When most people see a Muay Thai Boxing match they only witness the brutal flurry of fists, knees, elbows, and shins. Only those who reach high levels of training or take the time to research the history know that beneath it all there lies an ancient ring sport, rich in wisdom, honor, and philosophy. My instructor, who was from Thailand, would often use the phrase "Parong Jit".
Loosely translated it means "Mind Power". As my training got more intense, he would tell me stories of famous Thai Boxers who were known for their almost "Super Hero" powers. Some were famous for the ability to break the leg of their opponents with one kick; some for never losing a match; some for sending out the competition on stretchers; but the ones who impressed me the most were the fighters who were able to continue fighting with incapacitating injuries.
Having split two 10 round decisions with “Irish” Micky Ward, Arturo Gatti broke his twice-repaired right hand on an uppercut to the hip in the fourth round of their rubber match on June 7, 2003. Despite having to fight one-armed, Arturo dominated until the final bell. The final scorecards gave it to Gatti: 96–93, 96–93 and 97–92. Ring Magazine called this rubber match “Fight of the Year”. HBO recognized it as one of the 10 best fights of the decade. It is amazing what you can do with this ability to put mind over matter.
Recently, I had an opportunity to experience my own "Parong Jit". A few weeks into a cross-country trip to California, we decided to return to our home in Tennessee. We left Sonoma County in our motor home around 6:00 pm, not knowing that that less than three hours later disaster would strike.
The driver of a pick-up truck going sixty miles an hour ran a stop sign and hit us broadside. The spinning and twisting of the massive metal that had been our RV is something I will never forget. But what happened in the next few minutes traumatized me forever. When the dust settled, my wife and I were still in the cab but the entire cabin portion was demolished. It was lying partially on the ground and partially on the chassis.
What horrified us was that our five year old son, who had been asleep in the back at the time of impact, was nowhere to be found! We frantically searched the area, crying out his name is screams of panic. Our biggest fear was that he was trapped in the wreckage, which now looked as if someone had tossed a hand grenade into the RV. Even the floor had been ripped out! I immediately began to beg those, who had now stopped to watch, to help me lift the walls that had crumbled. We strained to move the wreckage, so that my wife could climb under and look for our son, but we were unsuccessful.
As we were standing on the chassis, a lady came to the side of the broken walls on the ground. I heard her say softly "Come on out Sweetheart". From one end of the wreckage, my precious son came crawling out. There wasn’t a scratch on him. He wasn’t even crying. Somehow, a small cubby hole had formed in the middle of the debris. Wrapped in the futon he had been sleeping on, my little boy had been spared. The relief and excitement that followed defies words. I promptly carried him to his mother, who was hysterically crying, fearing the worst had happened. After reuniting my family, I knew that I could not take another step.
I collapsed on the ground beside them, where I remained until taken to the hospital by ambulance. As my collar bone swelled to three times its normal size and my various other injuries made themselves known in a big way, I wondered how I’d been able to move so vigorously minutes ago but now I couldn't even lift my head. While I drifted in and out of consciousness, my only answer was the love for my son.
Even though my body was damaged, my mind was focused on one thing: the safety of my little boy. Once he was in the arms of his mother, my body shut down, knowing the mission had been accomplished. Since the accident, I have attributed this to many things, both psychological and spiritual. But in its essence, this was truly "Parong Jit", Mind Power. [Reprinted from the Winter of 2008 edition of Muay Thaimes®, Vol. II, No. 1]