• 7.23.9 Malaipet Training at the Muay Thai Academy in North Hollywood

    Mongkhon "Malaipet" Wiwasuk

    Mongkhon "Malaipet" Wiwasuk

    Only days away before an important match to reclaim his WBC International Superwelterweight title, Malaipet seemed plenty relax. I met up with him on Friday July 17 to catch his last 4 days of training at the Muay Thai Academy in North Hollywood. I was excited to start my extended documentary project with him. I heard of his remarkable reputation from various friends. None the least of him being the only Thai fighter competing in the MMA scene right now. An Intercontinental Muaythai Champion with boxing record of 168 fights, with 136 wins, 27 losses, and 38 KO’s, MMA record of 6 fights with 3 wins and 3 losses, I was more than curious on what this guy is made of.

    In contrast to the ‘fighter’ mean, dark, and gruesome image in the mainstream media as perpetuated by such fight leagues as the  UFC, I already found many fighters I’ve met to be very personable, if not sweet. But above and beyond my expectations, Malaipet tripped me out entirely to an extreme degree. Much of this had to do a lot with my understanding of the various Thai cultural nuances. “The country boy” means a whole lot different in Thai than in the US. The class distinction undertone runs strong. He and his crowd often mocks the darker color of his skin, and the country boy face. It’s a way to humor one’s way out of social ‘sub standard’. I wanted to learn as much as I can about him, so I spent some time at the end of his training each day talking about whatever that came to mind.

    Malaipet, or Mongkhon Wiwasuk in official name, is a son of a boxer. His father had 7 children, 6 of which were boys. They all were boxers, including his sister. He told me proudly – always with a smile. The smile though, tipped off something else – a sense of acceptance, the way it is. He has an additional 2 half brothers, one of which is a 20 year old training along side him.

    Malaipet, or “Teay” as the other Thais call him, turned pro at 8, much like most of Thai boxer stories. He was touring around the country fighting matches until 15 when a boxing camp swooped him up. I think he said he was ‘bought’? I assumed this to be the case rather of an investment of a camp seeing a potential, as opposed to something oppressive. Because of it, he was given the chance to fulfill the life of a Muay Thai boxer and rose his way to the nation’s championship status, which later brought him to the US to pursue international/intercontinental titles.

    After watching him for 4 days, his massive kicks and shrieks still ring in my ears. The match he’s immediately facing in a Muay Thai super event in Las Vegas this coming Saturday July 25. He will be facing Richard Fenwick from the UK. It’s a rematch to regain his WBC championship title. I have a feeling he’s going to win purely basing it on his carefree attitude of getting the job done on his way to a much anticipated the Contender tournament held next month in Malaysia. He was looking forward to party after the fight, karaoke party…..  I asked his brother, in his presence, what would you do if he loses? The brother chuckled, and said, “we’ll just cut one of his nuts off.”

    So – I’ll be heading out to Las Vegas in a couple of days – and see what happens next.

    bag

    part of the warmup

    knee

    various tactical trainings

    hook

    punching exercises

    push up

    in between rounds

    run

    running just outside the gym

    sit up

    part of conditioning routine

    rest

    in between sets

    bag

    elbow exercise

    leg work

    quad work on tire


  • 11.15.8 TFA 13 Long Beach

    Diego BautistaDiego Bautista

     

    TOTAL FIGHTING ALLIANCE or TFA held the 13th event in Long Beach on the 15th.

     

    locker room

    locker room

    handwrapping

    handwrapping

    hand wrapping - Marcus Kowal and Jeremy Umphries

    hand wrapping - Marcus Kowal and Jeremy Umphries

    Junior Merkel

    Junior Merkel

    Jamie Walsh

    Jamie Walsh

    Diego Bautista

    Diego Bautista

    Julio Sotomayor

    Julio Sotomayor

    Marcus Kowal

    Marcus Kowal

    David Talbert

    David Talbert

    Junior Merkel warming up

    Junior Merkel warming up

    Chris Cully

    Chris Cully

    Ring Card Girl

    Ring Card Girl

    Raphael Davis

    Raphael Davis

    Brandon Quaid

    Brandon Quaid

    Junior Merkel

    Junior Merkel

    Chris Cully

    Chris Cully

    in the ring

    in the ring

    Jeremy Umphries's victory

    Jeremy Umphries's victory


  • 8.3.8 KM’s fight club – with friends II

    Still into it. I made another one for more laughs.


  • 7.27.8 KM’s fight club – with friends

    Having fun with some video footage. I took the video as an aide to see our progress over time. I couldn’t help it but made a little 3+ minute video to share with some friends. I’ve taken a lot of time trying to figure out the compositioning of moving images. This was also an exercise of low key video editing.


  • 5.10.8 picture-less : Small personal achievement (passing the Level 4 test for Krav Maga)

    As I expected, IT was 8 hours long with just one 5 minute break. I was still undecided at noon whether or not I should go through it. I have already postponed twice, and the Next One won’t be for another 4 months from now.

    I never feel ready for anything, less with type of test. Even as in the anticipation, I’ve been putting in an average of 10-12 hours a week trying to build up my endurance for the past several months. My technical applications are still fussy. Finally, at 12:35 pm, I decided to drive down to Sherman Oaks and by 1:30 pm, I was standing in a room about to face the Krav Maga’s Green Belt (Level 4) Test.

    No one can imagine what was going through my mind at that point and thereafter. There I was, standing at a satellite Krav Maga location I’d never been to, about to take a serious physical test from instructors I didn’t know, in a room full of most people I’d never seen. My thoughts were mixtures of encouraging, daring, scolding, blackmailing, an instructor’s approval voices, another instructor’s disapproval on different ones. It was certainly a simmered war.

    We started the warm up like no one’s business. By the time we get to stretching 15 minutes into it, we were already short of breathes. Right, it was scheduled to go until 7:30 pm. Pace your freaking selves!!! Majority of the time spent on these test sessions are for reviewing techniques in the curriculum. I was surprised all around on a few things that I’ve forgotten, and the things I thought I would absolutely suck at, and didn’t.

    Well – you get the picture – drills , drills , a sip of water breaks here and there, then more drills. It all didn’t go without an incident. On the crazy run and roll exercise, I managed to fuck my right shoulder up. But I didn’t plan to leave for an injury! I had to tough this one out. By the time we were done with the reviews FIVE HOURS later, it was a quarter to 7. We were late to start the test, not unusual. We were given that 5 minute break before the test begins.

    Finally, the vigorous test, where you must GIVE IT YOUR ALL – started with warnings of no granting of mercies. I had a huge concern about a few techniques that I wished I had spent the time perfecting them before today. We began with shadow boxing and about a million mother fucking sprawlings. As we already about to die, we then got into defense techniques and it went on from there. Every so often as we collectively slowed down, we were made to do 30 push ups, and 30 crunches. Good Times.

    The last thing we had to do, that weren’t done in the past 2 tests was sparring. Sparring ain’t no joke! I usually like sparring, but not under this circumstances. I think it was about a half an hour worth of this, then we … were… finalfuckingly… done. Each our drenched out beings were beyond our own recognition. Beauty.

    It was almost 930 pm.

    So, here I am, at home. I just devoured down some Zankou chicken I picked up on the way home since my arms are not going to be doing any cooking this evening. I’m due for a long bath and hopefully this aches will go away. I promised my Krav Maga people back at the headquarter that I’ll see them in class(es) tomorrow. I’ll slip right back to my regular schedule with Sunday’s kickboxing with Marcus Kowal, followed by Krav Maga Level 3 with Sam Sade.

    But I’ll go back slightly giddy, as today I just became Green – That’s the belt color for the level 4. I passed it, along with everyone else who were left standing at the end. Next one is Blue. I like blue. It will take about a year or so but I’m up for it.

    yay
    aow~
    but
    yay


  • 4.5&12.8 Wildcard Boxing Saturday April roundup

    Wildcard regularWildcard regular in the new expansion part of the gym

     

    April at Wildcard was lively. The usual mixture of pros and amateurs share the facility while Freddie looks on. Constant flows of visitors, friends, and curious on-lookers stream by throughout the day. Many people come for Freddie Roach, the (in)famous hall of fame boxing trainer coach. His light-hearted good nature never turns down a chance for some good jokes brought by good companies. His soft spoken voice, inhibited by his slight Parkinson’s becomes unnoticeable after just a few minutes of talking to him. Even when I find him hard to understand at times, his openness to answer my various random questions had me adoring him, (although with a constant “WATCH IT FREDDIE”s), ranking him into one of my favorite people of all time.

    I found anything Freddie or Wildcard related I may link to, are from what I found online. Freddie, brushing it all off, saying he doesn’t even know who made any of that. The only times he hears or see things from the internet were from people telling him or bringing him print outs. Dominantly were these outlandish rumors, mixing with open call practical jokes – on his expense, he just laughs at all of it. It seems that he find all this amusing, and probably even enjoys the attention. He shared some of the stories about De Lahoya’s strange diet he’s supposedly subjected him to, and unrelated open dating calls on his behalf. Himself – being horrified by his own spelling skills, barely just bought a personal computer last month. I pressed him for his email address, (since it’s my preference of communication), he conditioned the releasing of his email address – onlyif I would send him my nude pictures.

    This mixture of March/April Saturdays at Wildcard I continue to watch Roger “Speedy” Gonzalez, one of Freddie’s trainees. With specific instructions, a handler that makes sure all the training are customized and balanced. “I’m not a baby sitter”, Freddie answered sharply to me with a chuckle, when I asked him of how close does he watch his boxers. Silly me.
     

    ringside

    ringside

    Paulo Tocha chatting with Freddie

    Paulo Tocha chatting with Freddie

    the Rascally Pep Roach

    the Rascally Pep Roach

    Freddie's friend

    Freddie's friend

    a practitioner taking a break

    a practitioner taking a break

    boxer

    boxer

    Speedy

    Speedy

    Speedy getting ready for shadow boxing

    Speedy getting ready for shadow boxing

    Speedy shadow boxing

    Speedy shadow boxing

    Speedy on target bag

    Speedy on target bag

    Speedy at the target ball

    Speedy at the target ball

    Sam Soloman and trainee

    Sam Soloman and trainee

    Sam takes a bite

    Sam takes a bite

    Sam shares a piece

    Sam shares a piece


  • 4.6.8 Krav Maga’s Kickboxing class

    Every Sunday, I tryyyy to make it to Markus Kowal’s kickboxing class at Krav Maga training center. Driving across town on a a weekend to make the 1030am class had never been easy for me. What’s less easy is actually sticking with this class. Markus’s drills are, arguably, the most brutal of all classes at this whole center. After 2 or 3 times of me being late, he made me do a hundred push-ups as a disciplinary action against me. I was not pleased, but I did it just to do it. Then I sat out pissed the rest of the class. I’m like that.
      

    sparring in Marcus's class at KM

    Chris Hunt - sparring in Marcus's class at KM

    From picture – Chris is one of the instructors at Krav Maga currently teaching self defense level 1 and 3. His day gig is a game designer, but that’s after his life long involvement in martial arts. Chris has a black belt in Tae Kwan Do.

  • 3.31.8 & 4.2.8 Westside Martial Arts Club with Jeremy Pollack

    For a good part of the year, I also was training at an additional club just a stone’s throw from Krav Maga. I did this to cross reference some techniques and also break the environment from having to spend too long in one place. Jeremy Pollack runs an MMA camp at the Wing Chun Academy. I only went as far as making their fight team, but decided to drop the camp when the curriculum started to not being helpful to me.

    Jeremy Pollack goes through some standup techniques

    Jeremy Pollack goes through some standup techniques

    Jeremy demonstrates a round kick

    Jeremy demonstrates a round kick

    students sparring

    students sparring

    Jeremy teaches beginning BJJ

    Jeremy teaches beginning BJJ

    Leonardo Soares teaches advance BJJ

    Leonardo Soares teaches advance BJJ

    Leonardo Soares teaches advance BJJ

    Leonardo Soares teaches advance BJJ


  • 3.22.8 Raymond Ayala’s first fight at TFA 10 – Santa Monica, CA

    TFA 10 Ring Card Girls

    TFA 10 Ring Card Girls

     

    There’s no question about it, I was rooting for Raymond today. The venue was in Santa Monica’s civic auditorium, just across the street from where I watch Raymond training the week before. TFA organized the 10th event and called in “Uprising X”, with headliner J.J. Ambrose defending his TFA welterweight title against Jason Cordero. Other fighters on the cards were Brent Cooper vs.Lee Chapman, Brandon Quaid vs. Jorge Lopez, Neal Abrams vs. Julio Sotomayor, Bobby Green vs. Raymond Ayala, Jeff Martin vs. Chris Cully, Skye Rivera vs. Javier Alanis, and Chris Sepulveda vs. Jose Morales …

     

    Ah, do I sound like a sport writer yet?  Not really. I’m mildly interested in stats and championship titles. Those things do give you additional emotional investments for whoever you are rooting for. In my case, I had to look up Raymond’s opponent Bobby Green and get an idea what Raymond was up against. I remember having seen Bobby at the last fight in January and found him to be super nice… too. It is a community that I’m starting to recognize faces and names. I ran into some Legend gym guys who were there to support their own first fight – fighter Chris Supulveda. One of which was Jorge “Van Damme” Oliveira, who showed up with a newly achieved belt from a fight in Lemoore 2 days prior. He was one of the friendliest guys I met at that magazine assignment photoshoot. He carried an extra stride this time around.

    Raymond's hand wrapping

    Raymond's hand wrapping

    Raymond in the ring

    Raymond in the ring

    Raymond fights Bobby

    Raymond fights Bobby

    Raymond was defeated

    Raymond was defeated

    Raymond recovering

    Raymond recovering

    TFA judge

    TFA judge

    TFA referee

    TFA referee

    Jorge "Van Damme" Oliveira and his 2 day old PFC light heavyweight titled belt

    Jorge "Van Damme" Oliveira and his 2 day old PFC light heavyweight titled belt

    Wayne Phillips

    Wayne Phillips

    Lee Chapman

    Lee Chapman

    Chris Cully momentarily had Jeff Martin in a head lock

    Chris Cully momentarily had Jeff Martin in a head lock

    Jeff Martin defeated Chris Cully in a unanimous decision

    Jeff Martin defeated Chris Cully in a unanimous decision

    Bobby Green defeated Raymond Ayala in a submission choke 2nd round

    Bobby Green defeated Raymond Ayala in a submission choke 2nd round

    fighter and trainer at ringside

    fighter and trainer at ringside

    Bobby Green at victory interview

    Bobby Green at victory interview

    J.J. Ambrose about to defend his belt title

    J.J. Ambrose about to defend his belt title

    J.J. Ambrose after successfully defended his belt title

    J.J. Ambrose after successfully defended his belt title

    photo with ring card girls

    photo with ring card girls


  • 3.16.8 Raymond Ayala training for his first fight

    Raymond is a car sales manager for a Toyota dealership. But once a week on Thursdays he teaches an MMA class at Krav Maga. His background is solid Rickson Gracie training. Soft spoken in nature, and quick to smile, Raymond can be fierce on the mat. 

    I asked Marcus Kowal, his trainer, for their ‘secret location’ training that afternoon. Hours later I found myself watching Raymond sparring with some wrestlers at the Santa Monica High School wrestling gym.

    Raymond takes a break

    Raymond takes a break

    Markus gives instructions

    Marcus gives instructions

    Wrestler takes a break

    Wrestler takes a break

    Mrs. Kowal looks on

    Mrs. Kowal looks on

    Raymond sparring with Markus

    Raymond sparring with Marcus

    Raymond and Markus practice on the dummies

    Raymond and Marcus practice on the dummies

    Raymond Ayala training

    Raymond Ayala training

    Raymond training

    Raymond training

    Raymond and Markus sparring

    Raymond and Marcus sparring

    Markus trains Raymond

    Marcus trains Raymond

    Raymond getting a problem to solve

    Raymond getting a problem to solve

    Raymond solving a problem

    Raymond solving a problem