Fight Club: Baan Muay Thai

If you really think you can learn Muay Thai from an instructional video in the comfort of your living room, think again.

Most of us have at some time stood in front of a mirror imitating punches and kicks that we saw in a movie or at a fighting match, and aspired to perfect methods to kick some serious butt. However, learning how to fight from a champion trainer in a proper gym with the right equipment and a real opponent is a whole different experience – one that involves a high adrenalin rush.

There are many martial arts techniques that are taught in Jakarta such as karate, capoeira, Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, Aikido and many more. They are popular among Jakartans, and each has its own unique fighting style that can be learned either for self-defense or to get fit.

At Baan Muay Thai Club in Kemang, trainers and students explore one of the combat sports that originated in Thailand. Muay Thai means “Art of Eight Limbs,” because its points of contact involve punches, kicks, elbows and knees.

“For those who are not familiar with it they probably can’t differentiate between Muay Thai and kickboxing, but if you look closely our style is very different, and we use elbows and knees to strike,” says Ochit, manager of Baan Muay Thai.

The school was founded in late 2007 by a small community of guys who had been practicing Muay Thai since 2003. They decided to start the school because of the strong demand for martial arts training in the city.

“At that time, we had not seen any progress and development of Muay Thai in Jakarta,” Ochit says. “We were doing this as a hobby and practiced together among friends, but then we realized that there’s an opportunity to try to revive the old gym and create a new concept.”

Baan Muay Thai Club is owned by Francois Mohede, one of the vocalists for the pop band Lingua. His vision was simply to introduce Muay Thai to Indonesians and teach them that that the sport is not only a high impact martial art, but also a way to boost stamina, achieve an ideal body shape and tone muscles. But Muay Thai is not only a way to get fit; it can also be a lifestyle.

The club offers two kinds of classes: My Muay Thai, the regular training class, and Cardio Muay Thai, which uses Muay Thai techniques to create a calorie-burning workout.

“Basically, both classes use the same techniques, but we use the word ‘cardio’ to make it sound less frightening for beginners,” Ochit says. “The only difference is that Cardio Muay Thai focuses on repetition movements to burn calories and have fun, while My Muay Thai focuses on practicing sparring to learn your skills.”


Stress Relief

As beginners will discover, Muay Thai is a simple sport to learn – anyone can do it. If you know how to punch and kick, you just have to polish and develop your style and technique to do it the right way. The club provides all of the necessary equipment such as gloves, guards, punching bags and mats. Members only need to provide fighting hand wraps.

Since it opened, Baan Muay Thai has attracted more than 1,800 members and has 300 active students from many different countries.

“In the morning, you see some women come for self defense, but most of the ladies come here to get fit,” Ochit says. “In the evening, there are more teenagers and students that want to relieve stress, you know, from traffic jams – they just want to punch something.”

Prices for My Muay Thai lessons range between Rp 300,000 and Rp 550,000 depending on the number of sessions. A single Cardio Muay Thai lesson costs Rp 60,000, or you can choose a package of eight sessions for Rp 420,000. The sessions have anywhere from five to as many as 30 or so participants.

Currently, Baan Muay Thai has five trainers, including two professional fighters, Ankie and Denny.

“Ankie was a student and he’s been training for two years,” Ochit says. “We saw his development and improvement, so we sponsored him to fight, and now he is one of our trainers.”

In addition to providing classes, Baan Muay Thai also participates in international fighting tournaments and sponsors fighters to represent the club. In May this year, both Denny and Ankie won a tournament in Phuket, Thailand.

On July 9, Baan Muay Thai will host Indonesia’s first Muay Thai tournament. The event will be held in Seminyak, Bali, next to the beach with international fighters and participants from eight countries including Thailand, Australia, Spain and New Zealand.

“It will be an exciting event, especially for the Muay Thai community in Indonesia,” says Ochit.

Iwan Putuhena Reports

Original article was published in Kemang Buzz

Fight Club: Baan Muay Thai

Pictures by Dissy for Kemang Buzz


My Jakarta: Rizki Firdaus, Custom Bike Shop Owner

Pimping out rides is Rizki’s business. He’s been breaking down and building bicycles since he was old enough to reach the pedals and mastered the art of customization while studying in London.
Today, Rizki, whose shop is located in Panglima Polim, South Jakarta, shares his passion for bikes and asks why it costs as much to park one of his custom creations in the city as it does a Mercedes-Benz.

How did you come up with the name of your store, Velodome?

Basically, velo is French for bicycle and dome is shelter, so our store is a bicycle shelter.

How did you get into the bicycle business?

A while back, I broke up with my girlfriend. I felt this kind of freedom, like I’d just been released from jail. So I decided to get back into building bikes.

But I’ve actually been interested in breaking down and rebuilding bikes since I was in elementary school.

When did you start getting back into bikes again?

It was January 2007. I started all this in London, while I was attending college at London Metropolitan University. That’s when I started customizing bikes.

I got back here in December 2009. It was a perfect time because bikes are starting to make a comeback, especially around Jakarta.

Where do you get your bikes?

All of our stuff comes either from a consignment shop here in Jakarta or from people around the city, but the stuff we pick up at secondhand places actually comes from Thailand, Japan and other Southeast Asian countries.

And all of our parts and accessories come from Britain and other European countries, and we like to keep it that way.

What was the sickest custom bike you ever built?

The sickest bike I ever built was an all-black bike that we called the “stealth” bike. It had carbon wheels. I built it when I was in London for a friend in college. He wanted to bring it back to his home country, India.

But two weeks before he was about to go back, somebody stole it. The bike cost around $3,000 to build, but my friend wasn’t bitter about the whole thing. He just looked at me and said, “Hey, the reason it got stolen was because it was a really good bike.”

Do you have friends that you go biking with here in the city?

I go out with a bike community. We hang out every Wednesday and Sunday and ride around Jakarta from the south up to the center of the city. We go around taking pictures and eating around Menteng.

We just ride and have fun. The club is growing. Every week we have more and more members. Today we have around 50 or 60 riders.

Is riding a bike a way of life? What are you guys trying to tell the people of Jakarta?

Well, everyone knows about global warming, so that’s the big thing right now. We want to bring back the bike culture. It was slowly disappearing, but now it’s coming back. We try to raise awareness about the condition of the earth.

How is business then?

So far, business is really good. Most of our customers are from around Jakarta and Bandung.

What segment of the market are you aiming at?

All kinds of people, from people who are really into bikes and looking to purchase their sixth or seventh bike, to someone who works near their office and just wants to avoid traffic.

Or people who just want to lose weight. They all have different reasons to ride and buy a bike. But obviously — if they buy from me — they have style [laughs].

And you guys customize everything?

Everything. Everything from the color to the wheels, to the size and shape of the frame. We deliver a personal touch to your bike, something that fits your character.

Can you explain the process?

It’s kind of like getting a tattoo. You really have to give it some thought. You consult with us and tell us about yourself; what do you like and what you don’t like … kind of like a bonding session.

Then we build mock-up, and if you don’t like it we can redo everything. It’s very detail-oriented, and sometimes it ends up being a long process.

How much does it cost to customize a bike?

It starts at around Rp 8 million [$880] and there’s really no ceiling. There’s bike frames out there that cost $90,000 alone, so it depends on your buying power.

Do you ride a bike to work?

I live near Blok M and I ride a bike every day to the store at Panglima Polim. I try to ride my bike whenever I can.

Do you think there will be more or less people cycling in the next five years?

I’d like to see more people cycling and being comfortable about it. Not refusing to try biking just because it’s hot or because of the pollution. They have to act to make it better.

Where do you park your bike around the city?

Just like a car. I park it and tell the parking attendant to watch over it. I don’t have to lock it up with a chain or anything. Then on my way out, I pay the guy who watched over it Rp 2,000.


Rizki Firdaus was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Oni, Rizki Firdaus, Custom Bike Shop Owner


Picture by Iwan Putuhena

My Jakarta: Tineke, Veteran Athlete

Take a long, hard look at that picture. Tineke will be 80 years old in June. She’s won so many medals over the years that she’s simply stopped counting them. She’s been running, sprinting and jumping since the Sukarno era and she’s still got gas in the tank. Tineke’s life is action-packed and she shows no signs of slowing down, either on or off the track. 

Which athletic events do you usually compete in?

Jumping, sprints and relay. I’m good at the long jump, triple jump, 100- and 200-meter sprint, and relay races; in 1988 I broke the 4 x 100-meter relay world record in Taiwan at the Fifth Asian Association of Veteran Athletes Games. 

How many medals have you won over the years?

I’ve lost count. Well over 200 gold, silver and bronze medals from both national and international competitions. 

That’s quite an achievement. How often do you win? 

I always guarantee to bring back a medal in every competition that I compete in. Sometimes, I can win between three and five medals in one meet. 

Which was the most memorable competition? 

Hard to say. I have enjoyed every single one of them and they all mean something, but the most memorable one was the 1995 World Athletic Veterans’ Games in Buffalo, New York. 

What made it so special? 

My family was living there at the time and they got to see me compete. Also, it was a big deal because it was my only tournament in the United States. Even though I only won two bronze medals for the long jump and triple jump, the Indonesian Embassy recognized my achievement and awarded me a free trip around the United States. 

Where else have you represented Indonesia? 

Everywhere. I’ve been to Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Brunei, Malaysia, South Africa, Japan, England, Finland, the United States and many more. I’ve been around the world for free. 

When is your next competition? 

The next one will be in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in December 2010. 

How long have you been running? 

I’ve been running since I was old enough to have a boyfriend [laughs]. I was 17 when I started training. 

How old are you now? 

This coming June I will be 80 years old. 

When was your first big competition? 

It was 1951 at the Second National Games in Jakarta. I won a gold medal in the 4 x 100-meter relay race. 

What age category are you in today? Do you often compete with the same people? 

I compete in the age group for 75–80 year olds and I often see familiar faces, like competitors from Japan and India. When you don’t see them any more, they’re usually dead [laughs]. 

How do you feel when you represent Indonesia at the international level, win a gold medal and hear “Indonesia Raya” [the national anthem] being played for everyone? 

I’m moved, of course. I feel proud to represent my country, but that doesn’t mean that I love the system and the government. 

What else do you do besides participate in athletics? 

Sports are pretty much my life. But I was also a physical education teacher at the Santa Ursula school. I started that when I was 22. 

Do you still teach? 

No, I stopped teaching in 2003. Nowadays, I only give private swimming lessons. I don’t receive a pension for being a veteran athlete or a retired teacher. 

What other sports do you like? 

I enjoy swimming and hiking, but I don’t hike any more; the last time I did that was when I was 70. 

What’s your personal message to your students? 

Look at me as an example, you can do and try any sport you like, but just focus on one that you are really good at and go from there. Don’t worry about winning, but maximize your training, and it’s important to know your limits. If you don’t win a competition, it’s not the end. 

Do you follow a strict diet? 

I used to watch what I ate when I was younger, but as I get older, sometimes my mouth and stomach demand good food. Nowadays, I just eat anything I like, but I also take vitamins. 

What will you do when you get too old to run? 

I’m going to participate in race walking. 

Do you race walk around Jakarta for practice? 

I enjoy using public transportation. I still get around by motorcycle taxi, bus or public minivan. I only walk when there’s a traffic jam. But nowadays I really have to be careful not to get hit by a car or motorcycle [laughs]. 

What do you do for fun? 

I like to watch movies, go to music concerts and plays and readings at TIM [Taman Ismail Marzuki arts center ]. I’m just enjoying my life.


Tineke was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Tineke, Veteran Athlete

Picture courtesy of Tineke