Wat Buddhai Sawan: by Vincent Giordano
It is not known exactly when the temple was founded but it was already the source of many skilled military men. The temple located in Tambon Wieng Lek or village of iron so named because many villagers in the surrounding areas made their living by forging iron into knives, spears, and swords. Wat Buddhai Sawan in those early days, was a center for education, religious ceremonies, meetings, and medical treatment, and a monk acted as teacher, doctor and priest.
After a war, army leaders would become monks for a certain period to ask forgiveness for killing on the battle field. The King designated the temple as his first Royal Monastery and appointed the venerable Somdej Phra Sankaraj Kurupajarn as its first abbot.
It was at the Wat Buddhai Sawan that the warriors and noblemen of the Ayutthaya period trained in the mastery of the nine traditional weapons as well as unarmed fighting and self defense. To ensure survival of the country the greatest warriors of the time came together to codify and record their fighting techniques. A concise manual of warfare the 'Chupasart' was written which contained all of these fighting methods and constantly updated with new innovations only after such techniques had proven effective on the battlefield. This manual openly shared among the Thai people.
There are no dates for the Chupasart but it could have likely been requisitioned under the reign of King Ramathibodi II (1491-1529) who produced it as David K. Wyatt explains, "...for the guidance of his armies, a "treatise on Victorious Warfare" was compiled, outlining the causes of war, military strategy and martial arts and tactics. The versified text is written in such a manner as to suggest that military accomplishments had become accepted as worthy of a man of culture."
These ancient proven martial skills served as Siam's insurance policy for over four centuries, enabling the country to conquer and hold at bay the kingdom's numerous enemies, making her for much of that time the greatest military power in Southeast Asia. It was also during this time, that Siam acquired vast supplies of guns and ammunition from the Portuguese who later assisted them in their use and manufacture.