By Nicole Kato
As the national sport of the Thai society, Muay Thai (translated into English as “Thai boxing”) also is a national passion of martial arts that dates back to the ancient battlefield hand-to-hand tactics of the Thai (or Siamese) army. Instructors Ivan Flores and Arthur Wong head M-1 Martial Arts & Fitness, a premier Muay Thai academy that focuses its teachings to provide students with quality fitness.
According to Wong, Muay Thai is different than other striking arts because of its use of elbows and knees and fighting from the clinch. “Muay Thai also has less rules than other arts (like karate, tae kwon do, etc.) so it’s a more complete striking art. It’s the art of choice for all UFC fighters,” he explained.
Often referred to as “The Art of Eight Limbs,” Muay Thai uses eight striking points – two fists, two feet, two knees, and two elbows – and was established in the 16th century under King Naresuan. Under the rule of King Phra Chao Sua, aka “The Tiger King,” Muay Thai flourished.
“We’re trying to promote Muay Thai in its purest form,” said Flores, who has 15 years of Muay Thai training under his belt. “We want to be a break from the norm.”
Wong agrees and said that there is not much of a Muay Thai scene in Hawaii, but wants to change that. He also notes that Muay Thai is one of the hardest striking martial arts in the world. Not only did Wong enjoy the challenges that he faced when training with the Thais, but he also enjoyed learning about the Thai culture.
M-1, which has been around for about two-and-a-half years, caters to people of all levels and experience, including working professionals, women and even a few high school students.
Flores, who trained in Thailand at Kaewsamrit Gym, described Muay Thai as being the one art that is truly humble. “Everyone smiles, no one is trying to be the tough guy,” he added. And at M-1, it’s all about humility.
Students can go in knowing that they’re getting instruction from the heart of Thailand in a safe and fun environment. The instructors want to help people learn Muay Thai and enjoy it.
M-1 caters also to fighters who are looking to compete, but that can sometimes be hard. “No one wants to compete with Muay Thai rules, so it’s hard to find fights,” Wong said.
Wong trained in Thailand for 10 years under Jongnansan Fairfex, Enn Fairfex, and Ganyao (the head trainer at Fairfex gym). In Thailand it is customary for fighters to adopt the gym name as their last name. During his training in Thailand, Wong was able to gather a huge amount of knowledge and training that he brought back to Hawaii.
“We love the Thai culture and art,” Flores said. “It’s been a labor of love.”
M-1 is located at 2203 South Beretania St. #4 in Moiliili. For more information on M-1 Martial Arts & Fitness visit www.M-1martialfitness.com or call Flores at 497-0875 or Wong at 729-7298.