Thai is a full-contact sport similar to boxing, except these fighters
can use fist, feet, shins, elbows, knees, and lots of clinching. It
is a swift sport featuring powerful blows, in-close elbows, and lots
of fantastic athleticism. Muay Thai is the national close-combat
martial art of Thailand developed hundreds of years ago. Thailand’s
history includes stories of great Muay Thai fighters and their heroic
battles. Just as Japan is known for Karate and China for Kung Fu,
so is Thailand known for Muay Thai.
Brief History of Muay Thai
ascension of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) to the throne in 1868
ushered in a golden age not only for muay but for the whole country
of Thailand. Muay progressed greatly during the reign of Rama V as a
direct result of the king’s personal interest in the sport.”
Muay Thai continued to gain popularity during the early 1900s with
the infusion of Westerners and their interest in the sport.
1990s saw Muay Thai gain worldwide popularity, and the governing
federation of fights grew to international proportions. Muay Thai is
now a mainstay in the fighting sports watched by enthusiasts across
the United States. I enjoy watching the skill and power of these
fighters and their distinctive style.
Want to know who the best Muay Thai fighters are? Check out Muay Thai Citizen’s list of the Top Ten Thai Fighters.
UFC and MMA fighters cross-train in Muay Thai to improve their
standing game. Others use a combination of Karate, Kickboxing, or
Savate. The combo of Muay Thai and Brazilian Jui-Jitsu is trendy
among MMA fighters.
Information about Muay Thai
World Muaythai Council (WMC) is one of the oldest and the largest
professional sanctioning organizations of Muaythai in the world for
the sport. The organization was set up in 1995 by parliament
resolution, and is incorporated by the Royal Thai Government and
sanctioned by the Sports Authority of Thailand, …” This is
the organization that approves professional fights for Muay Thai
fighters all over the world. Look for their logo on a sanctioned
fighter. Head over to their website to find out more.
Are you interested in the amateur fighters? There is an amateur body to sanction these fighters too. “In 1993, the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur, or IFMA, was inaugurated. It became the governing body of amateur Muay Thai consisting of 128 member countries worldwide and is recognized by Olympic Council of Asia.” If you want to be knowledgeable about the rising stars of Muay Thai, this is a great resource.
want to learn more Muay Thai
Though I don’t teach Muay Thai at my school, it is an incredible art. If this article stirs interest in the art of Muay Thai, take a look at Budo Videos for at-home training. This won’t take the place of a qualified instructor, but it will get you moving in the right direction.
If you want to add this to your school’s curriculum as a new program, consider enrolling at KRU Muay Thai for their instructor training.
nations and areas across the world have their indigenous martial
arts, developed through history in countless battles. These arts are
national treasures and should be preserved by those willing to put in
the work and dedication to acquire the skills. What other art forms
do you know of from other countries?
Year of the Pig? Year of the Rat? Year of the Ox? Why is there a new animal every lunar new year? It has to do with Chinese astrology. In China and many other countries share similar calendars assign an animal to each year. There are 12 animals, and they have characteristics and traits that people born in those years display. Western Astrology is similar, where your birth month links to a zodiac sign and signals particular characteristics. Instead of assigning an animal to a specific month, the Lunar system assigns the animal to a year. What is the origin of animal years?
The Great Race
It all began many, many years ago, when the Jade Emperor of the Celestial Kingdom (Heaven) held a contest. The Emperor declared the winners of the Great Race would have years named after them. Cat and Rat were friends. Cat asked Rat to wake him up in the morning so they could run together. Unfortunately, in the morning, Rat was so eager to get started, he forgot to wake up the Cat. When Rat reached the end of the race, he found a wide river blocking his path. ‟How will I get across such a wide river?” though the Rat.
Luckily, Ox was also in the race and came upon the river too. Rat asked Ox if he could ride on ox’s back across the river. Ox agreed, and together they swam across the river. As Ox approached the far shore, Rat quickly ran across Ox and jumped to the shore. Rat continued running and won the race. Thus the first year is named for Rat. Ox climbed out of the river and finished second.
Tiger arrived next. Though Tiger was a strong swimmer, the tide had fought his progress and delayed his arrival. Rabbit soon followed, hopping from rock to rock across the wide river. Rabbit did falter when he slipped off a rock. Luckily, a log floated by, and Rabbit rode it to the shore. The Jade Emperor named the third and fourth year after Tiger and Rabbit.
When Dragon arrived at the finish line, the Jade Emperor asked why Dragon took so long to race. After all, the Dragon can fly. Dragon explained that as he flew by, a small village suffered from a drought, so Dragon gave them rain. Then Dragon spotted a rabbit drowning in the river, so Dragon sent a log to aid him. The Emperor was impressed by Dragon’s good nature and named him the fifth year.
A wet horse galloped towards the finish line, fresh from swimming across the river. Unbeknownst to the Horse, Snake attached himself to Horse’s leg. Once Horse noticed the rider, he reared up in shock. Snake jumped off the leg and crossed the finish line. The Horse followed across to become the seventh winner.
Sometime later, Goat, Monkey, and Rooster arrived at the finish line. They teamed up to overcome the challenges of the race. Rooster found a raft so all three could ride on the raft. Monkey and Goat paddled to the far side. The Jade Emperor was impressed by the teamwork of these three animals and assigned them to the next years – eight, nine, and ten.
In eleventh place was Dog. Though a good swimmer and fast runner, Dog got distracted in the river. Dog played and swam for quite some time before remembering he was in a race. The Jade Emperor decided to end the event and was starting to close down. ‟Oink.”
The Jade Emperor looked down and saw that Pig had crossed the finish line. ‟Why did you take so long to arrive?” asked the Emperor. Pig was hungry and stopped to eat. After eating, Pig grew sleepy and took a nap. Pig woke up and hurried to the finish.
Sadly much later, Cat woke up and missed the whole race. Furious, Cat hates Rat and will chase him any chance he gets.
Here’s the recap of the story. ‟The 12 animals in order are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep (Goat), Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.”  This cycle repeats every twelve years.
In Europe, Greek Philosophy gave us four elements. They are fire, water, earth, and wind. Chinese alchemy has five elements. These elements describe how things interact and relate to each other. They are ‟…wood, fire, earth, metal, and water — are believed to be the fundamental elements of everything in the universe between which interactions occur.”
Often you’ll hear someone say Metal Pig or Earth Rooster. Each year has an elemental yang aspect, the next year, an elemental yin aspect. This pattern repeats six times in a 60-year cycle. Each animal has an elemental aspect of both yin and yang versions. These aspects color the trait for the animal during the year. Again, this mirrors how Western Zodiac behaves with the Greek elements.
What is Your Birth Year and Element?
Confused? Here’s the Wikipedia table to clear up the confusion. Use it to find your Animal and Element. 
Once you know what your zodiac animal is and your yin or yang element, you can look up the traits you possess and display to others. For instance, if you were a Rat, you would be intelligent and ambitious. You are good at socializing and keep your personal life private. You may have difficulty trusting others, and you are very bright. If you were a Water Rat, you would express wisdom and display an agile mind. If you were an Earth Rat, you would show nurturing traits and honesty. The possible combinations are immense. Layer in the theory that months have assigned animals, solar terms (two-week segments), and hours. This quagmire of influences is just as obscure as Western Zodiac, which does the same thing with zodiac houses and hours.
By now, you can fully appreciate the Lunar New Year. In my previous article, I explain what the Lunar New Year is and what to expect. My other article discusses the Lantern Festival, which caps the Lunar New Year celebration, dragon and lion dance. These festive activities are the highlight of young and old alike. Until next time, Gong Hay Fat Choi.
The Lunar New Year ends with the lantern festival, signaled by the arrival of dancers. The most impressive is the Dragon Dance featuring a long serpentine dragon hoisted by many people. The other dance featured at the Lunar New Year is the Lion Dance, in which two acrobatic or martial arts trained people to delight the audience with their antics. These beasts, the dragon, and the lion are representations of the creatures. To an untrained eye, they are difficult to distinguish apart.
What is the difference? I’m here to help you know the difference.
The Dragon Dance ‟…is performed by a team of experienced dancers who manipulate a long flexible figure of a dragon using poles positioned at regular intervals along the length of the dragon. The dance team simulates the imagined movements of this river spirit in a sinuous, undulating manner.” The dragon must be very long and have an odd number of poles or segments for good luck. The fabricated dragon body is very long, writhing up, down, left, and right by the dancers. This is the most distinguishing feature of the two creatures. If there are many dancers hoisting poles, it’s a dragon.
represent wisdom, wealth, and power. They also drive away evil
spirits and bad luck. Other performers play instruments such as
drums, gongs, and horns. Colors are generally green or gold
representing the harvest or the Chinese Empire respectively.
Sometimes, the dragon will follow a man with a ball representing the
pearl of wisdom. I’ve been told it is very auspicious to watch a
dragon dance, so take every opportunity to observe its presentation.
The Lion Dance is a much shorter animal. ‟[L]ions have two performers inside a costume (one controlling the front legs, head, and mouth and the other controlling the hindquarters)” These performers must be even more acrobatic and playful because the lion is ‟…curious creatures with a penchant for mischief…” and should be very playful in its dance. The lion performers are hidden by the costume while the dragon performers are visible beneath the dragon’s body.
the Lion bats its large eyes at your, that signals your participation
in the dance. Feed the lion’s mouth a red envelope for good luck.
The lion chases away evil spirits and acts as a guardian of the local
community. Martial arts schools gain prestige by providing dancers
for the Lion Dance. We should create a team in our school to dance
hope you enjoyed our second article about the Lunar New Year and the
Dances. The next article will cover the Chinese Zodiac Animals and
how they play into the cycles of the years.
What is the Lunar New Year? It is the start of the year for calendars that use the lunar cycle, from new moon to dark moon, as their months which form a year. Some countries such as China use a combination of lunar months and solar cycles known as the lunisolar calendar. In Vietnamese communities, the new year is known as Tet. For Korean communities, it is Seollal. In Chinese cultures, it is often called the Spring Festival.
The Lunar New Year is‟… [the] festival typically celebrated in China and other Asian countries that begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, 15 days later.” In San Diego, where we have many people from various Asian cultures, it is a big city-wide event celebrated over the weekend. From my experience with corporate life, in China and elsewhere, the whole community shuts down for the 15 days to celebrate. This is akin to how the US shuts down for two weeks between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
It is traditional to clean your house before the Spring Festival to ensure good luck for the coming year by sweeping out the bad luck. ‟Also on New Year’s day, family members receive red envelopes (lai see) containing small amounts of money. Dragon dances and fireworks are prevalent throughout the holidays, culminating in the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated on the last day of the New Year’s celebrations.”
The red envelopes contain money, usually in the form of coins. This represents having a prosperous new year when you start with money in hand. The envelopes are given you children from their parents and other family members. The festival is filled with sweets and favorite foods, which means you’ll have sweetness in the new year. The celebration is about starting off the new year on the right step, setting up your luck and prosperity.
The tradition of celebrating the New Year on the lunar cycle is thousands of years old. There is a story told of a monstrous beast who eats humans every New Year’s Day. People figured out that the beast feared the color red, fire, and loud noises. This is the mythical reason for the firecrackers, red decorations, and lanterns. They drive off evil spirits and bad luck.
Here are some things you should know about the Lunar New Year celebration.
It’s not called Chinese New Year, even in China.
It’s not one day. It lasts for 15 days.
It’s the season for superstitions.
There are words to avoid because they sound like things which are bad luck.
Firecrackers scare away monsters.
Wear red for good luck.
It’s time for sweets, so take a break from your diet or no-sweets resolution.
It has its own movie genre in China and Hong Kong.
The customs and traditions vary from country to country, and region to region.
Enjoy the celebration!
Look for your local celebration of Lunar New Year. In San Diego, there is a big celebration in the City Heights area every year. As they say in Cantonese, ‟Gong Hay Fat Choi” or Happy New Year!
It is the time of the year to set your new resolution. What is the resolution? Think of it as a goal for the next year. You want to start something or stop something. Usually, that something is a behavior or habit. Experience and cultural expectations tell us that you’ll stop implanting your resolution by the end of January, February at the latest.
This year, resolve to beat that expectation and reach your goal.
Decide what behavior you want to change. Do you want to start something or stop something? Is it because you want to do it or because you think you should? I suggest you do something you are motivated to do. You need passion. If you are doing it for lackluster reasons, you’re doomed to struggle or fail.
We’ll implement SMART goal system. Make your goal specific. The S in SMART. Pick something very clear and easy to identify. If your goal is too vague, it will be difficult to keep it in mind.
You need a way to measure your progress. This is the M in SMART. How will you know if you are doing well or on course if you don’t know how to track your progress?
You should make your goal achievable. The A in SMART. The goal should be realistically attainable using your plan and will power. The goal should also play into your overall vision or multi-year plan for your life. How do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
The goal or resolution should be relevant to your life or situation. The best goals are personal goals that mean something to you.
Timely is the T in SMART. This means there is s deadline for your resolution. The best deadlines are soon rather than later or a year off. You need some time pressure to fortify your will power to stay the course. Set a deadline that is reasonable and achievable. If you are tracking your progress, you can adjust the deadline to fit with setbacks or changes to your situation.
Bonus tip! Just like in martial arts, you need to break down challenges into digestible chunks. This is the key to success and victory. Make a big goal into several, smaller goals that lead up to your success. That’s why we use colored ranks leading up to Black Belt.
When you have a plan and a goal, your objective or target will most likely be achieved and successful. Follow these tips to change your life little by little. Need a few sample goals? I know you did.
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Already an active member? Consider upgrading to a more challenging program like the Black Belt Club.
Start a bullet journal or diary to track your thoughts and ideas.
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There you have it, a great start to the New Year with a little planning and preparation. There is no stress if you map out a route to follow. It doesn’t have to be the plan or route for the entire year. It’s just a place to start. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Take that step.