An Interview with Muay Thai
Instructor & Competitor, James
“Thunder Foot” Pruitt
Interview by Debra Sexson
Kru James Pruitt stands 5 ft 10 inches tall and weighs in at 168 lbs. He has a professional fight record of 25 wins, 5 losses, 3 draws and 11 by KO’s against some well known opponents such as Dondie Wildcat, Richard Anderson, Brian Copenhager, and John Thor, just to name a few. James has a black belt in Taekwondo, Hapkido, Philipino Martial Arts and Thaikido Thai just to name a few. He is also accomplished in Muay Thai and was formerly trained by former Kickboxing Champ Dale Cook of Oklahoma. He is a four time Super Middleweight Champion in Muay Thai. Kru James is also a coach and owner of Samingdum Martial Arts. He is also a member/ senior Vice President of the USMTA.
Debra: Hi James. Thanks for taking the time out to answer my questions. My first one is, how did you get started in the art of Muay Thai or really I should rephrase the question as in martial arts?
James: I began studying the Martial Arts at an early age of nine and did some Amateur Boxing when I was around the age of 14. I then started Thai Boxing at the age of 24 after I decided to give up the Rodeo Business.
Debra; Rodeo? Wow, That seems to be a big change from the martial arts to Rodeo. How did you get into that work, I mean, were your a rider or a worker?
Debra: How long have you been competing?
James: I have been competing off and on for about twenty to twenty-five years. I have fought in most places around the states and some abroad and have gained a lot of knowledge with that time.
Debra: As a contact sport lots of fighters sustain injuries some which end up sidelining them for good. What kind of injuries have you sustained during your career?
James: I have had my ribs broke, my nose fractured and both of my eyes cut open. I have also injured my knee a couple of times.
Debra: What goes through your head when you are walking to the ring for a fight?
James: That’s a good question, (chuckle) Well, I always say a prayer before I go to the ring and I only get butterflies right before I get in the ring, but once I step through those ropes its like a light switch clicks on and I am there to do one thing and that is win.
Debra: What made you want to come out of retirement and fight again at the age of 41?
James: Well, I never really retired, I just haven’t fought in a couple of years. I guess you could say I have been on a long vacation but I have been busy in other aspects of the fight game. I have been training and teaching other up and coming fighters, but to answer the question about fighting at 41.. Well, I have one more goal to accomplish and that is to capture a couple of world Titles.
Debra: Have you always competed at your current weight or have you move up or down in a weight category?
James: I have jumped all over the weight categories, but I mainly fight at one weight most of the time and that weight is super middle weight or 68lbs.
Debra: Can you tell us what does a typical day look like for you?
James: Hmmm, where do I start…I get up around four in the morning stretch a little. And do a few sets of push ups and some abs exercise. Then shower and get dressed, eat some breakfast and then head to work. Then after work I head to the gym Samingdum Martial Arts. I then do a light warm up and stretching. After that I try to grab a few rounds on the bag before my students show up.
Debra: I suppose not everyone has the luxury of training all day long. How do you prep for an upcoming fight do you do a complex, strongman training or circuit training etc? Does your training in the gym and conditioning workouts change and If so, how?
James: Well, That’s every fighters dream to have that kind of luxury, but unfortunately I am not one of the lucky ones. As far as prepping for a fight… I am a big fan of cardio and circuit training. Now, as far as changing my workouts it depends on who I am fighting.
Debra: What kind of nutrition do you follow during training and do you diet down before a fight?
James: Yes, I am on the seafood diet anything I see I eat (chuckle). I do diet, I eat a lot of chicken and rice, veggies, tuna, and protein shakes. Anything that will help me build stamina.
Debra: What role do supplements play in your training?
James: I would have to say they play a big one. They help with keeping my energy levels up and they also help with muscle repair and fatigue.
Debra: Do you have any role models, mentors or fighters you respect and or look up to in the sport of Muay Thai or any other type of martial arts?
James: I would have to say I respect any and everyone that is involved in the martial arts or any other combative sport. As far as the martial arts goes I would have to say… my first Instructor Sensei George Brown (who passed away earlier 2008 ) is one of my biggest inspirations along with Master Larry Ordonez of Houston, Texas. Now, as far as the Thai boxing world I would have to say…Five time World Kickboxing Champion Dale Apollo Cook, Eight time World Muay Thai Champion Saekson Janjira, Four time Muay Thai World Champion Michal Caldwell, Twelve time World Champion David Cummings, Kru Ric Sniffen and last but by no means least, my personal friend, Arjarn Clint Heyliger. That man by himself has been a rock for Muay Thai in America. This is not taking it away from other
top instructors like Arjarn Tong Trithara, and Arjarn Chai Sirisute, but Arjarn Clint has been the one who has helped push the sport in the direction its heading today. I have learned a lot from him and have a much better understanding of Muay Thai from that knowledge. Knowing how to kick a bag and to work the pads is one thing, but know why you are doing it is another. This is the type of knowledge I am talking about. The information that man has in his head is unbelievable.
And then we have the MMA world… I would have to say my hero's would have to be Captain America (aka) Randy Courture, Frank Shamrock, and George St.. Pierre to name a few, oh yeah I can't leave out the Ladies of the MMA world my favorite female fighter is the lovely Gina Carano.
Debra: Can you tell me a little about the Muay Chaat Cherk? I believe this is the Thai version of mma?
James: To be honest, Muay Chaat Cherk' or MCC as we like to call it, is the original MMA. If you look at all the MMA guys now, they all have to, or are doing Muay Thai stand-up fighting. Well MCC is the same, their is not much difference. Many people think that only Muay Thai you see in the boxing ring is the only way the art is performed. Well this is far from the truth, Muay Thai has a lot more to it, and It's basic common sense when you think about it. Muay Thai is known as a battlefield art, and I just cannot see the Thai soldiers standing there with hand wraps on trying to Thai box the bad guys (Chuckle). There has to be more to Muay Thai than this. Now you see lots of movies coming out showing the
stronger side of Muay Thai. Tony Jaa the Thai actor starring in the movies like Ong Bak and Tom Yong Goon, has really began to show the real side of Muay Thai, or MCC.
Debra: Are their any other actors who you you think have portrayed the art of Muay Thai or MCC?
James; Sure, Kru Paulo Tocha from North Hollywood, California, one of the first Muay Thai fighters from America to compete in Thailand. He's a famous actor and Muay Thai instructor and has portrayed the art on the screen in many movies. There is Jean Claude Van Damne, and probably many more I can't remember right now.
Debra: Do you have any training particular regimes for your younger students?
Debra: Your Martial art School, how did it get its name...?
Debra: Have your school produced any notable champions?
Debra: How experienced are your instructors?
Debra: As a parent, is Muay Thai a good and safe art for my kids to learn and why?
I know that you give instruction in Judge and Refereeing for the sport, is this an important area?
Debra: Well, I would like to wish all the best to you in your future fights James.
James: Thank you.