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Muay Thai Originated
Muay Thai originated with the Thai people as a hands-on, close combat style used on the battlefield. The art form is engrained within the traditions of Thai lifestyle and has passed from generation to generation. It has been a combat style and beloved sporting pastime for six centuries.
During his peaceful reign King Tiger’s love for Muay Thai helped its popularity grow. The skill became a favorite pastime among soldiers and matches were even used to settle national issues. In Thailand, crowds from every walk of life, gathered to see the fights and make wagers. King Tiger’s Champions were so revered, that they were handsomely rewarded with prestigious military titles. However, the largest reward to any fighter was, simply, the honor of winning.
Little has changed in the art form for almost six centuries. In the 1930s, Western boxing had become a popular sport and many Thai fighters had gained International success within its ranks. This success leads to increased popularity in Muay Thai and in order to compete with traditional boxing similar codes were sanctioned. Gloves were added as well as rounds and weight divisions.
Steeped rich in tradition, today’s Muay Thai warriors continue to practice this century’s old, skillful fighting style. Once only a favorite pastime of Thailand, Muay Thai is quickly gaining a massive base of devoted fans and fighters from around the globe.
Muay Thai Customs and Rituals
Mong Kon is a type of headgear worn by Muay Thai athletes. The Mong Kon was given after the trainer saw that the student had become an experienced fighter and learned a great deal of knowledge about Muay Thai. Mong Kon was never to be, in any way, close to the ground or else it would lose its worth.
The Muay Thai fighter usually enters the ring by jumping over the top rope. Then, before the Ram Muay is begun, the Muay Thai fighter will usually walk around the ring, counter-clockwise, touching the rope, and offer a prayer in each corner. She thereby seals off the ring from all outside distractions, and negative influences. She then sits down and bows three times at the direction of her home .During the Ram Muay the fighters wear a mongkon. (AKA "Muay Thai Head Ring".) She will end her ritual by stamping her authority three times usually in her opponent's corner, thereby symbolically killing her opponent. Or, alternatively she may end her Ram muay with a gesture which looks like she is killing her opponent with a bow and arrow.
In addition, to the Mongdon, or Muay Thai Head Ring, she will often also wear one or two armbands like a protective charm called praciat that Buddhist monks have given them. The Champion pictured just below, is wearing these, and is thus properly attired, with both the Mongkon, and the praciat. The Champion pictured directly above is also properly attired, with her Mongkon or Head Band easily seen, from a profile view in the picture.
The Mongkon or Mangala is the traditional head band which is always worn by Muay Thai fighters . The Mongkon, or Muay Thai Head Ring, is a sacred object which the Master has ceremoniously blessed for the fighter. It is supposed to bring good luck to the fighter. Ancient warriors and fighters used to wear the Mongkons before any bout of combat because they believed it would bring them good luck and help them win the fight. This is a very old tradition. But it is still practiced by serious Muay Thai fighters today. It is not unlike the traditional bow by martial arts students to their instructors and peers before stepping onto or off the tatami, or mat. And also upon entering and leaving the dojo.
Before every Muay Thai-fight the Muay Thai fighters will perform a ritual dance called Ram Muay. It is performed to pay respect to their parents, ancestors, teachers, and all those from both the present and the past for whom they wish to show respect, and gratitude. The ritual also incidentally is a most effective aid to limbering up, and marshalling the fighters' concentration. This serves to bring to remembrance everything that the fighter has been taught. Like a Kata, it can display the grace of their movements.
Some people believe that they can actually tell from watching the respective fighters' interpretations and performances of the Ram Muay which one will prevail in the ring. Certainly, fighters like the two great Champions pictured above, (one from the East and one from the west,) who observe, practice and respect the traditions, will be very successful at their craft.
Muay Boran, literally meaning “ancient boxing”, the precursor to Muay Thai, was also practiced as a spectator sport in addition to its use in battle. In its infancy, fighters were bare-fisted, and bouts were fought until one opponent was either knocked out or unable to continue. Later, practitioners began wearing rope on their hands and forearms. Spirituality, always a part of Thai culture, was as much a part of Muay Boran as the fighting itself. Fighters would wear amulets on their arms for good luck and protection. Many amulets were woven from rope and sometimes interwoven with strands of hair belonging to the fighters mother or sister for good luck. These armbands known as prajoud are still used by professional Muay Thai fighters all over the world.
Wai khru ram muay is an action of respect in Thai culture that is performed by participants in Muay Thai competitions. Wai is an action of Thais to show respect to others by putting the hands together like in prayer. Khru means teacher. Ram means dance in the old Thai traditional style. Muay means boxing. Usually Thais prefer to call it short Ram Muay or Wai Khru. Ram Muay is the way to show respect to the teachers and the trainers. Also, in past muay Thai was usually fought in front of the king, so Ram Muay was also to apologize to the King for the brutality in fighting.
The fighter first performs the Wai Khru, circling the ring three times before kneeling and bowing three times as a sign of respect to god and man. He also bows to Buddha to ask for protection for himself and his opponent and for an honourable fight.
The fighter then performs the Ram Muay, whose simple movements demonstrate a fighter's control and style. Each fighter performs the Ram Muay on each side of the ring to demonstrate his prowess to the audience. The Ram Muay is a personal ritual, ranging from the very complex to the very simple, and often contains clues about who trained the fighter and where the fighter is from.
The practitioner may wear a headband called a Mong Kon and armbands known as Pra Jiad during the ceremony, and the Ram Muay may be accompanied by music.
My vision is to build the sport of Muay Thai at a global level and to educate people worldwide about this historical sport and art that can only be fought with a high degree of skill by athletes who maintain the custom of honor and integrity which truly represents the tradition of Martial Arts.