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Lethwei. Things to know more about

The martial arts vary from one country to another country when it comes to techniques and other things. There are different types of martial arts practised in Myanmar (Burma) for self-defence purposes allowing people to get high protection from potential risks. Lethwei is the national sport of Myanmar that is gaining popularity in various parts of the world. It is a complete combat sport similar to Thailand’s Muay Thai. In addition, Lethwei is one of the most aggressive martial arts because it utilizes gauze and tape on the hands instead of gloves.

Lethwei Tway Ma-Shaung fighting Saw Shark
Tway Ma-Shaung vs Saw Shark. Image by Lethweimaster [CC BY-SA]

History of Lethwei

Lethwei is an ancient sport practised in Pyu Empire during the 2nd century BCE to the mid-11th century. In fact, the Myanmar armies utilized Lethwei along with Bando and Banshay in wars with bordering countries. During ancient times, Lethwei matches took place in a sandpit for entertainment purposes only. The martial art primarily involves boxing techniques and boxers used only hemp or gauze. In fact, players were allowed to take part in a competition without any protective equipment. Those who participate in the sport call for open challenges from the audience to test their skills.

Modernization of Lethwei

In 1952, a Burmese boxer known as Kyar Ba Nyein made some changes in Lethwei after competing in the Summer Olympics. He travelled around various parts of Myanmar and introduced rules and regulations which followed in the sport today. Moreover, he trained many players to play the sport safely and they are often encouraged to participate in competitive matches. In 2001, the sport reached the international stage and three American boxers competed against Lethwei Athletes. The second international competition took place in July 2004 where four Japanese fighters allowed fighting against the Myanmar fighters.

What are the techniques followed in Lethwei?

Lethwei also is known as “The art of 9 Limbs” and “Burmese Bareknuckle boxing” primarily uses stand-up striking followed by different clinching techniques. Some other techniques include leg kicking, head butts, knee attacks, raking knuckle strikes, elbow attacks, punches, and ballistic takedowns.

Headbutts in Lethwei

It is advisable to practice them properly before participating in a competition. Furthermore, players should know more about the rules and other things for enhancing performance levels. This will help to win a game with high success rates. In addition, understanding the rules enable players to prepare for a competition with ease.

Rules of Lethwei

The martial art sport involves 5 rounds that last three minutes and players can take two-minute rest in between rounds. In most cases, the winner of the game will be decided based on the knockouts (KO) and technical knockouts (TKO) as there is no point system followed in the sport. An opponent falls on a floor and remains unconscious for 20 seconds and has severe damages will be out of the game. There is a referee who will oversee the outcomes of the fight between two players and declare the results. He also has the power to end and stop a fight when a game is going out of control.

Fighting attire of the participants

The fighters or participants in Lethwei should apply the wrapping in front of the referee or concerned officials. They should wear only shorts without shoes or a shirt. It is necessary for the fighters to use only tape and gauze on their hands and feet. A referee can terminate the game when it involves 3 counts in a single round and 4 counts performed during the entire duration of the fight. His decision is final when it comes to knockouts and other things.

Lethwei boxing. Myanmar
Canadian vs Myanmar boxer. Image by William

Pre-fight ritual in Lethwei

Fighters who want to participate in Lethwei should know more about pre-fight ritual in detail for winning a game. It consists of Lekkha Moun gestures and Lethwei yay dance performed by each player. Although Lethwei is harsh in nature, it aims at valuing humility and respect.

The primary philosophy of the sport is behaving like a lamb in normal life and acting brave like a lion in the ring. A fighter should also approach his opponent to perform the pre-rituals in order to make him more aggressive. Players will perform Lethwei before the starting and after when a fighter wins in a game.

How to learn the movements?

Nowadays, there are several channels including YouTube that offers videos for beginners to learn more about the movements. They are an ideal one for getting more ideas about the sport in detail that can help to perform the same in-home. On the other hand, it is advisable to learn the sport under the supervision of a professional instructor to lower mistakes and other issues to a large extent. Also, a fighter can improve his skills and abilities effectively that can help to accomplish goals with desired outcomes.

Lethwei training courses

Lethwei training courses involve different levels that enable a person to improve his skills and other things. There are several training centres in Myanmar and other countries which offer courses for beginners to learn the sport with ease. At the same time, it is necessary to make a detailed study about them with special attention. This, in turn, gives ways to find the right one that fulfils the expectations of learners. A training centre will cover the basics of the sport first and conduct training and allow students to polish their talents step by step.

Things to consider before choosing a training course

People who want to join in a Lethwei course should keep certain things in mind for meeting exact needs. Some of them include the reputation, experience of instructors, facilities, levels, and fees. It is a wise one to read reviews of training centres before joining a course. The internet is the right place for gathering more details about training institutes quickly. In addition, anyone who wants to become a Lethwei fighter can benefit a lot from the training courses. On the other hand, one should know the terms and conditions followed by a centre properly that can help to undergo training without any issues.

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