Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Art of Nine Limbs

With the recent world title of Myanmar’s superstar fighter Aung La Nsang, a surge of interest in boxing is to be expected.

But what about Myanmar’s authentic and centuries-old martial art: Lethwei ?

As far as one can remember Lethwei has always been in Myanmar. Disputed by nobles and commoners alike, Lethwei reveals the fighting spirit of the Myanmar people as well as their endurance, courage and determination.

Traditionally, the victor would be the last man standing. Trash your opponent or eat the dust, so was the rule.

Lethwei fighters can use their feet, knees, elbows, fists and, most unlike any other martial art, their head – hence its name: the “art of nine limbs”.

Fighters enter the ring and challenge each other with Lekkha Moun – a clap on the shoulder meant to recall the flap of birds of prey as they hunt. While today’s TV fighters enter on hip hop or rock songs, Lethwei fighters enter the ring on poems and chants about their fighting skills. And instead of pretty girls holding placards, the audience of a Lethwei fights will be rewarded by a dance from the victor.

Weekend takes you on a sparring session with Lehtwei ’s fighter. Guard up!

  • Speculators watching Myanmar Lethwei (Burmese Traditional Kickboxing) match in stadium and Myanmar orchestra band playing for the match marked 600th anniversary of establishing Sagaing Town in Sagaing State, Myanmar.
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    Speculators watching Myanmar Lethwei (Burmese Traditional Kickboxing) match in stadium and Myanmar orchestra band playing for the match marked 600th anniversary of establishing Sagaing Town in Sagaing State, Myanmar.
  • Thway Thit Aung and Meik Yine are taking a rest waiting their match at Thein Phyu stadium in Mingalar Taung Nyount township, Yangon.
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    Thway Thit Aung and Meik Yine are taking a rest waiting their match at Thein Phyu stadium in Mingalar Taung Nyount township, Yangon.
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  • Saw Gaw Mu Do, become first class Lethwei fighter, is in his training at his Thut Ti Club in Ma Yan Gone Township, Yangon.
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    Saw Gaw Mu Do, become first class Lethwei fighter, is in his training at his Thut Ti Club in Ma Yan Gone Township, Yangon.
  • Saw Gaw Mudo and former Myanmar Lethwei Lineal Champion Saw Nga Mann are fighting at a festival to clerbrate Sagaing 600th anniversary at Sagaing Stadium in Sagaing state.
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    Saw Gaw Mudo and former Myanmar Lethwei Lineal Champion Saw Nga Mann are fighting at a festival to clerbrate Sagaing 600th anniversary at Sagaing Stadium in Sagaing state.
  • Current national lineal champion Tun Tun Min is taking rest after a training at Dragon Power club in South Dagon Township; Yangon.
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    Current national lineal champion Tun Tun Min is taking rest after a training at Dragon Power club in South Dagon Township; Yangon.
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  • Junior Lethwei fighters are celebrating a victory in Saging 600th anniversary festival after they knocked out their rivals at Sagaing stadium in Sagaing state.
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    Junior Lethwei fighters are celebrating a victory in Saging 600th anniversary festival after they knocked out their rivals at Sagaing stadium in Sagaing state.
  • Current Lineal champion Tun Tun Min and No.1 challenger Too Too are playing sepak takaraw after their trainings for Lethwei at Dragon Power Club in South Dagon Twonship, Myanmar.
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    Current Lineal champion Tun Tun Min and No.1 challenger Too Too are playing sepak takaraw after their trainings for Lethwei at Dragon Power Club in South Dagon Twonship, Myanmar.
  • Traditional boxing (Myanmar Lethwei) which was held on Oct 21, 2013 in Myanmar as a promotional campaign to host 2013 SEA Games (South East Asian Games).
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    Traditional boxing (Myanmar Lethwei) which was held on Oct 21, 2013 in Myanmar as a promotional campaign to host 2013 SEA Games (South East Asian Games).

Photos by: Zarni Phyo for The Myanmar Times