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.
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.
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.
So today is thursday, the last training day of the week. This is just going to be a quick one, as I plan on making it up to you all while I am on the plane.
I worked with thong muck a lot this week, young guy with a lot of tricks up his sleeve. he likes to work the boxing combos a lot too. we worked with parries and counters. not really my thing, but if we don’t move outside our comfort zone, then we can’t grow. definitely enjoyed my time here at Sitmonchai, and they did everything they could to make us feel welcomed and like a part of the family. I also got to clinch with Pornsaneh and Kong Fa, that was a lot of fun.
we went to the sauna at the Wat down the street, and scooped up Pornsaneh on the ride over. the guy is like a kid, haha, once he figured out that he could get a rise out of Roni, he kept antagonizing her and messing with her ears. probably the funnest thing this whole trip.
Honestly, I had a plan to blog a lot more during my time here. but between training, taking notes, Songkran and spending time with all these great people, I felt that spending what little time we had with friends that we made here, was far more important.
Tonight I spread a bit of my fathers ashes at the first and second bridge of the morning run. So for every time that I come and visit Sitmonchai, it’ll also be a homage to a country, culture and people that my father loved very deeply. Thank you Garry and Roni for being a part of something like that with me.
I can’t thank Abigail, Pee-A, Jun, P-nae, Kong Fa, Thong Muck, Juab, Ley, Jimme and the rest of the Sitmonchai team enough for treating me like family. I’m sure that they’re used to having guests come and go all the time. But at no time did I ever feel like another face. I learned a lot, and worked directly along side with the fighters.
At the end of it all, this is bitter sweet. I’ll be back home, with pizza and beer. but a small piece of me will always remain here.
Sorry I haven’t been posting about all the good stuff in a couple of days. I intended to post something for you guys everyday, but between training, sleeping and seeing Bangkok yesterday, I’ve dropped the ball.
Anyhow, so on day two Kru Kongfa called me into the ring. Yeah, found my guy. Kru Kongfa is a much bigger guy and able to catch my kicks with the pads. I really like working with his style, we mesh really well. On our first rounds together, he helped me fix my knee a bit… he made the same correction to my knees, that I have been making to Jenn and the rest of the teams. It’s good to know that we’re on the right path.
Just a side note, Kongfa has fight Sudsakorn and had a great career.
The Thai’s have a different style of boxing with the hands. once I realized that the hooks and upper cuts were coming from the same angles as the elbows, the combos and the power started to fall in place.
in the states, we always work western boxing with the hands. it’s always good to learn a different style, and it’s understandable why the Thai’s throw a lot of power shots with their hands. The scoring system doesn’t really score the hands, unless the boxer is doing damage with them.
So I took a lot of what I worked on in the morning and afternoon training, and spent sometime working them on the bags. Needless to say, I had a great training day.
I can’t state how much I am enjoying my stay at Sitmonchai. everyone is really nice, and Pee A and Abigail take really good care of everyone here.
After putting in the equivalent of four days back home, my third day was a rest day. It was nice to sleep in a bit, and watch the fighters train. Just hung out and learned a lot of god stuff.
after morning training, we eat and headed into Bangkok for the day. Bangkok was a blast. first we wen’t to the boons store. Garry flagged down a scooter taxi… cost us ten Bhat, and the guys knew where the store was. Garry not flagged them down, we probably would have spent the day just looking for the Boons store.
After our dare with death, we went to MBK. which is a giant mall in downtown, that you can reach from the sky tran. we went at watch Jimmy fight. Jimmy looked good, sharp and strong. in the first round Jimmy felt his guy out for the first half of the round, then started to punish the guy with leg kicks. and in the second Jimmy started landing his hands a bit more too. up until half way through, Jimmy was rocking it, when he ate a kick to the knee just right that twisted his ankle and ended the fight.
we then rushed to Raja to see Jun fight. we got to hang out in the warm up rooms, and take pictures with Jun. what a fight! Jun came lout strong in the first, landing his combos at will. in the second, more of the same, until his opponent caught him with what looked like a left hook. Jun was wobbly on his feet, and for a moment I thought that Mr.Knockout was about to be KO’s… then the round ended. Coming into round three, what a hell of a come back. Jun landed a right hook to left leg kick that stop his opponent in is tracks. once Jun saw that he followed it again for a TKO.
we returned to the camp for the night. what was suppose to be a rest day, ended up being a day of walking. Haha.
*On a bit of a serious note, please keep my friend’s father-in-law in your thoughts. he just had a heart attack, and a bypass. The Mongonia’s hope and pray that all is well in the Kunstman household.
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Sitmonchai Day one:
Roni and myself made it in to Sitmonchai sunday, hung out with Garry and met some really awesome people that are staying here with us. Everyone is super nice and friendly, we’re definitely enjoying ourselves right now.
Garry showed us around the village a bit; he showed us the Tesco/local small super market and the village banana treat stand. We were a bit tired after being up for 30 hours on our flight, so we started nodding off at 8pm, we called it a night and crashed a bit early. Which was sad, because my buddy Cody Moberly was fighting on the ThaiFight card that night, and we just couldn’t stay awake.
about to go for a run… but first, let me take a selfie BUUAHAHAHAH
Monday morning, we were rested up and ready to work. We started our morning with a nice run; Roni and Garry did the smart thing by pacing themselves. I however, got a bit over zealous. I did the third bridge, which everyone says is 10k. personally, it felt like 8k. The temp here is really nice, it’s just like home in Houston. At 6am when we wake and have a cup of coffee, it’s a comfy 65-70 degrees. Which makes it really nice for sleeping, and for peaceful mornings. people have complained about being woken by a chorus of dogs and roosters, but I’ve been sleeping like a baby, and I think I was only woken once but the dog here at the camp, as he sounds freakishly like a human, with zombie undertones. (Laughs) but he’s a supper sweet dog.
The heat and humidity is great during the day, as it’s feels just like Houston. It really helps to keep you from getting cold and stiff when you stop for a rest. Just stay hydrated. After our morning run, we wrapped up and got ready to hit. Just like home, you’re responsible to work at your own pace, big boy style. I worked with Kru Jaa and Roni has been working with Kru Pan “Pon”. My first session, was great. he was very technical, and I really enjoyed working with him. We worked on foot work and he help me with adding a bit more power to my knees, elbows and leg kicks. Got some really cool stuff for the students at home. I kind of felt a bit smothered with the boxing, but I just kept working with it and I finally started finding my range.
I started noticing he was wincing, once I started landing my power. Poor guy couldn’t weigh more then 135-145lbs, so I kind of felt bad.
After the morning training, Garry, Roni and I went by the banana stand and got some awesome treats. Oh my god, it was so freaking good. Also, a guy comes around on a scooter cart, and he makes these sweet scramble egg crapes wraps that are amazing. Anyhow, we did our afternoon run around 3:30pm, it was hot, around 100-105, but nothing worse then home. I cut my run in half, because the evenings are the harder rounds and there’s sparing and clinching.
After returning from our afternoon run, it was time to hit.
Kru Jaa held for me again, and we worked a lot of the same stuff. I love working at Sitmomchai, straight up meat and potatoes Muay thai, just really good sold fundamentals. “Good fundamentals are what win fights” – Kevin Ross
He spent some time working on some of my technical stuff dealing with leg kicks. They really liked my leg kick, but added a few more things to optimize the power level. It’s definitely going to take some time to implement some of the stuff he showed me. good thing I documented everything. I felt really bad, because I was just to big for him to work with. All and all, it was a great day of training. also I got to spar with a Lumpinee rising star Pech. really good kid and really strong, he’s another to watch out for in the next couple of years.
On another note, I got to meet and hang a bit with Moo before his big fight in turkey this weekend for Glory 15. I’m definitely excited for him, he’s earned this shot.
There’s nothing flashy about this gym, it’s not a tourist spot, and that’s we I love this place. I highly recommend it if you’re serious about training in Thailand. This will be my home gym for every trip I make to Thailand hence forth. I’m just having a blast, and everyone is treating us like family.
Well, sorry to cut it short, but I’ve got to go and get ready for tuesday afternoon training. Afterwards we’re hitting up a night market/bazaar that opens once a week.
Thanks for reading.
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Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai, affectionately nicknamed “Moo” will be making his big debut on the world stage at Glory 15 in Istanbul Turkey. At 18 years old this young man made his way into the top ten of his respective weigh class at the Lumpinee stadium. Now at the age of 20 he’s stepping onto the world stage, and it will be a fight that you won’t want to miss.
Yodkhunpon, much like his gym mates, utilizes a heavy boxing and powerful leg kick style that doesn’t fit into the traditionalist model of Muay Thai.
The hand and leg kick style is a staple of the Dutch tradition of kickboxing, which we’re used to seeing in Europe and in the United States. However, the Thai adaptation of this style, utilizes all the power of the traditional Thai style kick, knees, elbows and foot work, which makes for a very fast pace and exciting style. I would also like to reiterate that not only is Yodkhunpon known for his knockout power and speed, but his wit as well.
Watching him train and fight, one thing I noticed was his high level of ring IQ. Even as Yodkhunpon is fighting aggressively forward, he has the ability to make his opponent miss and capitalize on his opponent’s mistakes. This mixed with his Knockout power, makes him a very dangerous opponent and a name to watch at Glory 15 and future events. I know I’ll be watching, and so should you!
Roni and I are a couple of weeks out from training at Sitmonchai; Roni continues to read great reviews about the gym and the people that run it.
Sitmonchai seems to be a fun gym that works hard and has fun, while treating everyone like family.
The funny thing is that the very things I thought would turn Roni off to the camp are actually the things she loves about it. the rooms are ringside and small, no hot water, it’s an old fashion outdoor gym and you train with the top fighters, the same way.
Everything about Sitmonchai is straight out of a Van Dam movie, HAHA, minus the cheesy montage.
I love the idea of completely emerging myself in the Thai camp life style, and jumping in there hard core.
I’m not here for the beach, AC’d gyms or to be a tourist, I’m here to work… And I love every minute of it.
Now, I don’t want to take away from anyone else who’s gone and trained in Thailand. there is nothing wrong with an AC gym, hitting up the beach, shopping and seeing the sights. but for me the reward is the work it’s self. I’m dead serious about my training, and I don’t take it lightly. well I do make jokes and laugh in training, haha. I’m not under any allusions that this will be easy, or make me 20x the fighter over night. for me it’s about the relationships and learning as much as I can, so we have material for us to implement over the next year.
This is definitely something I never thought would happen, growing up extremely poor. This has been something that we’ve been working on since late last year, and together, Team Mongonia is making it happen.
be sure to follow Garry, Greg, Roni and myself as we take on an adventure of a life time, here at the fighters life. Thanks.