Muay Boran in the world - A current analysis
by Marco De Cesaris

Fifteen years has passed since we began to speak in Europe about Muay Thai Boran as the mother martial Art; in very recent times the famed combat sport in the entire world, known as Thai Boxing has developed. The reactions of the fans and the practitioners has gone from stupor to skepticism, as always happens when we are exposed to something new, which on one side attracts us, but on other (raises the questions of “assurances”) that we displayed with pride. This change from passive resistance to an expansive tendency already unstoppable (especially thanks to the total and unconditional support from the director of the magazine Budo Intenational, Alfredo Tucci), has created a fissure inside the micro-universe of ring sports and in the martial arts, in general: there are those who chose to understand what was happening the world of Muay Thai, in Thailand and on the European continent, as coming into a territory_unexplored until now_with heart, body and mind, and those who have remained blocked and stagnated in a position of total rejection. Each local reality has reacted in a different way of this revolution and surprisingly, the countries where interest grew immediately and a lot(Italy and Spain apart, the institutional headquarters of the Muay Boran Accademy since its creation)have been precisely the countries where until today Thai boxing was seen exclusively as a competitive form of boxing. With a powerful rebound effect, the Thai authorities in this matter-that is to say, the Culture Commission of the Ministry of Education-have understood what was happening in Europe, and recently have given a boost to a trend that will in the coming years bring a total re-evaluation of the Siamese martial tradition. For that reason, an exceptional synergy unites practitioners and Oriental and Western technicians perhaps like never before. But if it’s true Muay Thai Boran fascinates and attracts more and more fans, it is also true that very few people know how and who has reconstructed that technical patrimony, generally speaking, already in disuse un Thailand, where for many years the sports business governs the practice of Muay Thai at all levels. As we have already said in our previous articles of technical-historical nature, what is already commonly called Muay Boran is really a sensible mix of the characteristic elements of distinct technical focuses, defined by the Regional Styles Specialists(for example, Muay Chaiya, or Muay korat)and of the combative principles that follow a common logic(for example, the techniques of White Monkey or those of the Royal Guard called Muay Luang), updated and indeed usable by a modern Western practitioner thanks to a wise and continually modified methodological system. In this sense, it is right to say that current Muay Boran is at once an old and a new discipline: old in its strategies and the traditional techniques that come from very distant epochs, and modern because the codification of the technical knowledge so varied and disperse, has been done only a few years ago by experts (of Muay Thai) and academics(of the Siamese martial tradition) totally involved in the current reality and planning toward great future development. So, who has done the “in laboratory” reconstruction of this knowledge, so useful for the modern practitioner? The work of codification really followed two phases: the first was done in Thailand in the Office of the Culture Commission, and the second in Europe, between England and Italy. The first phase, in Thailand: the commission, created ad hoc with the precise task of bringing together techniques, principles, strategies and stylistic focuses from all the variations, forerunners of modern Thai Boxing, was put together by Doctor Somphon Saengchai, the Grand Master Yodtong Siwalala, Patchorn Muensorn, Natchaphon Banlenphadith, Jarusdej Ulit and the chairman Paosawat Saengswawn. Each one of them was(and still is)an expert in a particular sector of the discipline, and their common work, and for a long time, resulted in the first codification that made the enormous ocean of the Siamese martial traditions relatively intelligible by the hypothetical modern practitioner ( as much Master and student), already unaccustomed to all those acts made useless by the prohibitions of the sport regulations and to a nomenclature already unused by the Thais themselves. Second phase, in Europe: more or less simultaneously, the same Culture Commission, thanks to the work and untiring effort of a well-known thai Senator, General Tienchai Sirisompan, created a sports federation called IAMTF (today the International Muay Thai Federation), from which all the members of the commission formed a part as technicians, and whose international coordinator was- and is – the Grand Master Chinawooth Sirisompan, a Thai who has lived for a long time in Manchester and for that the perfect “bridge” between the two world. To be exact, Grand Master Chinawooth Sirisompan had the task, among others, of spreading the fruit of the Commissions work in the West in order to make the wealth of the Siamese martial traditions understood in the best possible way by non-Thai practitioners. For that, Master Sirisompan had to structure the technical learning in a coherent way and, after many attempts, he patented the first version of a technical program, articulated and sub-divided in levels called Khan, which would later be converted into the base for the official programs used today in many European countries and in all the clubs associated with the International Muay Boran Academy (IMBA). Because of the intense and constant collaboration of Grand Master Sirisompan with Master Marco De Cesaris ( who, until the meeting with Master Sirisompan, was a pure product of the most extreme competitive Muay Thai), which began 17 years ago and recently ended with the appointing of the Grand Master as Honorary President of the IMBA, we have now come to have a traditionally Siamese Martial Art perfectly adapted to the real demands of the Western practitioner ( self-defense, fitness, self-confidence, cultural study and even the practice of sport combat). When East and West meet, mutually respectful and taking the best of the other universe, as in this case, the synergy generated can’t but create an evolved and useful product, rich in secular traditions that characterize its unique nature.