Niti Technottisasnee: The Birth of BJJ in Bangkok

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Niti Technottisasnee: The Birth of BJJ in Bangkok

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Niti Technottisasnee: The Birth of BJJ in Bangkok

Muay Thai is Thailand’s traditional martial art, both beautiful and terrifying.  It also a sport which carries a dark underbelly, much like boxing, and is strongly associated with gambling and exploitation. Impoverished young Thai men are often lured into the sport out of poverty, and fight twice, sometimes three times-a-week literally for their lives, in order to put food on the table, or simply feed themselves. Muay Thai is a punishing sport, but conversely has produced warriors made of steel who almost defy belief with their courage in the ring. The idea of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and any fighting which takes place on the ground is often roundly rejected by the Muay Thai community.

“The Muay Thai culture often rejects BJJ because they don’t believe it is honourable to fight on the ground, but I always thought the opposite, that in reality, a fight can break out anywhere and you may need to defend yourself on the ground.”

13706342_10154182947226006_1326735474_nNiti Techottiasnee learned Taekwondo at the age of 15-years-old, and became a black belt four years later. He wasn’t born into poverty and therefore his love of sport did not lead him into the world of Muay Thai. Once he achieved his black belt in Taekwondo, he started yearning for a new discipline – something more “complete”.

The birth of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Thailand is largely down to Niti meeting Gionata Bellagamba, who has been running his ‘Bellagamba Team Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’ in Chalong, Phuket since the year 2000.

Bellagamba’s presence in Thailand is significant because he was trained by a man who is legend amongst the BJJ society, Helio Soneca, one of the first black belts produced by the Gracie Barra academy. A fortunate turn of events brought Soneca to Thailand for three months and allowed Niti, who was curious about Jiu Jitsu, the opportunity to learn about the martial art, which takes place exclusively on the ground and is unlike any of the other form of martial arts.

“There were many things which drew me into the world of Jiu Jitsu. The more you play, the deeper you get. You don’t need to be big or strong, you learn how to use your power in bursts and save your energy. Then there’s the sportsmanship, and the Jiu Jitsu community – it’s very much like a family. And it’s also very easy to track, you can see evidence and accountability with regards to all the coaches.”13695953_10154182943976006_1699204235_n

Jiu Jitsu, very simply, pits one man against another in a jostle to obtain a dominant position on the ground. Once the dominant position is achieved, through some form of submission hold, a BJJ practitioner will tap to indicate he is defeated.

Niti set up his Executive Martial Arts Centre (EMAC) 11 years ago in Bangkok and has reached the status of Brown Belt, where he has been for one year. It took him 3 years as a Blue Belt to achieve that accolade. EMAC became a truly groundbreaking establishment when they had a BJJ black belt, Adam Kayoom, as an instructor there. This made EMAC the first gym of its kind in Thailand. Kayoom’s black belt was presented to him by the American Top Team founder Ricardo Liborio in 2009 and he has since opened his own ‘Q23 Academy’ in Ekkamai, Bangkok. Niti continues to coach at EMAC three times-a-week and is instrumental in the growth of the sport in Thailand and providing competitions for all BJJ students, which inspire them to train, eat well, sleep well, improve their skills and continue to learn. The Copa de Bangkok takes place every February and involves all belts up to the revered Black Belt level. In the coming September the Hanuman Cup will take place, which is a competition specifically for White and Blue belts to compete and gain the necessary experience required to progress.

13734571_10154182945731006_1979594356_nYet the mentality in BJJ is quite different to many other form of martial arts, as practitioners often do not wish to jump to the next level.

“There is so much respect for those in the level above you, the mentality is one of constant learning. You never want to go to brown belt if you are blue, and you don’t want to become a black belt when you’re brown, not until you are absolutely ready and you’re never really supposed to feel that you ready in BJJ. If I roll with a black belt, they won’t play rough, they will bring down their level to help you and just play with you like a cat! They will roll with you nice because there are no bullies in this sport, and it’s all about the mind. It’s like playing chess with the body.”

The rise of BJJ in Bangkok, Thailand is synonymous with a rise in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), offering an alternative hobby, which instills respect, honor, discipline, and above all a student mentality. The learning never stops.

 

Article credit

Max Rapkin
Newcastle, England
NCTJ accredited Journalist

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