SABAI – Traditional Scarf Fighting

SABAI is traditional armed combat with flexible objects like whips, ropes, fishing nets and scarves, which are used as improvised weapons.

Simultaneously with the official recognition of the Lauw Tai Mung area by the Chinese (ca. 2000 BC), the ancestors of today’s Thai people adopted the Chinese custom of keeping a concubine. In higher social classes these women served to maintain political peace. They were sent to foreign cities or kingdoms as a pledge or proof of loyalty, in order to live there at court as respected concubines. They were not allowed to carry weapons. In case of an attack they were not allowed to flee, because an unauthorized escape would have brought shame on the family and would have resulted in the execution of up to seven relatives (→ Seven Generations). These women were almost always condemned to end up as defenseless victims.

Legend has it that the warrioresses of the Glie tribes had the idea to teach young women how to fight with clothes and scarves. It has also been handed down that court concubines trained this art secretly in the royal palace and passed on their knowledge of scarf fighting in the greatest secrecy.

Until the epoch of Nanjauw (ca. 600 AD) SABAI was almost unknown. Only through Kru Maeh Bua (teacher mother-water-rose) the knowledge about this kind of fighting could be collected, restructured and brought back to Pahuyuth.

Since then, SABAI is considered the most dangerous Pahuyuth discipline, especially when used in combination with LING LOM.

SABAI is traditionally passed on in honor of the many nameless women who have been victims of violence throughout history.

Typology of SABAI

SABAI is primarily a martial art by women for women. It is soft, supple and extremely deadly. The SABAI compensates for differences in physical strength and is therefore an excellent choice for defense against stronger opponents. Clothing, textiles and other soft objects are almost always available in everyday life. A scarf, a handbag loop, a jacket or a belt is rarely identified as a weapon by most people. Ignorant attackers therefore usually realize too late that they are dealing with an armed and capable person.

What is a Sabai?

The eponymous SABAI is a shoulder scarf, which is a traditional costume worn by women in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and in the coastal region of Sumatra. It descends from the Indian Sari. However, this does not imply any relation to Indian martial arts, because the concept of using flexible weapons was already known among the Gleeh-Warrioresses.

The term “Sbai” again comes from the Khmer and describes any kind of thin, soft textile. In the context of the Pahuyuth discipline of the same name, SABAI does not only mean shawls, but all kinds of flexible weapons. Traditionally, this also includes ropes, ropes, whips and fishing nets.

The fighting style of Sabai

The fighting style of the SABAI is primarily focused on defense. Above all, evasion or diversion techniques are used. Only rarely do SABAI-Warriors seek a direct confrontation. The goal of this defensive fighting method is the covert manipulation with the scarf, which often reveals its purpose only in the second or third movement. Aggressive attackers are lured into the trap and get caught in the scarf the more they resist.

It is said: A SABAI-Warrioress is a victim who ambuscades her attacker.

The offensive fighting power of the SABAI results from whip-like blows and the active use of pulley effects. Enemy body parts and weapons can be accelerated in any direction. In addition, there are knotting techniques that can restrict the attacker’s ability to move or even bring him to a standstill. Knowledge of human anatomy and its limits makes it possible to fix limbs or damage joints with a short jerk. Scarf attacks, that are directed against the neck-vertebrae or respiratory organs, usually end deadly.

An experienced SABAI-Warrior is never unarmed or defenseless. She knows how to defend herself with her own and improvised weapons against a single aggressor as well as against a group of armed and unarmed opponents. She masters fighting with flexible weapons standing and on the ground and can also use fist, foot, elbow and knee techniques. SABAI-Warriors are often also trained in LING LOM, which increases the dangerousness of their fighting style many times over.

Traditional clothing

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Traditional weapons

Pahuyuth martial art sabai martial art women self defense scarf rope whip fishing net traditional weapons

Scarf Handling

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Scarf Fighting Techniques

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SABAI students of the basic level (green belt) learn 156 school techniques.

Technical Manual

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The Pahuyuth Compendium contains the 156 school techniques of SABAI.

Book trailer

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The Pahuyuth Compendium is the new technical handbook for the basic level. It contains the basic techniques of MUAI, LING LOM, MEED, MAI SAWK, DAAB, GRABONG and SABAI.

SABAI – The secret martial art of concubines

At about the same time as the Chinese officially recognized the Lauw Tai Mung area (ca. 2000 BC), the Thai people adopted the Chinese custom of keeping a concubine.

Initially, these women served in the upper classes to maintain political peace by sending them to foreign cities or kingdoms as a pledge or proof of loyalty and were integrated into courts as respected concubines.

They were not allowed to carry weapons. In case of an attack they were not allowed to flee, because an unauthorized escape would have brought shame on the family and would have resulted in the execution of up to seven relatives (→ Seven Generations). These women were almost always condemned to end up as defenseless victims.

Legend has it that the women of the Gleeh tribes (early Thai) came up with the idea of teaching young women how to fight with simple clothes and scarves. It is also known that concubines trained this art secretly in the royal palace and passed it on in their circles in the greatest secrecy.

Until the epoch of Nanjauw (ca. 600 AD) SABAI was almost unknown. Only through Kru Maeh Boua (teacher mother-water-rose), the daughter of Kru Kun Plai, the knowledge about this fighting style could be collected, restructured and brought back to Pahuyuth.

Since then, SABAI is considered the most dangerous Pahuyuth discipline, especially when used in combination with LING LOM.

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SABAI – Effective self-protection and self-assertion for girls and women since 2000 B.C..

SABAI – a martial art by women for women

As in all Pahuyuth disciplines, most of the means and methods of the SABAI go far beyond the legally allowed level of self-defense.

Nevertheless, a training in Pahuyuth scarf fighting can be the basis for a healthy self-assertion and competent self-defense for girls and women. A trained scarf fighter is never helpless and can easily defend herself against larger and armed attackers.

SABAI for men

Of course men may also learn SABAI. However, this is only possible under certain conditions. For example, it is common for male participants to have to acquire fictitious female names under which they are known during the scarf training. Under certain circumstances, for example, the wearing of lipstick can be made a condition for male participants.

This tradition may sound funny to outsiders. But whoever respects women so little and takes his male ego so seriously that he would be too bad for it, has no place in a female martial art like SABAI. Didactic measures like these help to prevent dangerous fighting knowledge from falling into the wrong hands.

Pahuyuth sabai training

Showing the ropes – equality is a matter of course at the Pahuyuth School.

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