Muay Thai, it’s not just a martial art form, it’s more than that. It’s a way to keep alive Thailand’s ancient rituals.
It’s a tradition that is still alive in the heart of Thailand’s people. And here, Wai Kru Ram Muay is the connection between Muay Thai and the Thai rituals.
So, What is Wai Kru Ram Muay? Why do People have to follow this ritual?
What is The Wai Kru Ram Muay?
Muay Thai fans have already watched and are familiar with Wai Kru but some people who will watch this for the first time will be strangely amazed by the strange mix of dance steps and different moves.
The Muay Thai dance (Wai Kru Ram Muay) is performed by fighters before starting the match.
We can say it’s a dancing ritual before starting the fight, but it’s a lot more than that.
The full name for this essential ritual is Way Kru Ram Muay but we simply know it as Wai Kru (Thai: ไหว้ครู).
Which is simply translates to “paying respect to the teacher” in Thai.
In some simple words, Wai Kru Ram Muay is a dance performed by fighters to show respect to their teacher, family, their art, and Thailand to get blessed for victory.
This is another reason for this ritual, to get blessed themselves for winning the fight.
The Importance Of Wai Kru Ram Muay In Muay Thai
The Muay Thai dance is a very essential part of Muay Thai & Thai culture. This is a very sacred tradition that is performed with full dignity.
Every fighter who wants to perform the Muay Thai dance has to perform it well, clean, and seriously.
No one is allowed to make fun of this. A fighter should always take Wai Kur dance very seriously, and they should never perform it poorly.
Poor Wai Kru dance is meant as disrespect to their teacher and their gym, and also it displays a lack of confidence which can boost their opponent’s confidence.
So, as a fighter, you should always aim for the best Wai Kru dance, because it will show your confidence in front of your opponent which can be a huge benefit for your fight.
So, apart from Wai Kru’s traditional benefits it also has some psychological benefits on opponents.
The Elements Of The Wai Kru Ram Muay Dance
Wai Kru is a very respected ritual in the whole Muay Thai community. It represents their coach and their gym.
Foreign fighters are also taking part in these rituals in Thailand, with proper respect for their heart. They always take note of the Thai fighters.
The wai Kru dance is traditionally divided into two parts, which are Wai Kru and Ram Muay.
The Wai Kru
The first part of the Wai Kru Ram Muay dance is the Wai Kru, in Thai, it’s like Wai (Thai: ไหว้) and Kru (Thai: ครู).
The First one is Wai which translates to praying or greeting, much like praying to gods.
The more they bow down and the more their hands are higher means the more respect is given.
With showing respect, the Wai is also used as a sign of apology.
Then the word Kru, which originates from Sanskrit word Teacher or Guru.
In here it means you’re paying respect to your Kru (teacher) for making you a Nak Muay with his skills, guidance, and teaching.
Here the Wai Kru is simply meant showing respect or praying for your Teacher, your coach.
To perform Wai Kru first, the fighter circles the ring three times and then does the prayer three times.
The Ram Muay
The second part is the Ram Muay, where Ram (Thai: รำ) means “Dancing” and Muay (Thai: มวย) means “Boxing”. which means “Boxing Dance”.
It is also a way of stretching and warm-up before a fight, which also shows the fighter’s style.
A Ram Muay dance always has its unique and personal style, their dance can be simple or very complex which depends on different camps.
Ram Muay dance is also a way of showing gratitude towards their opponent’s, camp, teacher, and their camp fighting partners.
Every camp has its own Ram Muay dance which is passed to them through their Teachers.
Sarama is the traditional Muay Thai music, which is played at the time of performing Wai Kru Ram Muay (Muay Thai dance).
This music is the best companion for the Wai Kru dance.
So, once this music starts playing, fighters start their personal Wai Kru Ram Muay dance.
In Thailand, this music is also played alongside the fight.
The Mongkhon and Prajioud
Before entering and performing in the ring, Muay Thai fighters wear some very special traditional gear.
These are called Mongkhon (headband) and Prajioud (armband). Each fighter wears this before entering the ring.
The Mongkhon is a traditional headpiece blessed by Buddhist monks, believed to bring victory, good luck, and a safe fight.
There are certain rules every fighter has to obey, if you have to wear a Mongkhon you can’t enter the ring under the rope, a Mongkhon should never come or touch the ground.
If it happens, it means all the blessings will vanish.
And the Mongkhon should always be handled by a fighter’s teacher, fighters can’t touch the Mongkhon. That’s why after performing the Wai Kru, the teacher takes the Mongkhon off with a prayer and keeps that at the highest place like the corner pole of the ring.
Although Muay Thai tradition originates in Buddhism, in Thailand’s southern parts there are many Muslim Muay Thai fighters, who also take a part in the Muay Thai rituals, but with their own spirituality.
They wear Keffiyeh (Arabic headwear) instead of Mongkhon. Which is the same as Mongkhon, but with their religious blessings.
You can know all about this here “Mongkhon: Muay Thai Headband”.
The Prajioud is an armband, that is also worn by the fighter before entering the ring.
This is another aspect of the Muay Thai dance ritual, where every fighter wears an armband (Prajioud) along with Mongkhon (headband).
The Prajioud is also blessed by Monks for the protection, safety, and luck of the fighter.
The Prajioud is not taken off after the Wai Kru dance, it is worn during the match for its blessing.
There are many myths around the United States that Prajioud represents a fighter’s rank or skill.
But that’s not true, this is made by western culture, where fighter’s rank is represented by the color of their armband.
Some hybrid of Muay Thai like Bang Muay Thai uses a different color of armbands to show a fighter’s rank and skill level.
You can know more about the “Prajioud: The Muay Thai armband” here.
How To Perform The Wai Kru Ram Muay
We have already discussed some of the parts of how the Wai Kru dance is performed.
But there’s a lot more than that, there are many rituals and rules a fighter has to follow while doing the Wai Kru.
First, we just discuss the tip of an iceberg.
Firstly, Muay Thai fighters got into the ring wearing the Mongkhon and the Prajioud.
Then after the Sarama (traditional Thai music) starts, the fighters start to seal the ring to block any negative energy coming from outside the ring.
To do this, the fighter circles around the ring in an anticlockwise way, and doing a short prayer on each corner of the ring.
While going from one corner to another, the fighter’s right hand always stays connected to the ring rope, and the left hand is raised high on his face.
After sealing the ring, the fighters then start the Wai Kru dance.
Here, the whole ritual can sometimes last around 5 minutes or so.
And, this is the reason outside of Thailand this ritual is shortened in events.
You can learn more about performing the Wai Kru Ram Muay in this video, so enjoy…
The Wai Kru Ram Muay is a ritual that makes Muay Thai a unique sport and separates from other sports.
This connects Muay Thai art with the Culture and tradition of Thailand.
So, best of luck with your Muay Thai experience. Till then Peace…
Thumbnail Source: instagram.com/muaythaixl/