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Mexico land of warriors – Part 2

By Marco De Cesaris

4. Lotus Hanuman Fight Club- Mexico City

Francisco “Franky” Ramos is a well- known Mexican fighter who proved his worth as a professional Thai Boxer in several occasions. His fighting style is dynamic and his technique sharp. Together with Gustavo Perez and Ramon Lara (another pillar of Muay Boran in Mexico, former athlete and excellent teacher with a long experience in combat sports and martial arts) he is part of the IMBA Mexico’s National Technical Commission. His gym which is located in a rather “tough” area of Mexico City has a reputation for producing strong and brave boxers. Franky offered his gym for two Combat Muay Boran and IMBA Muay Pram seminars tailored for MMA, Pro Muay Thai, Kick Boxing and full-contact combat sports practitioners.
Several athletes from various martial backgrounds joined the events at Lotus Hanuman Fight Club and they all were eager to find an answer to this question: is Muay Boran good for full contact fighting or is it just a choreographic martial art?

After almost 8 hours of training all the fighters’ answer was: yes, if we refer to Combat Muay Boran, the IMBA’s fighting style that is getting more and more appreciated worldwide.
The core of the training sessions were the so called Muay Mahd and Muay Kao fighting styles. The first is based on the most efficient use of punching techniques to attack and counterattack against the other body weapons (kicks, knees and elbows). The second one represents the best way to employ the knees in offensive and defensive mode.

The first one is the typical middle range system: western Boxing is totally based on punching techniques and middle range is where its techniques are best applied. A Muay Mahd specialist is trained to keep the fight at middle range, too close to be kicked with power and too far to be seized and hit with knees and elbows or thrown. On the other hand a Muay Kao specialist is constantly chasing the opponent: short range is where this type of fighter feels comfortable. The kicker’s and the puncher’s weapons are practically useless at short or grappling range. When a Nak Muay Kao gets hold of you, you either play his game or you are quickly out of the game.

Obviously, each one of these fighting systems has its pros and cons: during the seminars at Hanuman Fight Club the two styles were analysed in depth and their specific skills clearly exposed. Combat Muay Boran is rich is Muay Mahd and Muay Kao techniques and it showed once more that it is a truly complete style of Muay.

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5. Hotel Riazor – Mexico City

Several IMBA events took place at Riazor Hotel in Mexico City whose ample conference room was used as training area for 4 days. All seminars were covered by a group of newsmen headed by Luis Enrique Zamudio, renowned frontman of Gladiadores Extremos, a combat sports and high impact martial arts channel.


a. Muay Boran IMBA Teachers’ Course
Enters the IMBA Colombia delegation: headed by Juan Carlos Duran (IMBA national representative) and Maritza “Mary” Gamboa (IMBA Warrior Ladies General Secretary), the group from Colombia was formed by several elements of great value. The skill level of the Colombian members is increasing constantly, thanks to the efforts of the two national leaders. Juan Carlos and Mary are devoted students of mine who managed to overcome some hard times coming out strong, always animated by an iron will to become better Muay Boran practitioners.


They are an example for their students and their limit is still far from being reached. Together with many Mexican members, the Colombian team took part in a high level course aimed at delving into the intricacies of the 3 Regional styles of Muay Boran that are included in the foundation skills of Muay Boran IMBA: these 3 fighting systems are Muay Korat, Muay Chaiya, Muay Lopburi. The first is original of the north eastern region of Thailand, the district of Nakon Ratchasima.


The second comes from the southern area of the country (Chaiya) and the third one’s area of origin is the central part of Thailand (the city of Lopburi). A comparison among the 3 styles’ Yang Saam Khum (traditional 3 point step) footwork pattern, the different typical guard positions, and the core combat strategies were analysed in details and put to the test by means of several partner drills.


b. Pan American Congress for IMBA Latin American instructors, delegates and representatives. Special international guests from Switzerland, Italy and USA.
Since IMBA is an international body formed by Muay Boran instructors and students located in different countries, a moment specifically dedicated to taking stock of the situation was welcome by everyone. All together, delegates, teachers, representatives of Latin American countries had the chance to analyse the state of the art and make project for future activity.
One of the main project for the upcoming season is a scheduled series of on- line teacher courses that will put together IMBA members from four continents! A great jump forward in teaching Muay Boran on a global scale.


c. Combat Muay Boran and IMBA Lert Rit open seminar for students and instructors. During the seminar also some basic concepts of Muay Yak were presented and applied to various fighting scenarios.
Combat Muay Boran is the bedrock of Muay Boran IMBA curriculum: it represents a modern-traditional interpretation of the ancestral precepts of Thai empty-hand combat, carefully adapted to be taught to non-thai practitioners. The emphasis is on no-nonsense fighting strategies and techniques, aimed at training for self defense rather than for fighting in the ring.
Both Mexican and Colombian students are among the groups that better absorbed the Combat Muay Boran principles. Therefore, during the open seminar in Mexico City many advanced techniques excerpted from that style were analysed in depth and rehearsed by all participants.
Combat Muay Boran is alive and well in South America, the events that took place in Mexico showed this reality very clearly. This style’s reputation as of being a tough system geared to be learned by males and females, young and mature people is well deserved.


d. Muay Boran IMBA Khan grading

In order to transfer technical knowledge outside the country where a given martial art was born, a detailed syllabus is mandatory. As a matter of fact, for an international organization like IMBA, the goal is to reproduce the same kind of instruction in every branch belonging to the Academy. The standard requirements must be detailed, clear and complete so that every qualified instructor can possess the same teaching tool to instruct his/her students. Such a system is based on the official IMBA Curriculum: this is an organic set of Muay Boran skills, divided in 15 levels of apprentice, from Khan 1 to 15 (Khan is the thai word for rank). Each student’s level of expertise is gradually increased thanks to a careful progressive study of the various Khan curriculums. This system has proved to be very efficient in helping both instructors and students in their respective works, teaching and learning Muay Boran.

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During the Khan grading session held at Riazor Hotel, several IMBA Khan curriculums have been thoroughly examined, dissected and trained: the whole process took more than 3 hours. An examination should be a good occasion to grow both technically and spiritually and this grading session was just like that, to the satisfaction of all participants.
(Photos Nora Godoy)

Together with the ones cited above, several other IMBA members gave their precious contribution to the success of the Mexican event:
Marika Vallone, Emanuele Sawada, Alessandro Ghizzoni, Marco Dari, Laurent Dobler. Thank you.

For more information about IMBA Mexico:
Khru Yai Gustavo Perez Hernandez

For more information about Muay Boran IMBA:
• Europe: Dani Warnicki (IMBA Finland)
• South America: Juan Carlos Duran (IMBA Colombia)
• Oceania: Maria Quaglia (IMBA Australia)
• General Secretary: Marica Vallone (IMBA Italia)

Video clip by Juan Carlos Duran (IMBA Colombia)