Muay Thai – The Story Unfolds

best muay thai fighter“He was Siam’s greatest warrior… he never lost a fight… some said he could not die, that he was not even mortal, that he was sent to earth by the Gods”. For centuries, the ancient martial art of Muay Thai has been revered for being the protector of both King and country. It’s unsurprising then, that this fighting art of the spiritual warrior should be surrounded by myth and legend. And the greatest of all Muay Thai legends is that of the valiant and heroic Nai Kanom Tom, who singlehandedly defeated ten fierce opponents, thus securing his and his people’s freedom from imprisonment.

Kru Muay ThaiFor this group of young South Africans, the ancient tale of the much revered warrior may seem remote. However it has been brought vividly to life by their travel to Thailand to participate in the Muay Thai World Boxing Championships. Prior to the event, their teacher Mario da Silva visits Ayutthaya, an hour’s drive north of Bangkok, and once considered to be the most spectacular city on earth. He is here to attend a festival that yearly commemorates Nai Kanom Tom’s brave and incomparable feat. With the strikingly beautiful Wat Mahathat as the backdrop, the occasion is an annual reminder of the roots of Muay Thai.

Mario: To anybody that practices Muay Thai in the world understands the Nai Kanom Tom day, and holds it important as a calendar date. In Ayutthaya it’s become a celebration and a pilgrimage of the teachers. It’s very much about that. It’s about invoking the code of living that the Forefathers, the teachers, the ancient ones put into place, fought for, in many battles. And it is very much that, that is invoked on such a day.

Muay Thai Kickboxing

 Nai Khanom TomParticipants from more than sixty countries gathered in the ancient city to pay respect to their teachers, and to celebrate the grand traditions that are associated with Muay Thai, often referred to as Thai kickboxing.

As is customary, the 10th Annual Wai Kru festival kicked off with a sacred Brahmin ceremony in front of Nai Kanom Tom’s statue.

An array of Muay Thai paraphernalia can be bought on the ceremonial grounds. These include the colourfully beautiful Mongkongs, or sacred headbands that are worn by Muay Thai fighters to ward off evil. These are frequently blessed by Muay Thai Masters, and contain within them sacred Buddhist inscriptions.

Muay Thai BuddhismTo the outside eye, it may seem strange that so much of Muay Thai is infused with Buddhist rites and traditions. Historical records, however, suggest that outside of wartime, the tradition of Muay Thai was kept alive and refined, largely by Buddhist monks who were traditionally the keepers of both spiritual and mundane knowledge. As young boys transitioned into manhood, there was an emphasis on cultivating both moral and physical strength.

Historical records, however, suggest that outside of wartime, the tradition of Muay Thai was kept alive and refined, largely by Buddhist monks who were traditionally the keepers of both spiritual and mundane knowledge. As young boys transitioned into manhood, there was an emphasis on cultivating both moral and physical strength.

The majority of Thai people are Buddhist, so many monks in Thailand in the old time would teach you how to read and write, and will teach you how to practice Muay Thai, and will teach you how to practice Buddhism as well, so that’s how Muay Thai links with the Buddhism aspect in Thailand.

 

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