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Learning Curves - Part Eleven
Farewell Mr Pimu
(Grandmaster Chokechaichanna Krutsuwan)
By Lakhvinder S. Madahar
In an issue of Martial Arts Illustrated (Oct 2001), I wrote my first article for this magazine with some help from Tony Myers. The article was entitled ‘The Muay Thai Experience’ an interview with Grandmaster Chokechaichanna Krutsuwan. In the Muay Thai community everyone affectionately calls him by his nickname - Mr Pimu.
Mr Pimu is a down to earth ex-Muay Thai fighter, master teacher and a very friendly and humble individual with incredible amount of knowledge on martial arts from Thailand. On the few occasions I got to spend some time with him, generally he was very easy to talk too and very passionate about the martial arts he loved to share. While conducting the seminars he would make sure that everyone understood correct Muay Thai, at times he would even ask students to individually demonstrate what they had just learnt and correct them again if necessary.
It is with regret and great sadness for me to inform the readers of this magazine that Mr Pimu has passed away (15th May 2014) after suffering a brain haemorrhage about five days earlier.
I had first heard of Mr Pimu from my Muay Thai instructor - Bob Spour. Bob spoke very highly of him on his return from Thailand. As soon as Mr Pimu himself returned to the U.K, I wasted little time in arranging a seminar with him through Tony Myers for our school in Coventry. We mutually agreed to a date that suited us all but in the excitement I had agreed without realizing it fell on Valentine’s Day. The students were fantastic as over thirty of them turned up for training. Seeing the joy on their faces as they went through the finer points of Muay Thai under the watchful eye of Grandmaster Chokechaichana Krutsuwan, it just made the evening that much more exceptional. Since that day, the knowledge that he shared with us has had a very inspirational effect on our Muay Thai training. Later that evening we (Tony and I) interviewed Mr Pimu over a meal which continued way past midnight.
This was a very positive start to my venture as a professional (full-time) martial arts teacher as I had handed in my notice for my carpentry job just a couple of weeks earlier.
Since his first visit to Coventry, it was always a pleasure to host his seminars, on his visits to the U.K.
I interviewed him two more times but only the first was published. Tony Myers wrote a couple more very informative articles on Mr Pimu and has been published in various martial arts magazines.
Mr Pimu was a veteran of over one hundred Muay Thai bouts and even defeated the ’Champion of all Thailand’ in a non-title bout, but had his fight career cut short due to a serious shoulder injury before he could fight the champion again for the title.
He started his Muay Thai training at about seven years of age in Bangkok with his first teacher. The young Pimu trained with Lerngsak Sorlupitak, a champion renowned for his kicking and kneeing ability. It was for Lerngsak’s gym Mr Pimu had his very first fight, not that he remembered much about it. He said it was shortly after he began training and it happened a very long time ago.
In a separate interview, I asked him about his toughest fight if he could tell us about when he and his opponent were nearly knocked out by each other.
Mr Pimu – “Yes, I was fighting ……….. (I don’t remember the opponent’s name or the date of the fight). I made a mistake by dropping my guard a little, as I countered his round kick to the neck with my own round kick to the same area. Both the kicks connected more or less at the same time and I could not see any more; but was very determined and manage to go into the clinch. I kept on kneeing and turning him, after a sort time I could feel he was knocked-out but I still turned him and kneed him again to be sure. As I let him go, I could hear the referee counting the count; I prayed he would not get up and he did not. As the referee raised my arm I was still unable to see anything. That was without a doubt my hardest fight, that’s why I still remember it.”
Shin conditioning was and still is misunderstood in many martial arts, so I asked him, what his view was on the subject. As many instructors tell fighter’s to tap their shins with glass coke bottles filled with sand or roll sticks up and down the lower leg on a daily bases. He said, if you work your kicks on the Thai Pads or on the heavy bag and play sparring on a daily basis that is about all the shin conditioning needed for any level of competition.
Mr Pimu was actually horrified when he saw some students hitting their shins with hard objects, this is bad practice, and there is no need for it. There is a risk of shin injuries and it is just time wasting.
Muay Thai Icon!
Every discipline have their own icons and I was keen to know, who he thought was the best Thai Boxer of all time, a kind off Muhammad Ali or Bruce Lee of Muay Thai?
I would like to say, it was my second teacher Adul Sirothorn, a very famous teacher as the ‘Diamond Crown Boxer’ because he was a six – time champion. He had all round ability; a good puncher, kicker and good with kneeing techniques. Basically very good in every way including excellent defence techniques. In his fights he would attack continuously and when his opponent counter attacked he came back with really good counters of his own. He taught me his unique style of boxing. Unfortunately I trained with him for only a short time as his career was cut short due to his premature death in a car accident. He was one of the all-time great Muay Thai fighters.
It seems Thailand experienced MMA (mixed martial arts) along before it became fashionable in America. I had heard about the Indian and Pakistani wrestlers fighting the Thai Boxers about sixty years ago from Guro Dan Inosanto, while attending his seminar in 1984.
It was one of those magical moments when Mr Pimu told us, that it was the same Abul Sristhorn (his teacher) who had fought one of the wrestlers. His opponent was a wrestler called ‘Singha’ and was a freestyle type of a match. It was common knowledge all over Thailand people talked about how Abul Sristhorn had beaten an Indian wrestler called ‘Singha’. The Thai boxers defeated the wrestlers even after giving away a lot of body weight. The matches against the wrestlers only happened once, but with Karate, Kung Fu and other martial arts they have had matches many times. Against Burmese boxers they fight every year, sometimes even twice a year.
Maker of Champions
He thinks a lot of luck was behind producing so many champions in his years as a Muay Thai coach plus a keen eye for new talent and the knowledge given to him by his teachers, Lerngsak Sorlupitak and Abul Sristhorn. I’m always watching the current champions and study, how they kick, how they knee, how they punch and elbow; basically study them and passing the knowledge to my own fighters. Train your basics, spend a lot of time doing basics, build a strong foundation and your technique will be strong and powerful. Find a good qualified coach/instructor to train with safely. Spar lightly.
“If you play hard, you play for only ten minutes; if you play light you play all day and every day” - Grandmaster Chokechaichana Krutsuwan
Old Muay Thai
“Muay Chao Chur” means bandage boxing. Boxers fought (competed) with bandages/rope wrapped around their hands and not the boxing gloves as we see now. Muay Cho Chur is also called Muay Boran or "old boxing". Muay Boran is a form that developed a long time ago. It has a lot of extra techniques that you do not see in today’s Muay Thai matches, lots of dangerous striking, locking, and throwing techniques. As a result of using these many boxers were disabled and some even died from broken necks, being thrown dangerously on them.
Muay Boran differs in different parts of Thailand; the south would be different, let’s say from the north, the core techniques are the same, but each region had its own style.
Many people believe Muay Thai come from Krabi Krabong (weapons martial art from Thailand). This is the chicken and the egg problem, which one came first. There are many similarities, but it is best to say that Muay Thai came from Muay Thai and Krabi Krabong came from Krabi Krabong. They were both used together, side-by-side, by Thai soldiers in the past.
He had trained many fighters to championship level, but hasn’t kept any written records of any fighters, fights or of his own fight – just oral history.
My first distinguished champion was about thirty-five years ago and he was called Tawanok Sitpunchai. He was champion three times and is considered to be one of the top ten best boxers of all time. I also trained Jai Pet Sak Tarwa, and Somsong Pajunpai, these champions came to Europe and were still active ten years after they had retired in Thailand and still remained undefeated.
I took Atapong Fanta, Keeosot Lookmerng Pair, and Lum Dtai Sit Adoonchai to fight the best fighters from France, Holland and Germany. They remained undefeated against even much heavier opponents. Other boxers I brought to Europe have included Sanchen Pinsinchai to fight a French “world champion” and Simai Shor Suan Auan to fight Swedish “world champion” Patrick Erickson. Both of my boxers easily outclassed the champions.
As for the European fighters, I have trained over twenty French champions including “Sari” who was the first non-Thai boxer to win a Lumpinee title (the Lumpinee Junior Welterweight Championship). I coached Dida Dafat before his victory over the famous Dutch fighter, Rammond Dekker. In Italy I have coached Mattio, who won the World Muay Thai Council Professional World title at 86 kg.
From this country the list reads like the who’s who of the UK Muay Thai champions, just to mention a few as follows: Peter Crooke, Reece Crooke, Dean James, Liam Robinson, Sheree Halliday, Damien Hood, Frank Hudders, Karla Hood and Will Hastings.
Muay Thai Misconceptions
In one of my favourites books “The Asian Fighting Arts” by Don Draeger’s, written in the late1960’s. Where he describes, the quality of punching in Muay Thai is not of high calibre: the jab is poor, the uppercut is almost non-existent, and the hook is inadequate. The front-kick is invariably weak and a relatively slow action and that the round kick is not used effectively. Do you think that was an accurate picture of Muay Thai for that period of time or do you think he had misunderstood what he had seen?
Mr Pimu thought he definitely misunderstood, or perhaps watched some very poor fighters. There are many very strong punchers in Thailand many who have gone on to win international boxing world titles; the Galaxy brothers are a recent example. The front kick (teep) is arguably the most important kick in Muay Thai; it is sometimes used quite lightly to break an opponent’s timing but other times as a strong and damaging attack. Samart Payakaroon, a modern Muay Thai legend, used this weapon to stop and injure an opponent by delivering the kick into the bladder in a twisting action. As for Thai round kicks, they can be delivered very strongly when there is an opening. Maybe they didn’t look so strong, but anyone who has been kicked by a good Thai fighter will testify to their strength. Apidej was competing during the period you mentioned; he broke an opponent’s arms with his round kicks. There are many camps and styles of Muay Thai practiced in Thailand. They all emphasise different tactics, different techniques, and different strategies, to say this kick is weak or that punch is weak is wrong.
If you know everything, then you are a God” - Master Chokechaichana Krutsuwan
Mr Pimu has passed away too soon, he was a great fighter and a great teacher, but like so many top fighters and teacher in the martial arts world, he was not a wealthy man. Due to his untimely passing he has left a very young family behind in need of help. We are holding a fundraising Muay Thai seminar at our academy. For more information call or email us!
Rest in Peace Mr Pimu, you will always be in our hearts and greatly missed by us all but never forgotten!
Until next month – God Bless!
About the Columnist: Lakhvinder S. Madahar has 42 years’ experience in the Martial Arts and is the founder/owner of Coventry’s Total Martial Arts Academy. He is in Martial Arts Illustrated Hall of Fame 2012 (Top Instructors and School owners) and in the Combat & Fighters Hall of Fame 2011 (Commitment & Devotion to The Development of Martial Arts in the United Kingdom and around the World).
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