8- ARE THERE ANY RANKS OR COLOURED BELTS IN MUAY THAI?
Well…in Thailand Muay Thai is mostly a professional fight sport! There aren’t any levels or black belts like in other martial arts! The belt is in the ring!
Those who join a pro Muay Thai camp do so to make a living! If you join, you train 6 days per week, 6 to 8 hours per day! When your trainer feels you’re ready for your first fight…you fight! No questions asked! It’s your job!
By this time most boxers are offered a “praciat” (sacred armband) by their teachers or by the local monks! Usually the color red! That’s all! This is a Thai custom since ancient times, to protect the boxers (and in the past, the warriors) from harm and to give them courage!
No colored belts of any kind or diplomas either! In fact they couldn’t care less!
You win your fights, you make money you make a decent living! You lose often and soon you’ll be out of the camp!
You’re recognized as a pro boxer by the professional boxing community- and when you retire (by the age of 26 or 27) you may even open your own boxing camp or change career! Ring experience and championship belts gives them credibility and recognition, but it does not necessarily mean they’ll be good instructors! Just like in any professional sport! Coaching is another learned skill! This is for the modern pro Thai boxers!
However for the amateurs, specially those outside Thailand, the Thai government as well as the top official amateur International Muay Thai Federations in Thailand have decided to prepare a curriculum of instruction with different levels and colors (about 20 levels, called khan) so that Muay Thai can be taught properly around the world, with all its traditions and skills, from beginner to advanced ( khan 10) to certified instructor level (Kru Yai, khan 13) and even higher up to Master (Ajarn) and Grand Master.
This also had the objective of controlling “Thai” kickboxing clubs and martial arts instructors who had no qualifications to be teaching Muay Thai, which has caused a lot of misunderstanding and delay in the development of this sport around the world!
At Daosawan our goal is to teach and promote real Muay Thai the right way in Quebec, the best we can! We want people to know this martial art and sport and we want our students to go as far as possible and someday to even teach Muay Thai as well, the way it was supposed to be!
All Daosawan instructors are certified by the Thai government, the Kru Muaythai Association or the WMC in Bangkok. We follow those recommendations set by the Thai government and we have the same basic curriculum and same aspirations!
Every 3 months more or less, students are eligible to move up in level, if they come 2-3 times per week! However to be officially certified, students must pass exams and pay the fees to the corresponding association! This can add to a lot of exams and fees so instead we just limit the exams to the advanced students and/or those seriously intent on becoming instructors!
These armbands however are just a reminder of the students progress so that they may know how far they’ve come and what’s still ahead! But they don’t have the same connotation as a colored belt does in other martial arts!
They symbolize mostly the exchange between a student and his teacher! A non-written contract where the student promises to learn, be sincere and loyal to his camp, and the teacher promises to share is knowledge to the best of his ability!
The colors of these armbands may vary from school to school and the corresponding association. But in muay thai we don’t look at levels and colors! We look at the work and effort put in every class and it’s pretty much at the teacher’s discretion to promote or not a student!
At Daosawan a student is promoted not only when his fitness and technical skill is up to the level, but also his attitude, understanding of Muay Thai and Thai culture and regularity in training! For a normal person who trains and learns at a normal pace it will take about 2 years to attain an advanced level and 3 to 4 years of regular training to attain an assistant instructor level!
At Daosawan Muaythai Club however , all students in good standing are usually only given a symbolic praciat once per year, at our annual Hommage to Teachers Ceremony, on March 17, Nai Kanom Thom or Muay Thai Day in Thailand.