RECAP : Joey Siplyak Competes in IFMA Thailand 2017

temp-post-imageBy: Lauren Rojas

After an outstanding performance in the USMTO Arizona Tournament in May 2017, Carlsbad Kickboxing’s very own Joey Siplyak (14 years old) retained 2 championship titles in 2 different weight divisions. Winning title in two different weight divisions was the first time this has happened at the USMTO Arizona Tournament, and it secured him a spot on the USMF Team. As a member of the USMF Team Joey flew out to Bangkok, Thailand in August 2017 to compete as an amateur in the prestigious Muay Thai tournament, IFMA Youth World Championships.

With only two months’ notice to be ready for the IFMA Youth World Championships, Siplyak trained vigorously around the clock for most of the summer to prepare. After arriving in Bangkok, accompanied by his parents and coach Rolando Montano, he began his training with Team USA, hosted by Khonsittha Muay Thai Gym. Team USA consisted of 4 certified USMF coaches and 12 fighters, including Joey.

In order to get a more in-depth perspective on the entire experience, I sat down with Joey and interviewed him.

Lauren Q: You had two months to prepare for IFMA at home. Up until leaving for Thailand, what was your training schedule like?

Joey A: In the two months leading up to the IFMA, I would train Monday through Saturday with Coach Rolando. I would meet him every morning at 8 to go first to the gym to run and workout. We would then take a couple hours break, and would begin our first pad work session at 11 which would consist of 5 5 minute rounds. Then usually in the later afternoon I would do 5 more 5 minute rounds, followed by either drilling , sparring, or more running. Altogether I was training about 4-5 hours a day while preparing for the IFMA in Thailand.

Lauren Q: Wow! That is heavy training! Do you get to enjoy any of your summer vacation?
Joey A. Yeah it was pretty heavy.
Lauren Q: How did you feel about spending almost all your summer in the gym?
It didn’t bother me at all to spend my summer in the gym! Muay Thai is my passion and I love training and also teaching the sport. Anytime I am preparing for a fight, it’s very easy for me to put everything else on the side and focus on training. I just know I want to be a Muay Thai world champion, and I am willing to put the work in to get there without a second thought. Muay Thai is my life and I want to work every day to be the best fighter and coach I can be.

Lauren Q: What was training at Khonsittha Muay Thai Gym with Team USA like? Can you give me a brief idea of what your training days looked like up until the first day of the tournament?
Joey A: Training there was so sick and I loved every minute of it, but it was also really tough as well. The training definitely felt more tough than back at home, and I think that was largely to the hot humid weather which I am not used to training in. And along with the weather, the heavy training schedule and pressure of representing Team USA in an international competition added to the overall difficulty for me. I could tell that everyone in the US Team training there meant business. Being around that kind of energy was very motivating for me as there is no better feeling than being around people who share the same passion for the sport, and are as determined as you are.
A typical training day at Khonsittha Muay Thai Gym would start with a 7 am run, followed by 12 minutes of jump rope, shadow boxing, 4 rounds of bag work, 4 rounds of pad work, and then abdominal/core work. We would have a few hours break and then start the afternoon training session at 3:30 pm. The structure of the evening was very similar, except instead of a run to start out we would do some advanced drilling that included clinch work and sparring.

Lauren Q: Again… wow! That’s a lot of physical work, but also a fun and amazing experience. So, as far as the competition itself, from my understanding you lost your first match to decision which unfortunately knocked you out of the tournament. How did you feel about your fight over all?
I didn’t fight well and I know I could have done better. I had a really tough opponent, I couldn’t find my groove and I felt out of range with everything I was throwing, but that is not an excuse. I guess I felt like I got my groove a bit in the 3rd round, and I knew I was down two rounds already, so I was determined to try to knockout my opponent in the 3rd round. I almost did too! All know is that I was losing but I was not out of the fight, and I kept fighting until the final bell. It was a learning experience for sure as loses tend to make you a better fighter, and I know how I can do better next time.

Lauren Q: That’s quite a mature way to think. How did you feel about the tournament as whole?
Joey A: It was an awesome experience! I learned a lot about myself, not only from my fight but watching the other fights. Being around so many people my age from all over the world, all competing in the same sport was such an amazing experience. It’s crazy to see the high level of competition that there is out there. So many of these kids are so much better than most professional fighters I know! I really can’t wait to go back and experience this again!

Laure Q: So that leads me to my final question. Although you didn’t do as good as you had hoped, will you try to compete in this tournament again? And if so, what will you do differently? How will you prepare?
Joey A: Absolutely! I want to go back as many times as I can, and of course my goal is to win that gold medal! Like I said ealier about my fight, I was disappointed for sure in my performance, but don’t count me out as I will come back stronger! I know now what I need to do to prepare for this level of competition, and I will train harder and smarter for the next IFMA Competition in 2018. I plan on competing in all the big tournaments and fights in the USA in order to secure my spot again in the next IFMA Youth Muay Thai Championship.

After speaking with Joey about his experience at the tournament I wanted to grab a brief outside perspective from Coach Rolando.

Lauren Q: Coach, how did you feel about the tournament overall? What were your thoughts on Joey’s experience there and what are your thoughts for the future?

Rolando A: It was a beautiful experience. It was a beautiful thing to see youth from all over the world participate in Muay Thai at the highest level on an Olympic-type stage! I love this sport so much, and it made me feel excited for the future of the sport to see so much talent. I do hope to see Muay Thai recognized as an official Olympic sport soon.
By going with Joey to this tournament I gained a better understanding of the level of competition of youth around the world, and it is very impressive. I am proud of Joey for all the hard work and the heart he showed in his fight, and I know how we can adjust and improve our training regimen so that Joey can have an even better chance of achieving his goal to win a gold medal next year. As a coach and trainer I am motivated to improve personally, but also to improve all of our competitors at Carlsbad Kickboxing Club .

How Team USA Did at IFMA 2017
As a whole, Team USA was able to capture 6 medals: 3 gold, 2 bronze , and 1 silver medal.
Bekah Irwin (Age 16) of Houston Muay Thai became the first American to win 2 gold medals and earned the Best Female Fighter award! Amazing job TEAM USA and amazing job to our own Joey Siplyak!

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The IFMA and USMF
The IFMA (International Federation for Muay Thai Amateurs) is the unified governing body, composed of 130 countries, as well as 5 continental federations. The IFMA accepts and recognizes the mission and role of the International Olympic Committee (IOC):
“The IFMA’s purpose is to continue to follow the Olympic standard code of ethics to ensure adherence to the Olympic movement. These codes of ethics include sustainable development of sport, the education of youth through sport and recognition of the practice of sport as a basic human right. Their goal is for all those whom wish to practice the sport have freedom to do so no matter race, ethnicity, sex or religion. Over all their main objective is to follow the Olympic code and in hopes of making Muay Thai an official sport in the Olympics.”

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The USMF (Unites States Muay Thai Federation) serves as the governing body for Team USA.

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USA Junior Team 2017

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