Part two of the IFMA series

USA

For the next day on the itinerary was registration. There were a lot of countries there, and while 101 countries had notified IFMA that they’d be in attendance, we had another 47 countries show up unannounced and ready to fight. So needless to say the registration team was a bit overwhelmed.
So what do you do?…you grab a chair and hang out with some really cool people on your team, and make it a good time with some laughs. We finally got the team paid for and registered, after some confusion. And once again it was head back to the hotel. This time we got out and enjoyed the beach a little bit, went for a run, hit pads and trained with some awesome people. Getting to hit pads again felt great, but I could tell my body still wasn’t awake from the trip yet.
The next day was weigh-ins and due to the large amount of combatants, the initial weigh-ins was split between two days. Obviously we wanted to have that second day as a rest day. Equally overwhelmed was the medical and weigh-in teams, due to the unexpected high volume of last minute show ups. Finally we got everything sorted and it was time to relax… a little. We ate dinner and had a couple of laughs, and went to bed.
The first day of competition, and everyone made weight like champions. Sam and one of the juniors were up to bat, however due to a reshuffle we all were reseated in our brackets. Come to find out a group of 4-5 competitors didn’t check the brackets the night before, and thought that they were weren’t supposed to fight that day and didn’t weigh in. so these guys were booted for failure to make weight.
Fortunately, we had a Team coordinator (Cheryl) and coach (Thiago) that were diligent in monitoring the brackets for change. They would be up at 12-1am to watch the bracket’s, only to wake up at 5-6am to start getting ready for a day that didn’t end until 10-11pm.
It was nice to have the first day off, it gave us a day to just watch the fights and see how things were going to be run. We had a blast cheering and watching some good fights.
The days started to blur together, and it didn’t matter. We had such a great team of individuals, that we just had fun and made the best of everything.
Finally the day was upon us; Ethan fought first and did a great job. He put on a great fight but was unable to score enough rounds to win the decision. However, he did get to show off his combos, and foot work. You have to give him props for jumping in the deep end and swimming with the sharks.
Next up was me; I was fighting someone from the home town team, Malaysia. My opponent, far more experienced than I was, came out fighting a slickster kick style. I took the first round to study his game a bit while working a kick game. The following round, my corner-man/team coach (Thiago Azeredo), figured out his weakness and had me start working my footwork and counters, and then applying pressure… sure enough we started to see the cracks appear in in that second round, as we took that round. Third round came up and my corner had me pour the heat on more, and as he started to weather I saw my opportunity, and force him to place his hand and landed it… a right elbow, spot on the button. I felt the elbow go through like butter, as all my kinetic energy was delivered. I saw him fall back and his eyes roll back into his head. So I knew he was out. Walking back to my corner, I knew he wasn’t getting back up… but my corner called for me to go to neutral corner anyways. The ref just walks up and took my opponent’s mouth piece out and called for the doctor. While standing in the neutral corner, I realized that he hadn’t really moved yet, and then I started to worry. Once he started to stand up, I felt a lot more relieved that he was ok. We’ve all been knocked out, and that pretty much what we both are trying to do… but you know, you don’t want to be responsible for someone’s death or ending their career. I have to give him a lot of respect; he was a tough and smart guy. He fought hard and earned his country a lot of respect.
Afterwards, several people came up and said that that was the highlight reel KO of the event… I don’t know. Anyhow, it was a good fight. It was technical… not wild and sloppy. And getting the opportunity to fight like that was amazing and an honor. After the win there was no time for excitement, as the rest of the team was still coming up to bat the next day and I was looking down the barrel of fighting Algeria/France.

TheKrastaGroupMuayThaiAddict

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Part one in the IFMA 2014 series

 

A couple of weeks out from our planned and paid for trip to Sitmonchai, word came down the pipe that I was submitted for the 2014 IFMA team USA, that is led by the USMF.

Once word come through that our submission for the team was approved and accepted, we were ecstatic. The chance to complete on the world stage was more then we could pass up. A few times the challenge of fund raising and logistics were a bit over whelming, but I quickly reminded myself that I didn’t want to live the rest of my life wishing I had gone.

My amazing and supportive wife, jump on to the fund raising campaign right away drumming up support. We were very fortunate to meet our fund raising goals, and started getting the ball rolling.

Heading out from IAH to Doha was the longest leg of the trip, and seeing that I was just in the Doha international airport twice before, once to Thailand and once returning the week before the IFMA world games, I knew my way around. I enjoyed flying Qatar Airways, as they had catered to our low sodium diet needed, as we were going to have to make weight soon. However, after arriving to KLIA, we soon found out that in order to meet to connecting flight, we needed to go to take a shuttle, which then took us to a completely different airport for domestic flights with AirAsia. After a 30 minute bus ride we arrived at our departing airport for Langkawi. Fortunately, my wife had planned accordantly for a confusing delay into our itinerary, and allocates enough time for us to figure things out.

Upon arrive we soon found out that we needed to pay for the extra weight in our check on baggage, and that the check in counter only excepted ringgit… in cash. So Sam and Jenn bravely ventured out to find a bank or a money exchange, and returned with the needed currency to continue with our trip.

After an hour layover in the small and older airport, our plane was further delayed due to bad weather. Our plane finally showed up about an hour and a half late, however, I’d prefer that they be safe then fast, so I’m not going to be the one to complain.

After a 45-50 minute flight to the island, we caught a shuttle to the hotel.

The agreement was that we pay IFMA, and the payment covers the room and three meals a day. Upon arriving at four point’s hotel in Langkawi, the hotel also asked us to place a deposit of 765.00 USD. So now we had to front 765 dollars for the room, and pay 1530 at registration. This was kind of a nightmare, as we soon had to figure out where to get an extra 765.00 dollars from.

After we sorted it out, we finally got check in, met Cheryl and got ready for bed.

We had made it safe and sound… now time for some well-earned rest.

 

TheKrastaGroupMuayThaiAddict

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Sitmonchai IV: a recap

Run

 

Review of my trip to Thailand, and Sitmonchai. Roni and I headed out from Bush intercontinental airport April 11, 2014. While waiting for our plane, we were informed that our plane had to make a medical emergency stop in New Orleans to drop of a passenger. So our first flight was delayed by an hour. After boarding and taking off, the pilot hauled ass to Doha Qatar and got us there in time to make our flight, which we thought we were going to miss. However, our connecting flight decided to leave 30 minutes early, and stranded us in Doha Qatar. Doha is a very conservative country, and my wife is not wearing a head gown and has short hair… two strikes against us, haha. Anyhow, we were about to catch another flight to Bangkok five hours later, at like 2am Saturday. We then flew 6 hours to Bangkok from Doha, and that flight ended up leaving the airport late and getting to Bangkok late, oh my god. Our poor driver waited on us for several hours, and was about to head home when we landed and were about to send a message to our friend Garry, that was at the camp, who notified them that we made it. Saturday, we made it in to Sitmonchai after a grand theft auto drive through the mean streets of Bangkok. We then got to meet everyone, paid for our stay, ate dinner and then headed off to bed. Saturday morning Garry met Roni and I outside; we sat and enjoyed a cup of horrible nestle instant coffee (Laughs) but the morning was so peaceful and calm, it didn’t matter. We enjoyed our slow start and kicked off our morning run. On our morning run, Garry and Roni did the smart thing by pacing themselves. I however am a bit of a meat head. I thought to myself “if P-nae and Jun can run third bridge… so can I” (Laughs). In all honest, I felt great running the third bridge. To give you an understanding of the scale, third bridge is 10k or 6.21371 miles. After my run, it was training time. I’m so used to hitting it hard; I forgot that I need to save some gas for the evening training too. So the structure is a longer run in the morning and a lighter pad session in the morning, more technical based. The evening was a shorter run, around 4 miles and a more intense and longer pad session, followed by bags, clinch or sparing. I think my favorite part is the attitude towards training, they were laid back and allowed everyone to training at his or her own pace. This is great, because it allows the fighters to listen to their body and take active rest days and rest days as needed. Now don’t get me wrong, these guys work there asses off. But they have the common sense to not run their fighters into the ground. One guy “Jimmie” was frustrated that Pee-A and the gym wouldn’t let him train or go for a run, two days out from his fight. This proved to be a smart move, and you can tell from the fighters performance’s that they look 110% and well rested when the get into that ring to work. I think what really impressed me, was that the gym treats everyone like family. You all train together, eat together… and often hang out together. Getting to work next to Pornsanae and several other fighters, sparing and clinching with the Lumpinee rising stars was amazing, guys like Lay and Jimme. Following our training, Chris, Garry, Roni and I had to have our post training roasted bananas from the Banana lady. These little treats, while not super sweet, were caramel’y goodness, and the perfect post workout snack before breakfast. After returning, at first we would go with Garry to amazon to get a decent cup of joe. But by the end of our training, we had traded our ceremonial cup of coffee for a siesta! 12-2pm naps were great, ditching out on the hottest part of the day, and getting rested up for that afternoon run and training. Some days, when my body said enough, I traded my run for a jump rope and shadow boxing session. And when the trainers noted I was blasted, they would work technical work with me. I definitely enjoyed the technical work the most. Anyone can show you a cartwheel kick or a wild flying move, but Kru Juab and Kru Kong Fa have the eyes of a master level coach… and would walk me through some of the finer nuances of the foot work and post-contact foot placement. Just like in boxing, you should always be able to throw or evade a punch, the same holds true for the science of eight. The finer details we worked really made my offence and defenses look a lot sharper. Never underestimate a highly trained eye.

 

 

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Anyhow, one midweek day we got the chance to see Jun “Thepnimit Sitmonchai” fight at Raja. That was a wonderful experience. Garry and I decided to place a bet on him. I mean what the hell… I’m standing back stage with one of our all-time favorite fighters, while he gets his hands wrapped. It’s a once in a life time experience. Jun came out strong landing the combos he wanted to land. In the second round he got rocked, and was stumbling back on his feet… I thought for sure he was going to get finished off, but somehow this really tough guy weathered the storm to the bell. Coming out to answer for round three was intense. I thought for sure he was a goner, until I saw him started to land hard shots and combos again. I realize we had a fight again, and just like that with in a split second, like a sniper Jun caught the guy with a right hook followed with a left leg kick that connected the right spot. His opponent started to limp, and once he saw that he poured the heat on and sent his opponent crashing to the mat. What a great fight that was. Following the excitement of the fight, we return to the camp for some rest.

 

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On one of the days, we got to see Lay (who is one of Lumpinee’s new rising stars) fight at a festival at the Wat about a 40 minute drive away, in the next village. Lay picked up an opponent that was a bit shorter and stocky. Lay being a tall lanky but strong fight quickly went to work utilizing his reach with kicks and long knee’s. Often his opponent attempted to rush and force an inside fight with him, but Ley was well prepared with his counter right hook and clinch game. Other than eating one or two hard crosses, Ley completely out classed his opponent and won all five rounds. It’s exciting to think about the future this guy has… I can’t wait to see this kid at Lion Fight or GloryWS one day. Continuing on I work a bit with a younger trainer, Ma. He was a good guy, and I enjoyed working my combos and reaction with him. Thankfully at home we’ve adopted a free flowing style of pad-work that models an actual fight. This allows the fighter to control the fight, instead of the fight controlling the fighter. So keeping Kong Fa and Juab’s corrections in mind, I got to free flow a lot more with hand and kick combos. He also took the time to show me some really slick stuff, which I’ll keep in my back pocket for later. Continuing on my training was pretty rough, but nothing worse than home. Getting the chance to split my training between the morning and afternoons was awesome, and I would kill to be able to do that here. Sadly, I have to cram all 5 hours of work in, in the afternoon. Oh well. Training at Sitmonchai, I actually gained a bit of weight. I made the mistake of challenging the Aussy (Matt Waldron) to a eating contest. Which was good, it allowed my body to adapt to the training schedule prior to cutting my caloric intake. Once I cut my intake a bit, the weight just melted off and I was pretty much ready for IFMA. All and all, if I could have redone it, I would have scheduled it a bit of time away from IFMA so that I could fight in Thailand. That’s ok though, Roni and I plan on going back soon. I’ll get my fight at Raja then.

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TheKrastaGroupMuayThaiAddict

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