The Ram Muay is the Thai fighters ritual dance of homage (respect), to his parents, his teacher and to his god. This ancient ritual dates back almost a thousand years and is performed before any Muay Thai or Thai Boxing match.
The origins of the Ram Muay claim to be a form of spiritual awakening, drawing power from the elements and surrounding the sacred ground of the contest (the ring), with the aura of the fighter in an attempt to gain victory over his opponent in combat.
In earlier days the Ram Muay was a form of warm-up exercise as the fights were held on ground and not in a ring as today. A fighter would walk around the sacred fighting ground and look for stones, damp patches of ground, hidden holes or areas that were sandy. He would also be looking for which direction the sun was so that he could use the light and the shadows to his advantage.
When the fighters enter the ring they kneel in the center of the ring facing in the direction of the birthplace and the four cardinal points of the compass. After a slight pause they commence to pay homage to the teachers and go through a serious of exaggerated body movements portraying many aspects of the Ramakein, (The story of Rama), including a display of the Garuda bird, the 'Elephant stomp' , the 'Four Faces of Brahma', the Making of the Garlands', Hanuman (the monkey god), Rama, any many other members of the cast. ( see Thai Myths & Legends...)
Often times, if you watch the performance of Thai fighters as they go through the Ram Muay ritual, you will notice, many variations in the movements of the Ramakein.
The ritualistic gestures are also there to help steady the nerves of the fighter, while at the same time, give the fighters a warm-up exercise. The fighters will walk around the ring in a clockwise with their left hand on the top ring rope, 'to seal in all good luck' and to keep out all bad influences including interference from seconds and corner men. While moving around the ring the fighter will quietly chant secret 'mantras (word spells) in order to fill the ring with his 'aura' and so dominate his opponent.
As the fighter reaches a corner he will give a little pray ( telling the spirit of his opponent that the corner will not save him) and will bow to the corner touch the corner post with both hands clenched in prayer, three times invoking the strengths of his teacher, parents and his god. He will stomp down with his foot, filling the corner with his own aura and blocking it as a haven for his opponent. He will proceed to the next corner enacting the same ritual.
Many Thai boxing fans are quick to observe from which part of Thailand the fighters hail from as each district has its own and varied rituals connected with some great feat of strength in former battles. Fighters of the central plains may adopt the ritual of the north or vice versa should the trainer hail from either of these places.
to be continued...
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