Muay Thai Versus Kung Fu + Rant
by Fatso King
A few months back a challenge was rendered allegedly from a team of Thailand’s Muay Thai camps to of all places the Shaolin Temple of Foshan, Guangdong province in China. Excerpts from the story quoted the five famous Thaiboxers as saying that they wanted to “wipe out the Shaolin Temple”. Needless to say the Shaolin Temple was quoted to have said they tired of being bombarded by fight challenges and were not interested in taking challenges from secular fighters. The challenge was summarily declined.
Instead the challenge was answered by known and accomplished Sanda fighters in China and the event was made for December 2009.
I am inclined to think this announcement is a fairly obvious piece of press hype but the fights happened and the Thai contingent were unquestionably A class boxers. It’s mostly likely overheated hype to generate ticket sales in China. And per usual the fights were subject to highly modified rules that predictably give Sanda unquestionable advantages. The most obvious rule being no knee strikes to the head. The history of Muay Thai versus Sanda matches is pretty well documented in video and print. The print obviously being biased towards Sanda or Muay Thai depending on the source one gets the reports of these events from. Though I love Muay Thai I wanted to share the video so you can form your own opinion without too much effort to editorialize on my own. My opinions will follow the video.
For those not familiar with Sanda it’s basically China’s indigenous style of kickboxing which includes throws that include hip throws and utilize the side kick more than Muay Thai. Points are also made with clean controlled throws. The techniques in Muay Thai should be obvious to you more or less if you are following this blog.
I will say this if these challenge matches are really supposed to determine who has the superior ring style (instead of generate some quick money for promoters) then they’d have this on even ground and agree to full rules in both formats. And by even ground I mean neither in Thailand or in China. The problem being is there an audience for this kind of fighting outside of the 2 nations?
Here’s an actual video of a fight taking place with Kaew Fairtex versus Xu Ji Fu at 60KG.
Now the rant:
1. The refereeing is pretty bad. I’ve noticed Xu Ji Fu is provided ample time to tie up with Kaew to execute a throw. When Kaew ties up he is separated from Fu almost immediately.
2. The lack of unified rules doesn’t do too much towards making a case except that good Sanda fighters can beat good Thaiboxers at Sanda in a rules set favoring Sanda. For the record the Kung Fu team notched up 4 wins to one loss. From the origins of this type of Sanda versus Muay Thai match they have never had a truly unified rules system. Why not, in the interest of bragging rights and really making some meaningful claim of ‘better’? However it must be clearly acknowledged that the Thai team knew and accepted the rules for this event. It’s reminiscent of K-1 putting in basically retired boxers in the ring with shoes on to fight K-1’s elite and not allowing the boxers to kick.
3. What is the purpose in Thais repeatedly engaging in matches they haven’t really got fair judging, refereeing or even minimal rules in? I couldn’t shake the feeling also that the Thai contingent were there for a payday and little more. Maybe they feel this kind of contest proves little one way or the other. And indeed one would truly have a hard time saying any of the Thaiboxers took any damage of any kind save one. In fact I strongly doubt this event got more than a column worth of writeup in Thai sports press.
4. Muay Thai is pretty healthy without the need to include Sanda in challenge matches. In fact it had been quite some time since Sanda held an event of any really meaningful (and truly profitable) scale since their biggest sponsor Pabst Blue Ribbon beer pulled out. Yes, sadly the PBR cheerleaders and Kung Fu form demonstrations before matches seem to be gone indefinitely. This event unquestionably benefits Sanda far more than Muay Thai. It should also be noted the Muay Thai scene in Hong Kong is also very healthy and Sanda is nearly an unknown entity there.
5. Yes they really used the Carl Douglas Kung Fu Fighting song between rounds which includes the faintly racist ‘funky Chinamen in funky Chinatown’ line.
Anyhow leave comments and let me know how you feel about this topic: pro or con. I plan on sharing more of the video I have of this event so stayed tuned and please share an opinion if you have one.
Read Part 1 of the series on Muay Thai versus Kung Fu 2009 here.
Read Part 2 of the series on Muay Thai versus Kung Fu 2009 here.
Read Part 3 of the series on Muay Thai verus Kung Fu 2009 here.
Read Part 4 of the series on Muay Thai versus Kung Fu 2009 here.