The teenager you see in the middle is my little brother, next to him is my younger sister.
Once upon a time, he was overweight, unfit, and full of sadness.
He was the youngest of three siblings who bore the brunt of our parents separating at a young age, as well as a horrible accident that saw him get hit by a car at age 9 years old.
All confidence was lost.
Fear was high.
The world was the enemy.
The saddest memory I have of him was him refusing to see sunlight, instead choosing to video games and eat takeaway food for breakfast.
He was truly a mess.
The events of a troubled childhood would manifest into a teenage hood marred by pain and sorrow.
At seventeen he decided to flip the script. A young man who was eager to learn self-defense, better his appearance, and lead a healthier lifestyle, he started training Muay Thai.
He started following in the footsteps of myself, my father, and our step-father a six-time Muay Thai world champion… But more importantly, a journey of discovery for himself.
During this period he lost the fat around his belly, his muscles became more striated and I noticed a different kind of beast emerge.
The young little cry baby I once knew, was transforming into a strong, confident, and resilient man capable of handling himself.
He trained consistently for nearly a year, never missing a beat until it was time he was ready to have his first fight.
I trained him day in day out because I saw the fire that burned inside.
The image you see was taken moments before his first bout.
March 17, 2012. 72.5kg, trim, positive, and ready to take on the world.
He won that fight and is one of my most memorable moments as a coach but also as a brother.
He was not only my first ever fighter, to fight for Champions Gym Fight Team, but he went on to win three out of three bouts before moving on to doing and becoming better things.
Today, my brother is a bushranger and works in the Northern Territory wrangling crocodiles, wild buffalo, boars, bushfires protecting the remote communities and natural environment.
I am proudest of my brother because he became a better version of himself mentally and physically and he continues to dominate in everyday life.
My parents named my brother “Jakawan” gifted by Buddhist monks. In Thai it means “Universe”. The kid has always been destined for great things.
Frances Watthanaya is a modern day saint. Realising her mission and her body of work with the at-risk youth of Isaan in North-East Thailand confirms there is no other way to describe her that could possibly be more fitting. She packed up her bags, left home and headed to Thailand to pursue a career in fighting at the tender age of just 19. Since finishing her degree and relocating from Canada to Thailand to take up the sponsorship offer provided to her by a prominent gym in Northern Thailand, Frances has found a husband who she has a daughter with and built her own gym to aid and support the kids of Isaan. She sits down with Whitney Tuna to share her inspiring journey on episode 10 of A Champion’s Mind.
Isaan is the largest area of Thailand and makes up a third of the countries population of 67 million. Covering an area of around 160,000kms, Isaan is also considered to be Thailand’s poorest region which provides very little opportunity for the children of the area. This often leads to drug and alcohol abuse for the kids and after visiting the area, Frances knew a change was needed. Frances and her husband, Boom, built their own not-for-profit gym in Isaan called Wor. Watthana Muay Thai Gym to give the youth a focus and a way to begin to change and improve their lives. They began to train the kids every day and offer to work as promoters for them whilst building a structure for them to save money and help build the community around them. Frances is so passionate about building the community that she also teaches in school and is the parent/guardian for each child she trains in Wor. Watthana. The work Frances does takes up every day of the week for her and amazingly she does all of this whilst still managing to train and compete herself.
Frances talks to Whitney about the quality of life and the overall experience of living in Isaan and it’s not for the feint hearted. She continues to describe the many battles she has had with herself over the years of living there and developing the ways in which she tries to improve the quality of life for the community. There have been many times she has questioned whether what she is doing is working, but the stories she shares that have confirmed the positive adjustments are unbelievably powerful. From getting fighters on shows that are shown all over the world to stopping young kids from fighting every day in school and focussing on improving their grades, Frances has had a huge impact on the kids of Isaan.
Frances is an incredibly hard working and caring individual and the best possible mentor for the youth she supports. Her journey in life so far is full of fascinatingly strong-willed decisions which have seen her follow a tough path and come out the other end shining. Perhaps the most incredible part of what she does in the region of Isaan is how focussed she is on ensuring that the benefits of the work she does stay in the community. Her largest focus is that the kids who learn the sharpest way to create some success do not use the powerful tools they have acquired to leave and never come back. Frances and her husband put all of their efforts in to seeing Isaan improve as a destination and hopefully the community can work it’s way out of extreme poverty and provide everyone with better living circumstances in the near future.
The findings of the research conducted on the Brain over the last 25 years has been one of the most exciting frontiers that we as a human race have discovered. The Brain is the control centre of our body and for most of our existence, we have believed it is a tool that we have very little control over. Elaine Corcoran is one of the worlds leading experts in the studies of brain behaviour and she sits down with Whitney Tuna for episode 9 of A Champion’s Mind to explain just how much you can tweak your brain to work to your advantage.
Elaine came to Australia in 2011 and she is the clinical director and founder of Brain Training Australia. She was inspired to devote her life to studying the brain after a skiing accident in her mid 20’s which resulted in a fractured skull. After the accident, Elaine was experiencing aggressive seizures everyday. She was advised it was highly unlikely that she would be able to have children or be without a carer 24 hours a day and she would need to remain on medication for the rest of her days. Luckily, Elaine was highly motivated to change her fate and she found a neurologist who was able to change her brain through neurofeedback brain training. She is currently medication free and has been for many years and she is also a mother to a young boy. Elaine is incredibly driven to share her findings and help everyone in understanding the brain and how to train it to be big your big asset no matter what lies in front of you.
Perhaps the most fascinating point of Elaine’s discussion with Whitney is when she addresses the impact that chemical release in your brain has on your physical state. Diving deeper, she advises that whilst the chemical are most definitely being released, the brain is not intelligent enough to define whether you are exercising or being chased by a wild animal. As the groundbreaking discussion continues, Elaine describes how self-esteem far outweighs confidence. Simply because one is real and cannot be avoided whereas the other is not and can be imitated. This leads her to explain just how powerful a deep-rooted belief can be and what it can help you achieve.
The episode of A Champion’s Mind with Elaine is interesting enough simply for her story. But as she explains how the brain operates, the ways in which you can change it and the methods of how you can train it, the information is unbelievably powerful. Make sure you save this episode as you will want to return to it and try some of her techniques in the future and they are techniques you will not want to forget. Subscribe to the podcast, there are many more guests like Elaine to come. Give her methods a try and let us know how they work for you!
We are all familiar with the saying, “practice makes perfect”. But the method of practice is equally as important as the amount of time invested. There are countless research articles addressing the factors that can determine the success of your practice and they cover a wide variety of topics. The state of your current sleeping pattern, the attention to technique, the nutritional intake and the time invested are just a few topics that spring to mind. Liana Nici, a Dietician for one of the most successful Australian Rules Football Clubs in the West Coast Eagles sits down with Whitney Tuna for some insight into the importance of nutrition for an athlete at any level.
Liana explains working with the West Coast Eagles has been a career highlight. Managing the nutritional needs of 30 athletes has shown Liana the importance of knowing the athlete, knowing their body and knowing their role within the team. This allows her to dive deep into their psyche as well as their performance. A method Liana says is absolutely necessary if you want the best results. The first step towards the right improvement begins with defining the goal. Liana explains the paramount importance of getting to know the athlete prior to offering any nutritional advice. Understandably, most athletes will share the common goal of success, but what that looks like and the road to getting there will undoubtedly vary from one athlete to the next. Investigating the role Liana plays and the responsibility of the athlete, Liana explains there is a common misconception that the performance on the day is all that matters. Going more in depth, Liana explains the importance of pre and post performance routine. If you want your body to maintain peak performance, it is vital to prepare and recover using the correct methods. A concept that is quite easy to understand.
Knowledge can easily be turned into power. In order to execute well, it is imperative to have a deep understanding of the concept. Liana touches on some of the battles that appear with the high performing athlete. Surprisingly, under-eating is at the top of the list. But Liana explains that the reasons for under-eating often vary. Having experienced such a dilemma first hand on many occasions, Liana reiterates the importance of defining the ultimate goal the athlete is working towards. She says this helps the athlete to completely understand the sacrifice required to get to the highest level of performance. Liana explains accepting your body will change in ways you may not like also helps the athlete to realise just how driven and how serious they are about achieving their goal. Like anything worth working towards, there will be parts that you enjoy and parts that you dislike, but they go hand in hand. Building the routine for all aspects of performance will create good habits and ensure that high level performance is maintainable. Liana relates the importance of such a method to combat sports. She explains, losing the good habits will likely see an athlete move too far away from their competing weight and result in pushing the body too hard in a short period of time in order to perform. This will likely result in early fatigue and or injury both physically and mentally.
Liana offers a mountain of knowledge in her chat with Whitney. It serves as a strong reminder of the importance of focusing on the habits that are needed in order to be successful. Often we are guilty of looking at the giant and scary goal that is at the end of the journey and this sometimes works as a deterrent. Liana is an incredibly knowledgeable individual and she offers some amazing advice for the performing athlete and the significant effect the relationship you have with food has on your life in multiple ways. Every great champion has mastered the basics.
Life is bound to bring many battles. For the most part, each battle will have the path to victory detailed from those who have already experienced it. But it’s safe to assume the Covid-19 pandemic is relatively uncharted territory. The regularity we enjoy in our day-to-day lives has mostly disappeared and we are left in the unknown. It’s likely you have asked yourself, when will this end?, how does that look?, what happens to me and what happens to those I care about?. Just reading such questions provokes an overwhelming internal struggle. As we are severely limited by what we know and heavily restricted with what we can do, the rabbit hole just appears to get deeper and deeper. But getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is undoubtedly a familiar feeling and learning from past experience is bound to serve you well. Before you get to the end of the rabbit hole, think about the cost of the rent you pay to your thoughts. We are here now, and like always, we should do the best we can.
Before we were painfully limited to frequenting a low number of locations, exercising from home was considered to be the convenient option. An option that would often send you off in search of an alternative. Most commonly due to a lack of progression and feeling unfulfilled. Hopefully you were lucky enough to find the alternative but it is vital that the memory of such a privilege does not encourage you to let your progress stop. The truth is, exercise has never been convenient. It takes grit, mental strength and a willingness to improve no matter what the surrounding. Pandemic or not, such attributes are completely controllable by you. It has always been that way and it always will be. As the scope clears and you gain an understanding of the length of time the pandemic is going to impact your life, you can start to focus on where you want to be when the norm has returned and what you can do right now to make sure it happens. The fears in your mind can hold you hostage and being proactive is the antidote.
We have an innate desire to learn and grow as regularly as we can and such an action always leads to improvement in many aspects of your life. Though it may look a little different, the opportunity is still present. The ability to refine every technique, to sweat every day, to build your fitness and nourish your body correctly is no longer a 20 minute drive away, it’s as close by and as convenient as being in your pocket. The leadership you need is available and seeking you out to answer all your queries. Staying in touch with your community and staying in touch with yourself has never been easier, nor has it been more important than right now.
Control your foresight and set your target. You were on the right path and it should stay that way. The thought of starting again is enough to motivate you to stay consistent. The hard work you have put in and the progress you have made is rightfully yours and it’s worth fighting to keep. The most important note to make is that the only bad workout is the one that never happens.
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