Sunday, April 15, 2012

Muay thai, for king and country

The following editorial comes from Joel Huncar, an instructor in muay thai and Filipino styles out of British Columbia, Canada. His commentary on the importance of humility and respect resonated with me, especially the concept that while individualism is important, fighting for the benefit of the greater good is not virtue to let go of. 

Do you feel strongly about self defense, close quarter combat or the preservation of older muay thai systems? Write it  up and I may feature it on this blog. Submit your articles to That is all, Donnie-

Muay Thai is a combat sport that has been growing in popularity in the last two decades in North America. It is reputed to be one of the most important stand up styles for MMA and is highly regarded as one of the most effective striking systems in the world. It is quickly replacing styles like Tae Kwon Do and Karate in popularity across North America. This is of course partially due to the press it gets from MMA and shows like The Ultimate Fighter and Fight Girls. Unfortunately the MMA mainstream only sees the ring sport side of Muay Thai; they do not get to see the deeper value of Muay Thai.

The most important thing about Muay Thai is that at its roots it is martial art, not just a combat sport. Historically this art was practiced by Thai (Siamese) warriors and was used to protect king and country. This fighting style was held in such high regard that a boxing match was sometimes used to decide matters of state. This may seem a bit radical and strange when you read it but remember western Europeans regularly did the same thing in medieval times with trial by combat. Trial by combat is used in cultures that look at their martial arts as sacred skills. We have lost that in our culture but in Thailand and other Asian cultures they still view their martial arts as sacred cultural treasures.

Modern Thai fighters are expected to safeguard the sacredness of Muay Thai by exemplifying the virtues of the Thai warrior. They must be humble and fearless. They must show respect to their Kru, their king and their country. Our culture can learn a lot from the ideals of Muay Thai.

Most westerners scoff at virtues like honor and true nationalism but children taught true Muay Thai will be taught to embrace these ideals. This is perhaps the greatest gift a Kru can give his students and his community. Teaching Muay Thai without understanding these virtues is not teaching Muay Thai; it is simply teaching fighting. While learning fighting will help you to gain glory for yourself and your gym it will do nothing for your community, your youth and your country. Learning Muay Thai however will make you a better person and citizen and will help build a stronger community. After all in Thailand they teach Muay Thai not just to fight but also to honor their King and Country: That is the true fighting spirit of Muay Thai.

John Huncar
Rocky Mountain Academy of Martial Arts


  1. Loved this article. It is true. Westerners scoff at things like honor due to corruption by social media such as the jersey shore and the UFC which only shows people acting like idiots and fighting in senseless tournaments for money and nothing more.

  2. Great article. I would love to read more about this topic.

  3. Love this! This rings true in so many ways and things need to change here. This country as a whole has lost it's(our) sense of respect in general. This world of business and technology needs to back up a few steps and look around, relax a bit and take in reality and nature as well as physical greatness.

  4. Amazing article! it is so true how people do not realise how much passion and respect a Muay Thai fighter uses... things like the UFC have made people blind sided to the deep traditions of Muay Thai