Muay Chaiya- my move from peace studies to self defence!

I recently had the honour of training with THE master of Muay Chaiya, Kruu Preng (he’s the serious looking dude in the second row).

Muay Chaiya was developed about 250 years ago in the town of Chaiya, in the South of Thailand (Surat Thani province) by a great soldier, Poh Tan Mah. It is based on the philosophy of why take 3 steps to demobilise a person when you can do it in one (yes, one) and specializes in blocking with the elbows and knees, with every leg or arm bent, even when the boxer attacks.

Most tourists are familiar with Muay Thai which is the ring sport involving two fighters using their long legs to kick each other’s body. Muay Thai is a ring sport rather than the ‘true’ martial arts form, and apparently, many of the films that claim to be using Muay Chaiya is actually Muay Thai. (It is interesting to note that many Thais perceive of Muay Thai as a poor man’s sport and that only very poor people train in order to earn money through the ring sport. I am not too sure why this is the case, as ‘hi-so’ (high society) socialites do not typically look down on other martial art forms.)

Our trainer, Kruu Preng, told us how actors like Jackie Chan had sought him out so that they can be trained in Muay Chaiya. However, as the master, his ultimate goal is to keep Muay Chaiya true to its original form rather than diluted with other martial art forms in movies. He must be one of few people able to say no to Jackie!

He also recounted a story about one of his students in South Thailand, a petite and short woman, who was accosted by a group of 5 Muay Thai fighters. They mocked her as a Muay Chaiya student and suggested that it was not real Thai boxing. Words were followed with actions, with one kicking her in the arms (as is normal in Muay Thai). She was poised and ready, responding with a typical Muay Chaiya block and a powerful punch into his crown jewels. Unfortunately for him, he took several days to recover in the local hospital.

Here are some videos of Kruu Preng in action on the History Channel etc:

If you are in Thailand and interested in learning Muay Chaiya, make sure that it is under the leadership of Kruu Preng as there are many bogus schools out there. He has three schools in Chiang Mai, Bangkok and another in Southern Thailand.

2 Responses to “Muay Chaiya- my move from peace studies to self defence!”
  1. Stephanie Chung says:

    Interesting information. Thanks!

  2. Jacob Elliott says:

    It’s funny you say that Kru Preang wants to keep the art in its original form since he has added a grappling element to muay chaiya. I’m not trying to start a teacher vs teacher war but this sounds like propaganda to me!

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