The social dynamics of muaythai part three: Combat culture


One uses muaythai to escape a familiar world. The other uses muaythai to enter an unfamiliar world. The native Thai boxer. The foreign fighter. They embrace a centuries old tradition and carry forth the customs of ancient ways into a new world, a new era. In a time when the rite of passage for humankind has become watered down and simplified, muaythai lets us know that the struggle for life still exists. However, the battle isn’t entirely fought in the ring nor does it end there. The battle lives in the minds of the many who set out to answer the ultimate question in life: Just what am I made of?

They are humble, yet heroic. They are strong, but at the same time they are kind. Their souls only ignite when the fight is on. Other than that the fire inside is used to melt away the notion that great fighters must be violent and aggressive. Smiles. Their weapon of choice outside of the ring. However, their meekness should not be confused for weakness. They are born warriors. It is efficiency, I believe. Just as no energy is wasted in muaythai on unnecessary movements and spasms, no breath is wasted on words that carry no weight. It is about action. They run. They train. And they fight.

There is a dance that takes place in muaythai; one that could be seen by the polished eye. It happens beneath the surface as fighters circle about on the canvas, the sweat- and blood-stained storybook that tells a million tales of victory and defeat. On the outside of the four walls are three judges who interpret the story as they see fit. But it doesn’t matter how these judges call the fight. What matters is the personal conquest for each fighter, win or lose. What is learned is that a win is never always a win, just as a loss in never always a loss. Somewhere between the crushing feeling of defeat and the elation of victory there is growth. But this growth does not inflate the ego. This growth fills the heart fuels the soul.

They fight like no other. In the midst of chaos there is artistry. They are brave tacticians. The native Thai boxer. The foreign fighter. Both use muaythai to escape poverty. Whether that poverty be of mind or mass depends on which side of the hemisphere one was born. In the escape a fighter enters a new realm. They no longer live for themselves; they live for muaythai. They become ambassadors, carriers of the torch. Each learns on their own soil and they come together to clash in a myriad of styles. Some like to finish quickly, others like to slowly, painfully dismantle their opponents. Some clinch, others kick or punch. Their weapons are a reflection of their personalities.


About Author

John Wolcott currently lives in Thailand and works as a freelance writer and videographer. He owns and operates Thailand Journal where he writes about his experiences abroad.

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