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Malik

Names, nicknames, thai gyms etiquette and customs

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Hi everyone,

So we usually know thai fighters by their nicknames, or fighters names, but I was wondering how they actually call each other when they meet, or train, and sometimes live together.

The second part of my question is in regard to the teachers. I believe "Kru" means teacher in thai, and if I remember correctly "Pi" is a form of respect that one puts before the name of the person they are addressing. So how should one call his teacher in thailand, would it be "Kru X", or "Pi X". Also what if the teacher was a fighter. For example I've read online that Karuhat's real name was Suweet. If he was my teacher, should I call him "Kru Karuhat", "Pi Karuhat", "Kru Suweet" or "Pi Suweet"? Lastly just out of curiosity, I was wondering if "Kru Nu" was Sylvie's teacher name, his nickname?...Thanks a lot!!

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37 minutes ago, Malik said:

Hi everyone,

So we usually know thai fighters by their nicknames, or fighters names, but I was wondering how they actually call each other when they meet, or train, and sometimes live together.

The second part of my question is in regard to the teachers. I believe "Kru" means teacher in thai, and if I remember correctly "Pi" is a form of respect that one puts before the name of the person they are addressing. So how should one call his teacher in thailand, would it be "Kru X", or "Pi X". Also what if the teacher was a fighter. For example I've read online that Karuhat's real name was Suweet. If he was my teacher, should I call him "Kru Karuhat", "Pi Karuhat", "Kru Suweet" or "Pi Suweet"? Lastly just out of curiosity, I was wondering if "Kru Nu" was Sylvie's teacher name, his nickname?...Thanks a lot!!

In my experience it mostly revolves around how well you know them on a personal level as well as personal preference for them. Usually if you have no relationship with them outside a gym setting Kru is what will be used, though they aren't all comfortable with this title. Pi is more personal. It is used for elders/siblings, and often involves a change in names (almost all Thai's have a "play" name or a short/nickname). For example, my old trainer would go by either Kru Korat or simply Korat with students. This was part of his fighting name. Because I lived with them though, for me it became Pi Sak. To make it even more confusing, his family and very old friends who had known him since childhood referred to him as Pi Joy and his wife uses all three depending what mood she is in lol. 

Long story short, either Kru or Pi are acceptable, though they may change names depending on which you are using. I'm guessing "Nu" is Kru Nu's play/nickname. His students probably refer to his as Kru Nu but everyone else calls him Pi Nu. I've never met him though, so I'm just making a guess 😄 

Edited by Tyler Byers
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On 7/24/2019 at 11:00 PM, Malik said:

Hi everyone,

So we usually know thai fighters by their nicknames, or fighters names, but I was wondering how they actually call each other when they meet, or train, and sometimes live together.

The second part of my question is in regard to the teachers. I believe "Kru" means teacher in thai, and if I remember correctly "Pi" is a form of respect that one puts before the name of the person they are addressing. So how should one call his teacher in thailand, would it be "Kru X", or "Pi X". Also what if the teacher was a fighter. For example I've read online that Karuhat's real name was Suweet. If he was my teacher, should I call him "Kru Karuhat", "Pi Karuhat", "Kru Suweet" or "Pi Suweet"? Lastly just out of curiosity, I was wondering if "Kru Nu" was Sylvie's teacher name, his nickname?...Thanks a lot!!

Most people are called by their nicknames, or "play" name. School kids call their teachers by "Kru" and then the play name. "Real" names are very rarely used. Nobody calls anybody by their real name unless it's a legal document or something like the IFMA where you have to register with your legal name. For fighters, they're called by their fight name by fans and when being referred to as that fighter, but if someone knows them even as an acquaintance it's the play name. So, Dieselnoi will refer to Karuhat in the 3rd person but call him by his play name to his face or if he's talking to me, because I know him personally also. I occasionally call Dieselnoi by his play name, but mostly I use "Ajarn Dieselnoi" as a sign of respect, but Ajarn + his play name works just as well.

"Pi" is an older sibling, so it's appropriate if you are semi-familiar or familiar with someone who is your age or older. Pi Nu is "Pi" plus the play name (which in his case is just a shortening of his real name, like how westerners have nicknames that are just shorter versions of given-names, whereas many play names are completely different from given names. Example is Pi Nu's son: real name: Titee, play name: Bank, fight name: Tongchai)  Dieselnoi is too much older than me for me to call him "Pi" unless I kind of forget. It's appropriate to call him "Lung", which is like an uncle, but "Arjan" feels more respectful to me. Karuhat is also old enough that I could call him "Lung Sian," but he'd be offended by that, like I was calling him old, so even though the age difference makes that appropriate, I use "Pi" for his ego, hahaha. 

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3 hours ago, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Karuhat is also old enough that I could call him "Lung Sian," but he'd be offended by that, like I was calling him old, so even though the age difference makes that appropriate, I use "Pi" for his ego, hahaha. 

One of my former (and favorite) trainers met Karuhat recently at Rompo gym and proudly posted a photo of them both on Facebook with the caption "my idol". And others would comment and refer to Karuhat as Pi Sian. I'm pretty sure they don't know him at all so I took it as a sign that they used Pi just as dudes will use "my bro". Sort of to indicate closeness and "I know this dude he my bro"?

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On 8/4/2019 at 6:31 PM, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Most people are called by their nicknames, or "play" name. School kids call their teachers by "Kru" and then the play name. "Real" names are very rarely used. Nobody calls anybody by their real name unless it's a legal document or something like the IFMA where you have to register with your legal name. For fighters, they're called by their fight name by fans and when being referred to as that fighter, but if someone knows them even as an acquaintance it's the play name. So, Dieselnoi will refer to Karuhat in the 3rd person but call him by his play name to his face or if he's talking to me, because I know him personally also. I occasionally call Dieselnoi by his play name, but mostly I use "Ajarn Dieselnoi" as a sign of respect, but Ajarn + his play name works just as well.

"Pi" is an older sibling, so it's appropriate if you are semi-familiar or familiar with someone who is your age or older. Pi Nu is "Pi" plus the play name (which in his case is just a shortening of his real name, like how westerners have nicknames that are just shorter versions of given-names, whereas many play names are completely different from given names. Example is Pi Nu's son: real name: Titee, play name: Bank, fight name: Tongchai)  Dieselnoi is too much older than me for me to call him "Pi" unless I kind of forget. It's appropriate to call him "Lung", which is like an uncle, but "Arjan" feels more respectful to me. Karuhat is also old enough that I could call him "Lung Sian," but he'd be offended by that, like I was calling him old, so even though the age difference makes that appropriate, I use "Pi" for his ego, hahaha. 

Hi Malik! I've only called people by their first names in super formal situations. Usually at work, when they're a customer or a colleague I'm meeting for the first time (or writing an email to). Then, you'd use "khun ____", but pretty much right after that, it's nicknames all the way. It would be really strange for me to address a trainer by his first name. Kind of like how you would never call me by my first name, middle name and surname unless you were some kind of official..or if you were my mum and I was in trouble for something. 

Sylvie, I laughed at the idea of you calling Karuhat 'Lung Sian', just imagining how he would respond to that!

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Thanks Sylvie! So for example how should I call Kaensak? "Arjan" sounds too much because he looks young lol, I don't know if I could use "pi", and if so, can I ask him his play name? May be I am overthinking all this since I'm in fact in the US and all that is not as relevant as I would like it to be...

Thanks Emma! So I assume that if I were to have a casual encounter in the street, and I would ask their name, they would automatically respond with their nickname, right? And I could even know them for a long time without knowing their first name?...

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5 hours ago, Malik said:

And I could even know them for a long time without knowing their first name?...

If you meet someone on the street they would give you their nickname. If you want to adress them formally you use Khun and then their nickname. But if you add them on social media you most likely will get to know their other names. Or if you exchange emails as Emma points out above.

A lot of thai people use their first name as facebook name which has the negative consequence that I keep forgetting people's nicknames which is what I generally use when talking to them. Some people use both first name and nickname on facebook which makes everything much easier. Many of them use thai letters (obviously) which makes it extremely difficult if you cannot read and write thai, especially if you want to tag them in a post 🙂.

At work we have a funny system, non-thais go by their first name (no Mr or Ms) and their emails are surname@domainname. Thai staff we address using their nicknames, even our most senior colleagues and their emails are firstname@domainname. When they are new and introduce themselves they send out an email giving us their full name and then usually an apology for their name being so long and difficult to remember followed by "...but you can call me [nickname]". So I know the first name and surname of all my colleagues but refer to them and address them by their nickname. 

My younger thai colleagues I am casual with call me Pi. People I deal with for example companies delivering services call me Khun. I always address people more senior with me Khun, when writing an email usually you shorten it as in Dear K. Nickname (or P. ) However, in many cases with people I only deal with via email, I  only know their first name and surname and not their nickname if they have not added it to their email signature. In that case, I use their first name. I never ever use their surnames. The few Muslim thais I know go by their Muslim names. 

I never had a thai trainer refer to themselves as a Kru, it has been other people who use it when referring to them in 3rd person. I usually use their nicknames or whatever they told me their name was when introducing themselves to me. Sometimes their fight name. At my gym we have two headtrainers, I would not think they are Arjans, they are in their early 40s, but even the thai guys refer to them as Arjan so I do too. I think it is a bit of a joke but I have no clue. 

However, I would not worry about this too much. Just ask how they want to be addressed. Thai people are tolerant people and understand foreigners are different and that their own system can be tricky for us. And if you in the US, I would go by local culture.  

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On 8/6/2019 at 5:07 AM, Malik said:

Thanks Sylvie! So for example how should I call Kaensak? "Arjan" sounds too much because he looks young lol, I don't know if I could use "pi", and if so, can I ask him his play name? May be I am overthinking all this since I'm in fact in the US and all that is not as relevant as I would like it to be...

Thanks Emma! So I assume that if I were to have a casual encounter in the street, and I would ask their name, they would automatically respond with their nickname, right? And I could even know them for a long time without knowing their first name?...

I call him Pi Ken (Kaensak), as his play name is Ken. Arjan is very respectful, but given how he talks on Facebook you'd be the only person ever doing that. Kru is respectful and not too formal. But just ask him how he wants to be called. That's the 100% best way to know.

As for people's given names, you might never know them. Play names are what's used almost all the time.

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