Saturday, January 15, 2011
Are we all closet Fairtex mauy thai haters?
So I'm about to make sure that someone at Fairtex has earned their paycheck. Someone out there has been going through my posts and pointing out on how I frequently rail against Fairtex, in particular. His/her name - Anonymous. So, Anonymous, here you go.
I agree with Anonymous on a number of points: I think that the popularity of muay thai is a great thing, I agree that 12 rounds of boxing isn't very efficient, and 2 guys grappling for extended periods of time in an MMA match isn't exactly the ideal way to handle a fight in the street. I also understand that in Thailand, you grow up to either be a poor agrarian, get pulled into the sex trade, or, the only way out of poverty, train to become a muay thai fighter. Muay thai is the national sport and deep rooted aspect of Thai culture, of which I have profound respect for. Otherwise I wouldn't have dedicated my entire adult life to learning and sharing muay thai.
My rationale is based on the the fear that mass commercialization of muay thai by profit driven enterprises such as Fairtex, Master Toddy, Tiger, MMA gyms etc., however much widespread attention it brings to the (sport, style, art, what have you), will have an effect similar to what the McDojo model did to TKD and Karate during the 1980's and 1990's. The retail muay thai gym business model is this: bring in 100 students: perhaps 3-5 of those 100 will become a champion fighter. Those fighters will bring in another 200 students, of which, another 3-5% will go on to be champion fighters. This stable of fighters will bring prestige to the gym, which will drive larger numbers of students - driving revenue, credibility and opportunity for expansion. This model is scalable in a business context, however, it makes it very difficult to maintain the quality of instruction over time. We can see this happening right now with Krav Maga. It's explosive popularity has made Krav THE system to learn for self defense. The path to instructor certification is fairly short, because the more paying certified instructors you have, the stronger the system (as an entity) will become.
But popularity does not mean quality.
Here's a prime example: Master Toddy's instructor training program states "In 5 days you will learn what it normally takes 5 years to learn". The 5-day program comes with a price tag of $3,000. To me, Toddy's entire muay thai instructor / kru / ajarn program is entirely based on driving revenue. What can you really expect to absorb and how do you achieve long term retention over 5 days? Dude, proper elbow technique can't even be achieved in 5 days.
I'm just as passionate about muay thai as you, Anonymous, but I'd say my passion has a different focus. That's all. Just like Ajarn Lek who works to preserve mauy chaiya, Tony Jaa who's done wonders to bring muay boran to a worldwide audience, I work to spread the word about the older battlefield forms of muay thai (muay chao cherk) and demonstrate how muay thai can be integrated into effective close quarter combat. BTW - in no way am I putting myself on the same level as Tony Jaa and Ajarn Lek, however, I bet I'm taller than both of them.
There are a few others, like Daniel Sambrano who are willing to share for free...sort of. The price you pay - you have to listen to our rants about the bastardization of an ancient and inherently efficient fighting system.
We all drink the muay thai kool-aid, just different flavors. As far as the fate of muay thai as a sport / martial art, all we can do is hope for the best. And thanks, Anonymous for your comments.