Wai Kru Muay Thai Ritual: Everything You Need To Know - Montrait Muay Thai

Wai Kru Muay Thai Ritual: Everything You Need To Know

wai kru muay thai, muay thai classes in Downtown Toronto by montrait muay thai

Wai Kru Muay Thai Ritual: Everything You Need To Know

Muay Thai, also known as the “Art of the Eight Limbs,” isn’t just punches and high-flying kicks. It’s an art steeped in rich Thai history, blending combat with culture. Ever watched a Muay Thai bout and been captivated by the mesmerizing dance ritual fighters perform before the action kicks off? That’s the Wai Kru, a heartwarming tribute that speaks volumes about this ancient sport’s essence. 

“Wai ” is that familiar Thai gesture where hands come together like in prayer. “Kru” means the revered teacher. So, in essence, fighters are showing respect to their trainers and the lineage before them. Let’s talk more about Wai Kru and its importance. 

Origins of Wai Kru

The roots of the Wai Kru can be traced back to the ancient Siamese kingdoms, where martial art forms were integral to the military training of warriors. Muay Thai, known as Muay Boran in its original form, was a combat skill taught to soldiers.

Historical Texts: The earliest written records mentioning a form of Wai Kru ritual are found in Thai historical texts. This shows that beyond its martial application, Muay Boran had spiritual and ritualistic dimensions. The Wai Kru was practiced as a way for warriors to show gratitude to their masters and invoke protection from divine entities.

Evolution: Over time, as Muay Boran transitioned to Muay Thai and became a sport, the Wai Kru ritual was also adapted. While its combative utility diminished, its cultural and spiritual significance grew, becoming an integral part of professional Muay Thai fights.

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Significance of the Wai Kru

Let’s uncover the deeper meaning behind this captivating pre-fight dance ritual. 

1. Paying Respect

It’s worth noting that in Thai culture, the relationship between student and teacher is deeply revered. This isn’t restricted just to martial arts but extends to other spheres of learning too. The Wai Kru in Muay Thai exemplifies this cultural value. By performing the ritual, fighters recognize that their skills are not just the result of individual prowess but also the cumulative wisdom passed down through generations.

2. Spiritual Connection

In Thai belief systems, the spiritual realm is closely intertwined with the living. By performing the Wai Kru, fighters are invoking the protection of guardian spirits, ancestors, and even deities. Some fighters have personal rituals embedded within their Wai Kru, where they communicate with a specific guardian spirit or deceased loved one for guidance and protection.

3. Mental Preparation

The rhythmic, often hypnotic movements of the Wai Kru help fighters enter a trance-like state, ensuring they are mentally attuned to the forthcoming fight. It’s a moment of introspection, where fighters can connect with their inner selves, shedding external distractions.

4. Scoping the Ring

This practical aspect of the ritual allows the fighter to assess the ring’s condition. They might take note of potential slippery spots, judge the bounce of the canvas, or gauge the distance between ropes.

Components of the Wai Kru

Ram Muay: Each training camp in Thailand, known as a “gym” or “camp,” often has its own unique Ram Muay. It signifies the gym’s lineage, its masters, and its fighting philosophy. It’s akin to a school’s anthem, unique and full of tradition.

Head Circles: This act of purification signifies the expulsion of malevolent spirits. The number three holds great significance in Thai culture, often linked with the three gems of Buddhism. By circling their heads three times, fighters are reinforcing this protective barrier.

Sealing the Ring: This process establishes the ring as sacred ground. It’s akin to the drawing of a protective circle in many global mystical traditions, where the space within is safeguarded from negative external forces.

Bowing Three Times: Besides the Buddhist trinity, the act of bowing three times is also a nod to the fighter’s lineage: they bow to their teacher, their teacher’s teacher, and so on. This act cements the bond between the past and present, ensuring the fighter is backed by generations of wisdom.

The Cultural Continuum

As Muay Thai gained global traction, the Wai Kru ritual faced the challenge of adaptation. Outside Thailand, the spiritual and cultural nuances might not resonate as deeply. However, the underlying themes of respect, preparation, and acknowledgment are universal. At Montrait Muay Thai in Toronto we ensure our students understand the importance of respect for their peers and teachers. While the movements might be adjusted to better suit a global audience, many non-Thai fighters adopt the Wai Kru ritual in its traditional form, recognizing its integral role in the sport’s identity.