Yod Ruerngsa, Khun Kao Charuad and James Cartmell
Muay Thai The Art of Fighting by Yod Ruerngsa, Khun Kao Charuad and James Cartmell
This DRAFT should not be sold, rented and etc. All reprinting and citation of text in part or whole is prohibited.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. History and Traditions of Muay Thai
Muay Thai Chronology 7
Thai Musical Instruments for Boxing 15
Beginner Initiation Ritual 18
Pre-fight Ritual 20
Wai Kru 23
Muay Thai Terminology 37
Chapter 1. Cherng Muay (Traditional Basics)
Cherng Mad 15 Cherng (15 punches) 44
Cherng Sok 24 Cherng (24 elbow strikes) 58
Cherng Khao 11 Cherng (11 knee strikes) 79
Cherng Thao 15 Cherng (15 kicks) 89
Chapter 2. Kon Muay Thai (Traditional Techniques)
Kae Mad 29 Kon 115
Kae Thao 23 Kon 133
Kae Khao 3 Kon 145
Kae Sok 4 Kon 147
JuJom 23 Kon 149
Chapter 3. The Master Tricks and The Complimentary Tricks
15 Mae Mai 164
Control of Breath 174
Stance and Footwork in Detail 177
Defensive Head Movements 180
Kicking When It Is Too Close To Kick 181
Going "Dirty" 183
Muay Thai: Throws and Takedowns 185
Clinch (Prumb) 187
Chapter 3. Movements of Using Muay Thai Art
15 Look Mai 201
Basic Combinations 212
More Combinations 215
Chapter 4. Training Drills, Conditioning and etc.
Training Drills 216
Improving Punching Power 218
Favorite Drills 221
Medicine Ball Drills 222
Neck Wrestling Drills 224
Thai Pad Drills 225
Build Explosiveness 228
Kicking Speed 238
Training to Fight! 240
How not to Flinch, Blink or Turn Away 243
Beginner Muay Thai Training Schedule 246
Conditioning the Shins 247
Common Muay Thai Injuries 250
Dealing with Psychological Problem of "Getting Hit" 252
Basic Technique in Meditation Practice 255
Chapter 5. Hand Wrapping
Muay Thai Hand Wrapping 256
Pro-Boxing Hand Wrapping 260
Hand Wrapping for Heavy Bag Training 272
First and Foremost. Techniques described in this book are meant to damage and even kill your opponent, though being properly executed are very damaging and some are potentially lethal. Practice and use them with caution - it's your and own responsibility.
Second. There are lots of gyms, schools and training camps where Muay Thai is taught. Cause Muay Thai is living art there are myriads of variations of how to call this or that technique, how to execute this or that strike or training drill. So if you find out that there are some differences between what you are taught and what you read in this book - don't worry. Use your common sense, try both ways, chose what suits you more. This book isn't meant to show the only way, it is meant to help to choose YOUR OWN WAY.
Third. There are three authors of this book, but in order to make reading easier, all advices are given as from one author.
Fourth. Many of you can ask why so few pictures and where are all these fancy diagrams and stepping patterns? This book lacks them on purpose. We found out that lots off beginners try to imitate what they see (in the gym or in the book) without understanding. And it becomes even worse if someone decides that he can do it after only reading about it. We want you, our reader, to benefit from this book. As so - try all you read in it at your gym, with your partner, ask your trainer about it, discuss it with your friends. In other words - try to fill, try to catch the essence of techniques and drills. Understanding technique is simple, correct execution is much more difficult - but that's the goal. And remember PRACTICE IS THE ONLY WAY.
History and Traditions of Muay Thai
Muay Thai Chronology
MuayThai in the Sukhothai Era
Thailand's capital was situated at Sukhothai from around the Buddhist years 1781-1951 (1238-1408 CE). Inscriptions in stone columns at Sukhothai indicate that Sukhothai fought with its neighbors quite often. Consequently, the city had to instill in her soldiers knowledge and skills concerning the use of weapons such as swords and spears, and also how to use the body as a weapon in situations of close person-to-person combat. Skills such as kicking, kneeing, punching, and elbowing were thus developed.
During peacetime, young men in Sukhothai practiced MuayThai to build character and their self-defense skills. These skills would serve them well during their time in the military and thus the practice of MuayThai became a good custom. MuayThai training centers arose around the city, for example, the Samakorn Training Center in Lopburi. Some were in temple areas where monks doubled as instructors.
During this period, MuayThai was considered a higher art and was a part of the royal curriculum. It was intended to develop good and brave warriors with great physical fitness into great and brave rulers. The first King of Sukhothai, Phokhun Sri In Tharatit, believed in the benefits of MuayThai so much that he sent his two sons to train MuayThai at the Samakorn Training Center to prepare them to take the throne. In B.E. 1818-1860 (1275-1317 CE) Phokhun Ram Khamhaeng wrote a war text that included the teachings of MuayThai as well as instruction in other fighting skills.
The Ayutthaya Era lasted from B.E. 1988-2310 (1445-1767 CE). This period was characterized by frequent wars between Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia. Therefore, young men had to prepare themselves by developing self-defense skills. These skills were taught by experienced masters. The training spread from the Royal Palace out to the public. The Phudaisawan Sword Training Center was very famous in that era, and it had many pupils. They were trained with wicker swords in the arts of sword and pole fighting. They were also trained to fight barehanded and thus learned MuayThai skills. In addition to fighting, such training centers also gave education in everyday matters.
King Naresuan The Great Era (B.E. 2133-2147,1590-1604 CE)
King Naresuan would call for young men of his age to train with him. They were trained to be brave, self-confident warriors. They had to be skilful with all weapons and in boxing. King Naresuan set up the Scouting Corps to fight in guerrilla warfare. It was this Corps of soldiers that were able to free Thailand from Burma during this time.
King Narai The Great Era (B.E. 2147-2233,1604-1690 CE)
During this period Thailand was very much at peace and there were many developments in the Kingdom. King Narai supported and promoted sports, especially MuayThai, which became a professional sport. At this time there were many boxing training centers. The boxing ring was set up in regular playgrounds where a rope would be laid out in a square shape to indicate the fighting area. Boxers wrapped their hands with threads that were dipped in thick starch or tar. This technique was called Kad-Chuck (wrapped with threads) or Muay Kad-Chuck (boxing with thread-wrapped hands). Boxers wore a head band, called the mongkon, and an amulet, or pa-pra-jiat, wrapped around their upper arms when they fought. Boxers did not fight according to weight, height, or age. The rules were simple: Fights lasted until there was a clear winner. Gambling accompanied the bouts. Villages would often challenge each other to boxing matches and boxing became an activity central to folk plays and festivals.
King Prachao Sua Era (B.E. 2240-2252,1697-1709 CE)
King Prachao Sua, also known as the Tiger King as well as Khun Luang Sorasak, loved MuayThai very much. Once he went, dressed in plain clothes, to a district called Tambol Talad-guad with four royal guards. There he entered a boxing competition. The promoter did not recognize the King, but knew that the boxer came from Ayutthaya. He let the King fight against very good fighters from the town of Wisetchaichan. They were Nai Klan Madtai (killing fists), Nai Yai Madlek (iron fists), and Nai Lek Madnak (hard fists or punches). The Tiger King won all three fights. King Prachao Sua also trained his two sons, Prince Petch and Prince Porn, in MuayThai, sword fighting, and wrestling.
During the early part of the Ayutthaya period the Department of Royal Boxing was founded. One of its responsibilities was to recruit young talented boxers to fight for the King's entertainment. The top boxers were chosen for the Royal Quarries, called Thani Lir (chosen guards). They were responsible for the security of the royal palace and the King at all times. These boxers were to become the boxing masters who trained the soldiers and the Princes.
In the later part of the Ayutthaya Period, after the second loss to Burma in B.E. 2310 (1767 CE), there was one boxer of note.
Nai Khanomtom was a prisoner of war captured by the Burmese when Ayutthaya was sacked for the second time in B.E. 2310 (1767 CE). In B.E. 2317 (1774 CE), the Burmese King, King Angwa, wanted to hold a celebration for the Great Pagoda in Rangoon. Boxing was included in the celebrations. Good Thai boxers were called on to fight with Burmese boxers. On the 17th of March of that year, Nai Khanomtom fought and defeated 10 Burmese boxers in succession with no rest period between fights. It was the first time that MuayThai was used in competition outside of Thailand. For his achievements, Nai Khanomtom was honored as the Father or MuayThai or the Inventor of MuayThai, and the 17th of March is now named MuayThai Day.
The Thonburi period extended from B.E. 2310-2324 (1767-1781 CE). It was a period of reconstruction after the restoration of peace in the Kingdom. MuayThai training was primarily for man-to-man conflict during wars and or military service.
The arrangement of competitive boxing bouts during that period involved the matching of different training camps, usually from remote areas of the country. There is no evidence of rules or regulations, and it is thought that boxers fought without any official points system. So, they would fight until one dropped or gave up, leaving the man standing as the obvious winner.
Bouts took place on open grounds, mostly in temple areas. Boxers wrapped their hands and wrists in thread, wore a head band or mongkon, and an amulet or pa-pra-jiat usually around their right arm.
The first era of this period encompasses the rule of King Rama I to King Rama IV (B.E. 2325-2411, 1782-1868 CE). At this time, MuayThai was considered the national fighting art. It was an essential part of every festival.
Eventually, it was decided that rules and regulations were necessary, especially regarding the length of rounds. An intriguing method of timekeeping was then developed. A coconut shell would have a hole punched in it and be floated in a water tank. When the coconut shell sank, a drum signaled the end of the round. There was no limit to the number of rounds, so the boxers fought until there was a clear winner or until one of them gave up.
King Rama I Period
Pra Puttha Yord Fa Chula Loke, The Great (B.E. 2325-2352,1782-1809 CE)
King Rama I, himself, trained as a boxer from a very early age. He expressed keen interest in, and often watched, boxing matches. In B.E. 2331 (1788 CE), two foreigners, brothers who traveled around the world trading goods, arrived in Bangkok. The younger of the two proved to be quite a good boxer and won prizes from matches around the world quite often. He told Pra Ya Pra Klang that he wanted to fight for prizes against Thai boxers. This request was relayed to King Rama I and, after consulting with Pra Raja Wangboworn, the Director of the Boxing Department, a bet of 50 changs (4,000 Baht) was agreed upon. Pra Raja Wangboworn selected a good boxer named Muen Han to fight the foreigner in a ring set up behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace. It was 20 by 20 meters square and there was a reception area set up nearby. The fight was not to be scored, but to continue until a decisive winner emerged. Before the fight, Muen Han was oiled with herbal ointment, and he wore amulets on his upper arms. He was then carried to the ring on the shoulders of a friend.
When the fight began, it was clear that the foreigner was much heavier, taller, and stronger than Muen Han. When the foreigner got in close he employed wresting tactics to try to break the Thai boxer's neck and collarbone. To counter these tactics, Muen Han tried kicking and using stepping kicks. He tried to control the fight and his footwork was very quick. Eventually, the foreigner began to tire and it seemed he was going to lose. His brother, realizing this, jumped into the ring to help his younger brother. This caused a riot to break out among the spectators. Many foreigners were injured. The two brothers, after recovering from their injuries, left Thailand.
King Rama II Period
King Pra Buddha Lert La Napa-Lai (B.E. 2352-2367,1809-1824 CE)
While young, this King trained as a boxer at Bang Wa Yai Training Center (Wat Rakangkositaram) with the boxing master, and army general, Somdet Prawanarat (Tong You). At age 16, he learned more about MuayThai from the Boxing Department. He changed the sport's name from its previous name, Ram Mad Ram Muay, to MuayThai.
King Rama III Period
King Pra Nangklao (B.E. 2367-2394,1824-1851 CE)
King Rama III learned MuayThai from the Boxing Department. During his reign, Thai boys loved to fight, and they learned MuayThai and the sword of Khun Ying Moe. Khun Ying Moe is renowned for leading many brave women to defeat the invading soldiers of Prince Anuwong from Vientienne, Laos, who were attacking the city of Korat.
King Rama IV Period
King Chomklao (B.E. 2394-2411,1851-1868 CE)
When young, King Rama IV loved to dress himself up as a boxer. He also loved sword and pole fighting. Often, he would box and compete in sword and pole fighting during festivals in the grounds of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. During this time, Thailand saw the growth of western sports and culture. However, MuayThai remained a popular activity and a strong symbol of Thai culture.
King Rama V Period
King Chulachomklao (B.E. 2411-2453,1868-1910 CE)
King Rama V learned MuayThai from the Boxing Department with boxing master Luang Pola Yotanuyoke. The King loved MuayThai and loved watching boxing matches. From time to time he would order Royal officers to arrange for good boxers to fight for him. Such tournaments were used to recruit men for His Majesty the King's Royal Guards.
King Rama V recognized the value of MuayThai. In order to promote interest in Thai sports, the King encouraged MuayThai tournaments. He also encouraged the promotion of Muay Luang, or royal boxing centers to train youngsters. These Muay Luang also organized and controlled MuayThai tournaments. The royal office would also send official invitations to the heads of Muay Luang inviting their boxers to participate in particular events and festivals. Winners at such events were promoted by His Majesty the King to a position callen 'Muen', or first-rank officer.
In B.E. 2430 (1887 CE), King Rama V established the Department of Education. MuayThai was a subject in the curriculum of the physical education teacher's training school and at Prachufachomktao Royal Military Cadet School. This period is considered the golden age of MuayThai.
King Rama VI Period
King Mongkhut Klao Chao Yu Hua (B.E. 2453-2468,1910-1925 CE)
During this period, Thailand went to World War I. The Thai army was stationed in France with General Praya Dhepasadin as Commander. He loved MuayThai and he organized a bout to entertain the European servicemen and laymen. They enjoyed the bout very much and thus was born European interest in MuayThai.
In B.E. 2464 (1921 AD), after the war, the first permanent boxing stadium was built on the football ground at Suan Khulab School. It was named the Suan Khulab Boxing Stadium. At first, spectators would sit or stand around the ring.
The ring itself was a square, 26 meters by 26 meters. Boxers wrapped their hands with cotton threads, wore a head band or mongkon, and an amulet or pa-pra-jiat around their upper arms. They wore shorts with a protective cup and their waists were belted by a long piece of cloth. They wore neither a shirt nor shoes. The referee would wear an old style Thai dress uniform with a royal white shirt and white socks.
One great fight from this period was between Muen Mad Man, aged 50, and Nai Pong Prabsabod, a tall man aged 22 who came from Korat. The younger man fought to avenge the death of his father who was killed in a bout with Muen Mad Man that took place at the funeral of Khun Marupongsiripat. Two minutes into the grudge match, Muen Mad Man was knocked out by Nai Pong. The spectators became very excited and went mad trying to congratulate Nai Pong. It took some time for the situation to calm down.
This kind of scene was clearly a problem and a committee was set up to solve it. Finally, it was decided that the ring should be raised to a height of four feet above the ground, be covered with grass mats tied together, and surrounded by a 1 inch think rope. There was to be a space for each boxer to enter the ring near its corner. The referee began wearing a full scouting uniform and there was now a time keeper with two watches. A drum was used as the round signal and a match was established at 11 rounds of three minutes each. Boxers were to break when the referee so ordered, and it was now forbidden to bite one's opponent or to attack him while he is falling. Boxers had to go to a neutral corner when their opponent fell down. Music for the fights was played by the orchestra of Muen Samak Siangprachit.
King Rama VII Period
King PokKlaochao Yu Hua (B.E. 2468-2477,1925-1934 CE)
General Dhepasadin built a boxing stadium called Lak Muang at Tachang (near the present day National Theatre). The ring rope was thicker and tighter and without a space to protect the boxers. Bouts were organized regularly.
In B.E. 2472 (1929 CE) governmental orders required all boxers to wear boxing gloves. Boxing gloves were introduced to Thailand by a Philippine boxer who came to Thailand for an international boxing match. Prior to the introduction of boxing gloves there was a tragic and fatal accident when Nai Pae Liangprasert from Ta Sao, Uttaradit province, killed Nai Jia Kakamen in a boxing match which was fought in the Kad-Chuck style where boxers' hands were wrapped in cotton strips.
In November B.E. 2472 (1929 CE) Chao Khun Katatorabodee first organized a boxing bout along with other festivities at a fun park in Lumpini Park. He chose only good boxers to fight every Saturday. An educated and worldly man, he built an international standard boxing ring with three ropes and a canvas floor. There were red and blue corners, two judges, and a referee in the ring. It was here that a bell was first used as the round signal.
To celebrate on New Year's Eve of that year, a match was scheduled between Samarn Dilokwilas and Det Poopinyae, accompanied by a special bout between Nai Air Muangdee and Nai Suwan Niwasawat. Nai Air Muangdee was the first boxer to use a metal protective cup. It has since been in general use.
King Rama VIII Period
King Ananddhamahidol (B.E. 2477-2489,1934-1946 CE)
Between B.E. 2478-2484 (1935-1941 CE), a rich and well-known man built a boxing stadium on Chao Chate's ground. It was called Suan Chao Chate Boxing Stadium. At present it is the Department of Reserved Officers Training Corps.
The stadium was run by military personnel and it did very good business. Some of the income was donated to support military activities. After several years, the Second World War broke out. At that time the boxing stadium was closed. Japanese troops arrived in Thailand on December 8 B.E. 2484 (1941 CE).
From B.E. 2485-2487 (1942-1944 CE), while the war was still going on, boxing bouts were organized in movie theaters during the daytime. There were boxing stadiums at Patanakarn, Ta Prachan, and Wongwian Yai where the public could be entertained.
On the 23rd of December, B.E. 2488 (1945 CE), Ratchadamnern boxing Stadium was opened officially. Mr. Pramote Puengsoonthorn was its chairman and Praya Chindharak was its administrator. The promoter was Mr. Chit Ampolsin (Kru Chit). Bouts were organized every Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. The rules were those of the Department of Physical Education. Bouts were five three-minute rounds in length, with two minutes rest between rounds. The boxers were weighed by stone. Two years later, weight was measured in kilograms, and in B.E. 2491 (1948 CE) pounds were adopted as the measure of a boxer's weight so as to be in accord with international standards. Divisions were assigned by weight, for example, not over 112 pounds. International names were given for each weight group, such as flyweight, and bantamweight. Matches were arranged to select a champion for each class, following the international style. Many additions have been made to the regulations of Muay Thai. It is forbidden now to hit the private parts since this technique has become quite infamous as a form of attack and is considered debasing for the fine art of Thai boxing.
Muay Thai remains a national art form. If all parties concerned help to uplift and conserve this form of martial arts, and pass it onto following generations, it will remain a valuable possession of the Thai nation.
Muay Thai Traditions and Rituals
Muay Thai is still developing, but what remains unchanged is the use of the pipe and the drums as musical accompaniments for the matches, and is considered a unique characteristic of Muay Thai.
For dancing one may use a record player, but for thai boxing it is imperative to have live music. For the prefight rituals and during the fight itself the tempo of music is increased to encourage the fighters to put forth their best efforts. There are three Thai musical instruments for boxing.
Traditional Thai instruments used during and before the fights are the Pi, the Ching and the Glawng Khaek.
The Pi Chawa or Java Pipe, it is believed, owes its origin to India where the Javanese secured their model. It appears that the instrument was used in both
Royal and Army processions and in accompanying the traditional Thai fencing bouts. The stirring sound which it makes is somewhat like the Chanta on Scotch Bag Pipes.
The Pi Chawa is made in two sections; a cylindrical body 10 3/4 " in length and a bell or horn in 5 1/2 "long.It is made of hardwood or ivory or both. Along the body are seven finger holes. Four pieces of reed in double pairs are tied to a small metal tube. The end of the tube is inserted into the body of the instrument and wrapped with thread to make the connection sung. At rhis end of the tube there is also a small round convex piece of metal or coconut shell to support the performer's lips.
The Ching which is a percussion instrument of the cymbal type comes in pairs and is made of a thick metal shaped like a tea-cup or hollow cone. The Ching is played by hitting the two pieces together. Each one measures about 6-7 cm, 2 1/2"-2 3/4 : in diameter.
At the apex of each there is a small hole through which a cord is passed. A knot at each end of the cord fits inside the apex of the cymbal and prevents the cord from slipping through. The cord fastens the two cymbals together and holds them in playing positions. The function of the Ching is to keep time and to beat out the rhythm.
The name Ching is onomatopoetic, coming from the sound made when the two edges of the cymbal are struck together and the sound is allowed to persist. It is a melodious and chiming sound. When the two cymbals are struck together and then held together, it is produces a dull clapping sound.
The Glawng Khaek
The Glawng Khaek has a long cylindrical body which is made of hardwood and is 58 cm. (23") in length. The heads are of unequal size, the larger being 20 cm. (8") in diameter called Na rui (literally "loose") and the smaller 18 cm. (7") in diameter called Na tan ("outer head"). The two heads are made of calfskin or goatskin. Originally the two heads were tied down with cane or rattan which was split in half and tied apart, but now owing to the difficulty obtaining good rattan and cane, leather tongs are usually used. The drums are used in pairs and are of different pitches. The higher toned drum is referred to as tua pu (male) and the lower toned drum as tua mia (female).
They are played with the palms and the fingers of the hands and both drumheads are used. There is one player for each drum. A complex rhythmic line is created by the inter-mingling and alternating of the sounds of the two drums.
Thai boxers are prone to believe in magic spells, and the occult in the believe that such ploys could stop the opponent who would be too puzzled to fight. Fighters are known to have gone as far as to recite spells in graveyards particularly those reputed to be haunted, so as to facilitate meditation, strength, courage and increase readiness to face a man.
In general, students of Thai boxing are usually initiated into a camp via an initiation ceremony. The chosen day is usually Thursday, (Thursday is considered the day of the god of arts and skills). The student would bring flowers, incense sticks, candles, towels and a water container to the teachers house. He would also bring with him 6 twenty-five Satang coins and 6 pieces of white cotton cloth. Depending on the amount of students who are to be initiated, a small feast is prepared, with pork, duck, and chicken with other foods and fruits.
The teacher would pick up either a glove or the sacred cotton laurel and raise it above his head, then the students to be initiated would bow to the teacher three times and put out his arm to be held by the teacher while holding the glove or laurel. Both the teacher and the student should be holding the article while the teacher begins to incite the blessing of knowledge;
"Buddhang Prasit Dhammang Prasit Sangkang Prasit, Narayana is Chao Prasit Pawantute" (Meaning the one who confers knowledge).
When the teacher releases the hands of the student, then holds the article above his head to pay respect to Rama, where he bows three times, he then faces the teacher and bows three more times towards him. The teacher then makes the following blessing;
"Siddhi Kijang, Siddhi Kammang, Siddhi Techo, Chaiyo Nijang, Chaiya Siddhi Pawantute"
If there is pork or duck etc., then the teacher will take a knife and slice a piece offering this to the student, while reciting "This object is given by Narayana to all his pupils so that they could be powerful and enjoy lasting happiness". The student makes another sign of respect and eats the piece of meat. There is always a large container of holy water and a statute of Buddha, which is placed in the middle to bear witness to the ceremony. Holy water is sprinkled on the student and the teacher would offer the student the wearing of the holy cotton laurel, which is governed with the following spell;
Om Sri Siddhi Deja Chana Satru Na, Ma, Pa, Ta You see me. Your mind should be gloomy, worried, without sense Namo Buddhaya makes you captivated, believing that I am Ong Promma Chaiya Siddhi Pawantume".
One of the spells used by King Naresuan during his march against the Burmese, is often used in this ceremony; "Pra Chao 5 Pra Ong" (Five Gods) Namo Buddhaya;
Na Yan Bot Songkram ( Na the region of the war), Ma Tid tam Satru (Ma follow the enemy) Bud Tor Su Pai Rin, (Bud fight the foes) Cha Sin Pol Krai (Dha conquer all forces) Ya Chok Chai Chana (Ya glorious victory).
When fighting at close quarters King Naresuan used the following spell in engaging the enemy in battle.
Na Dej Rukran (Na, might invades), Ma Tao Harn Fan Fad (Ma, courage in striking), Pa Pikat Home Huek (Pa, destroy without fear), Ta Prab Suek Toi Tod (Ta, repel the enemy)."
When fighters enter the ring, they traditionally are seen wearing a Mongkon on their heads, and Pong Malai around their necks.
The Mongkon (or Mangala) is the traditional head band which is always worn by Muay Thai fighters . It is usually made from a special cotton yarn, which has been carefully bound together in a special way. This item is used to represent the gym that you are fighting out of. It is essentially a crown. Fighters never own the Mongkon themselves, it is gym property. Also, fighters are not to touch the Mongkon. It is placed on their heads and removed by their Kru or trainer. It serves to remind the fighter that he is in the ring representing his gym or camp, not himself. In the past, each gym had a distinct Mongkon, and one could identify what gym a fighter was from by the Mongkon worn.
Pong Malai are the floral wreaths worn around a fighter's neck when he enters the ring. Pong Malai literally translates to "Group of Flowers". It is almost identical in purpose to a Hawaiian Lei. Pong Malai are given to a fighter by friends and fans as a good luck gesture. Pong Malai are also commonplace in Thai culture outside of the boxing ring. Again, much like a Hawaiian Lei.
When the fighter steps into the ring, they always go over the top rope. They NEVER duck under or between the ropes to enter or exit the ring. This is a symbolic gesture that is closely related to Thai culture. In Thai culture, a person's head is considered to be the most important part of the body, practically a holy object. The feet, by contrast, are considered lowly and dirty. A fighter should ALWAYS enter the ring over the top rope so as not to allow his head to go beneath anything.
When the fighter is in the ring, he goes to the center to bow to each of the four sides of the ring, paying his respects to the audience who has paid to see him fight.
The fighter then returns to his corner and if he is wearing a robe, his trainer removes it for him to begin the real pre-fight ceremony.
Beginning in his own corner, the fighter places his right hand atop the uppermost ring rope and walks counter-clockwise around the ring, symbolically "Sealing the Ring". The act of sealing the ring represents a statement to your opponent: "It's just you and me now." This act represents you sealing out the crowd, your trainers, the judges, and everyone from this match. It's just you and me buddy! Mano a mano.
Upon completion of sealing the ring, the fighter then positions himself in the center of the ring and kneels facing the direction of his home town, or his gym/camp. He performs three bows, touching his forehead to the floor. This is called the Wai Kru (bow to the teacher Wai means bow, Kru means teacher.). These three bows can take on a different significance with each fighter, but in our gym, we think of them as paying respect to your teacher and gym, your family, and finally to your deity.
The fighter then begins an elaborate dance-like ritual called the Ram Muay. The fighter goes through many complex motions, which often imitate animals or professions. In the SuriyaSak Ram Muay, we go through motions imitating a swallow, a hunter, a soldier, and an executioner.
The Ram Muay originated back in the days before there were rings. Initially, these motions were just the fighter warming up, stretching, and testing the ground of the predetermined fighting area. Over time, these transformed into the elaborate rituals that they are today.
The Ram Muay still serves a practical purpose in fight preparation besides the cultural "ritual". The motions are designed so that they stretch out the major muscle groups of the body. The Ram Muay is also used as a fighters "personal time", allowing him a minute or two right before the match to collect his thoughts and focus on the match.
Once the Ram Muay is completed, the fighter/s bow towards their opponent's corner to pay respect to their opponent and his gym, and they return to their own corners for final blessings by their coach/Kru/trainer. The Kru then removes the Mongkon from the fighter's head and the Pong Malai from around his neck and hangs them on the ring post.
Fighters also commonly wear a cord around their bicep called the Kruang Ruang (armband) or Paprachiat (Good Luck Charm). These are usually given to the fighter as good luck charms by close family or by monks as talismans to ward off harm. These armbands are worn throughout the entire fight.
The practice of wearing Mongkons and Kruang Ruang/Paprachiats is believed to have originated during Thai medieval ages when the Thai's often found themselves at war. Soldiers commonly wore headbands and armbands made from material that had special meaning to them, such as the hem of a parents Pakima (a skirt-like outfit worn by both men and women) or even strands of a loved ones hair wrapped in cloth. Sometimes little religious artifacts were wrapped up and worn, such as little Buddha figurines.
Anyway, the above traditions and rituals are the most common practices associated with Thai boxing. Though all of these traditions and rituals have been influenced by Thai religion (Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam), they are not religious in nature. These rituals and traditions transcend a Thai's religious beliefs, as they are part of the greater culture that is Thailand.
Wai Kru is a demonstration of the pupilrs respect and gratitude to his teacher in submission to the teaching training. Wai Kru is traditionally practiced by Thais of various professions and arts, e.g., dancers, sword fighters, musicians, as well as academic students, and of course Muay Thai boxers are no exception. "Wai" means to pay respect by putting both hands together in front of the chest. The demonstration of Wai Kru does not only imply paying respect to the present teacher, but also includes homage to all the teachers of the discipline.
Wai Kru ceremonies are preferable held on Thursday, which is believed to be the teachersrs day. On that day, pupils present certain offerings, usually flowers, money, cloth, etc., to the person who has accepted them as his students. The pupils make a vow that they will study seriously and patiently, respect him and behave fairly to their fellow students and will use the knowledge gained properly.
Wai Kru is called Kheun Kru (the initial ceremony of paying respect to the teacher). Subsequently. they will pay respect to their teachers ceremonially each year, which is called "Yohk Kru" But whenever the pupils intend to use the knowledge taught to them. they will always start by paying respect to their teacher; this action is called Wai Kru or Bucha Kru (to pay respect to a teacher).
In Muay Thai, the boxer will always preface the fight with Wai Kru and this tradition is still practiced nowadays. This ceremony is usually performed to rousing Thai music from pipes and drums, and with the initial Ram Muau (the boxing movement). The Wai Kru and Ram Muay are useful, since the boxer gains encouragement from paying homage to his teachers and feels that he is not on his own: he has his teacher and the other teachers of the discipline to support him. The Wai Kru process will also give him time to concentrate and revise what he has learned, as well as display the nature of his weapons and the high degree of his skill. The steps, movement and use of his weapons are designed to warm up the bodyrs muscles, survey the field of play, and conceal the contestantrs style of fighting
After being in sitting manner until standing up in Dhepnimitra manner and then turn to the right.
Step 1: raise the right foot and straight it backward. Standing on your left foot. Bend your body to the front. Start to perform the dance by sprawling your arms, kneel down while turning the face side of your palms down.
Step 2: kneel up and bend up the wrist to raise up the fingers.
Step 3: lay your right foot on the floor then straight your left foot backward, continue to perform the dance alike the flying bird. The movement of body, arm and palm must correspond with the music.
Step 4: lay down your left foot then "Yang Sam Khum" (walk powerfully in three step) to change the direction. By turning you around to the "left direction" then step out your left foot, bend your body down to " wai " the "Pra-Bhrama-tis" (the direction of Bhrama ) at the left side just one time. Repeat to perform the " Hong-Hern" dancing styles by starting the first step to the third step again but in the fourth step you must turn to the backside "Wai Bhrama" and then repeat to perform the dance. The last time turn to the front side. (which is the original direction while you sit in the "Dhep Pha-nom" form) And then "Wai-Bhrama" perform the dance called "Hong-Hern" and "Bhrama Si Na" then you play "Yang Sam Khum" and bend your body down to salute your counterpart. It is the finish of the "Wai Kru" and the dance called "Hong-Hern"
To perform "Yoong-Fon-Hang" style, you must start from "Wai Kru" from the sit form called "Dhep Panom" to the stand form called "Dhep Nimitra" respectively.
Step 1: turn your body to right side, Wai Pra Bhrama for one time.
Step 2: step out your left foot forward. Raise up your right foot then straighten it backward bend down your body forward simultaneously. Put the hands together in salute at the chest level.
Step 3: turn the face side of your palm upward and slowly move your arms go through the armpits to the backside of your body until your arms are straight. All of tip fingers are closed together.
Step 4: move your hands out to the side of the body alike straighten your arms. Then move it round to come gathering at your face. Lift your chest and your face up while your hands were put to touch your head, while your right legs still stretch backward.
Step 5: hold down your right foot to stand straightly. Raise up your left foot then straighten it backward. Stand on your right foot and then repeat the step 1- 4 (it's just switch the right side to be the left side). Repeat to perform the dance for all 4 directions. Then get back to the corner with "Kow Yang" and bend down your body to salute your counterpart.
Yoong Ram Pan
To perform the "Yoong Ram Pan"
Starts with "Wai Kru" from "Dhep Panom" form and other form respectively until raise to stand up in the "Dhep Nimitra" form.
Step 1: turn around your body to the front direction "Wai Pra Bhrama" one time.
Step 2: step out your left foot forward. Raise your right foot and straighten it backward bend down your body to the frontward simultaneously. Which your hand clasping at the chest level.
Step 3: turn the face side of your palm upward and slowly move your arms backward through the armpit to the backside of your body until your arms are straight, move your hands out to the side of the body alike straighten your arms and move it round to come gather at your face. Repeat this way three times.
Step 4: move your right legs perpendicular to the floor. Raise the right foot up.
Step 5: raise your left foot and straighten it backward, repeat the step 1-4 and then perform the dance the same way in every direction. Then go back to your corner with "Kow yang" manner, bend down your body to salute your counterpart.
To perform the "Sod Soi Ma-La" style, starting with "Wai Kru" in sitting "Thep -Panom " until standing up in " Dhep-Nimitra".
Step 1: turn round your body to the right direction. Perform "Wai Phra Brahma" one time.
Step 2: step out your left foot forward. Raise your right leg and straighten it backward, lift it to the same level of your chin. Bend your left arm perpendicular to the floor. Stretch the tip of your fist up.
Step 3: insert left fist up inside of the right arm and beyond it up until right elbow parallel to the level of your chin.
Step 4: repeat the third step but change the right arm to be the left arm instead.
Step 5: repeat the steps 2-4 but change to stand by your right foot instead.
Step 6: repeat the dance for every direction. And then "Kow Yang" and bend down to salute the counterpart and go the your corner.
The King Rama Pheang Sorn .
To perform the "Phra Rama Plang Sorn" style.
Phra Rama Phlang Sorn style generally perform the dance just one direction. It's the direction of the counterpart.
Step 1: turn round your body to the right direction. Wai Phra Brahma one time.
Step 2: step your left foot frontward raise your arms alike you catch an arrow rod in your left hand.
Step 3: move your right hand to the backside alike you pick an arrow from your neck to the rod. Then pull the tendon backward 2-3 times but act alike not release the arrow repeat this for 2 time but in the third time you perform alike you lift the rod up high at the level of your ears. Stand still look straight at your target then release the arrow.
Step 4: while your release your arrow lay down your right foot on the floor and raise your left foot up frontward simultaneously. After that raise your hand at above the face. Act alike you are looking at the arrow you released. And waiting to see the result. If you are disappointed at the result cause from the mistargeted shot. You express by shaking your head right and left. if you are pleased with the result then you smile and nod your head up and down to show your appreciation.
Step 5: you say the prayer "Sake Ka-Tha" such as "Na Jung Ngung" three times. And then stamp down the floor three times.
Step 6: "Yang Sam Khum" to your corner then bend your body down to salute the counterpart.
Payak Dom Kwang
To perform the "Payak Dom Kwang" style.
Start with Wai Kru from the Dhep Phanom form until stand up with the Dhep Nimitra form.
Step 1: turn round your body to the right direction to wai "Phra Brahma : the right direction" for one time.
Step 2: from the Kow Yang, while the left foot is front, bend your body down frontward tighten the fist, raise your elbow to block the front side and instantly turn around to look at the backside which is look at the counterpart , the right arms and right foot are behind. Nod your head up and down to the counterpart one or two times
Step 3: repeat step 2 but switch the use the right foot front instead. And then repeat the step 2 and 4, which turn to perform until complete all 4 directions. Then go back to your corner with "Kow Yang" and bend body down to salute the counterpart. The "Payak Dom Kwang" and " Kwang Leow Lung" perform similar style.
The "Sua Lak Hang" style. It has own way both sitting version and standing version. Start with "Wai Kuru" from the "Dhep Pha-nom", "Tha-Vai Bung-Kom", " Pha-Thom" and " Bhrama" form respectively in the same way with others.
Sitting version :
Step 1: while sitting in the "Bhrama" form which the left foot perpendicular to the floor. Raise the tip of your hand and wave your arm up and down for all time. Then stretch your arm out wave it up and down. Shake your head to the counterpart. In the same time move up and down harmoniously. Your weight is focus on the left foot and move your right foot help to keep the balance. And move your body along the rhythm.
Step 2: move your body backward to take your weight focusing on your left foot. Your right foot still stretch forward. Move both of your hands up and down in the same way as step 1: you probably change to use your right foot instead.
Stand up from the sitting form of the "Sua Lak Hang" dancing style.
Step 1: stand up, keep in balance with your right foot, bend your left foot backward. Raise up the tip of your foot and bend your body frontward, raise both of your hands perpendicular to the floor. Wave your hand up and down similar to the sitting version, which is move the whole arms simultaneously. Wobble Body, tip of foot, face alike to mock the counterpart.
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