You are hereArticles / Interview with Rick Tucci
Interview with Rick Tucci
Interview with Rick Tucci by Jeff Jones
Rick Tucci the Thai Boxing Association of the USA Director for the State of New Jersey is also a full instructor in Jun fan and Filipino Martial Arts and a Fifth level in Maphilindo Silat under Guro Dan Inosanto. A Guro in Lamenco Eskrima under the late Punong Guro Edgar Sulite. A Guro in Mande Muda Pencak Silat under Pendekar Herman Suwanda. A full instructor in Pentjak Silat Butki Negara under Paul de Thouras, and a full instructor and 3rd degree Black-belt in Doce Pares Eskrima.
Jeff Jones: Please tell us a little about your background and your training in the Martial Arts?
Rick Tucci: A native New Jerseyan, I was born on November 11, 1954. I did some Martial Arts when I was young, some Shotokan Karate and that type of thing. I was about eleven years old then. I lost interest for some time, but later in high school, I became interested in boxing and I trained some of that. Then since I was eighteen years old I’ve been training nonstop. It’s been approximately twenty-four years that I have been training Martial Arts, in one form or another.
JJ:When did you open the Princeton Academy or Martial Arts?/p>
RTI opened the academy in February of 1987, so we have been open ten years. Before that, however, I was teaching martial arts in large a health club in Philadelphia for nine years.
JJ: Could you tell us a little about the academy, the arts and the curriculum?
RT: We teach several arts — Jun Fan Gung fu, Thai Boxing, Pentjak Silat, Kali Eskrima, Grappling, Boxing, Kickboxing are all part of the curriculum, as separate classes. In keeping with the basic ideas of the Inosanto Academy, we try to emulate Guro Dan Inosanto by having several arts in the curriculum.
JJ: How long have you been training Muay Thai?
RT: I met Ajarn Chai in 1989 and I have been training with him ever since.
JJ: What rankings do you have in Muay Thai?
RT: I’ve passed the associate level test and have all the requirements, and at this point it is just a matter or waiting for Ajarn Chai to issue the certificates for people who have done the associate level test. Ipassed the beginner level test in 1990, as all of Ajarn Chai’s instructor-level students have./p>
JJ: Tell us about how you started training Muay Thai, and how you feel Muay Thai has benefited your personal training in the Martial Arts?
RT:My first exposure to Muay Thai was at the prompting of Sifu Dan Inosanto. I thought, maybe I don’t want to do the Muay Thai, because I was into the Jun Fan, Kali Silat and other stuff. Maybe I didn’t want to add another art or maybe I was not sure about the Muay Thai. But once I got involved in Muay Thai I saw its benefits. I also really liked Ajarn Chai’s teaching method and personality. I think Muay Thai has helped me in flowing from kicks and punches, elbows and knees. I think it contributes to the whole flow of stand-up fighting and strategies of offense and defense, whether it’s going from a tie-up position or going in with the elbows, kicks, punches and knees. Also, the conditioning is excellent because it’s a type of conditioning you can’t get in some of the other arts as far as putting your whole body into the kicks and knees. I think, it has also helped me with general toughening, timing, mechanics, footwork and power, and has also contributed to what I view as practical in a street situation.
JJ: How do you feel Muay Thai could benefit a student?
RT: I believe that students can benefit and learn from Muay Thai in the same ways that I have benefited and learned. The thing I Like about Muay Thai for myself, as well as my students, the whole idea of the Ram Muay and the Wai Kru, as well as paying respect to your training partner at the beginning and end or each drill. The whole way their culture is. I like the idea of that. Again, the way Muay Thai emphasizes the flow between the ranges is something that definitely improves understanding of the fighting arts. I also think it helps to have impact training — this way they feel like they can take blows, whether on the Thai pad or focus glove or their bodies and I think it gives student's a sense of realistic self-defense, because at the same time they can do it in the ring or for street self-defense. So they can train for several purposes — health, conditioning and self-defense, or for ring fighting.
JJ: Are there any particular training methods you like in Muay Thai?
RT: For myself, I like the combination training. I think that’s my favorite part, whether it is on the heavy bag or with a partner using the Thai pads, or with a partner with boxing gloves and shin guards. I like the combinations, again with the emphasis on flowing from each of the different weapons that you use in Muay Thai.
JJ: How many Muay Thai Instructors do you have at the Princeton Academy or Martial Arts?
RT: In Princeton Academy there are six instructors besides myself who have passed the beginner level test under Ajarn Chai — You (Jeff Jones), My Wife Amy Tucci, Dec Burns, Paul Geller, Bernie Dudley and Derek Riddick.
JJ: When you are teaching, do you have a curriculum that you follow for Muay Thai?
RT: Yes, I don’t want to copy exactly Ajarn Chai, so what we do is follow what he teaches and try to use some of the different counts that he uses, whether it’s the 16-, 17-, or 18 count, and various countering motions. Then we go off from there and also create some of our own drills and try to develop the student as Ajarn Chai would want. We don’t try to imitate because it is impossible to imitate an instructor. Instead, we try to follow his principles and guidelines and develop a curriculum that works for us in Princeton.
JJ: Do you train any of your students for Muay Thai competition or ring fighting and is their training separate from the regular training that students do in classes?
RT: Yes, we have had several students compete in amateur Muay Thai bouts as well as Kickboxing competitions. The people that compete in Thai Boxing or Kickboxing train in our regular classes, but then they also train separately. We put together a program that is designed for the type of competition they are doing. For Instance, if knees and leg kicks are allowed then obviously they train with that in mind, and if just kicks above the waist are allowed then we have to train them for that kind of fight. And the type of competitor that they will be facing will also be a factor in their training. So those people train more that the average person in the class. Their training is much more difficult than average student’s would be.
JJ:What advice would you have for someone just starting out in Muay Thai?
RT: I would say one of the main things is to work on the form, to perfect the stance, to stay relaxed and to first concentrate on getting correct form for the kicks, punches, elbows and knees. Then you can start to go harder and harder. The tendency for people in Muay Thai is just to go hard, to hit the pads hard, to just sort of blast everything but without form. It’s not going to really work well without the form because the form is important. Power, speed and timing are all enhanced by proper form and good body mechanics.
JJ:In closing, do you have any final comments you would like to make?
RT: Yes, I can say that I really enjoy training in Muay Thai, but I specifically enjoy training under Ajarn Chai. I think because of his teaching ability, his personality, and his way of presenting material, these things separate him from other Thai Boxing instructors, at least that I’ve encountered or have seen in one way or another. I think he deserves a lot of credit for the art and paving the way for other people now who are teaching Muay Thai.