On 6th February 2013, the international Muaythai community together with local dignitaries and officials celebrated Muaythai Day. This annual event honors King Sanphet VIII (also known as “Phra Chao Suea” the “Tiger King”), who was renowned for his enthusiasm and love of Muaythai, often disguising himself as a commoner, in order to participate at local events and to spar with local champions. The sport and art flourished during his reign.
Held at the Thai Cultural Centre, Bangkok, the ceremonies were presided over by the Honorable Deputy Minister for Culture, Khun Adisak Benjasiriwan, together with the officials of AMTAT and the President of The International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (“IFMA”), Dr Sakchye Tapsuwan. The official celebrations were also attended by dignitaries and members of the international Muaythai community, officials from the Thai Ministry of Culture, Amateur Muaythai Association of Thailand (“AMTAT”) local Muaythai officials and Ajarn Yais (Grandmasters) of the various traditional styles of Muaythai (Boran). Amongst the dignitaries who presided over this momentous ceremony were:
Vice Minister for Culture – Mr. Adisak Benjasiriwan, IFMA President – Dr Sakchye Tapsuwan, IFMA Gen. Secretary – Mr Stephan Fox, Mr. Chai Nakornchai (Director General Office of Culture National Commission)
Ajarn Yais (Grandmasters)
1. Ajarn Yai Lek Kritsadagorn (Muay Chaiya), 2. Ajarn Yai Radom Na Bangchang (Pala Sueksa) (Chief Referee and Official of Lumpinee Stadium), 3. Ajarn Yai Damg Pranom Ampin (Muay Korat), 4. Ajarn Yai Amnart Puk Suk (Muay Korat), 5. Ajarn Yai Somnuek Taisutti (Muay Lop Buri), 6. Ajarn Yai Jarusdet Ulit (Muay Pala Sueksa) (Director Muaythai College, Jombueng University), 7. Ajarn Yai Dr Sawang Wittayapitah (Kru Muaythai Association), 8. Ajarn Yai Dr Somporn Sangchai (Muay Tahsao) (Associate Prof, Jombueng University), 9. Ajarn Yai Wichit Cheechern (Krabi Krabong)
The official celebrations began with special, austere and somber ceremonies, homages offered to the late King Sanphet VIII followed by a succession of wai kru demonstrations in all of the 6 different styles – Muay Lopburi, Muay Chaiya, Muay Tah Sao, Muay Korat, Muay Pahlang and Muay Palasueksa.
Next came the significant “Krob Kru Ceremony” and “Yod Kru Ceremony”. The former was a ceremony to officially recognize and bestow the title of “Honorary Ajarn” and “Ajarn” (otherwise known as Master) to deserving candidates while the latter was a ceremony to pay respects to the Grandmasters.
The “Krob Kru Ceremony” was presided over by the Vice-Minister of Culture and several Grandmasters of Muaythai and variants of the 5 traditional forms of Muay Boran. The Grandmasters have been involved in Muaythai for approximately 30 to 60 years, with some holding doctorates (PHDs) in physical education/culture and other academic accolades. During this ceremony, the distinguished title of “Honorary Ajarn” and “Ajarn”was bestowed upon a few individuals. Amongst them was Mr. Mervyn Tan Chye Long of Singapore.
Mr Tan, a lawyer by profession is presently the General Secretary of the Federation of Amateur Muaythai of Asia (“FAMA”) and Head of the Legal Commission of IFMA. Mr Tan stated: “I am proud to receive this honour for my nation and for my brothers and sisters in Muaythai, in particular Team Singapore which consists of very hardworking volunteers. I truly believe that Singapore and all those who aspire to attain success in Muaythai can achieve their aims, desires and dreams.”
As the first Singaporean to become an Honorary Ajarn, Mr Tan has made his nation proud, and shown that Muaythai has evolved into an international sport that is wholly inclusive and welcomes all, regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity or culture. Muaythai has indeed come of age and the sport can only continue to grow from hereon in.