled individual, and his athletes success overseas, demonstrate it.  Here to show the difference in competition and adaptations necessary for that level Kru Chris’ methods and insights are highly valuable for any fighter aspiring to make it past their own borders.


The Student:  Kru Nick Bautista, Brampton Muay Thai  All this knowledge is only as good as the students ability to take it in.  Martial Art learning is largely kinetic learning–that is, something that is only understood, if received at a specific frequency.  Focusing on how to receive and put Martial knowledge into practice to yield the most benefit will be the opening talk of this power weekend.


See you all there :)

Posted on June 13, 2014

A few months ago, a group of student of mine pushed me to enter a contest called ‘Changemakers’, a government contest looking to profile people/organizations dedicated to improving the grassroots community through health and activity.  At first, I didn’t think I should enter, simply because I’m not always aware that my work has any real impact on peoples lives, but my students were adamant and disagreed.

This is one of those times I chose to follow my students command.  The following, is what they made.  Mal, Sange, and Blake (and all my students–) I’m so grateful for you guys.  Thanks for having me in your life.  Hope it’s been worth your time.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.