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Every day I wake up I have more questions than yesterday regarding Muay Boran. After every lesson and training session I teach my head dwells with new ideas about how to improve our classes and teaching. But I don’t just let them dwell there infinitely out of order. Instead, at home I seek for information and the form theories based on the information in order to manage this flow of thoughts and exploit it. For a young instructor like me, this is priceless when learning the different aspects of our art.

Altogether, this is a continuous, two-phased process I am going through. It combines theory and practice; I try to study, analyse and ponder the literature on Muay Boran (by GM Marco De Cesaris) about the same amount of time I spend at our gym training it in practice. First, I learn invaluable background information (history, mythology etc.), laws of physics behind the techniques and different training methods. Second, I apply them in practice at our gym and put into test, how well I can use and, most importantly, teach them. Moreover, they have to be taught using the different elements of which the techniques are built of. This is how our members of different skill levels, knowledge and physique will be able to learn and exploit these techniques.
However, the key for me to this point has been being under the guidance of two dedicated masters: first Khru Samu Majander and now GM Marco De Cesaris. We can only teach ourselves to a certain point after which it is extremely important to be taught by a real master. By saying “to a certain point” I do not mean to a certain khan level. As we all know, we should be under the teaching of a master as much as possible. However, for us teachers to truly deepen our understanding and skills we are to train at our headquarters in Rome. This way we can gain access to centuries old knowledge and experience as well as skills honed over decades. This leads us to the first pillar in Muay Boran, which makes it so efficient and lethal. It is science.
Many of us are aware of the respectable amount of research (published in the books) GM Marco De Cesaris has carried out in the field of traditional Thai Martial Arts together with dedicated training and teaching in practice. Moreover, this is the very cornerstone of the vitality of our organization and as well, the science in Muay Boran. Through De Cesaris’ and his Thai partners’ work we have been able to resurrect and conserve the experience, knowledge and methods of former Siamese masters and warriors. Now we have access to an utmost rich heritage which has developed over a thousand years. Therefore, our art has been empirically tested in the battlefields and arenas where the process of natural selection has taken care of the survival of the fittest techniques, methods and Nak Muays. Needless to say, this is more than we can perceive, experience and learn in our own lifetime.

Accordingly, in order to deepen our understanding of Muay Boran, it is necessary to train ourselves both in the theory and in practice under the guidance of a dedicated master, if we ever want to scratch more than the surface. Thus, we contribute to the level in which our art is being taught. This is also an extremely important part of yet another pillar in Muay Boran, which ensures that the very DNA in our art is passed on as complete as possible; it is spirit.

Let me illustrate this a bit. If you manage to perfectly print a human DNA on a paper and then take of copy of it using the old print and repeat this over and over again, the quality gets worse by every copy. This is what happens in a nutshell to our cells when they start to degenerate due to the same reason: lack of the the original one. However, the more we are able to preserve of the original one, the very DNA of our art, the better our teaching corresponds to its original purpose of use even when it is influence by cultural differences.

In this connection, spirit refers to respect, as GM de Cesaris has described it. It means that we should always pay respect to our master and his/her teachings because s/he will do the same. This means honourably passing knowledge on as it has been passed on to us. Accordingly, the DNA of our art will be conserved. In addition, respect means having and showing gratitude towards our teachers and fellow Nak Muays in two ways. First, being an essential part of our own development as a Nak Muay. Second, contributing to passing on of our martial art as member of our family. In our headquarters in Rome we can perceive these two aspects in everyday training.

As I mentioned before, we have been able to conserve our art via dedicated research and careful study of the research outcomes. Forms, such as Mae Mai, Look Mai and Chern Muay form the code and the third pillar of Muay Boran: the art. The forms require a careful, dedicated and guided study in order to achieve their full potential developed over a thousand years. They are the embodiment of the information, experience and methods learned through trial and error.

If we wish to turn our bodies into natural weapons, we have to realize the fact that it is a continuous process – a lifelong – including all the three pillars as explained. Furthermore, there is only one way to gain absolute improvement and success which is to surpass ourselves day after day. All the rest is relative.

Dani Warnicki
IMBA Finland