Thai Boxing Association of the U.S.A. Ceremony

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The Wai Kru (respects to the teacher) also known as Ram Muay (boxing dance) is an important part of any evening watching Thai Boxing. These are ceremonies that are performed before each Muay Thai bout.  Sometimes the Wai Kru are brief and basic, but other times they may be eloquent performances that draw praise and applause from the crowd.  It is said that those who see well can determine who will win the fight by watching two fighters perform their Wai Kru.

Teachers are highly respected in Thai society, and many artistic disciplines, not just Muay Thai, perform Wai Kru or “respects to the teacher”.  Foreigners viewing these rituals should take care to be polite and not act disrespectfully regarding the Wai Kru.  The Thais take seriously any insult to the Wai Kru, just as you would if somebody insulted your spiritual beliefs.

Fighter praying in one of the ring’s corners while performing Wai Kru before a fight. This dance, done out of respect and thanks for one’s teachers, is said to seal off the ring from outside influences.

TBA Wai Kru (Simple Version) This is a ceremony performed before a fight to honor one’s teacher.

  1. The fighter stands in his own corner and prays. The trainer places the Mong Kon (ceremonial head-band) around the fighter’s head and prays, finally blowing his spirit into the fighter.
  2. The fighter goes to the center of the ring and kneels down facing the direction of his home and places their hands in a Wai (praying) position. The fighter thinks of his religion, father & mother, teacher and someone who has passed away.
  3. Bow three times in respect, first for country (chat), religion (sassana) and then for king (ramma) then return to the Wai position.
  4. Bend over, opening your hands, and roll your hands down and in a circular motion. “Like an eagle,” says Ajarn Chai. As your hands come together extended straight in front of you the index fingers and thumbs come together to form a diamond. Then, while maintaining the diamond hand position, swoop your hands into your stomach. Then extend the same structure out and up over your head to a vertical position as you look through the diamond.  Finish the motion by bringing your hands straight down and into a kneeling Wai position. Repeat this three times.
  5. Rise to a kneeling position by picking up your right leg. Hands move into an overhand guard position reminiscent of Krabi-Krabong
  6. Rise to a standing position to perform the Yam Sang Kung (three step dance).  Ajarn Chai’s version of this dance is heavily influence by the defensive hand and body mechanics of Krabi-Krabong.
  7. While performing the Yam Sang Kung make your way to each corner, stopping at each point to pay respects. (Note: Do not stamp your feet in your opponent’s corner as this is a signal that you intend to kill your opponent–unless you have an armed escort to make sure you make it out of the stadium alive.)
  8. Return finally to your own corner to pay respects last in that corner.

Muay Thai Orchestra plays music that accompanies both the Wai Kru as well as the actual Muay Thai fight. The musicians play very aggressively to match the pace and intensity of the fighters. This music will make you fight.

Teacher’s Day

The Thai Boxing Association of the USA celebrates Teacher’s Day every October 16th. On this day students are asked to make a ceremonial gift in thanks to their teacher. A typical Teacher’s Day present would include the following:

  • 1 candle
  • 3 sticks of incense
  • Small amount of uncooked rice (~1/2 cup)
  • Piece of Fruit
  • Dry natural flowers

These items are put in a bowl and presented to the teacher. At the time of presentation the student faces the teacher and assumes a kneeling Wai position. Then the student will bow three times in respect and thanks to the teacher.

Initiation Ceremony

An identical ceremony to the Teacher’s Day ceremony is performed when a student is accepted for the first time in Muay Thai training. Some teachers will not make a new student do this ceremony, especially if they are a westerner. But doing this ceremony will make your teacher very happy and put you on a good footing with them as you begin your training.

Buddhist statues in Ayuttaya, Siam’s ancient capital which was sacked and burned by the Burmese.  Like Thailand’s spiritual capital of Ayuttaya, Muay Thai is deeply rooted in Buddhist tradition.