Wan Wai Kru – Honoring Teachers Day

Wai Kru Day is a chance for students to honor their teachers, pay respect and solidify the student/teacher relationship of passing on knowledge in any given study. For Muay Thai students, this is a day to formally thank our instructors.

Petchrungruang is over 30 years old and many krus have been part of the family gym in that time, and some of the students have grown into teachers themselves for younger generations. Kru Den was a teacher to Pi Nu, who is now the head instructor of the gym and a kru himself. Filippo was a student of Kru Nu and now teaches at the gym as well. It’s a wonderful, living process.

Every year there is a National Wai Kru Day held in all the schools across Thailand and the Thai government comes up with a “motto” for each year. This year (2017) the motto is to the affect that a good teacher is also an image of the Buddha for his/her students (“ชาติพัฒนา ด้วยครูดี มีคุณภาพ ศิษย์ซาบซึ้ง ในพระคุณครู”). The patience and loving kindness expressed by the teachers of Petchrungruang absolutely embody this motto.

For those who were not able to make it to this year’s ceremony but consider themselves students of Kru Nu, here is a short video of the blessing he offered in the ring during the ceremony. In short: work hard, be a good person, and take care of yourselves.

And here are some wonderful photos of the ceremony as well.

All the students in afternoon training, teachers from front to back: Kru Watt, Kru Gai, Kru Filippo, Kru Den, and Kru Nu

Thongchai and Dti led the Bot Wai Kru chant – everyone creates a link by touching each other so that a single offering is given to all the teachers and by all the students at once

Wai Kru

The Buddha was brought in to the ring for the ceremony (there is always a statue above the ring as well)

Kru Den giving his blessings.

3 Fighters in Saraburi June 9th – Angie’s First Televised Fight

On June 9th Kru Nu will drive a group of fighters up to Saraburi for a card, a portion of which will be televised. Mahaheng (Team), Geng Gat, and Angie are all fighting and Angie’s fight will be broadcast on Channel 24.

This is a big step for Angie, our kathoey (“ladyboy”) fighter who has been training for only a little under 2 years. She’s had difficulty finding opponents to face, since the Muay Thai Authorities want her to fight with men but she’s still a beginner and an adult, so the men she’s facing are far more experienced and often quite strong. They don’t take it easy on her. But Angie has a solid record and has beat some good opposition in a string of wins, so we all feel very confident in her upcoming match this Friday.

Mahaheng is the most experienced of the 3 fighters and will be the final fight of the card. He’s a solid fighter and is sure to give his opponent a hard time in the clinch.

Geng Gat is the most recently signed fighter to Petchrungruang Gym. He has a couple fights at Lumpinee and is still gaining experience, but with a winning record against good competition.

 

Petchrungruang fighters are sponsored by Royal Thai Residence.

 

Generations in a Family Style Muay Thai Gym

Photo of three generations of the Rungruang family: Bamrung, Kru Nu, and Bank (three years ago when he was much smaller. Compare to Bank at 16 in the video below!)

 

There are many different “styles” of gyms in Thailand. There are Old School styles that try to stick to the old ways, favoring traditional and ceremonial styles over “ring Muay Thai” (Muay Thai for fighting); these gyms can be really beautiful spaces for the history of Muay to be carried on. There are also larger Commercial gyms, which deal in providing a “Muay Thai Experience,” mostly for tourists and longer-stay foreigners; these gyms largely do away with tradition but are focused on and adept with the business of Muay. And then there are Family Style gyms, which are carrying out tradition and the heritage of their own Muay through the literal generations of fathers to sons and daughters, uncles to nieces and nephews; these are fighter gyms, keeping up with the living, changing world of “ring Muay Thai,” under the rules and practices of this being their way of life.

Petchrungruang is a Family Style gym. Just as a farmer raises his children in this way of life, there are generations of fighters breathing life into the canvas, pads and bags of this Muay Thai gym. Our head trainer Kru Nu, along with his older brother Pi Nok, were the first students of Petchrungruang. Bamrung, their father, carved the gym out of what space he could find on the farm he’d grown up on. Clear out some ground here for the ring; cut down a pineapple tree to hang the first bag there. Small changes, the boys serving double-duty as both little farmers and little nakmuay. Gradually, the space grew more and more into a gym, and the life of farming gradually wore away. Now, Kru Nu runs the training at the gym, raising little Thai boys to be fighters and, for some of them, champions. His own son, 16-year-old Bank, has been raised in the gym. Three-year-old Nat will begin training in the next two years. It’s generations of Muay.

Below is a short video shot on just an average day of training. Kru Nu was asked to show an escape from the double-inside clinch lock. Kru Nu demonstrated with Bank. The technique is good and it shows how much Kru Nu can teach in just a few moments, as he is “Muay Gao,” a term meaning a teacher who knows through experience of being a fighter. But this short clip also demonstrates the relationship between Kru Nu and his son, a playfulness and maybe a little healthy competition. “I can still clinch with Bank because he respects me,” Kru Nu said one morning. “If he didn’t respect me, I would die after 2 minutes, because I’m old.” Then he laughed. A father feeling pride in his son’s strength, a mirror for his own passing youth. As much as one can see physical resemblances between father and son (and grandfather and father and son, really), you can also see similarities in their Muay. It’s as much an inheritance as any of it. It’s wonderful.