Origins and Explanation of the Ritual
|Music is an integral part of MUAY THAI and because of it, this art of
self defense has become an extension of one of Thailand's dramatic arts.
The musical instruments orchestrated in the background of the Wai Kru
rituals and in the competitions consist of the TA PONG or GLONG-KAG (Two
face drum), toe PEE JAVA (Javanese flute) and the CHING (cymbals).
According to legendary chronicles and historical records of Thailand, MUAY
THAI competitions were customarily organized on celebratory and festive
occasions. It was also used as a means of selecting men with great fighting
skills to serve in important positions in the military.
The most important question today is how are we to preserve this beautiful
and gracious art from disappearing or from losing its authenticity? There
are many ways to answer this question, but first of all we must fully
understand the importance of the WAI KRU ceremony.
To train for MUAY THAI a fighter must have a mentor. Perhaps a fighter will
be directly taught by other fighters, but all in all, every fighter is
considered to have a mentor, and it is customary that all fighters must
respect their mentors.
One of the most important virtues of the Thai people is the showing of true
respect and sincere humbleness towards teachers, masters, mentors and
instructors. They are considered to be second from their true parents.
Instructors are full of knowledge, love and kindness, ready and willing to
transfer their skill and knowledge to the students, so that the students in
turn will be of value to society and to the country as a whole in the
instructors should be respected and revered by their students. As the future
inheritors of all the knowledge and skill, it is the duty of the students to
swear allegiance to endure the hardship and to persevere to achieve the
final aims. Those students who respect or revere their mentors will benefit
from the following results:
- The opportunity to be endowed with all their knowledge and skills.
- The ability to use the knowledge learnt to benefit himself and others.
- Life of prosperity, those students who truly respect their mentors,
are consistent in behavior and humble will always be looked after and
taught, giving the student less chance of doing wrong as the students will
always think before actually doing anything.
- The ability to adapt and advance the knowledge and skill that the
student had been trained for to further heights.
Wai Kru for the training of Muay Thai
|In every stage of the training of MUAY THAI, the Wai Kru is a vital part
of the training, which can be explained in the following sequence:
- Submission as a student, Keun Kru or Yok Kru. Keun Kru or Yok Kru is
when the instructor accepts the student and the student accepts the
instructor to be the one to train him. In the past, the student must serve
the instructor for a period of time before actual training begins. During
this period the instructor will study the student to ensure that the
student is trustworthy, honest and able. Once the instructor is satisfied
with the student's performance permission is given by the instructor to
conduct the Keun Kru ceremony, in some areas it is called the Yok Kru
ceremony. This ceremony is where both the instructor and the student
accept one another and the student must abide by the rules and regulations
set forth by the instructor. The Keun Kru ceremony is conducted on
Thursday because in ancient times, Thursdays are considered to be an
auspicious day for such occasions. The student must bring along some
personal items for the ceremony. As for money, it depends on each
individual instructor. The ceremony is conducted in front of a Buddha
image and the student will pledge his loyalty to the instructor.
- Kronb Kru. Kronb Kru is a ceremony conducted for the student on the
completion of his training. The student has now the ability to transfer
his knowledge and skill to others and at the same time, be able to adapt
and apply his skill to suit the situation. The student is ready to compete
in any competition with pride. In this ceremony the student is given the
Monsol according to the tradition of that training camp. Again, this
ceremony is conducted on a Thursday before noon at the home of the
instructor or at the temple.
- Yearly Wai Kru. "Yearly Wai Kru" is a tradition that Thailand has
carried forth since ancient time. We Wai Kru to respect our mentors
because if it was not for them we would not have the knowledge and
principles that we abide by. It is these two virtues that enable us to
carry on fulfilling our tasks. In this ceremony we again pledge our
respect and memories to our teachers past and present. Even though some of
us have long finished our education or training we still give our teachers
the greatest of respect. The day chosen for the Wai Kru is Thursday as it
is believed to be 'the day of the teachers'.
- The Wai Kru. The art of MUAY THAI from past to present has a tradition
that every tighter must perform the Wai Kru before every competition. Wai
Kru is performed as a means of paying respect to the chairperson of the
competition or in the past as a way to pay homage to the King who would
normally be a spectator on almost every occasion. It also symbolizes the
gratefulness of the fighter towards his mentor who had trained him and as
a means of concentrating himself mentally for the competition. If we
further study the roots of the Thai culture we will discover that the Wai
Kru is not just a way of paying respect to only our mentor but what this
ritual is actually doing is paying homage to mentors before and long
before him since the dawn of humanity. Hence, the Wai Kru is a way of
worshipping past instructors and the way up to the holy spirits in heaven.
The role of the art of the Wai Kru ritual
For those who have studied or have trained in the art of MUAY THAI, many are
quite confused and many have asked why do we have to do the Wai Kru ritual?
Is it for beauty, entertainment, commemoration or exercise? Not all these
answers are wrong, but to go deeper into the reasons why we do the Wai Kru
ritual is due to 3 beneficial reasons as follows:
- To merit and worship God. If we consider the roots of all different
types of art, it can be seen that religion plays a vital and influential
role in its direction. Therefore, all different form of art attempts to
bring man closer to God (if you do not believe in God then it is quite
difficult for you to understand art, especially the art of MUAY THAI and
the Wai Kru ritual). Hence, the Wai Kru and its music is to worship all
the gods, especially the god Pra Isuan, the creator and the ruler of the
universe. It is then appropriate for MUAY THAI Boxers to invite and accept
the holy spirits into their bodies and minds.
- Heart and Soul. Other than the invitation of the holy spirits, the art
of the Wai Kru is to prepare the boxer's heart and soul to another level -
the level of divine and supernatural conditions. Physical body and time
must be forgotten so as the MUAY THAI Boxers can take on this divine
force. The problem that often occurs is whether the boxer can reach this
spiritual being or not. It can be achieved, but only if the boxer
concentrates during the Wai Kru with true sincerity and respect. But what
will happen if we do not perform the Wai Kru? One of two things could
occur, firstly the art of MUAY THAI would not exist and secondly the
boxers would not fully understand the art of MUAY THAI . Therefore the Wai
Kru ceremony is very important. We may not be able to see this auspicious
force but the boxer himself can feel the existence of his mentor by his
- Entertainment and Strength. The God, Pra l-Suan presented humans with
the gift of music and dancing so that people can enjoy true happiness.
True happiness without greed and selfishness will induce us to forget our
own body and time, Therefore, during the Wai Kru the boxers should let
their soul leave the body and let the holy spirit take over. Boxers who
practice the kah-tah (religions verse) during the Wai Kru believe that
these verses will give them supernatural power. In ancient times, Thai
warriors believed in amulets, charms and the occult to possess them in
battle as a means of increasing morale. To use these supernatural powers,
concentration is the main factor in controlling the fighter's will. The
majority of the ancient warriors would put their faith in the god of wars,
such as Hua Jai Hanuman, Hua Jai Kun Pan, Hua Jai Kong-Kah Derd, Hua Jai
Oran Pet, Hua Jai Pra-Lai Penk and many others, depending on what strength
and faith they have in each of the different gods.
For an example, below is one verse of the Hua Jai Hanuman Kah-lah to
HA NU MA NA
ND MA NA HA
MA NA HA ND
NA HA ND MA
It is used for meditation training as you must memorize the verse
correctly and repeat the verse over and over again as quickly as possible
which requires much concentration. It is a method of measuring your faith
and will power. Simultaneously, during the chanting of the verses in your
mind you must think of the Hanuman god, his bravery, his strength and his
power until you can see him in your mind. In return you will feel and have
the power and strength of the Hanuman god. From this inspiration of thoughts
we can compare it to the Buddhist teaching as follows:
- Pabomyarn (Primary instincts) - concentrate on the Hanuman god:
- Wi-tok (thoughts) - think of the Hanuman god.
- Wi-Jahn (Considerations) - think of his power and bravery.
- Pi-ti (happiness) - pleased and satisfied to have faith.
- Ek-atarom (loyalty) - think only of the Hanuman god.
- Too-li-ya-yarn (Transcendent insight) - start to think that he is the
- Pi-ti (happiness) - pleased that the Hanuman god has power.
- Sook (Content) - content with the Hanuman god.
- Ek-ataro (loyalty) - think only of the Hanuman god.
- Too-ti-ya-yarn (Meditative trance) - Hanuman god starts to posses:
- Soak (Pleased) - Pleased with the power of the Hanuman god.
- Ek-atarom (loyalty) - Hanuman god possesses the body.
- Ja-too-ta yarn (Absorption) - Hanuman god possesses the body.
- Oo-bek-kah (Impartiality).
- Ek-atarom (loyalty) - Has the same strength and power of the Hanuman
Ancient Thai warriors had always held fast to these principles, which in
turn brought them renown for their bravery throughout the peninsula. It is
an example that we the younger generation should follow and help preserve
this Thai legacy.
Today, the "Wai Kru ritual" is known as the "Wai Kru" for short.
In MUAY THAI competition, the art of the Wai Kru ritual is of a basic one.
It is conducted to pay respect to the instructors, the opponent and the
spectators. In reality the effectiveness of the ceremony is to demonstrate
the gentleness and graciousness in the controlling of the body and the mind.
In Buddhism, the true quality of being gentle and gracious hides the true
power of authority. And if we can use this power together with the strength
of our body and the wisdom of our mind, then this is the origin of all the
Boxers should "Wai Kru" in the way it has been done by our ancestors in the
past. It is a way to help preserve the art of MUAY THAI from disappearing or
from losing its authenticity.
The first thing a boxer learns in MUAY THAI is the Wai Kru. The Wai Kru is
not designed to insult or show off to the opponent. It is a ritual in memory
and in respect of the mentor who have given the boxer his knowledge and
skill. Other than that, the Wai Kru makes the boxer concentrate on his MUAY
THAI skill while practicing his balance.