Thai Boxing (Muay Thai)
Muay Thai is a national form of martial art that has become increasingly popular worldwide. Bouts are five, three-minute rounds separated by two-minute breaks. Boxers wear gloves and trunks (always red or blue) and their bare feet are taped. Matches take place on a 78-square-foot canvas floor, with rope retainer supported by four padded posts. Fights are preceded by a wai khru dance, in which each contestant pays homage to his teachers. Each boxer wears a headband, mongkol, which has been blessed by his teacher, and armbands.
Where to see?
There are Muay Thai stadiums in all towns across the country. The main tourist spots often provide twice-weekly shows, but the real thing is best seen in Bangkok:
• Lumphini Stadium on Tuesday and Friday nights
• Ratchadamnoen Stadium on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday nights
The ancient origins of Muay Thai or Thai boxing can be traced back to Muay Boran or “ancient boxing,” a form of unarmed combat used by Siamese soldiers with an ancient weapon called Krabi Krabong. Krabi Krabong is the art of fighting with various kinds of traditional weapons including Krabi (a long knife), Daab (a single-edge sword) Krabong (a staff), Loh (a shield), Plawng (a long staff), Ngaaw (a glaive), and Daab Song Mue (two-handed swords).
Krabi Krabong needs both skill in weapon performance and striking or fighting. Each weapon has its own performance styles, while striking skills are for attacking and defending. Aside from weapons, Krabi Krabong also incorporates unarmed fighting techniques. The empty-handed form is kick-based, but also uses pressure points, locks, holds, and throws.
World Thai Martial Arts Festival
The former capital of Ayutthaya is home to the annual World Thai Martial Arts Festival and Wai Khru Muay Thai Ceremony. Muay Thai boxers from around the world return to Ayutthaya to pay respect to their teachers, and to pay homage to the legendary Muay Thai folk hero, Nai Khanom Tom. Highlights are the ritual and opening ceremony, light and sound presentation of “The Legend of Nai Khanom Tom – Tribute to a Muay Thai Folk Hero,” traditional Thai folk sports, such as cock-fighting, and Muay Tap Jaak, demonstrations and exhibitions. This event is usually held in March.