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Coach James Poidog

Music during fights. Must have? Keep it but turn the volume down? Or not at all (heresy)?

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This might seem like an odd question to bring up, but a peer posted in an American muay Thai forum about the traditional music being played during competition. He asked if people (coaches and fighters mostly) felt the music was too loud, specifically to hear the corner during the fight. In seeing the responses I thought, more for curiosity sake, it would be a good question to ask the international crowd. If asked, Ill put my feelings in a comment below.

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Geez, such a large, loaded issue that ultimately comes down to Muay Thai branding, and it's value. Muay Thai is pulled in two directions, right? Dive in, and become more and more like Kickboxing, which itself isn't very popular, which is parasitic upon MMA...so, ultimately, become more and more like MMA. There is a stream flowing, let's try to be in it as much as we can. And, alternately, try to brand Muay Thai as distinct, full of cultural heritage, unique, and not like Kickboxing at all. It seems to me that the more it tries to become like Kickboxing it's just going to be a weird form of Kickboxing. And as Kickboxing is already terribly niche, this kind puts Muay Thai in a very tiny corner with almost no real possibility for growth. Additionally, if we are going to admit that at least in the United States Muay Thai is always going to be niche, niche sports thrive on the passion of their followers. It isn't going to be huge numbers that is going to float that boat, but rather the intensity of the few. All this points to - at least to me - that western expressions of the sport really do have to embrace the Thai-ness of the sport, and this includes it's practices and beliefs, the things that make it historically special, enrich it. There are branding advantages to this. The specialness can feel exotic (there is a history of martial art passion through the exoticness of it), and it can feel transportive. The music is part of that.

There is also just the case for preserving Muay Thai's identity, as an identity. I've written in the past on what I believe are the 6 core aspects of the sport, the last of these includes the cultural anchor:

The Essence of Muay Thai – 6 Core Aspects That Make it What It Is

6 Core Aspects of Muay Thai.PNG

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One of the reasons I think that the traditional Muay music isn't necessary for Western promotions is that it's not live. Ever. The live version is great because the musicians not only read the action and respond, but also press the action by speeding up or getting louder, etc. It's like an orchestra pit under the stage of a ballet, versus those gymnastics floor routines set to a Michael Jackson mix (or something). They're not the same thing as each other. The use of the traditional music in the West is a nod to the traditions of Muay Thai, which I like. I wasn't allowed to do my Ram Muay at many of my fights in the US, first because they changed it so that only Pros were allowed, then they just cut the bullshit and said there's no time. There have been a handful of times in Thailand that I've been told not to do the Ram Muay (the Wai Kru bowing to your corner bit is ALWAYS allowed) due to televised shows not having time, or to speed it up and do an abridged version. I bitched about not being able to do my Ram Muay in America, quite a lot. I even said "fuck you" and did it anyway more than once. 

That said, keeping the music and butchering the art doesn't make up for it. People who do videos shadowboxing with a Mongkol on their head, it's got good intentions but what the hell is going on? If you're going to leave out some elements because they're strange to foreign audiences, that's fine. A Ram Muay is hard to watch if you don't know what you're looking at. The traditional music isn't easy on the ears if you aren't accustomed to it. But changing the movements, rule sets, and integrity of the sport - that feels more nefarious to me than the music. If they stopped playing it in Thailand, however (which, THAI FIGHT and other "international shows" have opted to do), I'd feel totally differently. It's a loss from the Thai tradition, it's a nod or not from the West.

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11 hours ago, Coach James Poidog said:

This might seem like an odd question to bring up, but a peer posted in an American muay Thai forum about the traditional music being played during competition. He asked if people (coaches and fighters mostly) felt the music was too loud, specifically to hear the corner during the fight. In seeing the responses I thought, more for curiosity sake, it would be a good question to ask the international crowd. If asked, Ill put my feelings in a comment below.

I'm asking the question, James....😀😀😀. My opinion is more or less identical to Sylvie's.

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8 hours ago, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

One of the reasons I think that the traditional Muay music isn't necessary for Western promotions is that it's not live. Ever. The live version is great because the musicians not only read the action and respond, but also press the action by speeding up or getting louder, etc. It's like an orchestra pit under the stage of a ballet, versus those gymnastics floor routines set to a Michael Jackson mix (or something). They're not the same thing as each other. The use of the traditional music in the West is a nod to the traditions of Muay Thai, which I like. I wasn't allowed to do my Ram Muay at many of my fights in the US, first because they changed it so that only Pros were allowed, then they just cut the bullshit and said there's no time. There have been a handful of times in Thailand that I've been told not to do the Ram Muay (the Wai Kru bowing to your corner bit is ALWAYS allowed) due to televised shows not having time, or to speed it up and do an abridged version. I bitched about not being able to do my Ram Muay in America, quite a lot. I even said "fuck you" and did it anyway more than once. 

That said, keeping the music and butchering the art doesn't make up for it. People who do videos shadowboxing with a Mongkol on their head, it's got good intentions but what the hell is going on? If you're going to leave out some elements because they're strange to foreign audiences, that's fine. A Ram Muay is hard to watch if you don't know what you're looking at. The traditional music isn't easy on the ears if you aren't accustomed to it. But changing the movements, rule sets, and integrity of the sport - that feels more nefarious to me than the music. If they stopped playing it in Thailand, however (which, THAI FIGHT and other "international shows" have opted to do), I'd feel totally differently. It's a loss from the Thai tradition, it's a nod or not from the West.

Excellent perspective. That was someone elses opinion on the forum too. Its about true authenticity. Dont even get me started on the ram muay lol. 

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5 hours ago, Jeremy Stewart said:

I'm asking the question, James....😀😀😀. My opinion is more or less identical to Sylvie's.

My opinion originally was selfish, I want my fighter to be able to hear me or have the best opportunity to be able to hear me during the fight. But my opinion changed when a friend and peer said how about we train our fighter to have enough fight iq to handle themselves during the fight to where you only need to give them instructions between rounds, that way we keep the music as is. This made more sense to me, especially because lowering the volume wouldnt necessarily make it easier to hear the corner anyway (not to mention it makes a better fighter). Im more like Kevin in that I feel we've already lost so much that is distinct to muay Thai, like the ram muay (because of time and interest of the casual observer) that I dont want to lose much else. Theres so much that is enacted but barely understood but its there meaning we might get understanding later vs if it was gone. Btw, I kind of expected most people wouldnt even think of getting rid of it, but I was curious to see if there were any. Sylvie's answer was the type I was hoping for because it might be unexpected and its layered. 

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Re the typical "snake charmer" music, which isnt everyones cup of tea.  Esp not with the newbes. - Although you get used to it with time!   🙂

You often hear the same newbees comment and even critisize the music, that is why I do comment.

 

OK, my point.  What is the alternative?  The risk is big, they would instead play such a loud "training friendly" music, as they often do in warming up - even sometimes in Thailand, before the matches...

Is this "music" better?   I myself dont like it, and I dont understand how you can perform optimally with such a meaningsless loud "music"...  It may be just me, but  I cant with this sort of music if I shall focus on anything more than superficial routine work.

Classical music would probably be better.   Best probably something especially composed for such purposes.

 

Anyway, as long there is no especially composed / choosed,  suitable music -  lets keep to the traditional Thai "snake charmer" music.

And if it can be done by a live orchestra, whom is deeply knowleable with the Muay culture and Muay fights, and thus, can skillfully adapt, follow and lead the matches -  yes, it may easily be the optimal - having the traditions and culture as heavy plusses...

 

Edited by StefanZ
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