WHAT IS MUAY SANGHA?
Muay Thai Sangha or "Spiritual Thai Boxing Community" is a blend of ancient muay Thai styles and grappling arts based in dealing with energy through the concepts of rotation, translation and vibration so that body, mind and spirit become refined.
THE CORE OF MUAY SANGHA
The approach of the training in the muay Thai sangha school fits that of MMA (mix martial arts) and is based in ancient fighting systems and a variety of grappling styles.
The muay Thai sangha system emphasizes the correct position of the center of gravity and good body-weight distribution to achieve proper balance. The hands and forearms are placed one on top of the other rotating in a triangle position according to the body structure. The muay Thai sangha stances keep the right side in front for a period of six months, this happens when the North hemisphere is closest to the sun (Spring and Summer time). The left side is in front when the North hemisphere is further from the sun (Autumn and Winter time).
Muay Thai sangha most dangerous weapons are the counter techniques, blocks with knees and elbows, and fast footwork to evade an attack which mirrors the philosophy of self defense behind the style. All our training, including the sparring, is done with almost no pad protection (groin and mouthpiece only). The muay Thai sangha striking uses tricks from many ancient muay Thai styles and a variety of other South-East Asian martial arts.
Muay Thai sangha boxers are well known for their stamina and endurance because the style was created under the concept of conservation and correct use of energy. This is a result from using a holographic sphere related to the three rotations or dimensions of movement. Through careful body position, energy flows into the opponents body creating an overwhelming result on each attack. The result when you drive the energy correctly is a blow with a devastating effect. Joints and soft parts of the body are the main targets of muay Thai Sangha.
It must be emphasized that we are not limited by the rules of sport muay Thai, that means we also train real self-defense. Attacks and defenses of the groin, throat and eyes are often part of our training. Also all kinds of throws, sweeps and ground-fighting are taught.
Here is a quick description of the kinds of training that we offer in the school:
Striking Muay Sangha Training
The striking is done with all the limbs of the body. In every attack, fake, counter-attack, or evasion, the body should be in balance with the center of gravity firmly in the middle of the body. Muay Thai Sangha doesn’t place emphasis on using muscular power rather tendon strength and the whole body weight on each movement. Muay Thai Sangha uses a total 108 standing up counter attack techniques.
Also muay Thai sangha contains a number of offensive moves for each body weapon as well as a number of yang sam khum footwork exercises to develop good mobility.
The source of the Muay Sangha striking system includes not only Muay Thai and Muay Chaiya from Thailand but from all around South-East Asia - Bokator from Cambodia, Silat from Indonesia, Kalaripayattu from India and Wing Chun and Taiji from China, all as a way to reinforce the weakness of a single style training.
Grappling Muay SanghaTraining
Grappling is the other main element in the Muay Thai sangha system. In this element we learn how to deal with grappling encounters in different situations. The styles that we use in our training are based on judo, wrestling, shooto, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and silat. The training covers three different areas:
Stand Up Grappling
Stand up grappling or clinching addresses the issue of fighting at close range. The training is based on defensive and offensive situations whilst in the standing position.Our standing grappling allows striking between movements and quick take down-submissions on the ground to get to our feet as fast as possible.
Our grappling curriculum doesn't emphasize techniques that only use strength but how to use the opponent's energy through proper body rotation and timing. The student will learn how to submit a stand up opponent, how to get to his back, take him down or to escape from any lock or dangerous position. We train in stand up grappling about 80% of the time, and ground fighting about 20%.
Half Standing Half Ground
This method of fighting applies to situations when we fall to the ground while our opponent is standing up.This type of training gives us skills on how to defend ourselves from any standing up attack while we are kneeling, sitting or lying down on the ground. Take downs and counter attacks from the ground are included into the training to give us the option of standing up or bring the opponent down.
Ground Fighting addresses the issue of fighting an opponent at close range on the ground. Students learn the basic ground positions, submission holds and defenses while rolling on the ground.
Muay Thai sangha supports the idea that when we are fighting on the ground, we are exposed and extremely vulnerable because a lack of vision behind us. To minimize this risk we teach quick submissions and our main goal in a fight situation is to stand up as fast as we can. This is the reason why students only train ground fighting around 20% of the time.
The techniques used in the ground are mainly based on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Shoot Wresting, Judo and American Wrestling but also come from Indonesian Silat and Cambodian Bokator. All these styles have been incorporated to muay Thai sangha so the system continues developing.
Internal or Mental Muay Sangha Training
Muay Sangha Internal or Mental training focuses on a dynamic and balanced awareness of one's own and their opponent's body mechanics, movements, and energy. Developing the ability to fight without fighting and defend with confidence without harming. The principals of Muay Sangha can be applied to the fighting arts seamlessly. However, the internal curriculum is designed to truly master one's own mind, body and energy so we can learn to conquer the fear that drives us to fight and embrace the peace and connection to energy that empowers us to choose not to harm.
The Muay Sangha Internal program of study is ever-evolving (as Kru believes so the human mind should be) and has many integral elements. These include developing students' balance through emphasis on harmony with the earth's gravity and correct structural alignment of the body so that the skeletal structure, muscles, and related nerves work in consonance to form a healthy and consistent whole. In addition, Muay Sangha Internal Arts' concept of body mechanics applies kinesiology to the use of proper body movement in practice to enhance coordination and endurance while expanding awareness of opponents' body mechanics. These concepts are accentuated by three rotational axes of movement: lateral, horizontal and vertical. Translation of the body's kinetic energy into effortless motion along with vibrational awareness -- consciousness of energetic frequencies that cannot be seen by the human eye -- are other fundamental concepts intrinsic to Kru's system of martial arts. Together, these concepts lay the foundation for the Muay Sangha Internal training curriculum.
Spiritual or Healing Muay Sangha Training
We believe that serving others is a very important step on the path of self healing.
The spiritual training in the muay sangha school is based on a program of activities related to serving others, this includes releasing fishes and live stock on new moon days, visit local orphanages to make small donations on important holidays, cleaning up litter around the nearby mountains and planting trees on full moon days.
Along with this, different types of meditation are practiced after each training session in different locations (waterfalls, jungle, hot springs, caves or lakes) in order to develop concentration and awareness while enjoying the natural surroundings.
MUAY SANGHA TRAINING
The morning training has a free flowing effect on the mind and is indicated to improve our receptive senses in many different ways and, to develop sensitivity under different amounts of pressure. The morning practice consists of connecting with the life force, how to extend our consciousness to our opponent’s energy field and how to stick and flow with any attack through balance and proper body mechanics. The training is mainly grappling based with different take downs and quick submissions.
Kru believes in awareness and inner balance and that is why the morning training is designed for...., to keep our mind empty and alert while we practice. He says that, how we train is what we become. When there is no aggression in our training our mind feels relaxed, present and aware, ready to flow with whatever comes. This training can be easily extended to our daily life by adopting this concept of adaptation into whatever situation we are in. After all, events occur all the time, and it is the way in which we act upon them that will make a difference in our lives.
Kru always encourages mindfulness in our training to be able to, in the present moment, see our feelings and movements from a deeper perspective. This exercise will create an expanded field of energy around us, and as a result will improve our ability to listen to the opponent attack just before it happens.
In the evening we practice Muay Thai Sangha Fighting Arts. This kind of training is specially indicated for those who are looking to learn from different Muay Thai, silat and wing chun methods under different concepts of movement. Our training first covers evasions and counter attacks following the philosophy of self-defense. In our school we believe that no one should have the right to harm others and we also believe that everyone has the right to defend themselves at all times.
The training covers different training routines to develop good levels of cardiovascular power, speed and agility all by using triangular and circular patterns of movement.
Sparring sessions in the evenings are also emphasized if we wish to reach a good understanding of the distance and develop correct timing.
In our school we agree that combining the two completely opposite methods of training (sensitivity and awareness in the morning and strength and power in the evening) can bring a more complete result in our practice.
Hours of Training
After vipassana meditation and breakfast, the Muay Thai Sangha Internal Arts training (Chikun and Grappling) starts around 8:00 am and last until 10:30 am. After training we do some communal work for about half an hour (cleaning, watering the plants, feeding the horses or whatever is needed) then we have lunch and rest until the evening practice.
In the early evening, after having a cup of tea, our Muay Thai Sangha Fighting Arts (Muay Thai, Muay Chaiya, Wing Chun and Silat) training will start at 4:00 pm until 6:30 pm. After training, we go to have dinner at the local restaurant. After supper, on some days of the week, we may watch an interesting movie or talk about selected subjects. At the end of the day, we do some meditation and rest until the next morning.
Our teaching time in the school goes from Monday morning to Saturday afternoon. We don't have classes on Saturday evenings and Sundays.
The training takes place at the school in Mae Taeng where the students will be staying. Sometimes the morning training is held in the local hot springs, waterfalls or in the Muay Sangha Mountain Camp (depending on weather conditions) located in the near mountains of Mae Taeng.
We recommend that all the students who wish to come and practice within the group, come with an open heart and with a mind empty of ideas or methods as this will ensure the maximum benefit of this experience. Our school is like a family and we will take care of everyone as best as we can.
DIFFERENCES WITH OTHER MUAY THAI STYLES
It is important to explain that the aim of the School is not to promote any particular style of martial arts or to protect the martial arts heritage of any country. In the Muay Thai Sangha School the skills that we teach are used to help humankind regardless of nationality, race or religion. The skills don't belong to anyone, to any country or to any association. Muay Thai Sangha uses what is useful in the present day and gets rid of what is not. Here are the similarities and differences between MuayThai Sangha and other styles of Muay Thai.
Muay Thai Sangha and Competition Muay Thai – Similarities
Muay Thai Sangha has borrowed many training routines from Competition Muay Thai - building stamina through cardiovascular workouts, striking power and developing determination and mental strength through pain tolerance.
Muay Thai Sangha and Muay Thai Chaiya - Similarities
Muay Thai Sangha has borrowed many fighting strategies and concepts of movement from Muay Thai Chaiya. The distribution of the body weight some of the stances and some of the counter-techniques have been absorbed from Muay Thai Chaiya because of their effectiveness.
Muay Thai Sangha and other styles of Muay Thai - Differences
The first and most important difference between Muay Thai Sangha and the other Muay Thai styles is the spiritual direction in our training. Muay Thai Sangha puts emphasis in the development of the body, the mind and the spirit through specific training methods. The ultimate goal of the Sangha system is to reinforce the students’ talents so they can grow as further as possible. In today's Muay Thai world, the Muay Thai Sangha School is the only one that teaches this way.
The second outstanding difference is related to multi-opponents fighting. Muay Thai Sangha has studied, practiced and developed aspects from many different South-East Asian martial arts. Specific footwork, attacks and counter-attacks have been developed to be able to deal with front, side and rear attacks coming at the same time.
Other styles of Muay Thai are mainly based on dealing with a single opponent. This can be seen from the footwork and position of the body in these styles.
The third difference is also very important - grappling. Because Muay Thai Sangha has not been built just for the ring, it has borrowed techniques from many styles of standing-up grappling and ground-fighting. Many varieties of takedowns have been incorporated to overcome the rule-based limitations of other Muay Thai styles. A very extensive system of ground-fighting curriculum has been developed to provide skills to help our survival on the ground.
Many styles of Muay Thai have not yet reached deeply into the grappling arts and we believe that to be a limitation.
The fourth difference is that in the Muay Thai Sangha style "forbidden points striking" (to the eyes, throat and groin) is allowed and also the use of the head is permitted. This means that many techniques from competition or other styles of Muay Thai are dangerously exposed for an incoming attack.
The last difference is related to our health. Students in the Muay Thai Sangha School practice internal martial arts methods to develop strong bones and tendons and to increase the flow of life force or chi.
The Muay Thai Sangha School believes in being at the leading edge of evolution. It is very important for martial artists to evolve rather than to be attached to any heritage or classical style. Kru Pedro sees classical martial arts styles as a point of reference to start learning. When the concepts of movement are understood and practiced, it's time to become empty again and continue learning.
The main objective of Muay Thai Sangha is inner-growth of humankind and not its destruction.
PHILOSOPHY AND LEVELS
In the muay Thai sangha school philosophy, age is not a limitation and we believe that we should train until the end of our lives. Specific kinds of drills and techniques are emphasized according to which stage of our life we are in.
When we are young our body is strong, full of energy and can handle tough competition training styles such us muay Thai and grappling (physical or mechanical stage). At middle age, the body loses some physical power and our training should be self-defense orientated developing sensitivity, balance, coordination, and accuracy. Styles such as muay chaiya, silat and wing chun cover this area (internal or mental stage). In the third stage we must practice softly to keep the body active and healthy with lots of emphasis on Taiji, meditation and Chi Kun energy work (spiritual stage).
Kru ability lies in understanding the main principles of any fighting style and be able to see and extract the pearl within each of them. Kru explains that if we understand energy, gravity, body alignment and we have an extensive experience in different kinds of fighting, things will happen naturally.
The intentions of kru are not related to form any new martial arts style or chain of international schools. Muay Thai Sangha is just a name to describe what he practices. Kru says often that the name is NOT important. The important thing is to understand the principles, practice them and grow to be the best that you can be.
We have selected a few important concepts so students can understand how to reach the different levels of the school.
Beginners Training (Physical or Fighting Level)
The first level in our school is related to the physical body. The student must train his body beyond his physical power, pushing to the limits and challenging himself further on each training season.
He must be determined to sacrifice all the things that he wants until he has just one wish...train harder.
He must learn how to stand up when he falls down and to give thanks to those opportunities for allowing him to keep learning further.
In our school we praise the path of humbleness and have respect towards others. We also encourage not to judge, not to kill, not to lie, not to steal and not to consume intoxicants.
To learn how to live with generosity by doing constructive actions will prepare the soul for the internal level.
Intermediate Training (Mental or Internal Level)
In our school the mental training is called "The Path of the Internal Warrior".
During this second stage, the student will learn how to enter consciously in the life force, how to expand his mind outside of his physical body and how to connect with his opponent's balance without physical contact.
Meditation becomes the main skill of the mental level. By learning how to work with our subconscious mind and how to get rid of all the emotional patterns from past experiences is a success key to continuous evolution.
At this stage also, some soft sparring can be useful to put the student under high pressure and teach him how to breathe and how observe fear and frustration and how to meditate on them until they dissolve.
The approach of our training is not based on a secret formula in which the student becomes calm just before combat. Instead it's based on a way of life grounded in self-awareness; this will create the ability to deal with difficult situations in a very direct and efficient way as they appear.
Advance Training (Spiritual or Healing Level)
The advance training is only open for those few who can apply the concepts above and are willing to go further...
The first concept that we must grasp is to learn how to live for a while in moderation, using and consuming only what truly is needed, this will make us free from unnecessary cravings helping us to reduce the fear and to feel the joy of being independent from material life.
Second concept is to live doing constructive actions adding a certain amount of generosity on each day (you decide the quantity of it). This will make our heart naturally detach from the material world making our lives more balanced.
On the physical level we must bring ejaculation to a minimum so our spirit can have energy to do other missions. (please note that in the school we consider sex and ejaculation to be a different thing)
Living for years under these concepts will transform our vibrational energy inside our body, mind and soul in a very deep level. This is the highest path within the Muay Thai Sangha system.
* Please note that all the practices that we do should feel light and enjoyable, if we feel obligated to do certain things that we don't want to, then perhaps is not the yet the right moment.
MUAY THAI SANGHA TEACHER'S CODE
The most important task of a good Muay Thai Sangha teacher is to have consciousness of all his actions, words and thoughts.
A good Muay Thai Sangha teacher should have compassion towards all living beings.
A good Muay Thai Sangha teacher should be humble, honest, and a moderate person.
A good Muay Thai Sangha teacher should train to cultivate health and a high level of discipline.
A good Muay Thai Sangha teacher refers to a person that has sufficient wisdom and experience in the field and aligns his practice towards the construction of his soul.
Meditation is perhaps one of the more important parts of the muay Sangha system. Meditation does not belong to any religion, philosophic method or spiritual community. Instead, it is a natural ability that humans have and that can be developed by our own efforts. We can say that it is something which we already do in everyday life allowing us to focus on the task at hand - but the depth of meditation is superficial. The events around us in the world soon rob us of our attention and our concentration is gone. The mind that wanders outside our own body is the source of all types of suffering. By deepening our meditation until our mind comes to a standstill we can unlock the potential and unused ability within. We maintain a balance of mindfulness and happiness for ourselves bringing contentment and direction to life in a way not possible through any other technique.
Meditation in one respect is like many other activities: sports, crafts and skills of all types. For all of these activities, you will never become skilled just by talking about it or reading about it. Like any skill, you gain expertise by doing it. Meditation will be of only limited use if you practice it on-and-off, so the key to success in meditation is the commitment to meditate once or twice a day. Like embarking on a new career with a new employer, if you turn up for work only when you feel like it, you are unlikely to go very far in your career. Remenber, constant practice is necessary to develop concentration.
There are different meditation methods according to the experience and background of teachers. Guidance is a short cut in our practice and every student has the same difficulty in the first few months of practicing meditation - therefore those of you who are interested to progress in meditation perhaps you can read the advice below.
The sitting posture has been found to be the most easy position for meditation practice. Sit upright with your back and spine straight - cross legged or, if you have problems of flexibility you can use a chair. Nothing should impede your breathing or circulation. Your hands can rest on your lap, feel as if you are one with the ground on which you sit. Feel that you could sit happily for as long as you like.
Softly close your eyes as if you were falling asleep. Relax every part of your body, beginning with the muscles of your face, then relax your face, neck shoulders, arms, chest, trunk, and legs. Make sure there are no signs of tension on your forehead or across your shoulders.
Close your eyes and stop thinking about the things of the world. Feel as if you are sitting alone - around you is nothing and no-one. Create a feeling of happiness and spaciousness in your mind.
Feel that inside your body is empty space, without organs, muscles or tissues. Gently and contentedly rest your attention at a point near at the center of the body. Whatever experience arises in the mind, simply observe without attempting to interfere. In this way your mind will become gradually purer and inner experience will unfold.
If you find that you cannot dissuade the mind from wandering, then your mind needs an inner object as a focus for attention. Gently imagine that a bright, clear crystal ball, the size of the tip of your little finger, is located inside at the centre of the body. Maybe you'll find you can imagine nothing, but later you'll be able to see a crystal ball of increasing clarity. Allow your mind to come to rest at the very centre of the crystal ball. Use the subtlest of effort and you will find that the crystal ball becomes brighter and clearer. If you use too much effort you will find that it gives you a headache.
If you find that your mind still wanders from the crystal ball, you can bring the mind back to a standstill by repeating the mantra, "Samma-araham" silently, as if the sound of the mantra is coming from the centre of the crystal ball. Repeat the mantra over and over again without counting.
Don't entertain thoughts in your mind. Don't analyze what's going on in the meditation. Allow the mind to come to a standstill - that's all you need to do. If you find that you can imagine nothing, then repeat the mantra, "Samma-araham" silently and continuously in the mind. If you find that you're not sure about the location of the centre of the body, anywhere in the area of the chest will do. Persevere because today's daydream is tomorrow's still mind; today's darkness is tomorrow's inner brightness; today's perseverance is tomorrow's fulfillment. Don't be disappointed if you find your mind wandering. It is only natural for beginners. Make effort continuously; keep your mind bright, clear and pure, and in the end, you will achieve your goal.
Keep repeating the mantra and eventually the sound of the words will die away. At that point a new bright, clear, crystal ball will arise in the mind of its own accord. The crystal ball will sparkle like a diamond. This stage is called pathama magga (primary path). At this stage the shining crystal ball is connected firmly to the mind, and is seated at the centre of the body. You will experience happiness. With continuous observation at the centre of this crystal ball, it will give way to a succession of increasingly purer bodily sheaths until it reaches the ultimate one, the highest level of attainment of supreme happiness.
Regular Practice is the Most Difficult Part
Meditate at least once a day, picking times when you know you will be free. If you wish to meditate in the morning, you should first do a little exercise to refresh your body then sit down to meditate for thirty to sixty minutes; this will give you the perfect start to your day. Alternatively, in the evening just before going to bed, find time to meditate, helping you to relax your mind and allowing you to make the most efficient use of your time asleep.
Set a start time for at least one period of meditation and stick to it. When it is time for meditation, stop what you are doing, find a quiet place to sit, close your eyes and meditate. Don't make a time limit for it. Be happy when you meditate and just let the time go. If you are happy meditating for half-an hour, then just practice for half-an-hour. If you are happy meditating for an hour then meditate for an hour. The most important thing is to fix the habit of meditation in your daily life and meditate in that period of time every day.
Every Full moon between 9 pm and 10 pm, the muay Sangha School holds a group meditation in Mae Taeng. All the students are invited. For those who wish to attend the activity, must bring a small white candle and arrive 15 minutes before the meditation begins.
Four Elements Meditation
The Muay Sangha school has developed a meditation method on each of the four elements so the energetic qualities of each one are understood and can be used in our training.
Six Gates Meditation
The Muay Sangha school practices a method of concentration by accumulating emptiness on each gate of the body (eyes, ears, smell, taste, touch and mind). From the result of this activity higher perceptions are developed.
All the activities and meditation practices in the Muay Sangha school don't require experience and are suitable for all ages.
The Muay Sangha School believes that developing awareness (expansion of the consciousness) is the main and most valuable aspect in our training if we really wish to improve our skill level.
The Muay Sangha School encourages doing positive actions as a way to reinforce the path of self-development.
A group of monthly activities has been developed so we can all have the opportunity to experience and to promote inside ourselves the power of our hearts by doing righteous actions.
Every two weeks, according to the moon phase, the school will hold a different activity so students can examine within themselves the results of their actions.
In new moon days we will go to buy live animals (fishes, turtles, eels etc.) and release them into the river.
During full moon days we will go on a trekking trip through the jungle to pick up litter and to plant local seeds all around the path.
At the end of the activity, we will do a group meditation then after that, kru will explain how to work with our own energy through care and compassion.
and hard work...
Kru Jim mediating during the afternoon break
Kru Marco meditates in nature
Meditation after training
Full moon Cleaning
Cleaning is a positive way to care about the Earth
New moon releasing animals
Releasing frogs and fishes
Some Tuesdays we offer food to the monks
Releasing a cat fish
Making a Donation to the chief wife in a Lahu mountain village
Morning meditation after training
Full moon meditation
Cleaning the Mae Taeng mountains
Cleaning plastic in the jungle
Releasing fishes next to a temple in Mae Taeng
New moon releasing fishes near a lake
Full moon Lahu village cleaning