Friday, July 23rd, 2010

blessed by the monks and protected from injury…

The Mongkong is a traditional headpiece worn by Muay Thai fighters when they enter the ring, and an intregal part of the Muay Thai culture. Each gym or camp has a Mongkong that represents the spirit and strength of the school and it’s master instructor. It is warn on the head to bring prosperity and good fortune while warding away danger and injury.

According to Thai tradition and beliefs, how the Mongkongs were made varied according to the practice of the master instructor. When Thailand was still named Siam, the belief was that the Siamese warriors tied a bandana-like cloth around their heads before engaging in battle. They would often chant Buddhist incantations like “Gam Baan Nak Muen” which meant “the clenched-fist weighing many thousands.” This began the tradition of the master instructors making and passing on a Mongkong to his student.

Legends of the Mongkong were passed down from generation to generation, telling of the many ways to bless a Mongkong with supernatural powers, like invulnerability. They also told of a snake forming a circlet while eating it’s tail; it would be dried and have incantations cast upon it by Buddhist Monks. Other legends tell of the bones of a fighter’s ancestors being woven into the threads of the Mongkong as a spiritual blessing.

Each Mongkong is specially hand-made, symbolizing the fighter’s spirit and respect for his gym, teacher and the sport of Muay Thai.  The Tiger Muay Thai Mongkong is blessed by Buddhist monks to protect the fighters who wear it into the ring.

The Mongkong is worn as a fighter enters the ring and while he performs the “Wai Kroo”, which is a symbolic dance used to show respect for the fighter’s teacher, the country of Thailand, and the sport of Muay Thai.  Upon finishing the “Wai Kroo” the fighter returns to his corner and a prayer is whispered between him and corner as the Mongkong is removed before the fight.

It is a Thai tradition for Muay Thai fighters to bring the Mongkong to a temple before wearing it in the ring. During the ceremony the Mongkong is blessed and the fighter prays with the Buddhist monks, allowing them to remove bad omens or any spirits that could have a negative impact on their fight. They also pray for strength of spirit and purity to overcome their opponent in an honorable match.

The monk says a series of prayers as the fighter is kneeled before him with the Mongkong listening quietly and intently. The ceremony brings the Mongkong and fighter together, joined by the spirit of the gym and the fighter representing it in a Muay Thai fight. To make merit, the fighter will light candles and incense and make an offering to the Buddha with gifts such as flowers. The smoke of the incense cleanses the spirit of each fighter to prepare them for battle.

The fighter will quietly pray for some time. Some will ask for strength and invulnerability and others for purity and protection. Each fighter must reflect on what is important to them and make a connection that coincides with their beliefs in the sport, religion, country and gym.