FORTRESS THAILAND PROTECTS MUAYTHAI

9 Apr 2012


MMA and Octagon cage fighting outlawed in Thailand

The Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) is shoring up its "Fortress Thailand" policy to protect the national heritage of Muay Thai from unwanted combat sport influences.

It's true that Muay Thai lost much of its global momentum when K1, a modified form Muay Thai, ruled the global combat sports roost for nearly two decades.

And, following the decline of K1, SAT has drawn a firm line of defence to stop octagon cage-fighting on Thai soil.

But this decision by SAT to ban all MMA events in Thailand has polarized combat sports fans.

Lovers of the Thai national sport welcome SAT's decision as an unequivocal statement to the world that there won't be any diluting or compromising of the full-rules eight-limbs Thai fighting art.

Their opponents, fans of the all-in mixed martial arts, consider SAT's banning of the new generation fighting styles as narrow-minded censorship.

SAT insists that its decision to banish MMA from the kingdom follows its diligent adherence to the laws of the 1999 Boxing Act.

While there is no officially recognized boxing commission in Thailand for either boxing or Muay Thai (Thai Boxing), SAT effectively acts as the administer of all combat sports in Thailand.

The 1999 Boxing Act normally only comes into affect when something serious happens like fighters' health concerns, pay disputes and exploitation claims.

Ever since Muay Thai and boxing joined together after World War ll - with similar ring rules that safety standards ? all western boxing and Muay Thai in Thailand have come under SAT's governance.

This protective arm for boxing and Muay Thai has, however, no jurisdiction outside of Thailand where all combats sports are subjected to the rules of specific country commissions and managed by long-established organizations that organize events, sanction championships and adjudicate decisions.

In Thailand Muay Thai is regarded as a national treasure where the heroes of the ring can be traced back to Nai Khanomtom, the first Thai boxer to imprint the art of Muay Thai with dignitary after the fall of the ancient Thai capital of Ayuthaya in 1767.

Every night in Bangkok there is a major Muay Thai event at either of the two premier stadiums of Lumpinee and Rajadamnern where hundreds of foreigners flock and pay Bt2000 for ringside seats.

The Tourist Authority of Thailand lists Muay Thai as Thailand's third post popular attraction after Thai culture and Thai cuisine.

So why is that Muay Thai - riding high in popularity - so worried about another fighting style taking roots in the kingdom? Inter-sport rivalry? I doubt it. Thai pride? Maybe. To maintain the status quo? Most likely.

Afertall, Muay Thai is, has been and always will be a matter of an ever-pertinent Thai heritage. This isn't something that can be explained simply in terms of fighting skills, as the deep, unconditional pride for Muay Thai consciousness transcends the logics of mind and falls into the realms of faith.

That's why even in the modern 21st century women are not permitted to step into ring, let alone fight, in the two main Bangkok arenas. Likewise, Muay Thai cannot proceed without the Wai Kru Ram Muaythai pre-fight ceremony and ring dance.

For sure the punters come specifically to watch and bet on the fights. And the fighters in every main event are there to fight for a top purse. But along with all this Muay Thai remains a mirror for Thai ways and reflects the Thai fighting art that dates back centuries.

Yes, SAT has every right to reinforce "Fortress Thailand" to protect the integrity of the national sport and the country's heritage.

But the reality is that MMA will continue to include Muay Thai technique in its first "hot" round stand-up stanza in the cage, and more Muay Thai champions will be lured to fight offshore in the octagon for high purse, honour and celebrity status.

MMA isn't Muay Thai. But it's undeniably the happening sport for today's younger generation that continues on a roll.

Written by Patrick Cusick and published in the Bangkok Post newspaper.


WBC Muaythai ( Official site ) © 2008 . ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
29 Phaholyothin Soi 3, Phaholyothin Rd., Samsen Nai, Phayathai, Bangkok 10400