Don't mess with Adam Malone.
Adam and his father, Tommy—with whom he practices at the Malone Law Office—are formidable opponents in a courtroom.
But it's not professional accomplishments that led to the gentle warning. Malone, 40, is a practitioner of Muay Thai, a fighting style that dates back about 800 years and basically uses the entire body as a weapon.
The Daily Report asked Malone a few questions about his sport.
How would you describe Muay Thai?
It is the art of the eight limbs—fists, elbows, knees and legs. Clinching and throws are also legal. Muay Thai is the most advanced, effective and deadly form of self defense while standing on your feet.
What got you started in the sport?
It's fun and I've always been interested in self-defense and practical forms of conditioning I felt might have some utility in life. I started at a gym called La Boxing about 10 years ago, before it was sold. Given the amount of time and money I have invested in my brain, I felt it would be a good idea to learn how to protect it.
Where do you train?
I train with Dave Vitkay, a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter, at Knuckleup Fitness in Sandy Springs and CrossFit East Cobb.
Are there competitions in the Atlanta area?
Yes, we called them fights, not competitions. They are held at Center Stage Theater [in Atlanta] and Wild Bill's [in Duluth] among other places. Promoted by Bangkok Boxing/Khunpon Dechkampu or David Oblas and his company.
What are the physical and mental demands of Muay Thai? What conditioning do you have to do?
It is the most physically demanding sport I ever engaged in. It's a whole-body workout of sparring, bag work, pads, and running, jumping rope, body weight exercises, cross-fit strength and endurance training, and stretching. It is a very cerebral sport requiring strategy, patience, timing and management of energy.
I have come to appreciate that life is most fully lived in the brief space between the past and future called the present moment. Short of being in the courtroom with another person's entire future hanging in the balance, there is no other activity that demands such intense mental focus on being fully present in the now while being fully prepared for the uncertainty of the next moment.
Do you rise up the ranks in the sport, like different belts in karate?
The only belt in Muay Thai is a championship belt. I don't have one, but I do have a few medals. I'm always building and trying to grow…mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Becoming aware of my shortcomings in law and life seems to offer me the best opportunity for experiencing much needed humility and growth and reminds me not to take my imperfections too seriously.
The history of Muay Thai is out of combat, of war. It's a full-contact sport. Sounds like a good courtroom fight. Did you ever feel like grabbing an opposing attorney and…?
Sometimes, but rarely. Muay Thai training teaches much on self-restraint and good lessons on how to roll with the punches. It also teaches the certainty that I will get hit but how to protect myself at the same time and wait for my opponent to make a mistake while always remembering to be on the attack advancing my objective.
The seasoned defense lawyers I have the privilege of working with rarely make mistakes, just like seasoned fighters, but even the best can make a mistake. The key is to be better conditioned and better prepared, perhaps underestimated, and to create the opportunity to score or wait for it. Someone will always overreach, and the key is developing the discipline for it not to be me.
So the mental discipline carries over into your work as a lawyer?
Yes, every day. Working hard, training hard, being more prepared, patience, keeping cool under pressure, thinking quickly on you feet and staying fully present in the moment are interchangeable in court and in the ring. With this attitude, I may lose a decision but I will never be defeated.
What does your father think of Muay Thai?
He thinks I'm crazy, but he's a cowboy. None of the fighters I face in the ring are tougher than the bucking broncos he broke. I hope to be as tough as him and as quick on my feet with just half his charm one day. He's my role model and hero. I hope I make him proud, in spite of my crazy perspective on developing myself and becoming fully conditioned for the arena of law and life.