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The RAM MUAI and why we don’t teach it anymore

The so-called Ram Muai is a ritual that has been part of the training program of the Pahuyuth discipline MUAI for many years and was removed from the official curriculum in 2018 (according to Western calendar). Why this is so, we explain below.

Ram Muai / Ram Muay – What is this?

Anyone who has ever seen a Muay Veti (Muay Thai) fight knows that the fighters perform a ritual “dance” to a special music before they start to fight. This ritual is called “Wai Khru Ram Muay” (Greeting-Teacher-Dance-Muay).

In the tradition of this sport this ritual is of great importance. The Ram Muay serves to thank and honour various personalities. Denying to perform Ram Muay would be a serious insult.

By watching the Ram Muay experienced observers can draw conclusions about the origin, the fighting style and the individual abilities of a fighter. This has a special relevance for the betting business and the sports industry

In earlier times it was common that fighters who could already see from the opponent’s Ram Muay that they would lose the fight were allowed to withdraw. A respectful gesture that would not result in a loss of face.

In Kickboxing the performance of a Wai Kru Ram Muay is often forbidden by rules.

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No boxing match without a dance – the Ram Muay belongs to every real Muay Veti match.

The origins of this ritual

Already in the times of the Glie tribes it was customary to say goodbye to life and to the companions (creator, parents, teachers, friends and relatives) with a ritual dance before the beginning of a battle or a campaign. Based on the knowledge of the Saiyasart, ancestors and warriors of the past were called and asked for help.

Since there was no MUAI or Muay Veti (Muay Thai) at that time, it can be assumed that the first of these dances were performed by Pahuyuth weapon fighters (for example DAB swordsmen).

Certain forms of Ram Dab (sword dance) were later also used in executions. The condemned person was kneeling with his head on a wooden block and a qualified swordsman performed a dance at the end of which the condemned person was beheaded.

In the course of the development of MUAI around 900 A.D. the custom of performing such a dance before the beginning of each fight arose. Later developed martial arts, like the Krabi Krabong or the Muay Veti (Muay Thai) took over this tradition in their own way.

By reintegrating MUAI into the knowledge of Pahuyuth and other winding paths, various traditional Ram Muai choreographies became part of the MUAI curriculum and were preserved there for several generations.

Dance of the angels (Ram Theb Pranomm)

There are different Ram Muai choreographies. One of the oldest Ram Muai is the so-called “Dance of the angels” (Ram Theb Pranomm):

From sitting position the warrior starts according to the model of the divine underlying Thep (angel) honoring the god with the four faces (Pra Prohm). During the performance the fighting ability of the four elements may be interpreted.

The movements in this choreography reveal the mastery of the individual techniques by the fighters and his stability.

Other Ram Muai forms:

  • “Dance of the monkey god who hands over the ring” (Ram Hanuman Tawaii Waen)
  • “Dance of the Meditating Preacher” (Ram Ruesi Jam Sin)
  • “Dance of the Walk of the God Naray in the Jungle” (Ram Naray Doen Dong)
  • “Dance of the monkey god over the mountain” (Ram Hanuman Kam Kau), also known as “Dance of the priest mountain” (Ram Doy Ruesi)
  • “Dance of the Young Goddess” (Ram Tehb Tida), also known as “Dance of the Shy Virgin.”
  • “Dance of the Old Teacher” (Ram Kru Tau), also known as “Dance of the Hunter Hunting the Deer” (Ram Nay Plan Lahh Gwang)

Since 2018 (A.D.) the Ram Muai choreographies mentioned above no longer belong to the official curriculum of the discipline MUAI.

Why we don’t teach Ram Muai anymore

Pahuyuth is a 4500 year old martial art whose users have been confronted with a variety of threats throughout history. First there were the Chinese, then the Khmer. Later the Burmese, the Thai and many more.

Every new opponent and every new type of fighting posed new challenges to Pahuyuth. For this reason, the old teachers of Pahuyuth conceived this martial art in such a way that it enables constant improvisation, adaptation and overcoming.

Today’s Pahuyuth teaching concept is based on the experiences, knowledge and convictions of more than one hundred warrior generations. To this day, every new generation of Pahuyuth students learns the traditional fighting knowledge by acquiring it and critically questioning it.

If something is useful and makes sense, for example because it can be logically justified, then it is adopted and passed on to the next generation. If it does not or no longer does so, it is either changed or removed from the curriculum.

Folklore alone does not win wars – therefore the tradition of Pahuyuth is to continue a tradition not for the sake of tradition, but because it has proven itself.

With regard to the Ram Muai, three major points have led us to remove this ritual from our curriculum:

1. No sports = no necessity

Neither MUAI, nor any of the other Pahuyuth disciplines deals with sports fighting. Although all MUAI practitioners are free to participate in sports competitions, there is no sports promotion or similar within Pahuyuth. Instead, the entire traditional training of Pahuyuth aims exclusively at rather unsportsmanlike and unregulated fighting.

While the Ram Muay is absolutely fine for Muay Veti (Muay Thai), its traditions and the related betting business / industry, there is no reason for us to continue this tradition.

2. No relevance for street fighting and self-defence

The idea that in a dark backstreet one would have the time and the leisure to perform a ritual dance, while traditional music is heard from the smartphone and the opponent respectfully waits for the end of the dance, is simply absurd.

Furthermore, there is no reason to reveal one’s own fighting ability, its origin and intention to an opponent in advance. This is only possible in Kung Fu movies.

Thus the Ram Muai has no real use for self-defense, accordingly we have no use for the Ram Muai.

3. The Ram Muai was and is not really traditional in the end

The tradition of performing a fixed choreography for the purposes of Ram Muai evolved long after the development of Pahuyuth. The original sword, knife, stick, shield and cloth dances of the ancient free fighters looked different. They were and still are based on the knowledge of the Saiyasart.

The fantasy names borrowed from the Rammakian saga, such as “Dance of the monkey god who hands over the ring” (Ram Hanuman Tawaii Waen), also indicate that these dances are not older than merely 200 years.

The Rammakian is a well-known stage-play, which was once again translated under the reign of King Rama II. (1809-1824 AD). Although there had been some translations of the Ramayana poem before, only this version went mainstream and became widely known amongst common people.

This epoch began only after the retreat of the old free warriors, which is why basically all fighting styles promoting techniques that use such fantasy names (e.g. Muay Boran and Krabi Krabong) can not really be classified as traditional and certainly not as “ancient war martial arts”.

The Ram Muai is therefore not really traditional and we have no reason to continue this tradition.

What follows

Future generations of MUAI free warriors will no longer learn the Ram Muai (see above). Choreographies for sword dances (Ram DAB) and other weapons of Pahuyuth are also deleted from the curriculum.

Rituals that are actually traditional and serve a deeper purpose, such as the Wai Kru (teacher greeting), the Wan Wai Kru (teacher memorial day) or the Warriors Creed, will of course be preserved and passed on in the future. The same applies of course to dance forms, which go back to the ancient customs of the Glie warriors and Saiyasart.

This means that Pahuyuth free warriors will still be able to dance in the future and learn the necessary knowledge to do so in the Pahuyuth school – but in a much more authentic, traditional and even functional way.

PAHUYUTH | Traditional Martial Arts and Self Defense | www.Pahuyuth.com | #Pahuyuth

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