Meet your new training partner. This is not box-aerobics. This is Muay Thai, which means Thai boxing. Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand. It is the devastating "Art of eight limbs" using two fists, two feet, two elbows, and two knees. Muay Thai is considered one of the most physical, strenuous, and directly effective of the martial arts styles. Thai boxers are among the most highly conditioned of all athletes.
We are home in Thailand now, and back to training with the Masters. The government coup continues peacefully and respectfully, as is the Thai way. In Thailand, respect and self-discipline are highly prized and practiced. It follows that their national martial art is not just hitting and kicking. Muay Thai comes from a long tradition of hard work and spiritual values. Typical training in Muay Thai involves not only long hours of physical conditioning and practice kicking and striking heavy bags, practice pads, and sparring partners, but practicing self control, strength of mind, and compassion.
Jai yen, or "cool heart" is part of Muay Thai boxing training. Some people think that martial arts means angrily destroying furniture and retaliating for real or perceived insult. Dramatic movies depict a trainer goading a student into releasing an angry "warrior." But that is not the Thai warrior spirit. Jai yen prevents making anger a negative force or becoming agitated or unkind. It illustrates the mind/body set of the experienced warrior. Jai yen is also central to Thai social and business interaction. It is a good and healthy exercise.
In Thai martial arts, respecting teachers and elders is foremost. The "Wai Khru" (bow or pray to the teacher) is a mark of respect done at every greeting to a teacher and before every training session and fight. Each fight begins with rituals of honoring the teachers, and the Ram Muay, a spirit dance to show respect and thanks, and ask blessings from the teachers - the Kruu Muay Thai, from the ancestors, and the four directions. Thankfulness and respect are strengthening to your own spirit.
Many people come to Thailand to train in Muay Thai. Some are tourists who just want to try it, or say they did it, or as a stunt, or for some exericse. Others study seriously for long periods. This post tells of some of the metal exercise to strengthen the way you live. The next posts will give some of the physical training and how to stay healthy while practicing.
"To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill."
- Sun Tsu, The Art of War
Photo by Dr. Jolie Bookspan
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