Why do Muay Thai fighters change their names?
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If you've ever watched fights in Thailand, or seen any Thai's fight, you may notice that there are several fighters with the same last name or that they are named after a gym. This isn't because it's their birth surname, it's due to the fact that it's traditional in Thailand for fighters to change their names.
The reason that Muay Thai fighters change their names
In Thailand, it is a common tradition that when a Muay Thai fighter starts to represent a gym professional, they take on the name of the gym as a show of honor and respect for the fighter.
Earning the gyms name is a right of honor in Thailand and something that gym owners and fighters take extremely seriously.
A fighter will also take on their gyms name to help promote the gym that they fight for. If they are seen to be winning often, this can be a big bonus to the gyms reputation and popularity.
Changing your name to the name of your gym also shows your loyalty to the gym. That’s an essential concept in fighting because it’s considered a virtue to remember the entity or the people who supported the fighter.
Do Muay Thai fighters change their names frequently?
Muay Thai fighters will change their names frequently if they move gyms often, or take on sponsorship deals.
If a fighter moves gym, this will mean that they will drop the name of the gym that they have just left, and take on the name of the new gym that they have joined.
Fighters may also change their name for sponsorship deals to help them financially. It'll often only be high-profile, popular fights which will earn such sponsorship deals.
Other traditions in Muay Thai
Wai Khru ritual
If you've ever been to a Muay Thai bout, you'll notice something a little different, and that's music playing during the bout.
The music is also played during the pre-fight ritual dance, which is called the Wai Khru. The Wai Khru is a ritual performed in the ring as a show of showing respect to ones coaches.
It also happens to be the perfect pre-fight stretch routine, which is an added little bonus for fighters!
Mongkon and Prajioud
In Thailand, they are extremely superstitious, and then grant magical powers to various things - even clothes.
When Thai people would go to war, warriors would be given amulets and pieces of clothing from loved ones to help protect them during the battles.
A Mongkon is a tight soft fabric handband, containing sacred letters and symbols. It is rolled tightly up to make it to make it look like cord and attached with sewing thread, sometimes sanctified. It is then enveloped into a second layer of fabric, handled by the teacher of the ceremony. Finally, the two are joined with woven thread in order to shape a tail.
The Mongkon is placed on the fighters head, this is to protect the most sensitive part of the fighter, which is their head.
Prajioud is a bracelet, traditionally crafted by teachers and then sanctified, wore around one or both biceps. The tradition comes from when the Thais would go to war, they would wrap a piece of loves ones clothing around their biceps.
The Sak Yant is a tattoo given by a Buddhist monk with a bamboo needle in order to bring protection and luck to the fighter.
In recent years, the tradition has changed a little and due to the dramatic increase of tourism in Thailand, more and more people are getting these tattoos done by a classic tattoo artist.
The main reason that a Muay Thai fighter will change their name is a show of loyalty and respect to their gym, and their coaches. Muay Thai fighters will change their names often during their career as they move gyms.