Martial art with a cultural message
By Ihab Shaarawy
A recent Muay Thai event that was organised by Thailand’s Embassy in Egypt brought the glitz of the popular sport to Cairo, as well as a Thai tradition that was hundreds of years old.
"For us Muay Thai is a cultural heritage that we want to share with the world. And today the sport is becoming popular in many countries,” Chainarong Keratiyutwong, the Thai ambassador to Cairo, told The Egyptian Mail.
Muay Thai is a sport that is known for using the whole body as a weapon and a shield. The fierce fighting style is thought to have been used by soldiers and by locals to protect their land. It was an important survival tool in ancient Thailand.
Keratiyutwong explained that Muay Thai was not just a sport for Thai people but was part of their culture and a very useful fitness practice. "It's part of school activities and a very popular game that brings fame and fortune to top players."
He confirmed his country's keenness on spreading the sport around the world and said that Thailand had submitted a request to the Olympic Committee for the sport to be part of the next Olympic Games.
He said he was happy to see that more and more people around the world were becoming interested in the sport and thousands had taken it up. "Today, most of the top players are not Thai,” said the envoy who was pleased that the sport was gaining popularity in Egypt, with nearly 2000 people playing the game.
"But what is even more astonishing for me is the growing number of young Egyptian ladies who are taking up the game," said the envoy who refuted the misconception that the game was brutally violent.
Keratiyutwong, who like most Thai people practised the sport in his youth, said that Muay Thai was not more violent than any other combat sport, but some people were mixing it up with other games such as kick-boxing. However, Muay Thai was different since it had rules and tools that protect the players.
Keratiyutwong went on to say that Muay Thai had an astonishing effect on the character of the players, who became very peaceful members of society.
Marwa Ahmed, who has been practising the game for a while, agreed with Keratiyutwong. "It gives me self-confidence, so I don’t think of fighting with anyone unless I find myself in a defensive position."
Ahmed said that Muay Thai was the real combat sport she had always been looking for."It's not about show, it’s about real fighting.”
Sarah Walid agreed with Ahmed and said that she had to use some of the sport’s techniques in real life situations.
"Muay Thai's sportsmanship is unparalleled when compared to other mainstream combat sports. It’s also the most relevant to real life situations," said Nour Mamdouh who took up the sport after several years of training in other combat games.
The ladies admit that they now want to travel to Thailand to have a real Muay Thai experience.