I am going to start this post with some updates and announcements for Mixed Martial Arts Pakistan. I can say with almost 100% confidence that there will be a permanent training facility in Lahore come Dec/Jan. We have already started looking at buildings and thinking about locations. If anyone has any suggestions please email me. We are thinking that most likely the first training center will be in Model Town area. We hope to expand into inner Lahore later once we are firmly established. I really want to take this sport to the masses of Pakistan. To anyone reading of this, if anyone has any friends who are interested in being fighters or trainers please get us in contact with them as opportunities are going to open up along with possible financial incentives. We are going to start taking applicants in now and will have a final interviewing process come this winter. We are looking for trainers in any style, but are particularly interested in Judo, Jiu Jitsu ,Wrestling, Karate, Muay Thai and boxing but remember we are accepting ANY style (this is Mixed Martial Arts after all). Also anyone interested in fighting for Pakistan please contact us as we may have shows for you to compete in sooner then expected. This is the chance to begin a new life and career as a professional fighter. We need the help and support of the entire Martial Arts community of Pakistan. We are not out to prove that MMA is the best and the baddest since MMA is the culmination of all Martial Arts. We hope that MMA can bring the martial arts community together so please anyone wanting to get involved and help out please contact me and if there is anything that you can help with I will let you know. For those reading this post and cannot help but have a friend who is in the martial arts scene in Pakistan pass this info to them. I prefer people in Punjab since it is easier to travel but if someone from elsewhere (Karachi, Peshawar etc..) is willing to travel to Lahore then that’s fine too.

As I said before my training is on hold for 4 days as it is Songkran. If you want a detailed summary of Songkran and it’s history I suggest you look it up on Google. My basic understanding is that it is Thai New Year. It is also New Year in other parts of Buddhist South East Asia e.g. Laos, Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam. This year it is officially 3 days long, I heard it is usually 5 days long but the government has shortened it apparently due to drunk driving. The hall mark of Songkran is the water throwing. I’ve heard Songkran be called the world’s biggest water fight and that is probably true. The days leading up to the festival and during it, every corner had a stand selling water gun of all types, small water pistols to elaborate backpacks. Most people however just use small buckets. The water throwing takes place mostly on the roadways. People of all ages set up their posts and peg cars and motorbikes with squirts, hoses and buckets of water. In busy sections of road, traffic literally grinds to a halt as they get ambushed by dozens of people dumping water and painting the car with a mix of flour and water. I wanted to take a lot of pictures but this would be an unwise idea. There is no mercy for anyone during Songkran and at some point or another my camera would get soaked and I would have no recourse as I should have known better. I did however get this picture two days before the major festivities began, as some kids got an early start. During the three heavy days of Songkran I would be riding my motorbike down an empty stretch of country road and all of a sudden people would pop out of the sides of the road (I usually knew it was coming because there would be a giant wet spot on the road visible from far away) and set up a road block and just soak me in water and cover my face in clothes in a mix of flour and water. By day three this starts getting a little much but nonetheless the entire experience is very interesting and a lot of fun. Other then the water throwing there is a lot of family time as people take holiday and come back to their villages away from their jobs in Bangkok and other places, namely tourist spots. This makes even the sleepiest rice farming village a loud hubbub of activity with kids running around, music playing from houses at full blast and everyone eating outside. There is also a whole lot of drinking. It is so bad that the government has taken extreme actions to prevent road deaths including setting up check points every kilometer made up of community organizers and even sealing off villages with a barricade so that anyone wanting to leave has to be checked to make sure they aren’t too drunk. What I found funny while driving past some of these posts was that the people inside were also having a hard getting up and walking over to the vehicle due to being extremely drunk. Finally and what should be most important is the spiritual and religious element of Songkran. People take their families to the temple to give alms to the monks, pay homage to the Buddha statue by pouring water on it and visiting the graves of ancestors. The water throwing is actually a sort of blessing and sometimes I will be driving past and have people sort of flick water on me, it is meant to bring good luck. Most people however prefer the ambush and drench method. The spiritual background to the holiday however has been slightly lost in the fray of drinking and revelry. there is pressure from traditionalists to emphasize this aspect of Songkran more so. I am not sure if it is some places or what the exact details are but the sale of alcohol has been restricted during Songkran and I have heard of some people calling for a dry Songkran. Songkran also has a lot more Muay Thai fights during the festival then usually occur and in fact bare-knuckle, or rather the hands bound in hemp fights occur on the border of Burma and Thailand in a town called Mae Sot. I had originally planned to fight during this time but changed my mind when I did not train as much as I needed to while I was in Pakistan before coming here. Gassing out in a fight where a the guys hands are bound in rope, making a cast, didn’t appeal to me. Hopefully I can fight next year, this is definitely one of those things that I plan on doing while I am still young enough to. This gives me a nice transition then to talk about my time at the village festival fights.

The fights took place to mark the beginning of Songkran and were out in the middle of nowhere. While at afternoon training at Sor. King Star the trainer told me that five of the young boxers would be competing and that I should come. It was going to take place at a place called Baan Feng “not too far away.” After training I showered and got ready and got back to the camp around 6:45. Fifteen minutes later the camp owner, a guy named Lek came up in a pick up truck to take us to the site of the fights. What I thought was going to be close by ended up being an hour long ride through the middle of nowhere crammed in the back of a pickup with all the young fighters. There were a total of 16 people in the truck, 5 in the front and 11 stuck in the back. We drove through endless farmland, pitch dark and nothing but rice fields. We got to the venue which was a field in the middle of a village which consisted of about 2-3 stores and some other administrative buildings at about 8 o’clock. The fights began immediately and as I picked up the fight program I was shocked to see that there 26 fights! In fact later on I am assuming there were probably even more then that. The earliest fight from someone from Sor. King Star was number 13 on the card. Usually, fights go by smallest weight and age group to heavier and more experienced fighters. This fight card however was all over the place. Sometimes in between scheduled fights there would be someone from the crowd who decided that they wanted to fight and would get into the ring (no warm up, nothing) and the announcer would call out if there was anyone of his size wishing to fight. I had seen village shows like this and they are definitely the most fun to go to in my opinion. The youngest fighters were probably 6 (full rules, elbows, knees and no protection other then gloves) and the oldest about 60 , I probably saw a dozen or so fighters wear a mouth guard the whole time, if that. The 60 year old who was fighting was taking part in a grudge match against someone in the village he had had problems with 25 years ago. They were both very, very drunk and the really old looking fellow, (that’s his picture here) could hardly walk. I saw him before the fight his hands wrapped up in strips of cloth wearing his boxing shorts and I was in shock, This fight could never happen in the back home. I have to say though that the referee did a very good job and any time a solid hit landed he would separate the fighters and check on them. The whole thing was obviously a big joke as the whole crowd was cracking up at watching these two old men shuffle around the ring trying to hurt each other. The fight ended in a draw and it was obvious no one took it seriously.

There was an announcer and it was obvious Sor. king star was big. Way before any of the guys went up to the fight the announcer would call out some of the Sor. King Star fighters over the loudspeaker and let the crowd know well in advance that these guys were fighting. Two of the boys in particular whose names that he kept saying were Saenchai Lek (little Saenchai) and Khong Saenchai (I dunno the translation of that one). You can tell the influence that Saenchai has had on the Muay Thai scene when two of the top fighters at Sor. King Star are taking his name as part of their own. When time came for these guys to fight they really lived up to the hype. I did not really pay them too much attention during training but wow. These guys have potential to be future greats in Muay Thai. Khong Saenchai is 13 or 14 and Saenchai Lek is 16. Both very creative fighters but I have to say Khong Saenchai definitely has his own style and likes to use a lot of sharp angles and forward striking elbows. During the fight you can tell this guy is loving what he is doing because each strike that he would land cleanly you could see his face make a big Owai! expression followed by a big grin, great fighter. Watching this guy was really watching art in motion. For those really into the Muay Thai scene remember the name Khong Saenchai Sor. King Star in 3-4 years. The other fighter, Saenchai Lek had the most air play over the loud speaker and it probably had a lot to do with the fact that there was a 20,000 baht (approximately 600 dollars) bet riding on his fight. Big money in Thailand and really big money considering where the fight was taking place. He dominated the whole fight, I can’t say he had a more aesthetic style than his younger camp mate but this guy was really, really fast and had amazing counters and reflexes to every strike that his opponent through at him who was also very, very good. Despite having a great opponent Saenchai Lek dominated the whole fight and by round 4 was just playing with his opponent. His camp mates would often shout Jai Yen Jai Yen! (cool heart) meaning they wanted him to keep his cool when his opponent came in with a decent strike. I actually heard this a lot through out all of the fights which goes to show a lot about how the Thais view a cool headed fighter as a more effective one or at least a more honorable one. It was great watching these guys fight. The other three fighters went 1-2. One of the fights took place the entire time in the clinch and was won by the Sor. King Star fighter. One of the fighters did not seem like he wanted to be there and in fact neither did his opponent and the ref actually went off on them between the third and Fourth rounds to start doing something. Very boring fight which the Sor. King Star fighter lost. The final Sor. King Star fight was very good and very close but the Sor. King Star fighter was much smaller than his opponent in weight and height by about 15-20 pounds and 2-3 inches. Pretty even technique wise but the other fighters strikes were much more damaging. He lost by decision. An interesting point is the amount of smiling the fighters did during the fight. Very few of the fighters put on that mean psycho face you often see in fighters from the west, the whole time smiling, whether winning or losing. After all the guys had fought it was about 3:45-4:00 am. Almost 8 hours of Muay Thai, as I sat in there in a daze the camp manager started talking to me, asking me how I liked the fight. I said I liked them very much but to watch 8 hours of Muay Thai was a new experience for me. He told me that the camp was started by his father and so the camp has been owned by father and son for about 30-40 years. He said he would come by while I was still there and teach me and said “I teach technical…not power” if that was his outlook on making a good fighter it shows in everyone who has come through Sor. King Star, very technical, smart fighters. I wish I had videos of the fights but I was caught off guard about going to the fights and my camera ran out of juice. Anyway we left the venue about 430 while there was still a fight going on. I assume they went on til about 5 or so. Nine hours of Muay Thai, now that shows dedication and love for the sport.

Thanks for the support, this is growing everyday. I am getting new emails from people every week. It’s been about 6 weeks since I started this, let’s wait and see what happens in 6 more months.



Leave a Comment