(World Kumite Organization)
By Roberto Pedreira
There are two Muay Thai gyms
(or camps) in Pattaya that do not offer a more general menu of activities, and
WKO is not one of them (they are Sityodtong and Nikiema). WKO is a relatively new facility
(since 2009) but its director, Robert McInnes is not a newcomer. He has been in Pattaya since
the middle 90's or possibly before. He is a kung-fu and kyokushin karate man
originally. He operated the International Boxing School and then a large kung fu
school on Sukhimvit, not far from where WKO is now located (WKO stands for
Kumite Organization"). WKO is a large five-story building including a
well-equipped weight floor, a fully matted grappling floor, and "martial
arts" floor, clean showers and restrooms on every floor. Basically, it has
everything anyone would need to train productively.
The training is about
equally divided between K-1 style kickboxing (Muay Thai without elbows and
clinch), English boxing, sometimes kyokushin style kickboxing (as opposed to
kyokushin karate), and for those who, being in Thailand after all, want to train
Muay Thai, there are two and sometimes three trainers. There are usually lots
of foreign kick-boxers, from Australia, Russia, Croatia, France, Italy, Holland,
England, Pakistan, Japan, Singapore, and a variety of other countries, and even
some Thais. In other words, whatever you want
to train, you can do it at WKO.
training at WKO in March 2009 mostly because it was the only gym I could get to
on foot. The weight room was a plus. The trainers were no more and no less
competent or motivated than in any other gym (although for quantity, Sityodtong
is tops). What WKO offered that was quite unusual was sparring as a regular part
of training, twice a week, and anyone who wanted to was welcome to participate.
Everyone would spar two or more rounds with everyone else and there might be 8
guys (sometimes fewer). ranging from professionals, semi-pros, to novices,
some Muay Thai fighters, some kyokushin guys, some kick-boxers, some boxers.
Unfortunately, for reasons unknown to me, they phased it
out. There is still sparring but one would need to make individual arrangements
and the emphasis is on people with fights coming up. Sparring can be dangerous
and people are quite reasonably cautious about who they spar with. Sparring with
the wrong people can also be a waste of time and guys who take their craft
seriously don't want to squander their time in the ring with someone who can't
help them get ready for their fight. That doesn't mean that you can't spar. You
can, but you have to find your own sparring partner. Good sparring partners are
scarce. "Good" means someone who is skilled enough for YOU, but not
too skilled, close to your own weight (or your next opponent's), who can give
you the problems that you want to work on and has sufficient self-control to
avoid hurting himself or you. Ideally, you would need someone to supervise as
Nick Kara is around to help with
that. Since sparring is no longer routine (as of August 2013), you'd need to
specifically make your interest known and then see where that leads. Even then
it is unlikely that you are going to get much sparring unless you provide your
own sparring partners (which is reasonable and probably the best way in any
case). One way is to pay one of the Thai trainers to spar with you. Another way
is to make friends with people who seem to be about your weight and skill level.
Without sparring practice, no one can get any good at any form of fighting.
Finding good sparring partners isn't easy, but it has to be done one way or
Muay Thai Knees
come and go, at all gyms. Sometimes come, go, come back, and go again. WKO is no
different from the rest. But usually Mongkhon Khalek and Mat will be on the job
from 3:30 to 5:00 (although most people leave before 4:45). I don't know about
Mat's background, but he is competent and friendly. Mongkhon was a major
Mongkhon is versatile He
also won a kyokushin title a couple years back. His specialty is a type of knee
strike that he developed himself, as I found out one day when I suggested doing
a round of knees only. He didn't like the way I threw my knees. I was hoping
for some tips but instead the round morphed into a 45 minute discussion of knees
and their application and Mongkhon's particular method of throwing them.
explained that necessity was the mother of the invention of his knee technique.
He was in the ring against the legendary Samart. He threw a knee at the champion
and got knocked down with a left "hook." He got back up, and threw
another knee and got knocked down again. He didn't get back up. Back at the
camp, he decided that he needed to improve his knees. He worked out a way to
throw a knee with his rear leg, while keeping his head both too far back to hit,
and for insurance, tucked under his deltoid.
demonstrated on me. "Punch me," he said. I tried. I couldn't reach
him. His head was too far away, and was tucked behind his deltoid. He liked to
throw his right knee when the opponent led with his left hand (a basic power jab
for example). The essential key is that you must twist at the waist and thrust
the knee forward. It felt extremely unbalanced and awkward to me, but one
couldn't argue with his results. It would obviously take some time to dial in.
point: Keep on open mind and learn from whoever can teach you. I may never be
able to execute knees as well as Mongkhon, but at least I now understand better
how to avoid them (don't throw power jabs while standing in front of the man),
and I am more aware of the gaps in my own knee game.
is the classic GTR article on "Devastating Muay Thai Knees and how to
Defend Them": Khao-Ti
learning opportunity arose. While talking with a guy who also arrived early one
day, the topic of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA came up. He was Dinesh Kanh,
originally from Sri Lanka, but raised in Melbourne, Australia. In fact he was a
student of Nick Kara, since he was a a 16 year old kid and he was 32 in 2013. So
he had 16 years of boxing and kick-boxing. Watching him work the pads left few
doubts that he knew his business and watching him spar with Tyson Sims, a
talented left-handed amateur boxer, removed any remaining doubts.
walked around at 76 kilos and fought at 72 kilos, so he was generally in shape.
He had a kick-boxing record of 14-1, and a boxing record of 2-3. It was
evident that his boxing was better than his kick-boxing (in my opinion) yet his
record didn't reflect that. The reason why, I speculated, was that he used his
superior boxing skills to win kick-boxing fights. But his boxing wasn't
particularly superior to guys who concentrated on boxing. He confirmed my hunch.
The point isn't that boxing is better than kick-boxing. The point is that how
effective your game will be depends on how good the opponent is at that game. As
in chess or war or any strategic activity, there isn't a best way to do anything. The
best way depends on what the opponent does, which in part depends on what he is
capable of doing, and what he thinks you are capable of doing and intend to do. Which means that
accurate, reliable, relevant information is valuable. You don't have to use what
you know but it doesn't hurt to know it. It is good to have options.
Thai, kick-boxing room.
Above. Martial Arts room.
Above. Grappling room.
Above. Nick Kara (with tats), Mat (leaning on rope), and
Mongkhon Kalek (right).
Mat working with kick-boxer Dinesh Kanh.
Above. WKO trainers, Mat (left), Mongkhon Kalek (middle,
(Mohammad Bahrami (right).
Above left. Mohammade Bahrami working with Dinesh
Tyson Sims skipping rope, Nick Kara observing, heavyweight boxer discussing
strategy for upcoming fight in Australia.
Above. Dinesh Kanh and Tyson Sims, hand sparring.
Kanh (left), a boxer/kick-boxer, was interested in learning how a grappler would
take a fight to the ground. I showed him three of the most basic
ways. (Mohammad Barahmi is on the right). The first four pictures illustrate the
"pisão" to "bear-hug crack-back".
1. Pisão to opponent's led leg.
Mohammad is holding the pad with his hands down. In reality, he will probably
have them up. You will therefore have to clear them or fence your own hands in,
obviously, without getting punched or kneed too hard.
2. Dinesh has fenced his hands in, head in middle of opponent's
chest, with neck straight.
3. Dinesh keeps his back and neck straight and
up, making it difficult for opponent to insert a guillotine. Dinesh will push
with his head and pull with his arms, sending Mohammad to the floor. He will
make every effort to make sure that the opponent falls laterally, rather than in
a "guard" position.
4. Dinesh demonstrates one of the grip positions that you can
use. Obviously, he will immediately close the distance and off-balance
and pull Mohammad to the ground before he can start thinking about throwing
knees. Do not leave space for him to apply knees.
If it looks like the opponent can slip in
a guillotine or throw knees, try it. If you are doing it correctly, neck
straight, forehead on his sternum, it won't
Below, Dinesh demonstrates a right hand punch to
1. He throws the punch. His left leg is forward.
When he retracts the punch, he simultaneously drops his left knee.
2. Dinesh keeps his back and neck straight and up, lifting,
tilting, and turning the opponent. He can now transition to a Bahiana or
drop his hands behind the opponent's knees (pulling them together), putting him
on the floor.
The third basic
take-down was a fore-hand Brazilian Beach Slap to Bahiano (which B.J. Penn used
on Gomi). I didn't take pictures.
Keep in mind that Dinesh
just learned these a minute before the pictures were taken. He isn't even a
grappler. But he is a trained athlete. He didn't say "Ok, I got it,
what's next." Or, "that's too simple, show me something more
complicated." Rather, he wanted to drill it 20-30 times. That is what
athletes do--Keep it simple, and dial it in.
Nick Kara in Action
(c) 2013, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.