Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Muay Thai at Lumpini

Muay Thai, a Thai form of martial arts described as "the art of eight limbs" because of its use of fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet, is Thailand's favorite sport. Chuck, Tim and I wanted to check out a match while Chuck was in town.  Luckily, one of the country's most famed muay thai stadiums, Lumpini, is literally 3 blocks from my apartment and hosts 3 fight nights per week, so we bought our tickets, took our seats and enjoyed the spectacle!

First, before each match (the evening had 7 or 8 fights), the boxers perform a dance/warm-up/ritual/prayer whilst decked out in flower neck garlands, head ties called "mongkon," and armbands called "praciat." 


The ritual, called "wai khru ram muay," involves the fighters circling the ring and bowing out of respect and to ask Buddha to protect the fighters.

Then the fighters perform their own personal dance, which demonstrates their prowess to the audience... it seems to involve some bouncing, some hand rolling, some high knee circles, as well as some "throw your hands in the air like you just don't care" style arm waving:

The fighters then get water poured on them by their coaches, it seems:

Some pre-match psyching up and massaging ensues:

Check out my video for a sampling of some of the pre-match routines:

You probably noticed the band playing during the warm-up routine...they continue to play throughout the entire match, too.  The band consists of a two faced drum, a cymbal and a horn.  Mr. Ben described the band to us as being "like the Star Wars cantina band," which I would say is strangely accurate.  I think it's the horn...:

The crowd at the match was pretty raucous, especially considering we went on a weekday night.  Lots of people placing bets, cheering with each knee or punch:


 Aaaaand, finally, the fights themselves... here's a compilation of some of the video I took of the various matches:


Honestly, there was a lot more grappling than I was expecting, as well as a lot fewer elbows than I thought there might be.  

At times we were a bit confused- it was difficult to understand exactly how the scoring was happening.  It definitely seemed that the later rounds of the match were more important than the earlier, based solely on crowd interest levels.

We did get to see some dramatic (or at least dramatically lit) kicks here and there:

All in all we had a good time.  We thought the price of tickets was a bit steep for foreigners, but understand that's the rule since we're not gambling.  Definitely worth checking out if you're in Bangkok!!

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