The Cult-Like Philosophy Of Some Muay Thai “Purists”
How many times (online or in person) did you encounter the kind of kickfighting enthusiast who was swept by the Muay Thai drug SO bad, that he can no longer accept or comprehend a reality where things that are not Thai can be someting other than utter rubbish?
How many times after (or before) a long day have you sat down for a few minutes to watch a good fight on Youtube? Out of pure curiosity, did you dare immerse your foot into the wasteland that is called “the comment section” only to see stuff like:
- “The Thai wasn’t even trying.”
- Or, “Well, he would’ve **** all over him under Thai rules!”?
- Or something along the lines of, “He schooled that noob Farang!”
- Or my favorite – “Go watch that watered down Dutch garbage!”
The overall caricature of someone who is guilty of the aforementioned would be: covered in Thai tattoos, wears a Boon shirt, Top King shorts, uses the word “Kru” way too much, would obviously never enter into a ring with a practitioner of “the Dutch garbage” and is in fact… A white Caucasian himself!
In my personal and humble opinion, most of the best kickfighters in the world, past and present – are Thais. There, I said it.
Thailand is a pugilistic empire, that besides equipping its fighters with a very effective system of incorporating elbow strikes and clinch fighting into their arsenal better than anyone in the world, can brag about a very rich (much richer than in Holland for example) history of producing Western-style Boxers, most of which were also Muay Thai fighters.
But, if we get out of our shell for a bit, you’ll understand that talent comes in all shapes, sizes and colors – and I’m not even going to elaborate much on this topic because of how obvious it is.
There are plently of examples of fantastic fighters from Holland, Japan, England, France, Belarus and other countries that (unlike the self-deprecating douchebags that believe that their ethnicity alone puts them below anyone) believed enough in themselves, their talent and their style enough to compete with the Thais and earn their respect.
Most of these “Farangs” don’t execute the traditional Thai style as authentically as the Thais, but when you force yourself into close-mindedness and into a belief that only one style works, that’s when you start to hinder your personal growth a bit.
I assure you that there are Thai fans and even fighters that don’t necessarily enjoy watching clinch-heavy fights or the Wai Kru dance and don’t feel the need to run around with their nose up and tell everyone that “they just don’t understand the intricacies of it”.
Blame The Player
As a practitioner of the sport who lives in the Western world, if I had a quarter for every time I heard a coach tell his students, “We don’t do kickboxing here, we are the only traditional Muay Thai school in the country!” (all while probably not even knowing what he means by that) I’d at least be able to afford quite a lavish grocery list for the rest of my life.
There is a saying “don’t blame the player – blame the game”. And I personally think that this line of thinking is exactly what’s wrong with many “fans”.
I personally think that full Thai rules are the highest test of skill and will for any kickfighter. But surprise surprise, I’m also a Kickboxing fan and I don’t watch fights or fighters because of rulesets and weapons they can or cannot use. The fighters I like, I like because of their movement, conditioning, skill, toughness, composure and consistency – characteristics that one can and should exhibit under any combat sport – from Boxing to MMA.
That’s why I say – blame the player.
As exciting as a fight involving elbows and clinch can be – the right… or should I say, wrong “player” with enough of an idea of what he’s doing, can abuse the ruleset he’s fighting under and make fight after fight an unwatchable mess (although with a method behind the madness, I have to admit). Also, before you decide to judge Kickboxers for agreeing to take part in an atrocity that is a fight with no elbow strikes, maybe try to test the skills of a high level kickboxer on yourself first, and then think about 2 things:
- What would MMA practitioners (whom, by the way, some of you like to criticize for their wild and sloppy striking skills) say about you?
- How stupid (according to your belief) would be the whole concept of the revered sport of Boxing, where you can’t even kick?!
The general answer to the debate that these questions create would probably be confusion. Confusion and then maybe second thoughts. What if our train of thought IS running on the tracks of blind enthusiasm and frustration and is based on absolutely NO rational and scientific foundation?
But the long and exhausting debate of “Kickboxing vs Muay Thai” is, in some cases more about an awkward way of putting personal taste on display.
“Dude, You’re Not Thai!”
You probably get where I’m going with this tirade disguised as an article already. And I’ll tell you a secret – I’ve never been to Thailand. But for some reason, I believe that even the Thais themselves do not play traditional Thai music during training (especially not from a flash drive), count reps in a foreign language for no apparent reason, get a tattoo of a Mongkon or practice other theatrical nonsense that Westerners with no trace of Thai heritage do to play a Tony Jaa character in their own little show.
What’s scary is that some of these people are coaches (Kru Pete, Ajarn Bob, black Praijed Earl) and on rare occasions – dabbling fighters.
We get it, you like the sport of Muay Thai, you were in Thailand, you acquired new skills and it was fun – and you’re allowed to get all enthusiastic and we’re happy for you and can even endure your act for a few weeks! But the country and the people of Thailand don’t need your blind cult-like support and I don’t think that even the Thai fans of combat sports are that close minded.
“Even calling myself Kru. I cringe when people call me a Kru. Because Im not a Thai and I don’t deserve the honor of being called Kru. I’m a white guy trying to be the best version of a Thai person.” – John Wayne Parr
I'm Anton, a Latvian-born physical education college student from Israel and an avid Muay Thai practitioner/student of the history of the sport.
Also the face behind the "Muay Thai Nerd" page on Facebook.