MongKhon: Why Do Muay Thai Fighters Wear Headbands?

If you’ve ever watched a Muay Thai fight, then you’ve probably thought about why they wear a headband?

What is The Muay Thai Headband?

Muay Thai is a martial art of long hold rituals and traditions that start in the 16th century. This culture started in ancient Thailand.

In Thailand, the Muay Thai headband is known as “Mongkhon” or Mongkol, which is blessed with ritual chantings by a monk. This is traditionally worn by fighters for their pre-fight entry in the ring and performing the Wai Kru Ram Muay dance. This Mongkhon headband is meant to offer good luck to the wearer and empower them with strength and also protect them from serious injuries and dangers.

Why Do Muay Thai Fighters Wear The Mongkhon?

This Mongkhon is a traditional ritual of Muay Thai which is blessed by a Monk or a Ruesi (shaman) with Divine chantings to perform a pre-fight ceremony to show respect to their coach, family, their tradition, rituals, their martial art, and their motherland Thailand.

This Mongkhon will be placed to the male fighter’s head by their trainer before entering the ring.

And while entering the fighter has to step over the ropes to enter.

They can’t enter the ring from under any rope while wearing a Mingkhon.

After performing their traditional dance, the fighters return to their corner and their coach and assistant coach remove the headband with a whispering prayer.

After taking the headband they hung them to a higher space in their corner(mostly in the ring pole) as a sign of protection, strength, and safety.

They never keep the headband near the ground for their divine believes and respect of the divine chantings.

But in Thailand, it is not easy to get a headband, you’ve to train very hard to be able to wear the Mongkhon, only when your teacher thinks you’re ready to wear it, only then you can be ready to wear it.

muay thai headband
Source: Facebook

The History of Mongkhon(Muay Thai Head Band)

If we take a look at the history of the Muay Thai headband (Mongkhon) it started from the ancient battles in Siam the former name of Thailand.

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At the time between the 12th to 19th centuries, Siam (former name of Thailand) was constantly fighting wars with their neighboring countries.

And one of the famous wars was the  Burmese-Siamese wars fought between the 16th and 19th centuries.

And the Siamese warriors had a pre-fight ritual to tie a bandana cloth at their head and a piece of clothes to their hands to remind themselves to return to their homes safely.

These clothes were a blessing from their parents and a blessing from a monk to help them return home safely with a victory.

This tradition has flowed through generations and now entered in the Muay Thai rituals to an act as entering in the Muay Thai ring as the Battlefield.

Every gym makes their own handmade Mongkhon, and then brings that to a temple and gets the blessing from a Thai monk.

This method of handmade Mongkhon has followed through generations and generations, which results in different unique designs of Mongkhon headbands from different gyms.

The Mongol tradition is still very important for the Muay Thai martial art to this day.

This tradition is equally respected as before, not only in Buddhist fighters but also in other religious fighters.

Different religions use Mongkhon in different ways to put power into the MOngkhon for Good luck, protection, and strength.

In South Thailand and Malaysia’s Muslim fighters also wear headbands, the blessing scrolls of verses from the Quran are put inside the Muay Thai headband (Mongkhon).

Rituals & Beliefs Of Muay Thai

Muay Thai is the origin of Thailand, and Thailand is mostly a Buddhist country with many animist beliefs followed from ancient times.

Mongkhon headbands are mostly used with Buddhist divine chanting also in other religious objects including Muslim fighters from Southern Thailand who use Quran verses.

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The Muay Thai Headbands(Mongkhon) is considered very sacred in the Thai culture, because of the usage of headbands in ancient wartime.

The ritual and beliefs of Mongkhon have always stayed in the Thai culture, which the participants follow with respect.

After a fighter’s Wai Kru Ram Muay dance the Mongkhon is removed with praying by an important person from the fighter’s side especially their trainer or sponsor, and hung by the ring pole.

In their ritual, only male fighters can wear Mongkhon.

Female fighters are not allowed to wear a Mongkhon because it can bring bad luck, and the female fighters should enter the ring underneath the ring rope.

But Some gyms are changing their perspective towards female Muay Thai fighters, cause some schools are allowing their female fighters to wear Mongkhon and performing Wai Kru Ram Muay Dance.

Muay Thai’s special traditional beliefs separate Muay Thai from other modern sports.

Although Muay Thai is becoming very modernized, they also carry their traditional rituals and beliefs not only in Thailand also all over the world.

Why Should I wear The Mongkhon?

The Mongkhon is not just a headband, it’s a tradition that is followed for a long time.

Fighters wear headbands to show their respect to their master, their family, their gym, their art, their culture, and also to show gesture and compassion to their opponents.

The Mongkhon headband protects the fighters from serious injuries and dangers, gives strength, and follows a path that indicates the safe returning to their family.

And you can’t get a Muay Thai headband that easily, you’ve to work very hard to earn the honor and respect to be able to wear the Mongkhon headband.

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