I Braved a Kickboxing Night. And Enjoyed It!

So this happened a week ago. It got pushed aside by school schedules, playdates, job applications, and one epic haircut. However, it is an adventure that needs to be shared. If you get a week in Bangkok, I won't blame you for skipping the muay thai matches in favor of other nightlife. But if you spend any time in this city you MUST experience this. I can't stress it enough.

I was anticipating some kind of UFC experience where two dudes with mohawks and scars and bulging muscles pound the crap out of each other with awful club music playing in the background.

Oh noooo nooo newwwwwwww that was not the scene at all.

We were ushered into this rustic tin-roof arena with mostly farang in the front seats. The score boards were absolutely antique. Behind us in a box were musicians that played cymbals, drums and some crazy horn whenever the fighters came out. But this was serious.

First, let us establish that ladies MAY NOT touch the fighting area. You really wouldn't want to mess with the testicular powers contained within. That's some serious man-stuff. Downright sacred. So I held back. And ordered a cold beer.

Before each match began, the two fighters performed an elaborate ritual called the "wai khru" that was part prayer, part tribute to their trainers, part dance. Some were short and sweet, some more elaborate or showy. One pretty boy, who was cheered by a throng of schoolgirls, taunted his opponent three or four times by pantomiming firing an arrow at him. The affable opponent spoiled his mojo by playing along with a little knee jab in the air each time and the audience all had a good laugh. Again, this is thai culture. Always that sense of humor peeking through.

I apologize for the terrible photos, but I turned off my flash during the matches out of respect. Not that there were any signs telling me to do so, but I didn't know. Nobody wants to be the bad farang.

After the formalities were over each time, the fighters faced off and held nothing back from the start. I was not shocked by the violence, not grossed out, none of that. The fighters were skilled beyond belief. The fights were a wonder to watch, after all, kickboxers in thailand aspire to fight at Lumpini Stadium. These were the best of the best. And although some of them were barely over 120 pounds, they were deadly. Precise even. Not being at ALL experienced in the martial arts, I can't find the words to describe it. Except skilled. Very very skilled.

During each match, the fighters' families, trainers, girrrrrlfriends etc were ushered to their respective corner to urge them on. I enjoyed sneaking a peak at them from time to time, wondering what it must be like to see your brother or son doing this. (Note old-fashioned scoreboard in the upper left corner. And Coca-cola, hey!)

Around the seventh match we snuck out, but really quite in awe at what we had seen. I found myself reliving some of the fights in my head through last week, so I really hope we get a chance to go back. A lot of people found it hilarious that we went to watch some kickboxing on our 'date night' but it was really a great deal more thrilling than anything we would have done back home.

Hey, if you get the chance to do something like this, take it. You might just enjoy yourself.


Valerie Tonus said...

Wow! Amazing experience.