Nak Muay: Jeckyll & Hyde

Nak Muay Jeckll & Hyde

Image result for Master Ronnie Green & Don HeatrickMaster Ronnie Green & Don Heatrick

During my recent trip to Bangkok, to compete in the WMF World Amateur Muay Thai Championships, I had a brief conversation with Master Ronnie Green regarding the spirit of Muay Thai and the nature of those that fight.

Master Ronnie began explaining how fighting in Thailand allows you to not only experience Muay Thai in the ring, but also experience the culture outside of the ring-in every day life.

So here’s the contradiction. Thais are very respectful, polite and easy going. Hence the tourist tagline ‘Land of Smiles’.However, in Thailand it even reflects badly on you if you raise your voice in an argument, so how can these gentle people fight in this seemingly brutal way? And outside of the ring, why do those that fight seem to be the kindest of all!

Master Pimu (Chaichokchana Krutsuwan) is known World wide as a Muay Thai authority, and has produced many champions, both Thai and foreign. Yet, he still found time to meet my corner men and I at the airport on arrival in Bangkok. He even arranged taxis to take us to see his WPT Gym, showed us around, and allowed us to watch the remainder of the morning training session before arranging more taxis to take us on to our hotel.

Image result for Master Pimu WPT Gym, BangkokMaster Pimu’s WPT Gym, Bangkok

Buddhist principles, along with a history of conflict with neighbouring Khmers, Burma and Vietnam have shaped Thailand, and intrinsically Muay Thai.Tradition, superstition and above all respect permeate Muay Thai, both in the ring and during everyday training. Rituals such as the Wai Kru (paying respect to the teacher) in the ring, and the annual Homage Paying Ceremony, cement the humble attitude of the Nak Muay (Thai Boxer). This is a long way from the intimidating aggressors that those outside of Muay Thai may perceive boxers to be.

It’s also true that fighters prove themselves in the ring, and have little need to do so outside of it. The competitive side of a Nak Muay is more attuned to testing themselves against a good opponent, rather than purely brawling, intent on causing damage and injury. True Nak Muay are both the nicest people you’ll meet, and the most ferocious when fighting.

Master Ronnie Green personifies this example. He has achieved a great amount of success in his fighting career (5-times World Muay Thai Champion), yet he is softly spoken, without ego and has time for everyone. By his own admission, when those unfamiliar with him learn of his Muay Thai pedigree, they often can’t believe it, commenting that he seems too mild mannered, friendly and… well, nice!
It’s because of this disposition that he’s had such success. The truth is that Muay Thai is for everyone. It won’t turn you into a savage, aggressive thug. In fact, the further you are from that, the closer to real Muay Thai you are.

“He is as gentle as a lamb, as fierce as a Lion.”
Panya Kraitus, author of Muay Thai-The Most Distinguished Art of Fighting.