adrian is rad


photo essay: muay thai

Filed under: — adrian @ 4:56 am

(note 1: I have a backlog of photo essays that I wanted to post. Here’s the oldest. )

(note 2: The lighting and social situation at the stadium were troublesome: the ring was brightly lit while the stands were dark. Taking photos of people didn’t seem to sit well with them and with the darkness, my camera used a secondary light to help focusing, so I had to switch to manual focusing and focus blind (by guessing the distance) much of the time while taking hip shots. Basically these aren’t all the best photos…)

(note 3: click to see bigger versions.)

Muay Thai is Thai Boxing. It involves punching, kicking, elbowing, kneeing and pretty much any other way to try to injure your opponent. It’s pretty violent. I saw a thing on TV on the science behind martial arts in movies with a panel of the top martial artists in various disciplines and found that a Thai Boxer could inflict the blow with the most force of any of them. His knee blow to your chest could pretty much instantly stop your heart. These are wiry and strong individuals.

When I was in Bangkok, I went to an event. Each night has a few rounds–mine had 9, with the welterweights being the heaviest of the day and in the 7th match. It’s well known that the boxing is a rip off; foreigners are charged somewhere between 3 and 10 times as much as locals to get in. They’re also highly encouraged to sit ring side, which isn’t all that much more expensive than the caged in 3rd tier. However, culturally, the most interesting thing going on is in that 3rd tier.

I made my way up to the third tier which smelled heavily of menthol eucalyptus, sweat, fruit and various drinks being sold and spilled all around.

When I got there, I found a spot and sat down. Fairly soon, a local began telling me that I didn’t want to sit there because everyone would be standing, shouting and betting during the matches. I told him I did want to sit there and that I’d stand when I had to. He told me I couldn’t sit there. I ignored this suggestion.

The prefight routines were highly ritualized: bowing to each other, bowing to their corners, circle punching slowly while walking in circles; high, sweeping knee lifts while walking around in circles and other similar activities.

The fights were watched with intensity. Often the entire would vocalize or sway with each hit–“oh!” “eh!”

Everyone had their line ups and betting sheets on which they made their notes.

The better during the more highly contested and closer matches was intense and frantic. Betting consisted of holding up fingers in certain manners–flicking, half open, fully open–which I didn’t quite figure the meaning of. People would make eye contact and confirm their bets with others around them–and sometimes even quite far away.

If a match looking to be turning in favor of one or the other boxer, people would often look to place more bets in order to take advantage of this.

At the end of each match-up, bets were paid off. In a country where you could eat lunch for a dollar, it was amazing what people were better on single matches: a couple hundred dollars sometimes.

Leave a Reply

Spam protection by WP Captcha-Free

Powered by WordPress