The Art of Muay Thai

LG_0661 (Large)For the first time in my life I tried Muay Thai at the Bangkok based studio Legend Thai Boxing. That kind of martial arts has a long history. In the 19th century Masters of the art began teaching Muay in training camps where students were provided with food and shelter. Trainees would be treated as one family, and it was customary for students to adopt the camp’s name as their own surname. Scouts would be sent by the royal family to organize matches between different camps.LG_0045 (Large)The combat sport of Muay Thai developed over hundreds of years, ancient and brutal, Muay Thai is commonly referred to as the „Art of Eight Limbs“ because it makes use of punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes, thus eight „points of contact“. Traditionally a practical fighting technique used in warfare as early as the 15th century, its popularity grew and it developed into a sport in which opponents fought in front of spectators for money. It soon became an integral part of all Thai celebrations and festivals, especially those held on temple grounds.LG_0842 (Large)Originally bare-fisted, fighters later began to wear lengths of hemp rope wrapped around their hands and elbows. But following the death of a fighter in the early 20th century, „Muay boran“, as it was known, developed into Muay Thai whose fighters wear gloves.

As Thailand’s national sport and with over 60.000 domestic fighters, for any martial artist, Thailand is the Lion’s Den for anyone wanting success in the sport. If you can win in Thailand you can win anywhere and as a result every year hundreds of foreign fighters travel to Thailand to prove themeselves as Muay Thai fighters.

In 2014 Muay Thai was included in the International World Games Association (IWGA) and will be represented in the official program of The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland.

In January 2015, Muay Thai was granted the Patronage of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) and on March the 16th to the 23rd, 2015 the first University World Muaythai Cup will be held in Bangkok.

With Muay Thai gaining a global following and widespread popularity, an increasing number of foreigners are trying their luck to see if a career can be made in the birthplace of the sport.

But, not all people who learn Muay Thai want to fight in the ring, many of them study simply for physical training or for self-defence. So do I.

By the way, the clothing which competitors typically wear is bright and flamboyant. Recently such designs have become quite popular globally and some companies have contributed to the popularization of the style throughout the world. It is expected that this style will become more and more mainstream as a cult style much like surfwear did in the late 1990s.SONY DSCPBH_9840 (1) (Large)More about my personal experience with Thai Boxing. Click here!

Everyone who likes to practice at the studio of Legend Thai Boxing and refers to that article gets a 10 % discount on classes and workshops.

A warm thanks to Legend Thai Boxing for welcoming sl4artglobal as a guest. My opinion is of course my own.

Photos: Legend Thai Boxing

Pattarawut Prompat, Painter and Tattoo Artist, Saladan


I meet him painting in Saladan on the island of Kolanta. He is sharing the studio with his brother.

Pattarawut Prompat had to fight for his dream since his childhood: Becoming an artist. No, it was not at all easy for the today 40 year old. Born in Suratthani on Thailand’s east coast he wanted to attend art school but his parents were against his wish. So he ended up in a job as a car mechanic. „My parents were against my long hair and my tattoos, but they were happy when I studied car engineering.“KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

After some years the forced education was just too much for him: Unhappy with his life at all he became drug addicted. Again the parents tried to save him and put him in a monastery in Suratthani. „For 3 years I was living there as a monk“, he says. „And in those years with the monks I got back my balance, I got down to earth.“KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

After finishing the 3 years at the monastery he knew what to do: Following his inner voice of becoming an artist. During the next 3 years he worked at day in all kind of jobs. The money he earned he invested in his education at art school every night. He intensified painting and tattoo art. He lived in Laos, Vietnam and at the islands of Kosamui and Kophangan. „But there were to much party life, what distracted me“, he admits.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally he came to the island of Kolanta at the west coast of Thailand. „I was looking for inspiration and here I got it.“ Nowadays he lives in Saladan already for 4 years. In the future he likes to have his own gallery in Northern Thailand. Just another new beginning.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Jim Thompson: The unsolved mystery

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIt is the second time I am visiting the most beautiful mansion in Thailand, or even better, in Asia. And here is the story: Jim Thompson, American, Soldier, Secret Agent. He was born 1906 in Delaware and was an architect prior to World War II. He volunteered for service in the US Army, campaigned in Europe and was later sent to Asia. However, the war ended before he saw action. He was sent to Bangkok a short time later as a military officer and fell in love with Thailand. After leaving the service, he decided to return and live there permanently.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The hand weaving of silk, a long neglected cottage industry, captured Jim Thompson’s attention, and he devoted himself to reviving the craft. Highly gifted as a designer and textile colourist, he contributed substantially to the industry’s growth and to the worldwide recognition accorded to Thai silk.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

He gained further renown through the construction of this house combining 6 Teak buildings, which represented the best in traditional Thai architecture. Most of the houses were at least two centuries old and were easily dismantled and brought to the present site, some from as far away as the old capital of Ayutthaya.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA In his quest for authenticity, Jim Thompson adhered to the customs of the early builders in most respects. The houses were elevated a full story above the ground, a practical Thai precaution to avoid flooding during the rainy season. The roof tiles were fired in Ayutthaya employing a design common centuries ago but rarely used today. The red paint on the outside walls is a preservative often found on many old Thai buildings. The chandeliers were a concession to modern convenience, but even they belong to a past era, having come from 18th and 19th century Bangkok palaces.

All the traditional religious rituals were followed during construction of the house, and on a spring day in 1959, decreed as being auspicious by astrologers, Jim Thompson moved in. The house and his wonderful art collection soon became such a point of interest that he decided to open his home to the public with proceeds donated to Thai charities and to projects directed at the preservation of Thailand’s rich cultural heritage.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

On March 26, 1967, Thompson disappeared while on a visit to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Not a single valid clue has turned up in ensuing years as to what might have happened to him. He left back his cigarettes on a table in his room, that’s all what remained. People believe he got killed by tigers but there is no evidence about it. His famous Thai house, however, remains as a lasting reminder of his creative ability and his deep love to the country.

Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, Bangkok

P1130095 (Large)The establishment of the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles in the compound of the Grand Palace embodies the effort to ensure the preservation of Thailand’s textile arts for future generations. The museum’s mission is to collect, display, preserve, and serve as a centre for all who wish to learn about textiles, past and present, from East, South and Southeast Asia with a special emphasis on Thailand’s royal court and Queen Sirikit. Additionally, the Museum’s goal is to create public awareness of Thai identity and culture, and an appreciation of the beauty of Thai traditional textiles through research, exhibition and interpretation.

In 1960, King Bhumibol from Thailand, accompanied by his wife Queen Sirikit undertook a series of state visits to the United States and 15 European nations lasting seven months. The tour was a tremendous success. Their Majesties were enthusiastically received everywhere and Queen Sirikits beauty and stylish elegance were both widely acclaimed.

Queen Sirikit knew that when abroad she would be representing both Thailand and Thai women. Thus, in addition to Western high fashion, she wished her wardrobe to contain Thai styles that would convey the country’s unique cultural identity. However, court dress had steadily westernized since the mid 19th century and in 1941 the government issued a decree requiring all Thais to wear Western clothing. As a result post war Thailand had no national dress equivalent to India’s sari or Japan’s kimono – it would have to be created.

Preparations for the tour began nearly two years in advance. Queen Sirikit led a team of consultants and advisors that included historians, prominent ladies of the court. Her longtime Thai fashion designer Urai Lueumrung and other local designers. Eventually, the team also came to include Pierre Balmain, the French couturier designing the Queen’s Western-style wardrobe for the tour. Drawing on diverse sources including surviving court textiles and photographs of women of the court taken between 1850 and 1925. The Queen and the team created a group of dresses based upon the wrapped and draped styles Thai women had traditionally worn – hip wrappers (phaa nung) and shoulder cloths (sabai) but constructed according to Western dressmaking techniques. The result as can be seen in this gallery, was a new national dress designed to honour the past while conveying a practical, modern Thai identity.
P1130097 (Large)Queen Sirikit, 1962

Horst P. Horst (German, working in the US, 1906-1999)

Published in Vogue, 1. July 1962

From the time of Queen Sirikits 1960 state visits she impressed with her beauty and elegant wardrobe, for which she was named to the 1960 Best Dressed List. In 1965, she became the first Asian woman to top the list for what was described as her native gowns of gorgeous Thai silks as well as smart western clothes by Balmain of Paris. Hailed as a fashion symbol for the world, Queen Sirikit was elevated to the Best Dressed Hall of Fame in 1965.

Grand Palace, Bangkok

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The Grand Palace complex in Thailand’s capital Bangkok was established in 1782 and it consists of not only the royal residence and throne halls, but also a number of government offices as well as the renowned Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It covers an area of 218.000 square meters and is surrounded by four walls, 1.900 meters in length.

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After King Rama I ascended to the throne in 1782, the palace was built. Prior to this, the royal palace and centre of administration had been located in Thonburi, on the west side of the Chao Phraya River. For various reasons, the new king considered the former capital to be unsuitable and decided to establish a new capital on the other side of the river.

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By his royal command, a new palace was built to serve not only as his residence but also as the site of administrative offices. The royal compound has been known since then as the Grand Palace. The two earliest structures erected within the complex were the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall, and the Phra Maha Monthian.

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The Emerald Buddha is enshrined on a golden traditional Thai-style throne made of gilded-carved wood, in the ordination hall of the royal monastery.
P1130073 (Large)The sacred image is clad with one of the three seasonal costumes (summer, rainy season, and winter). The costumes are changed three times a year in a ceremony presided over by His Majesty the King. The Emerald Buddha is in fact carved from a block of green jade and was first discovered in 1434 in a stupa in Chiang Rai. At that time the image was covered with plaster and was thought to be an ordinary Buddha image. Later, however, the abbot who had found the image noticed that the plaster on the nose had flaked off, revealing the green stone underneath. The abbot initially thought that the stone was emerald and thus the legend of the Emerald Buddha image began.

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