Muay Thai has many traditions. Have you seen muay thai fighters before their fight and noticed they have a head band on while doing the traditional dance. That head band is called Mongkol or Mongkon. It has been around from the beginning of Muay Thai. All the fighters at Double Dose Muay Thai Gym use these head bands along with other traditional items while doing the Wai Kru Ram Muay to show respect to instructors and the gym before their fight. The Mongkon is a type of sacred headpiece worn by muay thai fighters. Traditionally the instructor will give it the fighter once he feels that the fighter has become an experienced and have learned the culture behind certain muay thai traditions. The head band is made from rope, silk and thread and is worshiped or blessed depending on the beliefs of the fighter. It is said that the Mongkon can not be anywhere near the ground or touch the ground because it will loose its “magic” and good luck. The fighter is not allowed to touch the head band, the instructor is the one who puts it on the fighters head and removes it before the fight begins. The Mongkon comes in different colors, and can be purchased at any Muay Thai store.
Have you ever gone to see muay thai fights and noticed that most of the fighters do a similar dance before they fight? That dance is called Wai Kru Ram Muay, it is performed to show respect and keep into the Thailand tradition. Sometimes the Wai Kru Ram Muay 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 Ram Muay. The dance is composed into two parts. Wai Kru and Ram Muay. Wai means respect and is a greeting. Kru means teacher. Ram means dance and Muay means boxing putting them together represents the respect they show to their teachers and instructors for helping them train and becoming prepared for the battle they are about to get into. At Double Dose instructors highly encourage their fighters to perform the Wai Kru before each fight to show their respect and keep the tradition going. The dance is a way to pay respect to his majesty the king or the chairman of the competition tournament. It is also danced to realize the goodness of the master who gave them the knowledge. The dance helps relax the stress and to prepare body and mind to be ready to get into the battle. Every Muay Thai Gym has a different way of performing the dance. Not all Wai Kru Ram Muay dances are the same. The Wai Kru Ram Muay are performed different and each one tells a story through the fighter. While performing this pre-fight ritual, muay thai fighters wear headbands known as Mongkols and armbands known as Prajioud which each have their own unique meanings, history and powers behind them. The Mong kon is a type of sacred headpiece worn by muay thai fighters. Traditionally a trainer will give it the student once he feels that he/she has become an experienced fighter and have learned the culture behind certain muay thai traditions. The Prajioud (muay thai arm bands) were traditionally made from a torn piece of a mother’s surong (dress, skirt, cloth) and then given to be tied on the arm before muay thai fights for good luck and protection. These two things are kept in the dance for tradition. The dance looks easy to perform but is not, the dance takes time and patience to learn.
In Muay Thai you know people knee, punch, kick, and elbow. Clinching is left out a lot of the times. If you ask a student who is a beginner in muay thai it is common that they will not know the real concept of clinching. Clinching is taught at Double Dose but is more enforced in the Kombat Athlete class not the Foundations (beginner) class. Clinch can be a place where if sufficiently skilled you are able to quickly catch your breath, it is also the place where the fight can be quickly finished if you don’t know what your doing. The clinch is all about distance and control, it can be offensive or defensive in its set up. Clinching is when one person has control on their opponent and their hands are gripped around the fighters head and neck pulling them in towards them ready to strike when there is a opening available on the opponents body. When clinching it is best to keep your chin up high because if your opponent is able to trap your head, they can easily strike you with a knee. It is also important to make sure you are on your toes, it will allow you to drop your weight onto your opponent’s frame so it can make everything that they try much harder to do. Your hip position is very important when clinching, if your hips are not close to your opponents it is easier for your opponent to knee you or knock you down because you will be off balance. If your opponent has a good grip of you and is in control you need to make sure you either get out of the clinch or you take over the control by weaving in your hands and getting a good grip of your opponent. It is not always possible to weave your hands in but there are various techniques in clinching that you can use to gain control. Clinching can always change an outcome of fight. It is not easy to learn but with practice students and fighters can become more skilled.
Muay Thai and boxing have similarities. The big difference is that in Muay Thai you are allowed to do elbows, kicks and knees. Using elbows and knees makes the sport so much more competitive and exciting. With one knee or elbow the fight can be over and you can knock out your opponent. Elbows are like knives, if you know how to properly elbow an opponent you can split their skin open. No other weapon can compare with the elbow in terms of brutality and blood-breeding capacity. Knees and elbows is what makes Muay Thai so unique from a boxing and any other sport. There are eight elbow techniques and each one has a different name. They are called Sok Ti (Striking Elbow), Sok Tad (Perpendicular Elbow), Sok Hud (Levering Elbow), Sok Chieng (Diagonal Elbow), Sok Sab (Chopping Elbow), Sok Tong (Smash Downward Elbow), Sok Ku (Double Elbows), Sok Klab (Reverse Elbow). It is very important to practice these different elbow techniques on the punching bag first and slowly with a partner so you can be confident enough to do them during sparring and fighting. All the elbow techniques have the same concept, to strike your opponent but each are done differently depending the situation you are in. If you only know how to do a basic elbow you will not be able to defend yourself with your opponent in all circumstances. There are seven knee techniques used in Muay Thai. They are called Kao Tone (Straight knee), Kao Dode (Jumping knee), Kao Nui (Small knee), Kao Kratai (Rabbit knee), Kao La (Farewell knee), Kao Lod (Lower knee), Kao Loi (Flying knee). The violence of the knee is equal to that of the elbow if the fighter used it properly with a good technique and timing. Learning how to properly knee is not easy, balance is important. A proper knee must be thrusted upward and straight, powerful and sharp. Kneeing and elbowing techniques can be difficult to learn and hard to master but with the help of the instructors at Double Dose they are learnt in no time. The instructors take their time to show students how to do the techniques correcting them each time it is done incorrectly. Drills are done throughout class so that the students can not only learn how to elbow and knee but block and defend themselves.
Thai only has one stance. All of the techniques and skills learned are done from Thai Stance. The very first thing you are taught in Muay Thai is your stance and the way you are supposed to move around while performing the techniques and skills. If you do not understand the proper foot work you will have difficulties combining kicks, elbows, knees, and punches. Thai stance is when your left leg is placed in slightly forward facing your opponent and your right leg is placed behind facing at about 45 degrees away from the leading foot. The heels of your feet need to be raised off the ground while the rest of the body is turned at a 45 degree angle in sync with the rear foot. If you are left handed your stance will be exactly the same but with your right foot facing your opponent and your left foot at 45 degrees along with your body. It can get a little confusing when opponents have opposite thai stance. It is always good to learn how to work with both thai stances so that your are always ready and avoid confusion. Some left handed students say being left handed can have some advantages when fighting because it can throw the opponent off when doing defends and counters. Footwork is very important and Double Dose instructors like to do exercises that help students move from left to right and from front to back so that when students are working on techniques, sparring, or even fighting they are able to move around properly and not trip over themselves or their opponents feet. If you are moving to your right side you will move your right foot first and your left foot will follow. Same goes for your left side, if you are moving to your left you move your left foot first and then your right foot. Moving forward and backward is a lot easier, if you move forward you stay on your same tracks and move your front foot first and then your back foot. You do not move your back foot first. If you move backwards you will move your back foot first and then you will move your front foot back. One important thing a lot of students forget, when you are in thai stance and your are moving around always keep your hands up ready to block your face and body. The instructors tell you to keep your hands up like if you are answering the phone. If you drop your hands it is easier for your opponent to hit you. Thai stance can be a bit confusing to learn but once you get the concept you will see how it makes putting combinations and techniques so much easier when it comes to balance and movement.