In his latest video, karate sensei and YouTuber Jesse Enkamp travels to Thailand with his girlfriend Louise, where they take seven days of private lessons in Muay Thai. Enkamp’s plan is to learn as much about this martial art as he can in a single week, and then prove himself in the ring, in a bid to restore his honor after getting his ass kicked by Muay Thai legend Petch-Eak Sitjaopho a year ago , in a fight where he says his opponent was able to read him “like an open book.”
“Although this might look simple, changing my fighting stance is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” he says. “I thought my karate background would make things easier, but it seems to be more of an obstacle..”
“Karate has a lot of the same moves, like the uppercut and the elbows and the hook, you find those in traditional kata, but we rarely start using them immediately with full force,” he continues. “Maybe it’s not so much the techniques that differ as it is the training methods.”
After the second day of training, Enkamp remarks that the steep learning curve means he has made a lot of progress in an incredibly short amount of time, but the intensity of the sessions soon catches up with him, and after an especially exhausting third day, he is forced to take a rest day before resuming the lessons.
“There is so much stuff to remember, and it’s just getting harder and harder,” he says.
On the sixth day, Enkamp and Louise bring together and demonstrate all of the skills they have acquired, and train with swinging bags, which teach them how to balance their own bodyweight in a fight without falling or tripping. This is Louise’s final day of training, and she performs admirably in what she calls her “final exam.” Then, all that’s left is for Enkamp to step into the ring with an actual Muay Thai champion, and show what he has learned on day seven.
“I knew I had a size and strength advantage,” he says. “But I decided to hold back a little, because I wanted to use technique, not physique. And although I’m usually quite playful in my sparring, I was feeling stiff and constricted… There were so many cool techniques I wanted to try, but I couldn’t beat the champion at his own game.”
In the final round, Enkamp uses his karate knowledge as well as his new Muay Thai training, and this combination of tactics enables him to throw off his opponent. “By slightly adjusting my footwork, I could find better timing to avoid his attacks, and use more karate techniques,” he says. “I still don’t know which martial art is the best… ultimately, martial arts are like a mountain, and there are many paths that lead to the top.”
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