Photographers Matteo and Anna @ Nutshell Travel are the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributors of this documentary photography. From the project ‘MUAY THAI’. To see Matteo and Anna’s body of work, click on any image.
Thailand is the place where you can learn the art of Muay Thai, their national sport. A sport characterized by pre-combat dances and rituals, with a story hundreds of years old behind it, called “the art of eight limbs”. There is no distinction of sex, age or ethnicity. Everyone can train, be tested and compete. It becomes not only a sport to follow but a profession to practice for both Thai people and expats.
You breathe oil and sweat in the air, and the gloves are hanging on the ropes of the ring, waiting for the next match.
An example is the Petchrung gym in Pattaya, run by Filippo Cinti, former WPMF world champion 2005, WKN2004 professional European champion, now established in Thailand since 2003. Filippo is an inspiration for all the boys who cross the entrance of the gym, such as Dylan, a 24 years old French fighter who met the art of Muay Thai 8 years ago and fell in love with it.
Their warm up follows everyday the same pattern: wake up at 4 am and start with the running and then move inside the gym.
Stretching and rope jumping are followed by muscle relaxation smelling tiger balm, before getting to the best part of the day: the training itself. The practice, made of strokes and holds, in which the relationship between teacher and pupil is consolidated. After months of hard training, the time comes for the match for Dylan, inside the Max Muay Thai Stadium.
Tension rises up inside the locker rooms. You can feel it while the fighters are covering their hands with bandages and they are stretching their bodies with massages. This is the way the concentration gets to the highest level before the fight.
Wearing boxing gloves, the Mongkhon, the traditional ornamental hat that every fighter wears, is placed on Dylan’s head, along with the Prajied bracelets worn to keep the bad spirits away.
Dylan enters scenically under the eyes of an enthusiastic public and a flood of gambling freaks who are elbowing silently on the ringside.
Once the ritual dance is over, Dylan heads towards the corner of the ring. Here Filippo takes the Mongkon off his head and puts it on the ropes so he can keep being protected during the match.
The fight is spectacular and bloody, and goes on with slow movements, aimed shots and prayers whispered by the athlete. The vaseline, previously spread on the body, stanches the blood from the wounds. What is surprising, regardless of the result is the mutual respect shown by the fighters themselves, both inside and outside the ring. And that is the real victory.
The main aim is not learning, but learning how to learn. This is the way you gain awareness of how your origin, your age and your wealth mean nothing, if you do not learn respect first.
All images © Matteo and Anna @ Nutshell Travel
By Matteo and Anna @ Nutshell Travel