You’d think that the first thing I’d do after landing in Chiang Mai, Thailand after an exhausting day including many delayed flights, would be to take a nap. Nope! Instead I ate dinner, made friends with a tiny lizard, and then went with my travel buddy to a Muay Thai fight.
We paid 800 Baht (around $24) for ringside seats, and they ended up being really nice seats, giving us a good view of the fight without being close enough to get splattered by sweat.
For those of you not familiar with Muay Thai (like I was), here are a couple facts:
- It is also known as Thai Boxing or “The Art of Eight Limbs” because it uses hands, feet, elbows, and knees.
- Fighters wear a headband when entering the ring. It is given to a student by their teacher to show that they have learned a lot about the sport. It is removed by the coach before the start of the fight.
- Fighters also often wear one or two armbands. These can serve many purposes, such as a gift of good luck from loved ones or as a sign of rank within a particular school (like belts in Karate).
- While boxing gloves are used today, in the past fighters would wrap their hands in hemp rope which protected their hands and also increased the chance of cutting their opponent.
- Before the start of the fight, the fighters participate in a short ceremony where they both walk around the ring and stop at each corner before returning to their area (see two pictures above).
The fighters were separated into weight classes, and their ages ranged from approximately early teens to early twenties. The majority of the fighters were male, but there were also two female fights. No matter the gender, the fights were pretty intense! In one fight, one boy got a bloody nose and the other had a split lip at the end, while one of the last fights, between two men, ended when one of them got a cut above his eye and was forced to tap out. All of this craziness was interrupted at the end of rounds by a flurry of activity as the fighters returned to their corners, got water dumped on them, tiger balm rubbed on their bodies, injuries checked, and advice from their coaches. It was definitely fun to watch, and it made me more curious about this style of fighting!
Here’s a video of one round, which is three minutes.
After three rounds, the fighter in the red shorts won!