Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys & Girls, Children of all ages. I’m proud to bring to you another one of a kind interview. This time I had the chance to sit down and talk with professional Muay Thai fighter Jade Marrisa Sirisompan. I’m super happy that she took the time and enjoyed a lot talking about Muay Thai, Thai culture, Mayweather & Pacquiao and many other topics in great detail. So without further ado, I bring to you our latest My-Thai.org interview with Jade Marrisa Sirisompan.
Before we start, could you introduce yourself a little bit to the readers who haven’t heard about you yet?
I’m Jade Marisa Sirisompan. I’m a female professional Muay Thai fighter. My father is Grand Master Chinawut Sirisompan.He is President of Kru Muay Thai Association, World Muay Boran Federation, World Muay Thai Organisation and organizer of World Martial Art Council Games. As well as this, he is the highest Khan in the Muay Thai Kru system, Owner of Luktupfah Muay Thai camp in Bangkok and promoter of MBK fight night.
That’s basically why I’m so much into Muay Thai :-) Even though I was actually born and raised in Manchester, England. I lived there until I was 14 years old and didn’t really think about starting Muay Thai. It was always there but I never really paid any attention to it. This changed when we moved to Thailand. I started to see more about what Muay Thai was all about, the culture, the history, all that what actually makes Muay Thai so compelling.
Moreover I saw, thanks to my father, World Championship fights and fights at the MBK Fight Night live – and I then wanted a piece of it!
So you were born and raised in the UK, then you came back here, and then you started with Muay Thai? Sounds like a reasonable way since I assume Muay Thai isn’t that big in Europe, right?
It’s starting to grow a lot though. The UK seems to have a lot of good fighters right now.
Oh cool then. I didn’t realize that. I think when I left home several years ago it wasn’t really popular. But glad that changes! Now that we’re talking about it I actually remember that I met some guys from the German national team at Muay Thai training here a few times.
Lots of fighters seem to come to Thailand in order to train and fight. Many of them dream of having the chance to learn from and train with the best.
Totally understand that. If you want to learn it, what better place than Thailand? But before we get to much into it let me finish the general getting to know you questions first: What do you do when you’re not fighting or training?
Well my Dad owns a gym so I stay around there a lot and help to take care of it and look after everything.
That’s also where you train I assume?
Yeah right! It’s quite far from the city center. I do have a condo in the city though so sometimes when I feel the need to break away from everything I simply stay there – but I also do have a gym there! Luckily a friend owns a gym close by. I’m quite active and I can not not train for a long time. If I don’t train for a while I get quite anxious.
That’s the right attitude then though. Always being eager to train! What’s your background though? Before you became a fighter? Did you study?
Yes, I did. I graduated in Communication Arts from Bangkok University.
Cool. That’s part of what I teach. Did you like it?
It’s not really my cup of tea. I’m actually planning on going to America to study Kinesiology.
Ah I see. That’s related to sports!
Exactly! Unfortunately here in Thailand we don’t have it in English.
Interesting. How long will it take you?
It’s a two year course.
That’s cool. That’s something you can use then later in or as you profession. It’s quite related to physical therapy, right?
Exactly. But it also relates to nutrition. I’m quite interested in this topic as well.
That’s quite cool. I am really bad in nutrition related things so I really admire people who know a lot about it. I might have to get back to you then since it’s really important.
Right! Especially for athletes.
Before we really get into the sports questions I have to ask you two more general ones since they always come up over there on Facebook: What’s cool about Bangkok? Why are you here?
Well I think it’s the obvious. You can do everything here. It’s all so close. Going out, going to the movies, get a massage, go wake-boarding, visit temples, great restaurants, relaxing – it’s just all there and you’re not restricted to anything. Moreover it’s also quite affordable especially if you compare it to other countries.
True. Is there also something that you don’t like about it?
I guess that’s also what everyone says: The traffic.
I think everybody agrees on that, right. How far is your gym actually away (from central Bangkok)?
Oh it’s quite far. It took me about an hour to get here.
Yes I drove.
So you like driving here despite the traffic?
Yes I do. I don’t like the BTS. There are always so many people in there! Everybody is pushing you around and then it’s sticky and sweaty…
I get that point. True. Public transport can be quite challenging here in Thailand. There’s no such thing as private space. How was it for you to come here from England?
Well I think I do understand a lot of the Thai culture and how things work by now. I came here when I was 14 and now I am 22. So basically became an adult while living here which helped me to understand life and culture and how differently people think and how they view life differently in general.
Are there still things that frustrate you sometimes?
Sometimes there is this lack of common sense here. That’s still a bit frustrating once in a while. Having that said though it’s also obvious that everybody has his flaws. When I look at some foreigners who just come here to get wasted and crazy for example that’s a different side of the coin. So I wouldn’t say there is something bad here. It’s just different.
Completely understand that point! For me, I also miss punctuality. That might sound super German now and I can adapt to Thai style but I still miss it once in a while.
Same for me. I am usually very punctual.
Right. You even came early for our interview!
Yes, I just think it’s rude not to be on time. By now I don’t mind waiting though. I got used to it.
Me too. I think that’s one of the good things here. One becomes quite patient. Just like you said, there are good things in every culture.
When not Bangkok, do you have another favorite place here in Thailand?
I actually spend most of my time in Bangkok. I do travel quite a bit through Thailand but every time I go to the mountains or the beach I start to miss Bangkok. It’s simply my home.
Ok so let’s ask about your happy place in Bangkok then. Let me guess, the gym? ;-)
Of course! I spend most of my time in the Muay Thai gym! :D If I’m not there I like to be outdoors. In the park for example. I don’t like being in shopping malls too much.
Oh nice. I don’t like that either.
I do like beaches or similar places but after one day I’ll start missing Bangkok and the gym again.
And there will be so many sweaty people again! ;p
Salty! ;-) I do like swimming pools though. Or waterfalls. I really like that! Like in Kanchanaburi. That’s really nice.
Agreed. But now enough with our talk about where to chill and relax. Let’s talk about sports and your way into Muay Thai. You started when you came to Bangkok, right? With 14 right away or did it take you a while to start?
Well when I came here I just did it a little bit here and there. More for exercising purposes than for fighting. First I got really into going to the gym. Lifting weights and all those things. Also general fitness. I got really obsessed with it. Waking up at five in the morning to work out before school, etc.
When I was 18 then I got to participate at some of those MBK Fight Nights as a ring girl and that’s when I really got into it. I saw two girls fighting there and thought I also want to give that a try. Especially since they looked very ‘normal’. They were my size, not super huge or anything so I thought I could also do that! Then I started training every day and I had my first fight three months after I started with intensive train.
Wow. So you started to fight more or less right away.
I know lots of people who do Muay Thai and go to training but are not really into the fighting part but you’re not like that. You went all in right away?
Right. I think it might have been the adrenaline rush that caught on to me and what then made me do it.
Did you win your first fight?
I did! I can’t really remember it though. Too excited probably.
How is that when you start fighting here? Do wear lots of protection? Helmets?
No. When you fight professional then there are no such things and you fight between three and five rounds. I fought three rounds in my first fight.
Cool. So then after you had your first fight you didn’t want to go back? Full speed ahead. More training, more fights. How many fights do you have right now?
Now I have 20 fights.
How is it with your family? I simply assume, since your dad is heavily involved into Muay Thai, they all support you and are ok with you fighting?
Now they support me, yes. But when I first had the idea of fighting my dad said I couldn’t do it. I shouldn’t fight. He said I would get hurt and would argue with all kinds of negative things that could happen to a fighter. So I went to a different gym to start training for my first fight. At that time my dad didn’t have his own gym though – its quite new. So I went to that other gym, trained there and when my dad saw me having my first fight he was impressed with my performance and then was ok with me fighting. I think in the beginning he was jus scared that I would get hurt and he wanted to protect me but when he saw that I’m serious about it he got behind me and now even helped me to get my past few fights. I even had three fights within one week. In March. I lost the first one which was Pro-Am (half amateur, half professional) where you would wear shin and elbow protection. I lost that one and straight after my fight my dad told me I would have to fight again the next. Purely professional. And three days after I got another call with a request to fight again. That was pretty intense.
Sounds like it. Cool that you made it though. And nice that your dad is so much into it now.
Yes he is. And now he really likes it. He’s so much involved in the Muay Thai world that he is happy now to say ‘Oh that is my daughter, she is a Muay Thai fighter too!’ ;-)
How does your training schedule look like? How many times do you train?
Twice a day. Monday to Saturday. In the morning we would get up at around 6.30 and then go for a run. After the run some people would go train right away but a lot of the fighters would also do fitness exercises first. In the afternoon the at around 4 p.m. we would go for a smaller run and then come back to jump ropes, shadow box, hit pads, hit the bags, sparring, punching.
That sounds like a lot. Is there something in your training schedule that you really dislike?
I’m fine with everything. I don’t even mind the running. Sometimes you feel like you don’t want to do it but if I wouldn’t do it I would actually feel bad or guilty. I think you just have to get into the right mindset and understand why you are doing it, then you’ll be fine doing it. However sometimes at the end of the training the coach would tell us to do weights and sometimes I just skip that since you’re really exhausted after the training – but when I skip that then I have to do it at another time to make up for it of course.
So you’re responsible for your weight training?
Yes, thats more or less up to me since the training really focuses on the Muay Thai.
Do you have time to do other sports? Since you mentioned wake boarding in the beginning?
Now and then maybe but not really unfortunately. I would love to try some more things. Like going rock climbing in that gym in Bang Na.
That’s where I go! Would be cool to see you there some time. :-)
That would be cool. But right now if I actually do have a day off then I go to places like Kanchanaburi and just relax.
Makes sense since your body also need to recover of course.
And food! ;-)
Good point! How does the nutrition of a professional fighter look like?
It really depends on the person. In Thailand most people aren’t really strict when it comes to their nutrition. They eat everything and when it comes close to the fight and they have to lose weight they would just starve and dehydrate themselves to make the weight. Go run in the sauna suit. So it’s not very healthy. Western fighters are usually a bit more healthy and try to look after what they eat and how much they eat. I think I’m quite healthy too. At least I try. Even though I have sweet tooth I do enjoy eating healthy.
Before my fight in March though I had to lose four kilograms so I didn’t eat much. I ate a banana and an apple maybe. So I also was kind of starving myself in that case. Not a good experience.
How is it actually with those weight classes? Is it tough to make the cut? Do you sometimes have to go up or down?
I prefer to go down compared to going up. My last division was the one up to 51 kg. The next one would be up to 54 kg. I usually walk around with just less than 54 kg so in theory it would be idea if I would just fight in the 54 kg category. If I did fight in that though I would fight girls who come down from the 57 kg category so I would have to fight bigger girls. So that’s why I try to go all the way down to 51 kg.
Understand. Makes sense.
Well not really. It would make sense if we would all fight in our real weight classes ;-)
True. But since everybody’s doing it, you also have to do it. Vicious circle ;-)
Do you also go running in a sauna suit?
Does it really help?
A lot and it is really horrible. I would wear the sauna suit and then I would wear three shirts underneath when I had to lose so much weight. My trainer would be right behind me on the motorcycle when I go running and then we would just stop every now and then and he would try to wipe away the sweat from my jacket and I would change shirts because I would sweat so much. When I go running like this I’d be almost crying ;-)
Sounds tough indeed. Tough love with Muay Thai. Respect!
Especially when you’re so dehydrated. Your body just aches but you still have to keep on running. It’s terrible.
How long do you run every day?
Depends. If I don’t have a fight, I run less. This morning I ran six kilometers and then in the afternoon it’s just a warm up run. The male fighters run a bit more though. Around ten kilometers I’d say.
Now how is that when you get into the ring? Right now you don’t seem to be very aggressive. So how is that with the fighting mindset? Can you simply switch that on?
Kind of. You simply have to. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to focus and you would get hurt. However for Muay Thai people consider or see it more as a Martial Art than just pure aggression. You got a lot of different ways to score points so you also need to keep a calm mind and be able to think about your next move. It’s not all about aggression. Moreover you also want to entertain the crowd by having a nice and good fight.
What makes a nice and good fight?
I would say if the fight is very active. If both fighters give all they have got. Both are really involved in the fight and try everything.
In the unlikely event of you losing a fight, can you still find something good in it then?
I can. The fight that I mentioned earlier, the one that I lost is an example for that. I think I did quite well in that fight and learned a lot from it. I also improved compared to my prior fights and I know that I lost in the last round because I simply felt to weak after losing all those weight and my legs felt like jelly in the end. My power just left me?
How is it to actually get punched?
In the face? That’s nothing. Absolutely nothing. People always think that getting punched in the face is the worst thing but since we’re wearing gloves it’s not a big deal and not as bad as getting an elbow or a knee or a kick even because that’s all bone. So when I punch someone in the face or get punched in the face I sometimes hear the crowd go ‘oooh’ and I just think ‘Come on, that wasn’t bad at all. It didn’t even hurt!’. Hard kicks to the rips hurt though!
How do you prepare for that?
You gotta take it. Once you’re in the ring there’s nothing else you can do. You can’t show pain since otherwise the opponent would know what to go after. You can work with the pain after the fight.
When you get into the ring do you have the mindset of ‘I’ll kick your ass, %&$!? Or is it all about mutual respect?
It should be about mutual respect. Especially here. In western countries it might be more personal and fighters might have more of an aggressive attitude towards each other. I don’t think there’s a reason for that though. You don’t even know each other so why should you say ‘I’ll kill her!”? Just fight. Leave your best in the ring and that’s it. Just do your sport. If you knock her out, that’s fine. But no need to have any kind of hate involved.
Do you have any kind of awesome in-ring memory? A favorite fight?
Two years ago I was fighting in the Pro-Am World Championships. In the 54 kg class. So the girl I was fighting was bigger than me. She was from Switzerland and quite strong. From the very start she fought like she was sure to knock me out. The day before we had an opening dinner and I caught her eying me. Since my dad is the president of the federation I had to look nice and hence wore a girly outfit. A neat dress. And I think she didn’t like that style. So when the fight started she tried to punch my head off in the first round. I think she really went for the knockout in the beginning. So I had to take a lot in the first round. Later on however I head-kicked her and she fell down and I saw how her face and emotions changed. She was so shocked that I was able to do that and her confidence was all gone and I ended up winning that fight. That was quite memorable.
Do you also have a memory of a bad fight?
Yeah. It was a re-fight with a girl I fought before. I didn’t really want to fight her again, she didn’t really want to fight me again so we ended up having a really uninspired, slow fight. Also my head wasn’t really in it, I was preoccupied with something else. So overall that wasn’t a good fight and not really fun. I did win on points but it was really tough to go through with that fight.
How do you fight such things now? Having bad days or simply not having your head and thoughts together?
Well by now I would say you really need to be able to hit the switch and be able to focus. Last year I wasn’t quite able to do that and hence lost a few fights but once you are able to fully focus on your fight things definitely get better. So you simply need a lot of concentration and discipline and then you can make it work. To add on that I also took some time off after last year’s fights. I think I lost my mojo back then ;-)
So having a break and then coming back full steam ahead was a good decision. Ever since I’m really focused and one hundred percent into it.
Do you also follow other martial arts?
I respect them all but I don’t really have much time to follow a lot of them.
I know a few Muay Thai and Judo coaches who told me that Taekwondo “is not a real martial art” since it’s only about ‘cool looks’ – but I won’t ask you about that now in order to prevent angry remarks in the comments section. ;-)
What about boxing though?
Oh sure! I’m into boxing. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao!
Right. What’s your tip?
At first I thought Mayweather but over the past few weeks it seems like Pacquiao is really focused and more focused while Mayweather seems a little less focused. But they are both great fighters and I’m really excited to see that happening. They both have done so much for the sport.
For my tip: I was a bit torn between them both but over the past few weeks when thinking more about it I think Mayweather’s guard might be the decisive factor so I assume he’ll make it.
Good call. I still hope Pacman finds a way to take him down but also see Mayweather as favorite. Let’s see :) Since we’re talking about fighters let’s put you some more on the spot: Who’s the best Muay Thai fighter in the world? Buakaw? Yodsanklai?
Definitely not Buakaw.
But isn’t he the most famous one?
He is. Especially outside of Thailand I think. But within the Thai rankings he doesn’t make it into the Top spots. I like Saenchai. He is may favorite.
For what reason?
He has been in Muay Thai for a very long time. He is in his thirties now but he is still very fast and always very entertaining fights. Everyone enjoys watching him due to his very technical style and he always pulls of something entertaining.
Is there also a female fighter that you think who would deserve more attention?
There is an English fighter, Iman Barlow, she’s the same age as me and she’s very very good. She’s been fighting since she was a little child but actually gains quite some attention right now. In Thailand there are a lot of female fighters that are really good. The ones on the top who all have more than 100 fights are really good. Some of them are Sawsing, Namtarn, Lommanee or Chommanee.
How is that in the gym with the guys? Are they sometimes a bit cocky towards female fighters?
Oh not at all. Thai Muay Thai fighters are usually the most humble people you can meet. They work and train very hard but they are the nicest people. I think when you are training so hard for Muay Thai and then when you’re not in a fight or training you simply don’t want to waste your time with more troubles or aggression. So they are all really calm and cool. Really nice.
So there’s no jealousy or anything going on?
Not at all.
That’s great. One thing lots of my friends and readers keep asking is “What is the magic of Muay Thai?” – What makes it so interesting? What is the beauty of punching each other in the face?
There’s so much. It starts with all the tradition that is involved. Muay Thai has a lot of history. It started as Muay Boran, which was the old style before the introduction of Muay Thai. The legend of Nai Khanomtom tells the story of how Muay Boran became famous since he was able to defeat nine Burmese boxing champions and therefore was granted freedom. So there is a lot of stories and history to it. Also Muay Thai consists of a lot of different techniques, it is a very complex martial art which makes it so interesting and hard to learn.
For me personally, thanks to my father, I am very lucky that I am able to experience so much more that is related to Muay Thai than just the fighting. For example I just had the chance to meet Tony Jaa because my dad is the president of the Kru Muay Thai Association and they awarded him the Muay Thai Live award.
So I see a lot more than just the fighting. That’s really amazing to me.
Is there a special event or venue that you would like to fight at? Some famous places like Lumpini or Rajadamnern?
Female fighters are not allowed to fight at Lumpini or Rajadamnern. But that’s not a big deal. Lot’s of westerners would complain about that but that’s just part of the culture and history and so it’s fine for me.
I might like to fight for some championships again. Or if I go to America I’d like to fight there. It’s probably going to be a different kind of fighting and training. I would have to adapt to their style of fighting with more points for punching for example. After my time in America I would like to come back here and would like to fight for one of the big promotions for one of the big belts. That would be really cool.
You don’t get many points for punching in Thailand, right?
True. Only if it’s a really good punch since it’s more difficult to deliver a really good kick or knee.
Have you ever gotten really hurt?
Not really actually. My rips suffered the most I think after getting kicked or receiving some knees. Or both. That hurt for three months but that was the worst I had.
Did you hurt someone? ;-)
YEAH! ;-) I once had this fight that was very tough. We’ve both been very active and were really going at each other. Not that we just brawled, it was a very technical fight but super intense. I’d like to work on that when I go to America as well. More functional training and improving my power shots. Here in Thailand you don’t do that too much since it’s quite traditional so I think having some kind of different training and influence would help me to improve. So when I reach my maximum fitness I think I would be able to have even better and more intense fights I guess.
Is there someone you really want to fight?
You take them all. I see! ;-)
Yeah. ;-) I follow the male fights a bit more than the female fights so I can’t say that I’d have an opponent I really want to face. As long as it’s going to be an interesting and good fight I’m all up for it.
Do you sometimes have to face stereotypes when you tell people you’re a pro fighter?
My friends are all cool with it. People who would just get to know me would sometimes say “don’t punch me!” – but why should I punch them? That’s just something that happens once in a while. Otherwise it’s all fine.
Do you have other future plans besides furthering your studies and becoming a champ once you’re back from the States?
Well besides that I would like to help my dad with his gym once I’m back. Then I would also like to work for some national teams here in Thailand. Not necessarily only Muay Thai. I think lots of teams here would need help with their nutrition so I’d be happy to work in that area.
If I would ask you right now for your biggest dream? It’s what you just explained I suppose, right?
Right. Coming back here, helping our gym, having some good fights, working in nutrition and / or kinesiology and promoting fights nationally and internationally.
Do you see yourself as a trainer in the future?
I might be able to train in the States when I’m there but when I come back here, no way. I’ve got my trainers here, they are great. I couldn’t do it like them.
How does Muay Thai affect you or help you as a person? Not sure if that question makes sense the way I asked it though.
It does! I think it’s not just Muay Thai but Martial Arts in general helps you to get to know your body better, gain more confidence and feel better about yourself. Moreover you learn to respect your trainers and teachers. And, as I said, the confidence influenced quite a bit. I simply assume that if I had to, I could get myself out of trouble due to my knowledge in self defense now. Moreover people respect me more, I am not the typical female, I am a pro fighter and athlete, and people respect me for it. Lastly I am also more healthy now which is also a nice benefit.
Did you ever have to get yourself out of trouble like that?
No. Luckily not. But knowing that just in case is good.
How about partying and all those things?
My friends are all party people but I’m not anymore. Early last year I was also joining more parties but in consequence I also lost some more fights so I learned the hard way what happens when you don’t focus and don’t set the right priorities. After my short break I was really focused again and am now working hard on my record.
So when my friends party now it’s sometimes tough because if you don’t go out with them you might not see them for a long time. But even if I go out with them to see them I don’t drink.
How long do people actually fight? Up to which age?
Oh that’s quite different. Depends on gender and nationality and what else they do. I think Thai male fighters fight until their thirties and if they are good maybe even to their late thirties. Thai girls usually stop in their mid twenties in order to settle down, start a family, etc. Foreigners usually fight longer. I think I would like to stop in my mid 20s and don’t fight too much longer. I would like to focus on my father’s gym and other business.
Sounds reasonable. Now we’re almost at the end. Do you have any famous last words you want our readers to know?
Well I think I’d like to close with saying that believing in yourself is important. When I started Muay Thai nobody really believed in me. Even my own father who is so involved in Muay Thai didn’t want me to fight at first. So don’t listen to the people who say you can’t do something. If you want to do it, believe in yourself and go for it.
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