It is one of my fondest memories---this awesome event concerning the rites of passage of Muay Thai and the rituals that continue to be practised by Muay Thai boxers to this day. The Wai Kru ceremony is the first thing boxers do before fighting a sit is the ceremony that pays respect to the fighter's treacher and shows the boxer's regard for his parents, sacred objects and gratitude to the masters who trained him and his parents.
This so-called Muay Thai dance conveys the special characteristics of each boxing camp. Muay Thai dancers who perform the same Wai Kru and Muay Thai dance will usually not fight each other as they have been trained by the same master.
Ayutthaya is home to the annual World Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony and the Miracle Muay Thai Festival.
This year, around 1,700 Muay Thai boxers from across the globe came to Ayutthaya to join the festival and pay respects to the Father of Muay Thai, the celebrated Nai Kanom Thom. This legendary Thai folk hero Nai Khanom Thom lived in the 18th century after the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767. He and several thousands of Thais were taken to Burma after the Burmesee Army sacked, looted and carted off the gold and jewels of Ayutthaya.
King Mangra or King Hsinbushin of Burma ordered a week long festival to commemorate the victory and veneration of Buddha at Schwedagon temple. The King was curious about Muay Thai (the called Muay Boron) and how it would compare with the Burmese Lethwei. So a match was organised between Nai Kanom Thom and a Burmese fighter in front of the King of Burma.
Before the fight started Nai Kanom Thom performed the Wai Kru dance, paying homage to his teachrs, parents, ancestors and spectators, dancing around his bemuses opponent. the Burmese King was astonished at his elaborate dance and was shocked when Nai Kanom Thom demolished the Burmese lethwei boxer within minutes.
The referee invalidated the fight, claiming the knocked-out Burmese was under the black magic spell cast by the wai kru dance. The King of Burma then asked if Nai Kanom Thom would fight another opponent. The Thai fighter agreed and asked for his freedom if he won. The King laughed and said he would be granted freedom if he beat 9 more Burmese fighters. The Thai agreed.
In quick succession, he punched, kicked, pummeled, elbowed and knocked them out, including the last fighter, a famous teacher from Rakhine. Nai Kanom Thom thrashed and mangled him, leaving him beaten to a pulp.
King Mangra was so impressed and stunned, he declared what has become famous, "Every part of this Siamese is blessed with venom. His bare hands can fell 9 or 10 opponents. But his Lord was incompetent and lost the country to the enemy. If he was any good, there was no way the City of Ayutthaya would have fallen."
To his great credit, the King of Burma kept his word and ordered Nai Kanom Thom be set free. He also asked the Siamese boxer to choose between a container of treasures or 2 of his beautiful daughters. nai Kanom Thom replied, "I will take the 2 lovely princesses as money is easier to find."
This pleased the Burmese King so much he also bestowed the jewels and gold to Nai Kanom Thom, declaring the wealth would allow him to build a comfortable house for his wives. As they prepared to leave, King Mangra invited Nai Kanom Thom to stay back in Rangoon as he would be elevated to a prince since the King was happy to accept Nai Kanom Thom's children who might be great warriors!
Nai Kanom Thom replied, "Though I am returning to a city in total ruins, I prefer to live in a bamboo hut than a palace as my heart is in Ayutthaya."
The King was so moved he asked what else Nai Kanom Thom wanted. His last request---the release of Siamese prisoners which the King also granted!
Nai Kanom Thom triumphantly returned to Ayutthaya and arrived on 17 March 1774 as a hero.
Today 17 March is National Boxer's Day in Thailand and is celebrated nationwide in honour of Nai Kanom Thom, the Father of Muay Thai. It is also known as "World Muay Thai Day" and culminates in the annual World Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony at Ayutthaya Historical Park.
Tables laden with offerings in front of statue of Nai Kanom Thom
This life-sized statute of Nai Kanom Thom in Ayutthaya Historic Park
Foreign fighter in stance
Thai national hero Nai Kanom Thom
Malaysian Muay Thai fighter Kee Hua Chee
Kee Hua Chee is Malaysian hero just as Nai Kanom Thom is Thailand's hero
His Excellency the Governor of Ayutthaya Mr Vittaya Piwpong with boxers
Governor of Ayutthaya HE Vittaya Piwpong and Muay Thai fighters
Big honour to have Ayutthaya governor in attendance
Gold medals for winners
Trophies I cannot win in this life
Next life I can winGovernor of Ayutthaya and foreigner fighters
Big and burly
Muay Thai fighters from across the globe
One for the road
Kee Hua Chee, His Excellency the Governor of Ayutthaya Vittaya Piwpong and Rozita Shuib
Kee Hua Chee, Muay Thai teacher, Rozita Shuib and Cheng
Fighters before statue of Nai Kanom Thom
Students waiting for match
Monks to bless the event
1,700 fighters came!
Inside the tent
Wai kru before statue of Father of Muay Thai
Blessing of student by teacher
Thank you, master
Blessings from teacher
Novice thanking teacher
Foreigners do the same
Thank you on bended knees
Show of respect
Governor of Ayutthaya and VIPs
Buddha blessing us all
The parade of fighters from 52 countries!
Elephants take the lead
Look at the tusks!
Like in olden days
The elephants trumpeting
The Governor and wife take positions
This man is out of contests
The Malaysian flag!
I salute the Malaysian flag!
Long live Malaysia!
Malaysia the Marvellous
Long live Malaysia
Malaysia the Great
Malaysia is #1
I love Malaysia
The Governor of Ayutthaya and wife and VIPs
Our flag flew high
See the Malaysian flag!
Malaysia rules OK
Malaysia the Magnificent
Descending the elephant
Dancing in the street
What a pose
Kee Hua Chee and his new friends
Kee Hua Chee is cool in blue
Cool in blue
Prayers for all
Blessings for all
Everyone took part
Buddha gazes over all
I had to sneak behind the monks to take this
The Malaysian contingent
The Malaysian table
Kee Hua Chee joins in
Kee Hua Chee removing Arale cap
Thanksgiving ceremony for Nai Kanom Thom
The Governor of Ayutthaya takes the lead
Joss sticks for all
Joss sticks were stuck onto food
Prayers to Nai Kanom Thom
Trays of Thai traditional food
I love the pigs' heads
Nai Kanom Thom
Cute pig heads
Nai Kanom Thom
Elephants on standby
Such rosy complexion
Japanese guy admires Kee Hua Chee
New Japanese guy and sexy Malaysian Kee Hua Chee