Muay Thai Culture – Wai Khru

Wai Khru Ram Muay (Thai: ไหว้ครูรำมวย, rtgs: wai khru ram muay) is a warm up activity that can be seen before Muay Thai fights start. People new to the sport might wonder what this strange ‘dance’ has to do with fighting. There is, however, lots of history and meaning behind it.  In general “Wai” (putting your hands together as if you would say a prayer) is very important in Thailand. The Wai is a way of showing respect towards someone. In this case the fighter shows respect to his Muay Thai teacher, his “Khru” (Khru = Thai for ‘teacher’).  Ram stands for the old, traditional Thai dance and Muay stands for ‘boxing’.

Mostly you will not hear Thais calling it Wai Khru Ram Muay but rather Ram Muay or Wai Khru. It’s simply shorter. The whole process is there to show respect to teachers and trainers but also to warm up. In addition, since fights in the past have been held in front of the King the Ram Muay was also there to apologize to the King for the brutality that was to unfold in the ring.

Fighters perform the Ram Muay before each fight and the demonstration should show a fighter’s control and style. Each fighter performs the Ram Muay on each side of the ring to demonstrate his prowess to the audience. While there are certain parts of the Wai Khru, the whole thing is also quite personal and ranges from rather basic Ram Muay showings to quite sophisticated ones that take longer. Those personal showings often hint on the fighters background, his home province and his trainer.

While performing the Wai Khru the fighter usually wears a headband that is called “Mongkhon” and armbands that are called “Pra Jiad”. While doing so cultural music is being played.