Friday, July 18, 2008

"MUAY THAI"

I was invited by a fellow missionary friend to see a typical Thai cultural event "Muay Thai", which means Thai kickboxing. My friend Andy has lived in Thailand most of his life as a MK (which is short for missionary kid). His parents have lived here as missionaries for 40+ years. Andy, needless to say, speaks fluent Thai. If you were to talk to him on the phone you would bet your life that you were talking to a Thai. When we bought our tickets Andy did the talking and every person he talked to would just start laughing and telling their friends to come over here and listen to the farang (foreigner) speak Thai. We got our tickets and took our seats in a small kind of run down rickety stadium. There was a good mix of Thais and Farangs here to enjoy the show. They schedule 12 bouts of fighting with weights ranging from 41kg to 75kg. The show began as every event in Thailand begins, with everybody standing up during the King's song to pay homage to the King. After everybody has taken their seats the action begins.
There is traditional music that is played during the fight with musicians playing cymbals, bells, drums and a salor (kind of a crude violin). When the fighters enter the stadium to fight the musicians start playing. The fighters will then enter the ring and do their ancient rituals of dance and prayer in the ring. Each fighter will pray to each corner of the ring and bow solemnly. They actually spend quite a bit of time on this, which was interesting. They head to their corners and get rubbed down with oil and are ready to fight. If you've never seen Muay Thai, it is brutal. They can use knees, elbows and feet to inflicted punishment on their opponent


Every fighter's dance is similar, but with their own unique variation to the ritual dance and prayer.
It was fascinating to see the way each fighter performed his dance and prayer.

These young men were not playing around, you could hear the thwack of a foot against a rib cage or the head and see the welts afterwards. They would also get each other in a head lock and both fighters would knee each other in the ribs. All this while rolling around on the ropes. The lighter weight guys were lightning quick with both their fists and their feet. Unbelievable balance and stamina was the name of the game.
Each fight was 5 three-minute rounds. In between rounds the fighter would get a vigorous rub down and be stretched like a gymnast.

Ringside was home of the raucus Thais who were betting on who would win. It was like the floor of the stock exchange with money changing hands constantly. They were a loud, boisterous bunch and created the atmosphere that I anticipated seeing with the smoky haze and gambling.



I don't care who you are, thats gotta hurt!!!




One minute you're kicking somebody in the face.
The next minute you are getting knocked on your butt.
Why yes, I WOULD like a knuckle sandwich!!!
This Farang was in the heaviest weight class of the night at 76kg. He was actually a tough cookie.

He was able to trade punches pretty well with his opponent, but was not as good as the Thai was at kicking.

Looking at this picture you would never have guessed that the farang had won the fight, but he did in the 5th round with a knockout that kept the Thai on the canvas for several minutes. They actually brought a stretcher to carry him off. He eventually got up on his own and stumbled out of the ring. The blood on the farang's face is from a strategically placed elbow from his opponent.

It was approaching midnight and we were on fight number 7 of 12 fights. We were all sweating from the packed stadium and the humid night. We decided that we had seen enough and headed for the exit. We talked all the way home about what an exciting night it was.

3 comments:

Peter Varvel said...

Whew! Brutal is right! Much more so than the sumo matches my farang (or gaijin) father attended when I was a small boy in Japan.
Brett, this was very interesting to read, about the dances and rituals, etc.
(or was it Shelley that was into all of this gratuitous violence? ha ha!) Thanks!

sandyvandylittle said...

Very interesting. I'm sure you were glad to be a spectator and not a participant.
Really good photos. Keep 'em coming.

You forgot to tell us about the FOOD...your favorite subject!!!!!!

Love,
Sandy

transplanting me said...

hello. i'm thinking that this post might qualify as my muay thai boxing experience... really, it's all i need to see.

had to visit your blog while i still remembered the very difficult blog name... i think i'll send my family and friends your way, it's much more culturally educational than mine!

monica