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Week 29

Still a couple of working days left before taking off to enjoy the beautiful Italian landscape.
I started training Muay Boran in January 2015 after which I have been totally hooked by the art.
The first year I already had the possibility to join this awesome – I had heard – training trip to Italy and learn from some of the art’s best teachers and devotees.
I had already heard the most unbelievable stories and experiences from the maestro of our gym and my fellow members who had been in the camp before. The major connecting factor of these people was the energy which they gained at the trip and shared to us when they got back to our gym.
Let’s get back to week 29. Various questions puzzle my mind. Am I good enough to go to the training camp? Is my fitness level high enough? Would others welcome me? Am I able to learn the same pace as others do?
It’s Sunday and we start our engines and head to Helsinki airport where the whole group would gather. Arriving there, Dani Warnicki, Anni Paavilainen, Casimir Warnicki, Janne Warnicki, Timo Komulainen and I, the whole Team Finland, is full of funny vigor. It has been clear from the beginning that this group would come along very well and become an even stronger team than before.
After our safe flight to Rome we crash at our accommodation in northern Rome near IMBA headquarters. We booked it conveniently from Airbnb to spend the first night before the training camp. The place and its location is just what we need, allowing us to spend the night enjoying delicious food and beverage.

Monday, Week 30

It’s early in the morning. Time to go get some extra food reserve for the camp. One should after all take care of his nutrition because we have been told that we are going to train hard. The weather does not make things any easier. For a guy like me with roots in the Finnish Lapland it feels like being in the purgatory.
We meet some members of IMBA from other countries at a café, Bar Tom, near the IMBA headquarters. I feel very tense which, however, soon wears off as people warmly welcome us.
The bus drive to the heart of Italy, Costacciaro, took about 3 hours but time flew as we drove into wild and green mountain range while approaching Costacciaro. I was stunned by the valley-like landscape of Costacciaro. As we get off from the bus we are almost immediately asked to put on training clothes.

It was a massive training for the first day, some 3,5 hours, but we survived and felt languid when we got to bed after having dinner together with all the participants.
The next morning, we are asked if we came to train or train. Train, I shout, others joining in. Then it happens, our bandmaster starts the training with the tempo we had just ordered. The subject of the day was training soft and hard techniques, Muay Kiao vs. Muay Lak.
You can roughly say that Muay Korat, from northern Thailand, is a hard style and Muay Chaiya, from southern Thailand, is a soft style. Muay Chaiya suits well light built and small fighters since it is a short-range, natural bony parts using and strength against strength avoiding fighting style. Alternatively, Muay Korat suits well the heavy built and tall as it is a long-range and forward going style where bones need to be conditioned in order to use the style. However, understanding the both is essential for mastering Muay Boran.

Basically, in the beginning of the camp, we went through the basics of Muay Boran in order for everyone to be able to train properly during the rest of the camp and develop as much as possible. Indeed, the camp covered a wide range of subjects: Combat Mae Mai, Combat Muay Pram and Muay Lert Rit, for example. In short, Combat Mae Mai is about utilizing the traditional and fundamental art of counterattacking in all-out combat situations. You must be straightforward, efficient and adaptable. Similarly. Combat Muay Pram is about utilizing the art of traditional Thai grappling, in the same manner. Muay Lert Rit takes you to the foundation of Muay Boran; it is a pure military style utilized in the Thai army. The other unarmed Thai martial arts as well as modern Thai boxing, originate from it. However, Muay Lert Rit greatly differs from the modern sport. Most importantly, it is not a friendly exercise. IMBA Muay Lert Rit’s eight energy principles teach the practitioners to produce maximum kinetic energy in combat situations. These energy principles are then utilized in techniques that aim to quickly eliminate the enemy.

In practice, we first learned correct techniques in solo practice. Then, we would put them into practice with our partners. Finally, we were tested to train the techniques with pads.
The mornings became routine, one espresso and running up and down the hills. Though the running was accompanied with another warmup exercise, pre-arranged shadowboxing to teach us to use our bodies as weapons. Each day we would train three times a day 2,5-3 hours. I must admit that after the first 8-9 hours of training was over, I was missing my mommy. It was not easy to study the substance of Muay Boran in the purgatory-like weather. It made it mentally extremely hard and physically highly challenging. Each single day you felt like being run over by a steamroller. Each single day when you rest your head on your pillow you knew you had done a load of work.

Surviving the camp, I must say that it was extremely rewarding in the end, both mentally and physically. Making it through, you cannot describe the languid feeling and the ecstasy of transcending yourself. Almost quitting but always shifting to a higher gear made surpassing obstacles a lot faster than you could have ever believed.

Our free-time at the camp was also amazing, although, there was not much of it left after the long training hours. To tell you the truth, after those hardcore days you hardly missed it. When the night came, the only thing in your mind was food and your own bed.
Shortly, I met incredible people with big hearts and I was welcomed by a warm community like a member of a family.
It is an honor belonging to the IMBA family and those things together with everyone. It’s fantastic to see that a group of people from around the world gets along amazingly well and builds lifelong friendships.
I truly hope to see everybody again. This journey continues deepening my idea for training Muay Thai Boran. I gained confidence and dedication that this is the school and community where I will definitely spend a large part of my time.
Every one of us was a winner. Every single one. Thank you Marco De Cesaris and Dani Warnicki, my maestro.