Friday, October 12, 2012

Kung fu & muay thai economics @2012-10-12

The temple and its grounds are a beehive of activity. Enthusiasts strike kung fu poses as friends snap away with cameras, monks stroll past in their trademark orange robes or the grey garbs associated with the Chan Buddhist tradition, and enterprising locals sell all kinds of martial arts gear to visitors.

While the magnificence of the temple structures and the 1,500 years of kung fu history that they contain are awe inspiring, it's hard not to notice the thriving trade that surrounds the monastery. I wondered whether more locals had attained a black belt in business than in the study of old-school Chinese pugilism. After all, Abbot Shi Yongxin, also known as the "CEO monk", floated the controversial idea of holding an initial public offering for the monastery in 2009.

The fact that the idea of "Shaolin Inc" could even be aired is a sign of how far things have come in the commercialism of Chinese martial arts. Back in the 1960s, many Chinese kung fu schools refused to teach Westerners. The 1970s and the likes of Bruce Lee and Shaw Brothers' studios in Hong Kong did much to change that by popularising martial arts in the West.

Today the global martial arts industry rakes in billions upon billions of dollars each year. China is home to its own highly profitable market, one which ranges from schools and companies that manufacture a plethora of weapons, to novels, movies, games and martial arts TV shows. However, it is not only the pursuit of profit that has enabled such changes to take place - these developments also require a certain open-mindedness and a willingness to learn.

San da, a popular Chinese combative sport involving full-contact kickboxing complete with throws, has moved far beyond the confines of the Shaolin Temple to see what can be learned from the outside world. In the past, Thailand's fearless nak Muay Thai would frequently overpower China's san da fighters. The san da practitioners responded by employing Muay Thai trainers to teach them how to wield and counter our nation's world-renowned fighting system. This open-minded approach has seen san da fighters level the playing field to the extent that one of the sport's key proponents Lu Hailong is now known as "The Conqueror of Muay Thai".

The Chinese pugilists still fight using a Chinese style, but they refuse to trap themselves in the mindset of tradition for tradition's sake.

Our Muay Thai industry could learn a thing or two from its elder brothers in China. In March, Thailand banned mixed martial arts (MMA) - a hard-knuckled sport made famous by the UFC Ultimate Fighting Championship which incorporates kickboxing and ground fighting. Some fears were expressed over the popularity of MMA eclipsing Muay Thai in the Kingdom. Others decried Muay Thai legend Buakaw Benchamak's move to Hong Kong and the fact that he is now contemplating a career shift to MMA. Today everyone want to training muay thai in thailand , because the training camp in Thailand is real muay thai training . You will how Buakaw to training in Thailand.

Perhaps it is time for our local fighters to muscle up. Muay Thai is the default stand-up system used by most MMA fighters around the world. The local industry could reap massive benefits by fostering stronger links with the international MMA community. Setting up training camps in Thailand would draw more high-spending tourists and strengthen local skills while exposing more of our fighters to the outside world. They could also help catalyse our own highly lucrative UFC-style industry.

For centuries the noble art of Muay Thai has consistently stood its ground in the arena of combat. We should have faith that it can do so in the modern world of capitalism while retaining its essential character and culture.


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