Martial ArtsMuay Experience

Muay Boran: Myths to Dispel

What Muay Boran IS NOT

In our times, we are too persuaded by various convictions, also due to the power of the media we use so frequently.
Talking about the Ancient Muay Thai in the west, I noticed people often make a lot of confusion. So, in order to know this Martial Art as it is in its origins, I thought to write What Muay Boran IS NOT.

In the previous articles and videos, the word “Boran” has been highlighted as the ancient Thai combat practice which is divided into different styles with specific characteristics that require years of study to be learned. (Watch the Video)

After taking part in a hard training according to the tradition, I can tell you that:

Muay Boran (like any martial art actually tested in war) IS NOT a path designed to be canonized in Forms / Kata or Belts.

It doesn’t matter if some thai people were (or not) the first to propose this system (as it is not all “Gold” what is in Thai, like everywhere else in the world).

Behind hypothetical innovations, as being able to monitor the learning (or framing?) process, discipline, etc., this manner hides one of the concrete ways to spread and commercialize a “product” in a large scale. Principle that the co-founder of pay pal (P. Thiel) considers essential to create a lasting and successful marketing.

Someone claims to have improved / revolutionized   Muay Boran without ever having studied one of the main styles. They have never experienced a stay for few consecutive years in Thailand (place they visited with tourist visas, often for just three months): VFFR (Glossary: Very Far From Reality…!).

Muay Boran IS NOT a style.

It is a wrapping that embraces distinct martial categories in different eras. Its shades require a deep analysis in order to contextualize the historical period and several years of training in each style to appreciate their potential.

Even if few people have recognized this truth, they prefer to hide the absence of style identity talking about revolutions and summaries. They are not willing to admit the profound technical gaps expressed by their movement, conspicuously robotic and coarse compared to the canons of Muay. This is a condition that cannot be hidden behind a diploma or patents easily found in Thailand, or a storytelling aimed to raise emotions. Just like working in the film industry.

Muay Boran IS NOT a set of pre-established techniques

It does not exist “if you give me a kick I’ll do this, if you give me a punch I’ll do that”. Just try to imagine if something like this could ever exist during a war: they’d be all dead at the first attack!


Muay Boran: Myths to Dispel


In Muay Boran many pre-set techniques (which very easily change from one region to another) have been refined and renamed between the 70’s and 80’s. The main attempt was to make them a “common” good: in fact they are used to be reproduced during historical re-enactment and entertainment shows.

Many people like to distinguish names like Mae Mai (which, together with a myriad of meanings, also stands for “Mother Technique”) and Look Mai (which also stands for “Minor / Secondary Techniques / etc.”). As well as the wording Mae Lai identifies techniques related to the symbolism of Lanna (North Thailand) .. and more.

But this “standard” phrasebook presents significant limits, as techniques and names change style by style, a bit like as it happens with dialects.

And speaking about dialects, it is quite clear that “talking in Thai language” in the West is totally meaningless.

Thai people before anyone else have a knowledge of their own language that is based on their social and geographical position.

So, what function would this fictitious terminology brings (given its breadth), deprived of its originality, and moreover proposed to a foreigner? What should be the result if the teacher has never been amalgamated with Thai society, with the palpable impossibility of evaluating the various meanings?

The answer is spontaneously generated as google emails do: The fascination for the Exotic.

And it is precisely the passion for the East and its mystery (a set of philosophy and spirituality stylized according to our “beliefs” ), which is often confused trivially with the Practice.

Muay Boran IS NOT something that can only be learned by reporting a partial terminology in Thai language, wearing typical clothes and amulets or trying to mimic dancing movements related to the local folklore.

It is the same difference that exists between Christ and the Church: the first is “The Thing” the second makes business “Speaking of that Thing” without ever incarnating it.

These are undoubtedly the most important points I have noticed in the West, and specifically in Italy, where even today we have little knowledge of this topic.

The sharing of what has just been said focuses on the knowledge and understanding of a theme I lived and deepened personally, reporting exclusively the essence of my experience.

During the years I spent in Southeast Asia, I have been able to ascertain the values of a discipline through which ideas and preconceptions have given way to the concreteness of action.

“You take the blue pill: the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill: you stay in Wonderland and you’ll see how deep the rabbit hole goes.” – Morpheus (Matrix)


Don’t miss Muay Thai Boran: Myths to Dispel – Part 2

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