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One Man’s Fight to Save Traditional Muay Thai Boxing | Short Film Showcase

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Wisarut Wat Suksiriwararak is an old Muay Thai fighter from Pai in Northern Thailand. He now runs his own gym in Pai, passing down his knowledge of Thailand’s traditional martial art to both locals and visitors from around the world. Over the past few decades, the authentic practices of Muay Thai have slowly begun to fade away. This historic martial art now centers around financial incentives and entertainment as Thailand’s culture becomes increasingly commercialized. Filmmaker Marko Randelovic shows Suksiriwararak's fight to preserve the traditional aspects of the sport in his short film Fighter: The Legend of a Muay Thai Boxer. ➡ Subscribe: ➡ Get More Short Film Showcase: #NationalGeographic #MuayThai #ShortFilmShowcase About Short Film Showcase: The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos created by filmmakers from around the web and selected by National Geographic editors. We look for work that affirms National Geographic's belief in the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to change the world. The filmmakers created the content presented, and the opinions expressed are their own, not those of National Geographic Partners. Know of a great short film that should be part of our Showcase? Email to submit a video for consideration. See more from National Geographic's Short Film Showcase at Get More National Geographic: Official Site: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: About National Geographic: National Geographic is the world's premium destination for science, exploration, and adventure. Through their world-class scientists, photographers, journalists, and filmmakers, Nat Geo gets you closer to the stories that matter and past the edge of what's possible. One Man’s Fight to Save Traditional Muay Thai Boxing | Short Film Showcase National Geographic
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Text Comments (448)
National Geographic (1 month ago)
Muay Thai is slowly fading as Thailand's culture becomes more commercialized. What intrigues you the most about this traditional martial art?
John Drake (15 days ago)
+Mike Davis Go to any MMA gym and you will see both a ring and a cage. Israel Adesanya was a top ranked kickboxer before he went MMA. And most MMA fighters will isolate their training, sometimes just doing boxing, sometimes just doing kickboxing and sometimes just doing submission grappling.
EVO6 (19 days ago)
+Mike Davis in his eyes maybe but MMA is the only way muay Thai will grow. And functionally it's almost identical
Krispy57 (20 days ago)
The fact that it's one of the most popular fighting styles in the UFC 👌
CloroxBleach (20 days ago)
National Geographic the shins vs tree
Andy P (21 days ago)
Muay Thai is a fascinating art. But you need to be as fit AF to be fully effective.
Deku All for one (11 days ago)
I hope I can learn muay Thai soon
CrownlessXKing (11 days ago)
Piano Piano (11 days ago)
The subtitle are not the best but at least, Thai have a chance to be recognized
leslie alcantara (13 days ago)
ive been training muay thai since i was nine.. for ten years never had a fight in the ring mostly spars with other students or requested as sparring partners for fighters to prep them for fights, about a year ago i had my real fight not in the ring but out in the streets, i saw three guys fighting this one guy he was keeping them off for the most part and i knew i had to do something i knew with all my experience and training that guy didnt have a chance against us four.
Ian Castro (14 days ago)
I love & respect the martial art of Muay Thai. But it is a dangerous, deadly combat sport. Any hit can be the last anyone can take. So the fighter should make as much as money as fast as he can. No disrespect, but I'm all in for the commersalization of the Sport
ALİ CAN ŞİŞMANLAR (15 days ago)
Perfect. Thank you.
onelove (16 days ago)
confettihunterminus1 (16 days ago)
“it’s not about business” and then at 7:45 you see his rates on the back wall. 7,000 baht ($220 usd) per month. That’s steep even by US standards.
leslie alcantara (13 days ago)
its actually pretty cheap compare to the 3k a week charge in phuket where you are in a class of 10-20 and no one is paying attention if your doing it right or not.
Micheal John (14 days ago)
so you want it for free then?
Hayden Wade (17 days ago)
Muay Thai isn't really fading at all, if anything it's bigger then ever.
Conor James (18 days ago)
OMG he look like average elementary school teacher lots of oils
fredeyeye (19 days ago)
7:44 the price is not cheap haha
Jeff Losey (19 days ago)
Good to see Traditionalists keeping the Spirit Alive! Sad when it’s taken out of Training as you’re left with so many aspects that just disappear.
Bing Bong (20 days ago)
Personally I don't see a problem with people fighting for entertainment, I mean there doing what they love and making a living out of it.
Andrew Choi (19 days ago)
I personally don't think there is much wrong in it either, but I think all he's trying to do is remind people that Muay Thai is ALSO about more than just winning prize money and hitting people.
bastiisalive (20 days ago)
El Guapo (20 days ago)
Been to Thailand 🇹🇭 while serving with the US Marines. Beautiful country. Watched them train n fight in Muay Thai. Incredible conditioning too. 🤙
Kris Do (20 days ago)
Commercialized aka Westernized
Daniel W (20 days ago)
money ruins everything
chamanismo practico toño crespo (20 days ago)
Were is he? What's he's name?
CHK MKN (21 days ago)
The west need to stop to come to Thailand to train muaythai, all trainer except only foreigner now because of they can earn money. Before it was free to train.... its was martial art for the poor family to send their kids to train. Please train in your own country.
Nopulau Dah hou (21 days ago)
I’ve just started to take classes in Muay Thai and I wish that I had done this Martial Art sooner. Love this fighting style.
EuropeanKing (21 days ago)
สมพร สุวรรณเรืองศรี (21 days ago)
มวยไทยพัฒนามาจากศิลปะการต่อสู้ของชาวอินเดีย ผู้นำเข้ามาเผยแพร่น่าจะเป็นพระเจ้าอโศกราช กษัตริย์อินเดีย ศิลปะการต่อสู้แขนงนี้เคยรุ่งเรือง ในเมืองลังกาสุกกะ เมืองพัทลุงสทิงพระ เมืองนครศรีธรรมราช เมืองไชยา ต่อมานำขึ้นไปเผยแพร่ในกรุงศรีอยุธยา ธนบุรี และรัตนโกสินทร์
ruffgook (21 days ago)
Training with sandbags, boxing gloves, modern polyester shorts, tank top, ring, very traditional muay thai indeed
Andrew Choi (19 days ago)
"Traditional" doesn't mean no technology. He's referring to the spiritual aspects of the martial ART and its philosophical tenets. Muay Thai has a lot of international exposure but nowadays many people just view it as a mere sport or simple tool for winning prize money. He just wants to remind people what Muay Thai was originally about so we don't just look at it as just another way of hitting people.
Muay Thai Tips (22 days ago)
Well made short doc! Thank you National Geographic 🙏🙏🙏 part of the new generation of Muay Thai I can say that I have learned and nurtured the art of Muay Thai thanks to my coach. The first day I decided to embark on this journey my coach asked me to bring a notebook. The first lesson was the history of Muay Thai before I even learn how to punch,kick,knee,elbow or even learn my stance. I believe this is the way it should be done ...educate and nurture the student with all aspects of the art so that they can carry on and teach it to the next generation.
Captain Canuck (22 days ago)
Respect and admiration for mauy Thai from Canada.
Eduardo M (22 days ago)
tandemkgsd (22 days ago)
Beautiful place, wonderful people, amazing culture. Never forget what you have in your pursuit of money.. often times money isn't what you really need.
Rhett Burch (22 days ago)
0:25 "Muay Thai is mostly about the mind and consciousness training." I'll have whatever he's smoking. The Muay Thai I know is about elbowing and kneeing other people in the head.
citic101 (22 days ago)
Nick Hentschel (23 days ago)
This is the way that martial arts need to be presented to the public. Thank you. The next step is to talk about the other styles related to Muay Thai, as well: the sister style taught to the military, the forerunner style of Muay Boran, and the ancient martial art of Krabi-Krabong, which came before that. They all deserve to be preserved.
Eduardo M (22 days ago)
Krabi Krabong the art of Chupasart warriors.
Kelvin Carr (23 days ago)
more money coming into a sport will just increase the level of athletes competing sure it might evolve but thats how every competition is. sports, business, art, everything
Allan Art (23 days ago)
Wow, this was amazing. Love live Muay Thai! สวัสดี
Charles Little II (23 days ago)
Please nurture Muay Thai and don't disrespect our traditions. Simply put and earnest. I am so grateful for this fighting art and the culture and state of mind that encompasses it. I will do my very best to never disrespect Muay Thai. Kob Kun Krap.
inked g0d (23 days ago)
im from morocco planing to move to thailand and train for the first time of my life MUY THAI <3
George Batton (23 days ago)
This kind of thing happens every time that laissez-faire global capitalism is introduced. A big store like Walmart or some other big chain conglomerate comes in and takes a wrecking ball to all of the local small businesses. No one is able to compete and the average worker becomes poorer as they are displaced with cheap labor. Big ugly buildings ruin the landscape and the town, culture, and community are destroyed and atomized in the endless pursuit of profit. The gap between the rich and the poor widens creating resentment from the proletariat and the public begins to demand a communist revolution. This is all according to Marx's plan of course.
Sila Y (23 days ago)
He said "I think Muay Thai is the best". Not one of the best.
john smith (23 days ago)
American culture & values are constantly rammed down their throats. Asia in general becoming very commercially westernized
Titian Senjaya (23 days ago)
Thank you for the wonderful documentary, I shall add it to the list of the gyms that I will visit when I come to Thailand.
mr langustinos (23 days ago)
tradition is very important but you also must make room for change
edd lane (24 days ago)
Great video
Meymeygwis (24 days ago)
Kapkunkrap for the Beautiful video, Sawadikap
ThighwayPatrol (24 days ago)
I train I’m Muay Thai every weekend I love the sport
Nam Nguyen (24 days ago)
Muaythai is not just an art, it is the culture of Thailand as well. That is why I fall in love with it. One day people will understand and appreciate it more.
ludlow 889 (24 days ago)
Beautiful cinematography, but I'm still not clear how this guy's muay Thai differs from modern muay Thai. What exactly are the differences between his "old" style and what Buakaw and Dani Bill do?
ludlow 889 (23 days ago)
+minecraftliberal2009 Again, what exactly are these traditions? And how are they being lost? How does what Buakaw and Dani Bill do in the ring violate tradition? The mini-documentary is very short on information. Looks great, but doesn't tell us much.
minecraftliberal2009 (23 days ago)
i think it's more about the tradition or the culture? What I got from this video is that Muay Thai is transitioning into a business and he wants to keep it traditional, but I'm not sure how that would alter the fighting techniques.
OPPO k2k (24 days ago)
Tim Barry (24 days ago)
What a beautiful country
Will Dang (24 days ago)
We need more real fighters like him out there these days. 50 years old and he is still a good fighter, I think he would be able to defeat the ten warriors to win back the Thai capital, a true master of the martial art of muay thai
SnorrE (24 days ago)
I practice Muay Thay and one day I will train in Thailand. Thank you National Geographic for this documentary.
Nevergiveup (24 days ago)
👏👏👏👏👏👏 thanks for sharing
Misha Kovalenko (24 days ago)
I agree so much
Jesus Guerrero (24 days ago)
That's because Muay Thai is made for sports not made for real Combat on the battlefield but the warriors who started the fighting style were more battlefield effective than these sportsmen fighting in the ring!
Denis (24 days ago)
There are good traditions that should be kept and bad ones that should be thrown into a garbage bin. Muay thai is really good sport and self defence art.
P L (24 days ago)
sittinun wijunta (24 days ago)
ผมทำหนังสั้นมาก่อน ลุงคนนี้พูดได้ งง มากครับ เช่น มันเป็นธุรกิจทำให้เสียหาย เสียหายยังไงแล้วลุงแก ไม่ได้ทำธุรกิจค่ายหรอ
Fionnan O'Mahony (24 days ago)
A lot of people have completely misunderstood his message
jan smit (24 days ago)
Great video thx . The dislikes come from a few clowns from pattaya.
jason sloten (24 days ago)
Tiger muay thai is an example of buying and selling the soul out of muay thai. All about the benjamins! With all respect. It is no longer an art.. its a trade! A profit trade buisnness
Augusto Loa (21 days ago)
Im geting your point. You can't become rich spreading you knowledge and character. You need to continue poor and teache to selected few.
Angus Rose (23 days ago)
it is only a business to those concerned with money
jason sloten (23 days ago)
You are missing the point. It's not about the level of fighters.
arnbassbaritone (24 days ago)
Explain. I've seen top level fighters train there.
Jon Bandey (24 days ago)
Great video
Mark 13 (24 days ago)
kop kun krap
Ironvale (24 days ago)
7000 baht for a month, does it include food and accomodation? if it doesn't its a bit expensive
Smurfie (25 days ago)
I'm learning More Thai, I love Thai food so much!
EuropeanKing (21 days ago)
Smurfie chok dee bro
drh kleinert (25 days ago)
When i see whats going on at a MT fight i understand why its a good idea to make a prayer before...
logan Handsomepants (25 days ago)
amazing muay thai the art of the eight limbs use correctly and you can kill your opponent use it incorrectly and you could kill your opponent there is a big difference between can and could thanks
Agon Leed (24 days ago)
Love that
Andrew B (25 days ago)
Some might say it's perfectly alive. Stay in your lane.
BRGR (25 days ago)
Muay thai is the best martial art for MMA
drh kleinert (25 days ago)
No. In MT the fight ends with a take down, in MMA the fight ond the ground goes on, thats why its necessary to be a good groundfighter.
skull bog walking alone, the dogs like barking (25 days ago)
มันอยู่ในสายเลือด หมัด เท้า เข่าศอก มันคืออาวุธมันคือสมบัติของไทยเเละของผม
maximusarealius (25 days ago)
Muay thai isnt changing in a bad way... it's simply evolving
bhdproduction2007 (25 days ago)
this martial art isn't fading away. what are you smoking on? that's like saying american boxing is fading away. american boxing will never fade away.
drh kleinert (25 days ago)
No, boxing never fades away but it becomes more and more entertainment, show and worst "fighters" than in the past. In fact we never will see a Rocky Marciano, Ali or Tyson again. Only One-day-champions nobody remembers a few years later.
Richard Pedroza (25 days ago)
Being a Black Belt in TKD, I see the difference Muay Thai in training and in fighting.
Kilo Kilo (25 days ago)
Huh? Muay Thai is more popular today than ever idk what he's talking about
Afro Revolution (25 days ago)
The different styles
Saufi Suria (25 days ago)
8:00mins Jesus approves of muay thai.
mario rayas (25 days ago)
Hello from leon gto. Mexico
mario rayas (25 days ago)
I as a practitioner feel too much respect to this martial art my Khru shows us the art culture Spirituality Strench Respect to Ours adversaries this art is Beautiful Expretion of thai people
chris balderas (25 days ago)
Artemius (25 days ago)
This is one of the negative effects of globalization.
WIKIPEDIA (19 days ago)
Globalization have a loooot of negative effects in all countries
manifold d (25 days ago)
This was so beautifully shot. I had chills when the camera angle was shot from behind the fighter that won in the ring. You do great service to Muay Thai.
LOS PRIMED (25 days ago)
love thai boxing, sad truth is most if not all cultures are being turned into business and money making
baladev b. (25 days ago)
as the martial arts get more popular and offers high amount of money, all of them are loosing their spiritual and cultural traditions to focus only in sportive winning belts and money ... but martial art was never intend to thse modern things .. it was made to protect ones country, to control one´s sense, anger, mind, to give equilibrium, to keep good health, to be always respectfull, to learn the laws of a king etc...nowadays to get to know what martial art is, very hard, only few can teach.
Muay Thai Tips (22 days ago)
Well said!!
NAKMEEZY (25 days ago)
I agree with him and promotions like MAX are more KO oriented and the beauty of Muay Fimeu is being overlooked to please western MMA type crowds. Smart also spoke on the decline of Muay Thai. It's a shame.
NAKMEEZY (24 days ago)
Smart Payakaroon
Gagan Umesh (25 days ago)
you mean 'Samart Sirinto'?
ronki23 (25 days ago)
I'd rather do MMA than Muay Thai; if I'm getting jabbed or I'm in trouble in the clinch I can at least do a takedown to bring the fight to the ground
ronki23 (25 days ago)
+Trevor Arlee yeah but you can't control the upper body when you throw; you can only reap the leg or catch and sweep so you can't do any hip or shoulder throws. Benny Urquidez used to do hip and shoulder throws in Japan
Trevor Arlee (25 days ago)
Muay thai uses a few takedowns as well
John Dough (25 days ago)
I love Muay Thai so much. I've never seen anything come close to this style of fighting. It's brutal and honest. I still dig Judo and American boxing, but Muay Thai will always do it for me. 👍👍👍
jan smit (24 days ago)
Lethwei comes close . Valetudo and Sambo is a lot of grond fighting but also brutal.
Ko An (25 days ago)
When I see comments saying Muay Thai warriors should go to UFC, I want to cry! I adore the Art of Muay Thai! What Muay Thai has is unique! Muay Thai is 20 yo guys with 200+ fights, eating, breathing and sleeping Muay Thai! It's a religion, a tradition, a history, a way of life all in one! And it really hurts me to see awesome Muay Thai fimeu dying to gambling. Next time before comparing it with MMA please consider there are those who understand, feel and appreciate the art as it is. And to us, that comment is as dumb as telling a virtuous pianist to go do some painting. Just don't do it!
P. Doherty (25 days ago)
oh please...
Chan Zikeong (25 days ago)
where is this place? address pls : )
thaistomp (25 days ago)
Respect the Muay Thai.
aaron miller (25 days ago)
it's amazing to see this purist not sell out and remain true to his tradition
John Dough (25 days ago)
I think respect period is being laid to waste. Muay Thai is addictive to watch. It's the real thing. 😲
I like Potatoes (25 days ago)
Wing Chun ftw.
bob nice (25 days ago)
Its fading (if it even is?) because of Time, no one has Time anymore, the time to spend ten years mastering a proper martial art like Muay Thai, western Boxing, Judo or even proper old school Jiu Jitsu,...MMA has produced this instant fix where a fighter is a jack of all trades but rarely a master of one.
๋อั๋น เอง (25 days ago)
อาวุธมวยไทย มีไว้ฆ่าคู่ต่อสู้นะสมัยโบราณ ใช้ทุกส่วนของร่างกายแต่สมัยนี้อาวุธมวยไทยลดบทบาทลงน้อยมากเพราะมันอันตรายเลยเห็นแค่ไม่กี่ท่าเองบนเวที จิ้มตา หัก แขน หักขา ชกคอหอย บนเวทีใช้ไม่ได้ตอนนี้แม่ไม้มวยไทยท่าแต่ละท่าค่อยๆลดหายไปเพราะเวทีห้าม
jesusbonnie (25 days ago)
Awesome documentary....I hope that the culture and respect for the art continues.
The Tractor legacy (25 days ago)
I have won 304 fights no losses and 84 tournament belts on Ps4:Tekken 4 ☺
Johnny Bode (25 days ago)
Racial segregation is a must to preserve ALL cultures. Multiculturalism is a threat to everyone. Only the banks benefit.
Trevor Arlee (25 days ago)
People of the same race don't have same culture,there's many tribes even in the same nation because the borders have changed over time
GGG FFF (25 days ago)
Plusit Tustude (25 days ago)
Peter and Yen (25 days ago)
Amazing video Muay Thai is a true great martial art.
Alejandro Hagakure (25 days ago)
BilboB (25 days ago)
I honestly dont see the problem here, for starters what is traditional muay thai versus commercial muay thai? all commercialism has done for muay thai, is too make it bigger and more popular, sport around the world. It would be the equivalent to say that manchester city has ruined traditional football, which they havent, if anything city has made the premier league more excting.
Afro Revolution (25 days ago)
Look up the indo nesian origins it has many styles
Holy Fire (25 days ago)
terciary (25 days ago)
Can't see severity of the problem that made this plot. All traditions are on decline, especially in a tourism infested Thailand. But Muai-Thai is less affected of all. Because continuous proofing of its value on a ring is an inherent (build in) part of the art.
Jett The Kickboxer (25 days ago)
Interesting, I always thought Muay Thai was growing in popularity due to the rise of MMA
john uzumaki (25 days ago)
His saying it in a different way