Mauy Thai Kick Boxing - Things to Do
Thai kick boxing, or muay thai, is an aggressive style of martial art where the combatants punch, kick, including high kicks to head, and use their elbows and knees to cause their opponent as much damage as possible. Punching is considered the weakest form of attack. Matches are full contact with no restrictions as to the parts of the body considered to be targets and only strikes with the head are not allowed. Traditionally fighters wrapped their fists in cotton soaked with glue and dipped in broken glass but these days they wear boxing gloves.
Thai kick boxing matches take place all over Thailand and are open to foreigners (farang). The best place to see a match is Bangkok : although they do have them in Phuket and other tourist resorts in the south, the standard is not as good. In Bangkok the main places to see a boxing match is Ratchadamnoen Stadium or Lumphini Stadium. VIP tickets can be purchased from tourist offices but it is cheaper to buy them directly at the stadium where you can buy first- (ring-side), second- or third-class tickets. Buy tickets from the windows rather than the touts who will try to sell you the more expensive ones (around 1500 Baht). The combatants fight for three minutes, with a two-minute break between each round. The atmosphere gets pretty intense with people shouting the odds they are offering, waving their hands around demonstrating the odds with the number of fingers they are holding up, and taking bets. After each fight money changes hands. The most junior fighters are first on with famous boxers headlining. Frenetic music accompanies the matches and the fighters perform rituals at the beginning, bowing to each corner of the ring and then performing a dance in honour of his teacher and showing his prowess. They wear bands tied around their arms for good luck.
There are places that will take Westerners for training and they are allowed to compete in the matches. Some take women as well as men. Being able to speak Thai is an essential requirement. The training is rigorous and few make it to become professional fighters. There are short-term courses for visitors who are passing through, as well as long-term courses for the more dedicated.