Each year, Songkran serves as a magnificient, countrywide celebration. This holiday, rich with tradition & symbolism, is honored throughout Thailand as nak muay from all corners of the country do battle. . .
SONGKRAN: WATER FIGHTING IN A GAMBLER’S PARADISE
In the Land of Muay Thai, it’s easy to find live fights to watch every day of the week. During Songkran (or Thai new year), the fight frequency throughout Thailand increases many-fold. It’s a free-for-all water fight with a mandatory participation policy that serves as the backdrop for many thrilling Muay Thai bouts.
Today marks the beginning of Songkran. The holiday is held over a span of three days. If it lands before a weekend (such as this year’s Songkran), businesses are closed for longer and their employees have more time off.
It’s also a time to spend time with family and make merit by going to temple and doing good deeds, something many Thai people believe will bring them good luck and fortune. Many adults from the poorer regions of the country work in Bangkok as there is typically more work and higher income in the capital, and they return to their hometowns for Songkran.
With this huge influx of people into the regions where most of the country’s nak muay hail from, you can bet there are plenty of Muay Thai fights during this time period.
KID FIGHTS DURING SONGKRAN
For nak muay, a busy fight schedule is a must. For many, it’s possible to fight every day or every other day – a common practice for Thai children with ambitious parents. They do this in order to make the children tougher and give them plenty of ring experience to sharpen up.
While Westerners may gawk at the thought of this (and they’re not to be blamed, either – how many fighters have walked out of a fight without bumps, aches and/or injuries?), this time in the ring teaches young nak muay both heart and skill.
Westerners are used to training in high volumes before fighting, but it’s often the reverse for Thai kids. They’re thrown to the wolves when it comes to fighting and train only a bit to hone technique.
MULTIPLE FIGHTS AT MULTIPLE VENUES – ALL AT THE SAME TIME!
Songkran is, in a way, a dream come true for many factions – Muay Thai fans, avid gambler and ambitious fighters all hope to take away an incredible experience.
With multiple venues holding fights on the same day and over the course of a few days, one can hop from one venue to venue from morning until late at night. Fans get to spectate and cheer; gamblers try their hand at luck; and fighters earn money from each fight they win or lose. It’s not uncommon for a fighter to finish a fight then make his/her way over to the next venue and fight again within an hour or two.
The thing about Songkran is that it always happens during the hottest week of the year in Thailand. Its blazing temperatures are a force with which to be reckoned. The fighters will often push through it as hard as they can, but are at the mercy of the Thai humidity as well as potential injuries and fatigue that will accumulate with each fight.
If you get the chance to be in Thailand during Songkran, take advantage of this festive time of year by firing some high-powered squirt gun artillery and watch some of the best up-and-coming fighters at multiple venues trade leather.
- Plant-based fighter, foodie, and aspiring physical therapist. Angela is currently living in Bangkok and training full time.