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68_71 WMC That Tour.indd

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					International Kickboxer’s Annual

Thai Invasion
2005
The bait was laid late in
2004 on the Blitz Message
board with details of the
upcoming two week Muay
Thai training tour of Thailand
staying at the famous Lamai
Beach WMC Camp on Koh
Samui. The ‘tour guide’ was
none other than Mark ‘the
Hammer’ Castagnini, former
WKA Cruiserweight champ &
Foxsports personality.


A
       rriving from all corners of
       Australia and Canada we met at a
       fashionable Bangkok hotel being
greeted by the diminutive but colourful
figure of one Stephan Fox, WMC
International Co-ordinator and erstwhile
world rated fighter.
   After training at the outdoor Eminent
Air gym, we relaxed in Bangkok’s famous
Channel 7 stadium, as ‘honoured’
guests for a televised WMC tournament
consisting of some top ranked local
fighters. It was truly inspiring watching the
power and lightning fast combinations of
these little masters of the ring.
   The locals were packed into the
stadium, all betting. How they keep track                                Tour Group

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                                                                                                 Some of us recall suffering neck strain
                                                                      Blitz Thai Boxing Boys
                                                                                                 after an hour of grappling. It did not take
                                                                               in the Grapple
                                                                                                 long to correct the technique (out of self
                                                                                                 preservation) and in doing so, become
                                                                                                 far more skilful in successfully employing
                                                                                                 the knees and sweeps.
                                                                                                     The highlight at the end of the trip was
                                                                                                 a fight night. Prudent advice is to think
                                                                                                 very carefully about challenging Thais as
                                                                                                 often these guys grow up practising Muay
                                                                                                 Thai and fighting since the age of six
                                                                                                 and don’t take kindly to losing to Farang
                                                                                                 (foreigners). Around six of the group
                                                                                                 enrolled to fight although poor Harley
                                                                                                 Anderson, one of the Hammer’s Blitz
                                                                                                 boys, contracted a rather nasty stomach
                                                                                                 ailment that kept him never more than 2
                                                                                                 mins away from the nearest toilet.
                                                                                                     Training for a fight is something of
                                                                                                 art rather than science. What works for
                                                                                                 one person doesn’t necessarily work for
                                                                                                 everyone. Two people demonstrating this
                                                                                                 perfectly were Ben ‘Bullrider’ Burridge
                                                                                                 and Mick Siebert. Ben trains at Tamworth
of the odds and who is owed what, we           experience with us and correcting                 Fighting Arts under legendary John
had no idea. The hand signals reminded         technique. Having come from a karate              Halford and is fit, hard working and
me of those seen on the trading floors of       and kickboxing background, I was a                quite a gentleman with good credentials
financial futures markets. My mate Gary         major but grateful recipient of their             in the amateur rankings. His training
just happened to be a former futures           attention and indeed became a favourite           regime was totally focussed at winning
trader and thought he had mastered the         demonstration dummy for Stephan.                  his very difficult match up against an
signals so was getting set to mix it with      Towards the end of the trip I started to          accomplished Thai. He did not socialise
the locals, however I warned him that          gain an inkling that Stephan’s rather evil        at night till after his fight.
he may in fact be unwittingly betting his      sense of humour was directed at me                    Then there was Ben’s antithesis, Mick
first born on the guy in red. As one of         as in Muay Thai a small guy can easily            Siebert by way of Darwin. To say I saw
the regulars to Bangkok told us, ‘you are      inflict pain and suffering on a much               Mick ever training hard in the lead up to
better off giving your money to charity, at    bigger opponent.                                  his fight would be using just a little too
least you get a tax receipt’. Good advice...       The Thais, led by Chief Instructor            much writer’s licence for my conscience.
    We arrived at the Camp in Samui            Hanarong showed us grappling and
where a ring and large outdoor training        elbow technique. These areas are
area beckoned. The beauty of the               perhaps the least understood and
trip was that the training was planned         correctly executed facets of Muay Thai in
to be as hard or light as desired. For         Australia, so it is not hard to understand
the diehards, there were 2 x two hour          that many of Australia’s top Thai boxing
sessions a day at 7-9am and 5-7pm with         practitioners like ‘John’ Wayne Parr and
4km runs as warm-up. Otherwise one             Paul ‘the Sting’ Slowinski have spent
could opt to do perhaps one session a          considerable periods of time in Thailand,
day or even hire a Thai instructor for an      learning directly from the masters.
hour’s solid technique work.                   Everything is done with a partner in 2 or
    The timing of our trip was exquisite.      3 step sparring, and surprisingly, at only
It was the Songkran water festival (Thai       about 50% intensity. The idea is being
New Year). Stephan marshalled the troops       able to back up for the next session.
and we headed into Chaweng Beach,              Walking around with corked thighs, thick
Samui’s ‘main drag’ for an entertaining        lips and bruised ribs would make this job
evening at the premier nightspot, the          a little unpleasant.
Green Mango. The thing you instantly               At first our grappling consisted of
discover about the Thais is that they are      a lot of muscling each other in a way
totally relaxed. If you want to park your      not unlike WWE until the instructors
motor cycle at the front of a restaurant,      showed how slight body shifts and quick
no problemo. If you want to buy some           catching of lifted knees could leave
beers at one bar and walk to the next, no      an opponent off balance and easy to
problemo. Dress code is board shorts,          strike. Indeed, it is not terribly thrilling to
sandals with t-shirt/singlet optional.         have a Thai who is 30kgs lighter easily
                                                                                                  Winner! Michael ‘The Wrecking
    Stephan and the Hammer were                throwing knee after knee into you and
                                                                                                  Machine’ Siebert and corner man Karl
involved in every session, sharing their       then finding yourself swept to the carpet.


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                                              show being held in a stadium only five         buying everything from the latest mobile
                                              minutes away on the same night! In            phones to imitation Von Dutch.
                                              scenes not unlike the Blues Brothers              I will take away many great and lasting
                                              we trawled the streets of Chaweng and         memories from Thailand including the
                                              Lamai in a ute decorated with large           friendship and serenity of the locals.
                                              billboards and loudspeaker bellowing the      Fighting a Thai in the ring is an honour
                                              virtues of Australia’s ‘best boxers’ taking   and requires a great deal of courage
                                              on the Thai locals.                           and determination. Yet the Thais are a
                                                  At showtime the highlight was a           very peaceful people and we all took
                                              four man heavyweight eliminator in            away knowledge and skills that will last
                                              which Mick excelled. He outclassed            a lifetime. The camaraderie in our group
                                              his Thai opponent with cracking kicks         was established very quickly and is
                                              and then won the final by TKO against          testimony to the many wise and learned
                                              a Hungarian using elbows and low              instructors who have influenced the lives
                                              kicks. Ben also had a very tough see-         and fighting careers of these people. IK
Ben ‘BullRider’ Burridge from Tamworth        sawing fight against a Thai and was
Fighting Arts & Lyman Mailman from Mt         cut early by an elbow before rallying
Isa Stars Gym                                 to win by TKO. Alex Dally’s fight was
                                              an amazing twist of plot when he
That said, at around 110 kgs, Mick didn’t     floored a Thai only to be KO’ed a few
need my advice or opinions and was to         seconds later by a vicious hook. The
prove his skill in due course.                Canadians were impressive with their
    It was finally the day we had waited       skill and toughness, each winning. Fox
for. Stephan, as promoter, had organised      Sports awill be televising this action
hundreds of flyers to be distributed           packed event around July (Muay Thai
throughout the locale. Employing free         Battleground #6).
labour (us), we scoured the beaches               The last days of the tour involved fun
and bars. Under threat of eviction and        stuff like sightseeing the Grand Palace
physical harm, Stephan made it our task       and Bangkok River and surrounds.
                                              We also boarded a dinner cruise and,           Author Neale Muston (L) with Thai
to fill the stadium. Afterall, we had some
                                              of course, shopped till we dropped             trainers and Gary Holland (R)
stiff competition as there was another

 Chaweng Stadium Fighters and tour support crew




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Description: Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, has had 500 years of history, as the traditional Thai fighting techniques, which can be characterized in a very short distance, the use of elbows, knees and other parts of the attack, the martial arts is a very Henla , lethal large.