Borders demarcate the boundaries of a country but it is sports that define the spirit & soul of the nation.
What cricket is to India and soccer is to Spain, Muay Thai is to Thailand. Muay Thai literally means Thai Boxing and the Thais consider it to be their national treasure. This combat sport is often referred to as the art of eight weapons as it requires the combined use of elbows, knees, fists, shins and feet to engage in a contest that calls for the optimum use of ones physical and mental strength.
In the early days, Muay Thai was practised only on the battlefield. Soldiers and war heroes learnt and practised this weapon to fight against enemies of the state. In the late sixteenth century, the weapon began to gain prominence as a sport. King Naresuan (Ayutthaya period) practised this sport himself and was quite the champion of it. Muay Thai as a local/national sport further gained prominence in the eighteenth century during the reign of King Prachao Sua (Tiger King). Thailand was at peace during this era and the free soldiers practised this sport to become fit and pass time. The Tiger King himself fought in many Muay Thai matches and tournaments under disguise and won. As the popularity of Muay Thai grew it was even incorporated in the school curriculum!
Muay Thai certainly isnt part of the school curriculum anymore (and rarely is a part of Thailand packages) but it very much is Thailands national sport. The excitement, frenzy and fanfare that Muay Thai games create are not matched by any other sport. The Lumpini Boxing Stadium and the Rachadamoen Boxing Stadium in Bangkok are venues to visit to witness all the Muay Thai craziness first hand. The adrenalin rush and raw excitement among the crowds will set your heart racing too.
Before every match, the fighters, wearing a headband and an armband, perform the Wai Kru dance to pay respect to the teachers and founders of the sport. The headband is called Mongkhol and is a sacred item that is blessed by a monk. After the dance and before the match begins, the trainer removes the Mongkhol and recites a prayer. The player wears the armband throughout the match as it is believed to offer protection and a hardcore fighting spirit.
The next time you visit Thailand, go for Bangkok packages or Phuket packages that offer you the chance to see a Muay Thai game live. I assure you it will be an experience you wont ever forget.
Author is an inspired nature lover and loves to travel around the globe. Shopping and outdoor playing are few hobbies of author. As a writer and blogger she is working for WAH Tours, her responsibilities include managing Thailand tour packages and most of Asian countries.