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Monday, April 12, 2010

Saturday Night is Alright for Muay Thai

Saturday night is not really the time for Muay Thai. The actual time to view Muay Thai are Saturday and Sunday afternoons when Muay Thai is broadcast nationwide from Bangkok's Lumpini Stadium. Muay Thai is what Americans would call kickboxing, however, the rhythm is much different.  One of the differences you'll notice is that there is very little straight leg kicking and the truly huge blows come from the knees.  There is also a different type of footwork that you would see. The bobbing motions of the fighters are also in a different rhythm.  For fighters who are not as good as the seasoned fighters, one may also see lots of clutching between the fighters.  The best fights, as with all fighting sports, are the ones where both fighters are aggressive.

Muay Thai is a national sport here in Thailand and Thais love their sport.  The sport is bathed in rituals before the fight, including Muay Thai music playing as the fight progresses.  Where I'm staying, some of the local farmers come by my wife's convenience store and take a break from the fields. They come here to enjoy the boxing and also to place some friendly wagers on the matches. One thing that I noticed about the crowd is that no matter how old the men were, there was not much white or gray hair to be found. Everyone was easy going, good natured about what they were doing and respectful of the store.

The trickle of men coming into the store began with two elderly gentlemen, who plopped themselves down on a hammock and a bench.  Later, some younger folk came in, then some neighbors.  All of a sudden the scene resembled a Las Vegas sports book, with betting of course.  Drinks were served, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and money wagered. There was then the unmistakable din of pain when heavy knee blows were struck by the fighters.  The crowd would groan as if they were the ones being hit. 

I was thinking about the saying the "nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd" and it was very true with our boxing-crazy neighbors. It was a chance for everyone to take a break, join a crowd, win some money, and to do a community thing.  People shared hand-rolled cigarettes and gossip as the fights progressed. Big demonstrations of the joy in winning were quite a sight and many left their "reserved" faces back home.

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