For anyone wishing to really understand the central concepts of Muay Thai, needs to know at least some of the uniqueness and rich traditions. In fact, for those who are intent on becoming professional fighters or trainers, the precepts and ethics involved have to strictly become part of their daily lives. Here is the ritual every Muay Thai fighters have to perform before becoming a student in any school and also becoming a teacher.
In the past, before the teacher accepted a new student, he first spent a great deal of time considering the proposition, trying to figure whether or not the person was really worthy of becoming his student. Some young fighters even had to act as servants to their prospective teachers until they were convinced of their determination and good character.
This process sometimes took a year or several years to reach the resolution.
When a teacher agrees to accept a new student, the initiation ceremony is held, usually on Thursday, which is traditionally regarded as Wan Kru (Teacher’s Day). As they make a formal request to be accepted, the students present the symbol of respect to their prospective teacher (Krueng, Sakkara Bucha Kru) which contains candles, incense sticks, and flowers. Another customary offering is a symbolic amount of money, like nine baht, “Nine” in Thai being “Gao”, a word which means “to step forward or advance” giving it a hidden meaning.
Students pledge in front of the teacher that they will respect and obey the teacher, following his rulings to the letters. The teacher, for his part, officially accepts the students and promises to instruct them to their full potential.
Initiation as a Teacher Ritual (Krob Kru)
In the Krob Kru ceremony, Muay Thai students who have all the necessary qualifications are elevated to the rank of teachers themselves. The teacher has first to consider which students have sufficient knowledge and technical skill to be worthy of promotion to the rank of instructor.
After the selection has been made, the Krob Kru ceremony is held to publicly announce and promote the chosen students who then become teachers in their own right. As in Kuen Kru, the chosen students offer the traditional symbols of respect to their teacher, who then make a statement :
Today is a perfect day to celebrate. You have proved yourself to be a person of virtue and knowledge, skilled in the art of Muay Thai. You are now worthy of becoming a teacher yourself.
I, therefore, appoint you a newly-created Muay Thai teacher at this Krob Kru ceremony.You are now capable of instructing others in this noble art. Always remember your duty to preserve the traditions and art of Muay Thai. Be a person of good conduct and apply your knowledge and abilities to benefit both yourself and the community.
While the teacher speaks these words, the students kneel on the floor before him, their hands pressed together in the Panom Mue Wai position at their chests, both their bodies and faces bending down to respect their teachers.
After the teacher finishes their statement, the students respond in a suitable manner:
I, your student, grateful for the Muay Thai ancestors who evolved the art of eight limbs and have passed it down as a legacy through countless generations. I also bear in mind the obligation I have to my teacher, who has trained me and now considers me worthy of becoming the teacher. I vow to follow all his lessons and to conduct myself with honor, using my knowledge and skills, forever.
When the students completed their response, they lay down to the ground with their face down three times before their teacher, and then kneel with their hands pressed together, while the teacher places a mongkon on their heads. When the students receive the monkon, then the musicians start to play and the students perform the Ritual Dance which they learned from their teachers.
When the Ritual Dance is completed, the students approach their teacher on their knee, hands down three times once more, while the teacher removes the monkon from their heads. The students receive the monkon in their hands as a legacy from their teacher. It is believed that this mongkon is now posses the sacred energy and can be worn only by the owner, except if they give their permission for another to do so.
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