On Saturday afternoon, Team Sityodtong suffered one of its biggest losses: Kru Eric “Sityodtong” Armington was killed in a motorcycle accident on I-93.
It’s hard for me to put all of my thoughts and feelings into words: sometimes, I still can’t believe. Other times, the magnitude of it hits me full force. Eric has been a huge part of the Sityodtong family for years, and a constant presence in the gym. Even when he wasn’t there, his influence was felt throughout the gym. He was a fellow trainer, but he was also my teacher—I learned a lot from his as a fighter and as a coach.
Eric and I were often in the gym at similar times, either teaching classes together, or teaching private lessons simultaneously. Whenever I had the opportunity, I would stop and watch him coach—he was one of those rare people who really thought about how he was teaching. While he never would have used words like “pedagogy”, and he never wrote out a formal lesson plan, he had an intuitive understanding of how to teach, and how to help each student in their own way. I saw him teach a lot of students, but he always found a way to make his teaching work for each individual student.
Eric was fearless. He was easily the smallest and lightest trainer in the camp, but he had no qualms about leaping into the ring to spar with guys who outweighed him by fifty to one hundred pounds. He would spar professional MMA fighters, despite having little formal grappling training, and hold his own through sheer athleticism, willpower, and a desire to win.
He could stand outside the ring, watch someone fight, and know exactly what they needed to do in order to win. Even watching grappling and groundwork, he just had the right instincts.
He was a friend of the truest kind; if you needed help, and he could help you, he would. It was that simple. He was the friend who would always have your back, no matter how bad it got.
I could tell stories about Eric for hours, and probably will. But for now, all I can say is that I miss him.