An interesting conversation arose recently after I had posted a video of two of our young Thai boys clinching at training.
I remember the first ever fight night I went to in Thailand back in 2011. The first fight of the night were two small boys about 7 or 8 years old. I was horrified. I remember feeling morally bankrupt for watching but couldn’t look away. These kids had better technique then I did and would probably beat me in the clinch. It was incredible to watch.
Because I am so heavily involved in the world of Muay Thai, especially now that I am living and breathing the sport here in Thailand, I forget that sometimes people’s perception is that it’s a violent bloodsport.
I don’t want to detract anything from what my wonderful and very intelligent friend said, but it was an interesting reminder to me of the the way in which some full contact sports are viewed.
Even when I tell people at home what I do, they think it’s crazy. They refer to it as a bloodsport. Unfortunately these are the people who have yet to discover the craft behind Muay Thai and what it takes to be a great fighter. It’s not just about being fit. The hours of practice to perfect your technique, the years of training to learn and understand how to read your opponent, to learn timing, and to develop and grow and the heart it takes to step into the ring. It’s tough! But so are the fighters, no matter how young or old.
My sister had a difficult time accepting what I have chosen to do with my life. Still, to this day, she struggles sometimes. But after a year of me fighting she came and supported me at one of my fights in Melbourne. To her surprise, and mine, she really enjoyed it! She could see and understand the skill behind it. While she doesn’t like the potential dangers for me (i.e., she was very concerned after watching me knock a girl out, that this could possibly happen to me one day), I feel that after coming and seeing such great fighters at work, she respects the sport I have chosen.
In Thailand, it is not uncommon to see 7 year old kids fighting on shows, and it now does not bother me. We have three very young Thai fighters training here at Sinbi and they are UNBELIEVABLE! You can see how much they love the sport and how it teaches them discipline and respect. You do as your trainer asks you, even when it’s tough and you don’t want to. You work hard, and your work ethic grows as you grow within the sport. These kids are so loved and so well looked after by all the trainers and other students. It’s like a massive extended family.
I don’t believe that Muay Thai is not a sport that promotes violence. Yes, when you compete, you want to hurt your opponent, but if you take the time to watch the fighters, particularly after the fight is over, you can see how much respect there is within the sport. You beat each other up, the best you can for 15 minutes, but you respect that person. You respect what they have done to get to that fight, the training, the weight cuts, the sacrifices along the way.
Muay Thai, in my opinion, breeds personal strength and endurance, respect, loyalty, honour and discipline. It’s brought a lot of calm and peace into my life. It’s also lead me to learn humility, develop life long friendships, it’s allowed me to travel and to battle personal demons that I had not yet found another way to do so.
For those out there who believe that it is a violent blood sport, I encourage you to watch some high level Muay Thai fights. There is a real beauty to the sport and I feel like it’s a shame that people miss out on seeing that.