From Ancient Muay Thai to Thai Fight Kard Chuek

The centuries-old bone-crunching art of Thai boxing still packs a punch.

Information & Photos: Courtesy of Thai Fight
Compiled by: Sarita Urupongsa

With the blood, sweat and tears of Thai ancestors, territory was secured, sovereignty protected and traditions like the fearsome martial art of “Muay Thai” were forged. According to ancient ritual, Thai boxing matches begin with the legendary “Ram Mud Ram Muay” or ceremonial pre-fight dance. Only when the boxer has completed the sacred steps can the “weapons” – his fists – be sanctified for the battle ahead in the “Kard Chuek” or rope-binding ceremony. Though modern Muay Thai requires combatants to wear globes, the more ancient form of rope-fisted boxing is once again gaining popularity – even featuring in the popular Netflix series “Daredevil”.

These days, the hands and wrists of Kard Chuek fighters are wrapped tightly but carefully in rattan or cloth. This protects the bones of their “Aa Wai Ya Wut”, or physical weapons, which also include the feet, the knees, the elbows, as well as their heads and buttocks. The elaborate steps of Kard Chuek express the perfect combination of aesthetic beauty and toughness that Muay Thai has become famous for all over the world.

Over the course of centuries, Kard Chuek transcended the arena of battle and evolved into a popular sport with an adrenaline-pumping atmosphere. Known today as “Thai Fight Kard Chuek”, this martial art with ferocious fighting skills is acknowledged as among the most entertaining of combat sports, its matches packed with thrills from beginning to end. And its unique combination of traditional sport and showbiz glamour lent by professional light and sound systems doesn’t just attract a worldwide audience, but also spreads the traditional wisdom of Thai martial arts.

The brutal intensity of the sport is also balanced by another elegant tradition: the “Ram Rai Wai Khru” or dance of respect for the masters. Dating back eight centuries to the Sukhothai period, the steps of the dance have been passed down from generation to generation as a way for fighters to convey gratitude and respect to their masters and parents. The dance is also a call for blessings from sacred beings to protect the fighters. But the mesmerising symbolic moves have hidden benefits too. The Ram Rai Wai Khru allows fighters to stretch their muscles and observe the battleground and their opponents ahead of the fight. This is, without a doubt, an expression of the artful wisdom that animated the old boxing masters in ancient times.

With its furious action, intense atmosphere and respect for sportsmanship, Thai Fight Kard Chuek is a sport that requires extreme toughness and the strongest spirit. Each fighter has a fearsome set of martial skills, against which only the strongest in mind and body can hope to merge victorious in the ring. Thai Fight Kard Chuek is certainly no place for the weak – an eternal truth that will be demonstrated once again in the final round of this year’s competition on December 21 in Phuket.