Force One Netherlands

Muay Thai

A personal story of experience. 

Dutch Style Muay Thai

My first encounter with Muay Thai was in 1968 in The Hague, Netherlands. My ass was kicked by a veteran Indonesia KNIL military who served and lived in Thailand during and after the war. He and his family arrived in the Netherlands to receive a cold and unfriendly welcome.

As a state servant, he believed that things would turn out better for him and his children. But in his anger and frustration, he searched for ways to stay in control. Martial Arts did help him a lot.

As a veteran of two wars, first the WOII and the independence war in Indonesia, he became an expert in real fighting to kill systems. Omboy was also an expert in Puculan and jungle combat. But that part, he refused to share with the white Dutch. His personal feelings showed an evident resentment of what happened to him. Also, in the way, he did train me. Harsh and relentless. Giving up or even resting was no option.

How different was my experience in Thailand. When I arrived in 1975, I met friendly, relaxed, and openly kind people. When I tried to join other camps, I was received with tea and a good chair, but as foreigner, it was not easy to get a place in the camps for training. Moreover, some camps demanded an oat of honor to be faithful to the camp, the traditions of Thailand and the King. Finally, I could enter one camp under the guardianship of a monk and Mr Thom, a porter at the Dutch embassy.

Entering the camp was only the beginning of a lifelong training routine that I still (partially) continue until today. Early morning training started between 4 and 6 AM, depending on the time of the year. Every evening the training did begin between 3 and 5 PM. Sometimes a little later. No single training could be skipped. Coming too late was no option.

There was never a punishment. Your lost training led directly to a lost fight. It was a different way how to punish you, after all. Be lazy and lose. The motto was clear. Your internal motivation should be more significant than the external one. Being a fighter was an honor, and you should live like that.

The difference between me and most of the fighters was that it was a “hobby” for me, and I was always busy with a study. During rest hours, I did the study while most of my campmates slept or were playing around. Only that way, I was able to complete both tasks. Every now and then, I went back to Holland to do my examinations and tests. My flights were paid with the money I earned as a fighter.

It was only possible to fight in the “Wat,” the temple events during the first years. Later on, it was possible to go to Channel 7 stadium, Pattaya bars, Radjadamnoen, Lumpinee, Somrong, and others. These professional fighting temples only could be reached after selection and proof of fighting skills.

The number of fights I did is unknown as nobody did record them. Our camp manager did not count me as a Thai and was only interested in the gains, not the records. As Farang, I was on the bottom of their priority list until the and of 80’s when Farang started to beat up Thai. Especially the Dutch did so with spectacular results. At that time, I got the honor but not the chance to perform anymore due to my age. The average age of retirement for a Thai fighter is 24, as, after that age, they were supposed to set up a family and get a regular job.

The Muay Thai we know as a competitive sport derives from a more traditional form. They named this form Muay Boran in recent years, but that is not the original name. Traveling around Thailand brought me to many camps with distinctive styles and traditions. In and around Aranyik Village the swordsmanship tradition was still alive at that time, but the decline was visible. According to the locals, only one master of the old styles was alive. So me, and later one of my students Rajied Jokkhoe, stayed there to learn more about the traditional arts. At another place, called Rose Garden, I got my lessons in Krabi krabong from a Thai lady who was an expert at this style.

Muay Thai has many traditions, and the only way to get to know them inside is to be there and travel Thailand intensively as I did. Thailand became my second motherland due to my connection with family and sport.

Back in the Netherlands, we had to develop a new way of fighting if we ever wanted to beat the Thai. It was impossible to copy the style and compete in precisely the same way. You have to adapt, study, and improve your strength to win, not focus on your weakness. A fighter is only a good fighter when performing from strength and not from traditions.

From that point of view, we improved our boxing, the combination of kick and punch, kept more distance, upscaled tactical moves, and changed the game entirely to our advantage. We did that, and finally, it became an authentic Dutch Style of Muay Thai. Of course, we respect our opponents but, in need, we had to change to win.