WHAT IS MUAY SANGHA?
Muay Sangha is a path that shares concepts from Fighting, Internal and Healing Arts with the purpose of recognizing and interacting with what is there.
MUAY SANGHA FIGHTING ARTS
The approach of the training in the muay sangha fighting arts fits that of MMA (mix martial arts). The 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 forwards or backwards in a triangle position according to the body structure. The lower part of the body (knees and feet) move always aware and protecting the center line in 10 different directions.
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 defence behind the style. All our training, including the sparring, is done with almost no pad protection (groin, mouthpiece and sometimes small gloves).
Muay Thai sangha fighters are well known for their 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 and certain breathing patterns, the energy from each attack flows into the opponents body creating an overwhelming result. Triangle alignments allow us to drive the energy correctly and the result is a combination of machine blows with a devastating effect on the joints and soft parts of the opponent's body.
It must be emphasized that we are not limited by the rules of sport muay Thai, that means we also train real self-defence. Attacks to the groin, throat and eyes are often part of our training. Also all kinds of throws, sweeps and ground-fighting are taught.
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 offensive skills taught only after the student can properly defend himself.
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 and Wing Chun from China, all as a way to reinforce the weakness of a single style training.
Grappling is the other main element in the Muay 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 defences 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.
Krabi Krabong - Thai Weapons
Our training is not limited to the experience of just the body. Practising with weapons allows one to understand the value of our environment and tools around us. When we adopt something from beyond the body and apply it as a weapon, it is considered an extension of our being. The Muay Sangha school trains with weapons for the purpose of understanding this connection of energy.
The main weapons that are practised at the school are single and double swords, the wooden staff, the knife and sometimes spear.
With different weapons, we begin to feel the different relationships of our extended body and through each, we work to improve coordination, increase our vision, develop faster footwork, and gain a better understanding of distance and timing.
MUAY SANGHA INTERNAL ARTS
Developing the ability to fight without fighting and defend with confidence without harming. The concepts of Muay Sangha Internal arts can be applied to the fighting arts seamlessly. However, the internal curriculum is designed to truly work with one's mind and body through the breath and develop awareness of the interaction of energy so we can learn how to flow with whatever may come.
This kind of training has no strikes but instead, emphasizes sweeps, locks and throws all related to disrupting the opponents balance.
The Internal arts training maintains a foundation of open handed movements and footwork patterns to absorb, flow and deflect the opponents force in order to separate their centre of balance (mind) and centre of mass (body), using that vulnerable moment to return their energy back.
After each class, different types of moving or sitting meditation and breathing exercises are practised at the school or nearby locations (waterfalls, caves, mountains) in order to develop awareness and sensitivity while enjoying nature.
MUAY SANGHA HEALING ARTS
"Universal Love (Harmony) above Consciousness..."
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 on full moon days.
* At the moment we are feeling and working on developing self healing massage, healing sounds with mudras through martial arts movements using the five elements so chakras and organs self balance and the flow of energy is increased.
MUAY SANGHA TRAINING
The Muay Sangha Internal Arts 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 based in Chikung and grappling with different take downs and quick submissions.
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.
In the evening we practice Muay Thai Sangha Fighting Arts. This training is a foundation of Muay Chaiya and Krabi Krabong (Thai weapons) which implements concepts from Muay Thai, Silat and Wing Chun.
Through the concepts of 14 basic exercises, our training covers body alignment, footwork and coordination drills for evasions and counter attacks following the philosophy of self-defense.
Sparring sessions in the evenings are also emphasized for advance students 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, communal work is carried out around 8:30 am for about half an hour (cleaning, watering the plants or whatever is needed) which leads into the Muay Sangha Internal Arts training starting around 9:00 am and concludes at 11:00 am. Lunch and rest is suggested until the evening practice.
In the early evening, after having a cup of tea, our Muay Thai Sangha Fighting Arts training will start at 4:00 pm until 5:30 pm. The Krabi Krabong Thai weapon class follows the Fighting Arts training and last for about one hour finishing around 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.
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.
Morning Training Flow
Elbow Flow Under Pressure.
Muay Chaiya Sangha 14 Standing Exercises Evening Training
Muay Sangha Low Kick Evening Training
Locking and Sweeping Leg Techniques Evening Training
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 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 Sangha uses what is useful in the present day and gets rid of what is not. Here are the similarities and differences between Muay Sangha and other styles of Muay Thai.
Muay Thai Sangha and Competition Muay Thai – Similarities
Muay Thai Sangha uses 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 some fighting strategies and concepts of movement as well as some of the counter-techniques 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 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 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 take-downs have been incorporated to overcome the rule-based limitations of other Muay Thai styles. A very extensive system of ground-fighting curriculum has been incorporated to provide skills that 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 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, tendons and breathing patterns to increase the flow of life force or chi.
The Muay 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.
Training rotational exercises to develop body unity
Spinning back elbow technique
Footwork training with traditional cross guard
Ground fighting is important if we want to understand combat
Bamboo training increase our surrounding awareness
Training with different partners help us to understand different energies
The elephant kicks the tree technique is part of the 108 counter attacks curriculum
Be empty, flow and develop kindness...
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 that kind 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.
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. Remember, 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 practising meditation.
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.
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.
Softly close your eyes as if you were falling asleep 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 the breath. 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 heart, 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, simply make effort continuously.
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; 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.
Full Moon Meditation
During the full moon nights, the Muay Sangha school holds an open group meditation where students sit under the moonlight to breathe, pray silently their own mantras and to express their connection from within.
Four Elements Meditation
The Muay Sangha school practises a meditation on each of the four elements with the appropriate hand mudras, so the energetic qualities of each one are understood and can be used in our training.
The earth meditation is performed in the caves and teach us how to connect to our basic instincts.
The water meditation takes place under waterfalls and teach us how to flow with emotions and how to embrace results.
The wind meditation is practised on top of a mountain during windy days and will teach us about our mental activity and nerve system.
The fire meditation is done in front of a fire and will teach us how to build inner power, purify our mind and make us more determined.
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.
Muay Sangha Meditation Training
Muay Sangha Internal Training under a Waterfall
Meditation after training
Morning meditation after training
Kru Jim mediating during the afternoon break
Full moon meditation
Kru Marco meditates in nature
Observing our breath next to the Mae Taeng River
"Be aware, don't drop your guard at any moment, every breath is important"
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, frogs 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.
Every year, on Christmas Day, we donate clothes and toys to different orphanages around Chiang Mai. Also in the cold season, we bring hot tofu drinks early in the morning to monks up in the mountain temples.
At the end of the activity, we will do a group meditation to explain how to work with the heart energy through care and compassion.
Full moon Cleaning
Muay Sangha Agape Christmas Donation
New moon releasing animals
Releasing frogs and fishes
Some Tuesdays we offer food to the monks
PHILOSOPHY AND LEVELS
In the muay Thai sangha school philosophy, age is not a limitation and we believe that we should practice until the end of our lives. Specific kinds of training 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 chaiya, wing chun, silat and grappling (physical stage). At middle age, when the body loses some physical power, our training is more orientated towards energy awareness emphasizing sensitivity, breathing, balance and timing (internal or mental stage). In the third stage we must practice softly to keep the body active and healthy with lots of emphasis on energy work (chi kun) and meditation. (spiritual stage).
We have selected a few important concepts so students can understand where they are according to the different levels within 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 have 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.
After some experience, soft sparring can be useful to put the student under pressure to guide him how to breathe and how to observe fear and frustration in order to transform these states.
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.
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 one of 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.
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 simple and efficient way as they appear.
Advance Training (Spiritual or Healing Level)
The advance training is for those who can apply the concepts above and are willing to go further...
This kind of training is mainly related to the path of service. To live doing constructive actions adding a certain amount of generosity on each day (you decide the quantity of it), will make our heart naturally detach from the material world helping us to live our lives in a more balanced way.
On the physical level we must be aware and if possible reduce ejaculations so internal energy can be cultivated. (please note that in the school we consider sex and ejaculation to be a different thing).
Living for years by these concepts will rise our vibrational state allowing us to discover a higher part of ourselves.
This is the highest path within the Muay Sangha school.
* 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, then perhaps it is not yet the right moment.