- 1 Why do Muay Thai fighters wear headbands before fighting?
- 3 What is the Mongkol band?
- 4 History, Creation and Ancient Beliefs
- 5 Superstitions related to Mongkol
- 6 Why wear the Mongkol: different perspectives
- 7 How to wear the Mongkol and the ceremony
- 8 Conclusions
Muay Thai Mongkol or Muay Thai Mongkhon or in Thai : มงคล [mōŋkʰōn] ) is a type of headgear worn by Muay Thai athletes.
The Mongkhon is given to a fighter after their trainer has seen that the pupil has become an experienced fighter and has learned a great deal of knowledge about Muay Thai.
The Mongkhon was never to be, in any way, close to the ground, otherwise it is believed that it loses its value.
Mongkhon is unique to Thai boxing and is also worn in Cambodia and Burma.
It must be worn during the Wai khru ram muay which is a ritual performed by the participants before fighting in the Muay Thai competitions also accompanied by traditional music
and must be handled only by the fighter and the teacher, so as not to lose his special perceived powers.
Why do Muay Thai fighters wear headbands before fighting?
The Muay Thai headband is more than just an accessory of Nak Muay but it is one of the amulets of Muay Thai, a kind of talisman that the Nak Muay wears during the Wai Khru ceremony.
The fascia, also known as Mongkol/Mongkhon, is considered sacred and aesthetic by all Muay Thai enthusiasts in Thailand.
Of course, Nak Muay don’t wear it themselves either, nor do they wear it during the fight in the ring.
The coach is responsible for adorning his student’s head with the Mongkol as a sign of faith, trust and luck.
The tradition dates back hundreds of years to mark the cultural background and superstitions that held their place in the past of the martial art.
So as you see it is not an ornament that must be bought but it is a ritual between master and student / fighter with a magical meaning and protection.
What is the Mongkol band?
The Mongkol headband was initially known as Mongkhon, a colorful headband worn by fighters before entering the ring.
It can be said that it is the last piece of traditional clothing that the Nak Muay holds dear to them during a game.
A Nak Muay can only receive the Mongkol when his coaches deem him worthy to wear the cloak and honor of his dojo.
It is said that he retains magical powers and good luck to protect the fighter during the fight in the ring.
A Nak Muay will have to train, learn, practice and respect the art of Muay Thai before receiving this adornment that is the sign of recognition of its value in the art of Muay Thai.
A Nak Muay wears the Mongkol not only to indicate the ability to fight, but also to show their deeply rooted love, respect and gratitude towards the muay Thai martial art and, of course, their coach.
The fighter must, of course, prove his worth not only through his own strength, but also with complete knowledge of the roots of Muay Thai, the sacred background of Mongkrol and respect for his coach.
And according to Thai culture, this special bond between the coach and the pupil symbolizes the luck and good fate that mongkol brings.
In ancient times it was forbidden for women to wear the Mongkol but the modern world has freed such superstitions and allows every fighter to show their solidarity with the martial art.
History, Creation and Ancient Beliefs
The Mongkol is a sacred band that is believed to contain ancient powers of good luck and protection.
Once the trainer adorns the fighter, he must sit down for the pre-fight ceremony.
After the ceremony, the trainer helps the fighter take off the Mongkol to hang it safely while the wearer fights.
The Mongkol was a sacred band for Thai soldiers and they perceived it as a talisman that would protect them from all the dangers of an enemy.
Various individuals also attached the strands of hair of the loved one, pieces of lucky charm cloth to increase the said magical power of mongkol.
As you may know, Muay Thai was the last resort of an army man, where they became a human weapon to survive against armed opponents.
The talisman was a sign of hope and later for Nak Muay provided a similar sense of protection and good luck during a match.
The Mongkol is made of reinforced rope and various other materials that help the band stay in place during the ceremony.
Nowadays, you will also find several dojos that provide Mongkol in silk and many other materials.
This, of course, does not change the luck or faith that is believed to wear the sash.
The Mongkol belt is what separates a Nak Muay fighter from a practitioner.
Their dedication, faith and confidence in the martial art shows them ready to wear the Mongkol before entering the ring.
With mongkol believed to bring security and good luck, you can very well guess the presence of superstitions in the belief.
Mongkol is considered sacred and has the highest priority in remaining pure.
So, it brings with it a number of superstitions.
Must not touch the ground
It is believed that the Mongkol should never touch the ground.
Its purity and good luck can pering once it touches the floor or even is near the floor.
So, you will only find the bands held high on the hooks, away from the ground.
A fighter should never wear the Mongkol alone.
This is the sole responsibility of their designated coach.
The trainer has the power to adorn the Mongkol, keep it safe during the fight and store it for future fights.
Rules when accessing the ring
As you enter the ring, the heads of the fighters are close to the ground.
So, schools have a certain rule set to prevent such accidents.
You will see men entering the ring from above the upper rope.
This protects their Mongkol from possible fall if it comes into contact with the ring rope ring.
And for women, the rules vary.
A female fighter can crawl from under the lower rope or wear it after entering the combat ring.
No women (has been currently reprimanded)
In ancient times women were not allowed to wear the Mongkol sash as it was believed to bring them bad luck.
Over time and proper literacy, the various Muay Thai schools abandoned the illogical idea and encouraged the participants to adorn their heads with the headband to portray their respect.
Why wear the Mongkol: different perspectives
Nowadays, fighters wear the Mongkol in different ways.
While you’ll find more Nak Muays following the ancient tradition, you may also come across fighters who don’t wish to support such superstitions.
For example, Muslim fighters wear mongkol only after covering their heads with a cloth known as Kefiah.
You will also meet Muay Thai boxers from Cambodia or even Myanmar who do not follow the ceremony of wearing the Mongkol before the fight.
The reasons can be both religious and personal.
However, the reason for wearing it is purely for defense and faith.
And while various religious sentiments follow the principles of the arm and security bands, the Thai principle was based on something completely different.
The Thai army believed in keeping your loved one’s memories close together as good luck.
It was their need to be safe, have the courage and stay strong.
A Nak Muay can now choose to wear it or keep it away.
However, the initial intentions or feelings that the Mongkol brought depended entirely on the concept of mystical and magical charm.
Of course a Nak Muay does not follow the Thai army’s method of wearing it in battle but is worn mainly for the Wai Kru ceremony just before the fight.
The reason may be to prevent the band from touching the ground.
Thai tradition has encouraged beliefs similar to that of maintaining courage and confidence during combat.
Although superstitions refute feelings, it is up to the fighter to follow these traditional rules related to mysticism and the magic of Muay Thai.
How to wear the Mongkol and the ceremony
Mongkol’s adornment ceremony is a complete process in which the coach takes responsibility for adorning the head of the Nak Muay.
The rules are simple and, if followed, can lead to combat.
Each school has a Mongkol that the coach ensures for the right fighter for the ring.
The steps are as follows:
- Before the fighter enters the ring, the coach puts the Mongkol over the latter’s head.
- The fighter then begins the Wai Kru ceremonial dance to emphasize respect for martial arts combat.
- After the ceremony is over, the Nak Muay proceeds to return to their corner of the ring, where their trainer removes the ring from their heads as they chant the last prayer before the fight.
- The coach then proceeds to hang the headband so that it can provide the luck and confidence that the wearer needs during the fight.
Mongkol means loyalty, faith and respect for the art of Muay Thai.
Although the ceremony seems to be longer than a 3-Round fight, it is also to make you perceive beyond the match the dedication and hard work that each fighter puts into the art to be able to deserve the recognition of their value to fight in the ring.
As you can see, these are mystical religious aspects typical of many Southeast Asian arts and for this reason it is also important to give meaning to the “objects” typical of the various arts to give them the right meaning.
Buying online and wearing such a symbol does not honor the art you practice because as you understood by reading the article it is not just an ornamental object but has a deep meaning linked to Thai mysticism and rituality.
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