Sunday, November 26, 2006

Did Ancient Muay Thai Fighters cover their gloves with broken glass?

A lot of people have asked me whether Ancient Muay Thai Fighters, in an attempt to sharpen their body weapons, did in fact dip their gloves into a glue mixture of broken glass (as most would have seen in Van Damme Movies).

Before answering the question, I would first like to present the following set of facts for your consideration:

- The old time fighters’ gloves were made of soft, raw hemp which were bound in a special way as to create knots. The way in which the fists and arms were covered-bound with hemp differ in accordance to style and region and can be generally summarized as follows:

1. Northeast style: Bound from the fist all the way to the elbows.

2. North style, Central Plains: From the fists to mid-arm length.

3. South style (Chaiya): only the fist portion is covered.

This is a reflection of the kind of weapons and tactics that comprise each style.

- Old fighting rules dictate the use of only hemp to cover fists and no other, except for the sky axe which is a small religious ornament to protect each fighter. Smart fighters learned how to tie excess portions of hemp into knots as a means of turning their gloves into sharp weapons especially when sprayed with water hardens the hemp).

- A fighter’s hemp glove is considered an important asset as it contains the blood and skin of his opponents. Upon finishing, the hemp will be stored in a clean, dry place waiting for its next usage.

- Before each fight the referee requests each fighter to gently rub their fists against their cheeks as a sign that there is not hidden weapon.

- There is no requirement that a boxer must cover his fists. If they choose, they may fight bare knuckles.

Grandmaster Ketr Sriyapai (at age 72 yrs), himself, has also asked that during his trip to the province of Nakorn Pathom to meet with Kru Too Thaiprasert (78 yrs) (the younger brother of Kru Daeng Thai Prasert – the key representative of the Muay Korat style who was also bestowed the title of “Muen Chagad Cherng Chok” by the King Rama 5), the truth regarding gloves covered with broken glass. According to Kru Too, who is also a fighter in the Suan Kularb Days, he has never witnessed such act since he was involved with boxing.

While still alive, Ajarn Ketr was very concerned that this misunderstanding would lead outsiders to view Ancient Muay Thai as being barbarious.

If we also consider the backgrounds of these two masters:

Ajarn Ketr – Muay Chaiya of the South + Muay Pra Nakorn (he was also a long time student of Ajarn Kimeng Taweesith) Kru Too – Muay Korat Style of the Northeast

We can see their experiences already covers 3 of the 4 major styles of Ancient Muay Thai. It is therefore highly unlikely that the ancient boxers dipped their gloves in broken glass.

By Lamp-S


FansOfK1 said...

Hi terapak

Tnx for a very good article about the truth and history of muay thai. I really would like to invite you to a new communtity for dedicated people like you that makes information like this come out.

The site is hosted by K-1 fighter Martin Holm who has been training and fighting mauy thai for over 16 years. Welcome to contribute to a better world =)

/ Kim

KNoX said...

Even though the elder representatives of muay have not seen the glass covering there are certain black alley tournaments that insist the combatants to apply the glass after dunking the tied hands into a sticky concoction to ensure lots of blood for the crowd as the particularly wealthy westerners appreciate more barbaric fighting and thus pay more to watch and also gambling. These are not traditional methods and they give all the ancient styles a bad name.