At Clinch MMA in Port Coquitlam, our Muay Thai practice goes beyond punching, kicking and sparring. It is about personal development and respect. So today, we want to explain why we bow during our practice and to understand the importance of bowing in Muay Thai. One must first understand a little of the sport’s rich history.
Muay Thai dates as far back as the pre-fourteenth century. Unfortunately, the annals of history were stolen when Burma overran and took control of Thailand, then Siam.
Most of the rich cultural written histories were lost or forgotten. So, we take our knowledge from those that recorded later. It is acknowledged, like many martial arts, these extraordinary disciplines originated out of war, when fighting skills were a necessity for survival. Close hand to hand combat required great skill and when not at war, techniques and skills were practiced in the villages and training grounds to stay in shape and ready for battle.
In the past hundred years, Muay Thai has become an internationally acknowledged fighting technique. In addition, since World War two, when formal rules were finally introduced for understanding and continuity, Muay Thai have become a competitive sport.
How do they do that?
The Wai–Wai is when a combatant, competitor, or simply someone taking a class or sparring, places the palms of their hands together in a prayer pose and bows their head. The higher the hands are and the wider the elbows are, the deeper the show of respect.
Respect and acknowledgment of participants, judges, the facility, and anything related to creating a place of safe practice and competition are reasons for the bow.
When is Wai appropriate to perform?
• Upon entering your school, dojo or gym
• To your teacher, Master and Senior students
• Before stepping on the mats or working the heavy bag
• To your training partner before drilling or sparring/clinching
• Before competing or fighting
• On exiting the mats/tatami
More than Wai is the Wai Kru. This symbolic dance or performance is multi-faceted and designed to create and honour the scared space in which a match takes place. Kru means teacher, and the Wai Kru is a way to pay respect to your coaches, training partners, and family.
This ceremony is usually performed to spirited Thai music from pipes and drums, and with the initial Ram Muay (the boxing movement). The Boxer gains encouragement from performing the Wai Kru and Ram Muay because it spiritually binds him to his teachers, and he knows he is not alone. The Wai Kru process will also give him time to concentrate & revise what he has learned, as well as display the nature of his weapons and the high degree of his skill. The steps, movements warm up the body’s muscles, survey the field. When the traditional Sarama music sounds around the ring, it is recognized by all who are present as a symbol of respect.
Beyond The Bag
In Muay Thai, the fighter is expected to exhibit an exemplary attitude and be the embodiment of the art. Living it, every day. They must have an in-depth understanding of history, traditions, and techniques.